An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Lüshi xiangyue 呂氏鄉約

Mar 18, 2016 © Ulrich Theobald

Lüshi xiangyue 呂氏鄉約 is a book on the "community compact" of a village in Shaanxi written by the Song-period 宋 (960-1279) scholar Lü Dazhong 呂大忠 (d. 1082), courtesy name Jinbo 進伯, and one of four brothers living in Lantian 藍田. The book, also called Lantian xiangyue 藍田鄉約, describes the organization of the local self-administration that was organized by the Lü family, and served as a model for later writings on that topic, like Wang Shouren's 王守仁 (Wang Yangming 王陽明, 1472-1529) Nangan xiangyue 南贛鄉約.

The Lüshi xiangyue, finished in 1076, explains the inhabitants of the village four basic principles of living together in a village community, namely to admonish each other to adhere to moral principles (de ye xiang quan 德業相勸), to rectify others when committing faults (guo shi xiang gui 過失相規), to meet each other with proper conduct and adequate customs (li su xiang jiao 禮俗相交), and to support each other in times of hardship (huan nan xiang xu 患難相恤). The book advocated the meeting of the community members in regular intervals, to confirm the regulations of the compact, to rebuke or punish those who had committed faults, or - in worst case - to expel them from the community. The convention recorded its decisions and so commanded a detailed register of each member’s conduct.

Lü Dazhong was befriended with the philosopher Zhang Zai 張載 (1020-1077), who suggested him to compile the Xiangyue. For this reason, the Xiangyue bears Zhang's idea of brotherly spirit towards all people and all things under Heaven (min bao wu yu 民胞物與).

The book was revised by the Neo-Confucian philosopher Zhu Xi 朱熹 (1130-1200) with the title Zengsun Lüshi xiangyue 增損呂氏鄉約 or Zhuzi zengsun Lüshi xiangyue 朱子增損呂氏鄉約. Zhu Xi was not quite sure whether the book had been written by Lü Dazhong, or together with his brother Lü Dajun 呂大鈞 (1030-1081, courtesy name Heshu 和叔), or by the latter alone.

The book is included in the collections Song-Yuan xue'an 宋元學案, Chongding Yang Yuan xiansheng quanji 重訂楊園先生全集, Qingzhaotang congshu 青照堂叢書, Sui'an Xushi congshu xubian 隨菴徐氏叢書續編, Shuofu 説郛 (both editions) and Guanzhong congshu 關中叢書. A modern edition was published by the Zhonghua Book Company 中華書局 in 1993 as Lüshi Lantian yishu jijiao 呂氏藍田遺書輯校, and by the Shanghai guji Press 上海古籍出版社 in 1995. It is also found in the series Congshu jicheng xubian 叢書集成續編.

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