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Yunji qiqian 雲笈七籤 "The Seven Tablets in a Cloudy Satchel"

The Yunji qiqian 雲笈七籤 "Seven tablets in a cloudy satchel" is a Daoist encyclopedia compiled by Zhang Junfang 張君房 during the Northern Song period 北宋 (960-1126). Emperor Song Zhenzong 宋真宗 (r. 997-1022) ordered the compilation of a Daoist canon, the result of which was the Da-Song tiangong baozang 大宋天宮寳藏 with a length of 4,565 juan "scrolls", compiled by Qi Lun 戚綸. The Yunji qiqian is a kind of extract of this canon. It was finished in 1019 and comprises 122 juan. The "seven tablets" refer to the traditional classifiction of Daoist writings into the writings of the "three caves" and "four lacunae" (sandong sifu 三洞四輔). The motives for the compilation of the Yunji qiqian were to respond to the "grace" of late Emperor Zhenzong 宋真宗 (r. 997-1022), to provide a textbook for the present emperor, to 文馆校雠之职, and to spread the teachings of Daoism.
In Zhang Junfang's preface the size of the encyclopedia is given as 120 juan. The bibliographies Zhongxing shumu 中興書目, Junzhai dushu zhi 郡齋讀書志, Junzhai dushu houzhi 郡齋讀書後志, Songshi yiwen zhi 宋史•藝文志 and Wenxiao tongkao 文獻通考 (chapter Jingji kao 經籍考) also record 120 juan, but the Zhizhai shulu jieti 直齋書錄解題 speaks of 124 juan, and the editions in the Daoist Canon Zhengtong daozang 正統道藏, the Siku quanshu 四庫全書 and the Sibu congkan 四部叢刊 are 122 juan long. The edition in the Daozang jiyao 道藏輯要 is abbreviated.
The Yunji qiqian quotes more than 700 Daoist writings, but does not arrange them in the same manner as in the Da-Song tiangong baozang. It does furthermore not include whole texts, but only quotations from such, in order to illustrate or explain a term to be defined and clarified in an encyclopedic method. In the first chapter, for instance, quotations from the texts Laojun zhigui 老君指歸, Hanfeizi 韩非子, Huainan honglie 淮南鴻烈, Hunyuan shengji xu 混元聖紀序 and Tang Kaiyuan huangdi Daodejing xu 唐開元皇帝道德經序 are presented, in order to explain Laozi's concept of the Way and the virtue (dao de 道德). The second chapter quotes from the Taishijing 太始經, Taizhenke 太真科 and Shangqing santian zhengfa jing 上清三天正法經 in order to explain the Daoist concept of the creation of the universe and the permanent change; and the fourth chapter included paragraphs from the scriptures Shangqing yuantong jing mu zhu xu 上清源統經目注序, Lingbaojing mu xu 靈寳經目序, Shangqingjing shu 上清經述, Sanhuangjing shuo 三皇經說 and Yuntai zhizhong neilu 雲臺治中内錄, in order to bring light into the transmission of the teachings of the Shangqing 上清, Lingbao 靈寳 and Sanhuang 三皇 schools.
The other chapters out of 36 chapters do not systematically cover aspects of Daoism, but consists of quotations from Daoist books to various themes. The quotations cover a vast range of themes, but concentrate on inner cultivation (xiu 修), fasting (jie 戒), methods to circulate energy (qifa 氣法), outer alchemy ("gold and cinnabar", jindan 金丹) inner alchemy (neidan 内丹), talismans (futu 符图) and stories about and biographies of immortals. Some books are quoted to a large extent, for others only the chapter titles are mentioned or even only the book titles. For the largest part of quoted texts, no theoretical discussion is provided, but the Yunji qiqian can be seen in vast parts as a sourcebook-style collection. It is nevertheless of great value as a collection of a huge amount of Daoist texts, part of which has not been preserved otherwise, like the Lingbao lüeji 靈寳略紀, Shangqing yuantong jing mu zhu xu or Lu Xiujing's 陸修靜 Lingbaojing mu xu. Even for standard texts the Yunji qiqian can serve as an important text-critical source to analyse textual errors. The two texts Tiantong huming jing xu 天童護命經序 and Taishang tiantong jing lingyan lu 太上天童經靈驗錄, both written by Emperor Zhenzong, help to prove that the scripture Tiantong huming jing 天童護命經 was compiled earlier than the Tang period. The value of the Yunji qiqian is all the more greater because the Da-Song tiangong baozang, on which it is based, is long lost. It was therefore often called the "Small Daoist Canon" (Xiao daozang 小道藏).
The Yunji qiqian is superficially inclined to the earlier collection Wushang miyao 無上秘要 that also begins with the definition of the "Way" (dao) and then goes on to practice and rituals, but in contrast to this earlier collection, the Yunji qiqian has a more concise and systematic structure that goes much more into the direction of an encyclopedia. The chapters have clear themes, the paragraphs have a clear structure and cover all important themes.
The compilers of the Yunji qiqian and their patron, Emperor Renzong, were inclined to the Shangqing School, whose writings therefore occupy a preeminent position in the encyclopedia. Scriptures written later than the mid-Tang period cover only a minor part of the book, but a special focus lies on the veneration of Emperor Shengzu 宋聖祖 (the posthumous title of Zhao Xuanlang 趙玄朗, ancestor of the Song dynasty) who was bestowed the canonical title of Jiutian siming baosheng tianzun 九天司命保生天尊 "Heavenly Venerated of the Nine Heavens Protecting Life and Commanding Fates" what was later extended to Shangling gaodao jiutian siming baosheng tianzun dadi 上靈高道九天司命保生天尊大帝. The importance of Song dynasty patronage can be seen in the position of Emperor Zhenzong's writings Xiantian jixu 先天紀叙 and Xuanyuan benji 軒轅本紀 that are quoted first, before going to the older texts Yuanshi tianwang ji 元始天王紀, Taishang daojun ji 太上道君紀 and Hunyuan huangdi shengji 混元皇帝聖紀, and in the chapter about biographic collections, Emperor Zhenzong's book Yisheng baode zhenjun zhuan 翊聖保德真君傳 is quoted first before coming back to other Shangqing biographies.
The Yunji qiqian is included in the Daoist Canon from the Zhengtong reign (1436-1449) and the reprint series Hanfenlou congshu 函芬樓叢書. In 1989 the Language department of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences 中國社會科院語言所 and the Qi-Lu press 齊魯書社 published a modern edition.

Qing Xitai (1994) 卿希泰. Zhongguo daojiao 中國道教, vol. 2, p. nnn. Shanghai: Zhishi chubanshe.
Schipper, Kristopher (1986). "Yün-chi ch‘i-ch‘ien 雲笈七籤", in William H. Nienhauser, ed. The Indiana Companion to Traditional Chinese Literature (Bloomington/Indianapolis: Indiana University Press), 966-968.
Zhao Hankun 趙含坤 (2005). Zhongguo leishu 中國類書, pp. 85-86. Shijiazhuang: Hebei renmin chubanshe.

1. 道德部 Daode
2. 混元、混洞、開闢、劫運部 Hunyuan, hundong, kaipi, queyun
3. 道教本始部 Daojiao benshi
4. 道教經法傳授部 Daojiao jingfa chuanshou
5. 經教相承部 Jingjiao xiangcheng
6. 三洞經教部 1-15 Sandong jingjiao
7. 天地部 1-2 Tiandi
8. 日月星辰部 1-3 Riyue xingchen
9. 十洲三島部 Shizhou sandao
10. 洞天福地部 Dongtian fudi
11. 二十八治部 Ershiba zhi
12. 稟生受命部 1-3 Linsheng shouming
13. 雜修攝部 1-5 Zaxiushe
14. 齋戒部 Zhaijie
15. 說戒部 1-3 Shuojie
16. 雜法部 Zafa
17. 存思部 1-3 Cunsi
18. 秘要訣法部 1-7 Biyao juefa
19. 雜要圖訣法部 Za yaotu juefa
20. 雜秘要訣法部 Za biyao juefa
21. 魂神部 1-2 Hunshen
22. 諸家氣法部 1-8 Zhujia qifa
23. 金丹部 1-6 Jindan
24. 內丹部 1-4 Neidan, 方藥部 1-5 Fangyao
25. 符圖部 1-2 Futu
26. 庚申部 1-3 Gengshen
27. 屍解部 1-3 Shijie
28. 諸真要略部 Zhuzhen yaolüe
29. 仙籍旨訣部 Xianji zhijue
30. 諸真語論部 Zhuzhen yulun
31. 七部語要部 Qibu yuyao
32. 七部名數要記部 Qibu mingshu yaoji
33. 仙籍語論要記部 1-4 Xianji yulun yaoji
34. 贊頌部 1-4 Zansong
35. 紀傳部 1-17 Jizhuan
36. 道教靈驗記部 1-6 Daojiao lingyan ji
Chinese literature according to the four-category system

October 31, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail