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Chinese Literature
Wubeizhi 武備志 "On Military Preparedness"


The Wubeizhi 武備志 "On military preparedness" is a military encyclopedia compiled by the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) scholar Mao Yuanyi 茅元儀. It is 240 juan "scrolls" long and richly illustrated. The book was finished in 1594, and the oldest printed edition dates from 1621, and there is a moveable letter print from the late 19th century, as well as a Japanese print from the 1660s. During the Qianlong reign 乾隆 (1736-1795) the book was forbidden to circulate and was not included in the collectaneum Siku quanshu 四庫全書.
The Wubeizhi consists of five parts. In the first part, the traditional military books are critically inspected, like the "Seven Military Classics", the Wujing zongyao 武經總要, Taibaiyin jing 太白陰經, and the Huqianjing 虎鈐經. In general, Mao esteems the classical book Sunzi as the most important military book. In the second part, Mao Yuanyi presents a lot of material though all ages to give examples of practical warfare, in strategy and tactics. In the third part, he deals with battle tactics and training. In 319 illustrations, the author shows the wide range of battle tactics through the ages. The selection of soldiers, their grouping, reward and punishment, battalion signs, and practical training is broadly explained. A lot of examples are taken from the books Jixiao xinshu 紀效新書 and Lianbing shiji 練兵實紀. An important point which Mao stressed is that soldiers have first checked their suitability, before assigning them at all to a batallion. In the fourth part, garrisons, campaigning, attack and defense, warfare with water and fire, the soldiers' pay, and the supply of horses and grain is dealt with. The author describes signals, firearms, riverine transport, military colonies, and even the medical service for horses. In the last part divination in war is described, which is a very interesting aspect of military thought in ancient China. Another topic of the last chapter is the deployment of troops through different terrain, and how an army on the march and in temporary camps can be protected against inimical attacks.
The Wubeizhi contains a lot of source material not provided in other sources. Of special value is the map of Zheng He's travels, the Zheng He hanghai tu 鄭和航海圖.


Sources:
Guo Songnian 郭松年, Chen Bingcai 陳秉才 (1989). "Wubeizhi 武備志", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Junshi 軍事, vol. 2, pp. 1076-1077. Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe.
Zhao Hankun 趙含坤 (2005). Zhongguo leishu 中國類書, pp. 244-245. Shijiazhuang: Hebei renmin chubanshe.


Contents
I 兵訣評 Bingjie ping (18 juan)
II 戰略考 Zhanlüe kao (33 juan)
III 陣練制 Chenlian zhi (41 juan)
IV 軍資乘 Junzi cheng (55 juan)
V 占度載 Duzhan zai (93 juan)
Chinese literature according to the four-category system

November 19, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail