An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Wujing qishu 武經七書

Nov 18, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Wujing qishu 武經七書 "Seven Military Classics" is a canon of books on military strategy that were printed on imperial order during the Song period 宋 (960-1279). The classics are Sunzi bingfa 孫子兵法, Wuzi 吳子, Simafa 司馬法, Liutao 六韜, Weiliaozi 尉繚子, Huangshigong sanlüe 黃石公三略, and Li Weigong wendui 李衛公問對.

Emperor Renzong 宋仁宗 (r. 1022-1063) established a military academy (wuxue 武學) which was soon abolished. In 1072 Emperor Shenzong 宋神宗 (r. 1067-1085) reopened the academy and ordered to fix a code of classics to be studies by the officers. In 1080 seven books, the last being the Sunzi bingfa, were determined as the classical military canon.

Numerous scholars commented the books included in the canon as a whole, like the Song-period master Shi Zimei 施子美 (Wujing qishu jiangyi 武經七書講義), the Ming-period 明 (1368-1644) scholars Liu Yin 劉寅 (Wujing qishu zhijie 武經七書直解) and Huang Xianchen 黄獻臣 (Wujing kaizong 武經開宗), as well as the Qing-period 清 (1644-1911) researchers Zhu Yong 朱墉 (Wujing qishu huijie 武經七書彙解), Xia Chenyi 夏振翼 (Zengbu Wujing sanzi tizhu 增補武經三子體注), Lu Jing 魯經 (Wujing daquan biaoti huijie 武經大全標題會解), and Chen Jiuxue 陳玖學 (Qizi binglüe pingzhu 七子兵略評注).

There is a print from the Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279) preserved which served as the original for the many editions produced during the Ming and Qing periods.

Table 1. The series Wujing qishu 武經七書
(Song) NN (comp.)
Song edition; Ming edition; Qing edition
書名, length in juan Title Author(s)
孫子兵法 (孫子) 三卷 Sunzi bingfa (Sunzi) (Zhou) 孫武 Sun Wu; (Wei) 曹操 Cao Cao (comm.)
吳子 二卷 Wuzi (Zhou) 吳起 Wu Qi
司馬法 三卷 Simafa (Zhou) 司馬穰苴 Sima Rangju
(唐太宗)李衛公問對 三卷 Tang Taizong Li Weigong wendui (Tang) 李靖 Li Jing
尉繚子 五卷 Weiliaozi (Zhou) 尉繚 Wei Liao
黃石公三略 三卷 Huangshigong sanlüe (Zhou) 黃石公 Huangshi Gong
六韜 (太公六韜) 六卷 Liutao (Taigong Liutao) (Zhou) 呂望 Lü Wang
Shanghai tushuguan 上海圖書館, ed. (1982). Zhongguo congshu zonglu 中國叢書綜錄 (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe), Vol. 1, 705.
Wu Rusong 吳如嵩 (1989). "Wujing qishu 武經七書", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, part Junshi 軍事 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1078-1079.