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Xingtongfu 刑統賦

Apr 3, 2021 © Ulrich Theobald

Xingtongfu 刑統賦 "Rhapsody to the penal law system" is a text on common law written by Fu Lin 傅霖 (jinshi degree 1562), courtesy name 澍蒼, style Lanrui 蘭瑞, in the shape of a rhapsody (fu 賦).

The 4-juan- long text is based on an earlier compilation called Songxingtong 宋刑統 "Penal law system of the Song dynasty 宋 (960-1279)" that had been compiled on imperial order by Dou Yi 竇儀 (914-966) and others in 963. Fu Lin transformed the text of this book into verses with parallel structures to allow it a broader publicity. Fu had also written a commentary on his own compilation that has unfortunately not survived.

The whole text is divided into eight stanzas or rhyme groups (ba yun 八韻). The second part explains the use of eight key words in judicial terminology (mingli bazi 名例八字: yi 以, zhun 准, jie 皆, ge 各, ji 及, qi 其, ji 即 and ruo 若). Of particular importance are familiar relationships that are explained over the whole rhapsody. Another important aspect is atonement (shuzui 贖罪). The book explains:

The five methods of punishment (wuxing 五刑)
chi beating with the bamboo cane
zhang beating with the heavy stick
tu penal servitude
liu exilation to the border regions
si execution
The seven kinds of murder (qisha 七殺)
謀殺 mousha premediated murder
故殺 gusha wilful murder
劫殺 jiesha holdup murder
鬬殺 dousha murder in a brawl
誤殺 wusha manslaughter
戲殺 xisha unintentional homicide
過失殺 guoshisha negligent homicide
The eight deliberations of lessening punishment (bayi 八議)
議親 yiqin relatives of the imperial house
議故 yigu old [retainers, followers] of the emperor
議賢 yixian worthies
議能 yineng competent persons
議功 yigong persons with outstanding achievements
議貴 yigui people in high social positions
議勤 yiqin persons of diligence
議賓 yibin guests of the state
The ten abominations (shi'e 十惡)
謀反 moufan plotting rebellion
謀大逆 mou dani plotting great sedition
謀叛 moupan plotting treason
惡逆 eni contumacy
不道 budao depravity
大不敬 da bujing great irreverence
不孝 buxiao lack of filial piety
不睦 bumu discord in the neighbourhood
不義 buyi unappropriate behaviour
內亂 neiluan incest

The text furthermore speaks of voluntary surrender (zishou 自首), aggravating or lessening punishment (jian-jia 加减), forced analogies (bifu 比附), distinction of plotters and collaborators (shoucong 首從), jurisdictional areas (guanxia 管轄) or redeeming pledges (shoushu 收贖). The author stresses the fact that it was not easy to apply laws in practice, but all codes and precedent cases had to be used with caution.

It seems that the book was circulating in separate versions, but none of these editions has survived. Miao Quansun 繆荃孫 (1844-1919) published it in 1910 in his collection Ouxiang lingshi 藕香零拾 as a facsimile of a manuscript copy owned by the Tieqintongjian Hall 鐵琴銅劍樓. The whole text is also preserved in the commentaries Xingtongfu jie 刑統賦解 (Master Xi 郤某 and Wang Liang 王亮, ca. 1090), Cujie Xingtongfu 粗解刑統賦 by Meng Kui 孟奎 (1352), Bieben Xingtongfu 别本刑統賦 (anonymous) and Xingtongfu shu 刑統賦疏 by Shen Zhongwei 沈仲緯 (c. 1340) that are all to be found in the series Zhenbilou congshu 枕碧樓叢書, published in 1913. The latter is a careful annotation that quotes from the commented law code Tanglü shuyi 唐律疏議 and adds several Yuan-period verdicts to clarify statements in the Xingtongfu. Of a whole number of nine or ten commentaries, only those four have survived. In 1990 a modern edition was published by the Zhongguo Shudian 中國書店 in the series Haiwangcun guji congkan 海王邨古籍叢刊. The text is also included in the series Gezhi congshu 格致叢書.

Kong Qingming 孔慶明 (1990). "Xingtongfu 刑統賦", in Yang Chunxi 楊春洗 et al., ed. Xingshi faxue da cidian 刑事法學大辭書 (Nanjing: Nanjing daxue chubanshe), 579.
Liu Naiying 刘乃英 (2011). "Songdai Xingtongfu zuozhe yu banben lüekao 宋代《刑统赋》作者与版本考略", Tushuguan gongzuo yu yanjiu 图书馆工作与研究, 2011 (4): 63-64+68.
Peng Wei 彭巍 (2020). "Xingtongfu zhushiben yu Song-Yuan shiqi de lüxue zhuanxing 《刑统赋》注释本与宋元时期的律学转型", Fazhi xiandaihua yanjiu 法治现代化研究, 2020 (2): 119-130.
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Yue Chunzhi 岳纯之 (2014). "Lun Xingtongfu shu ji qi faxue jiazhi 论《刑统赋疏》及其法学价值", Zhengfa luncong 政法论丛, 2014 (2): 60-66.
Wang Zhiqiang 王志强 (1996). "Xingtongfu 刑統賦", in Zhou Gucheng 周谷城, ed. Zhongguo xueshu mingzhu tiyao 中國學術名著提要, Vol. Zhengzhi falü 政治法律卷 (Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe), 252.