An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Baojia shu 保甲書, Baojia shu jiyao 保甲書輯要

Mar 4, 2016 © Ulrich Theobald

Baojia shu jiyao 保甲書輯要 "Excerpt from the book about the village militia" is a history of the baojia system 保甲 according to which male persons in each village served in a local-defence organization. The book was compiled by Xu Dong 徐棟 (1793-1865), original name Fen 棻, courtesy name Deru 德如, style Zhichu 志初, later Zhichu 致初, Xiaolu 筱麓 or Xiaolu 笑陸, and revised by Ding Richang 丁日昌 (1823-1882), style Yusheng 禹生 or Yusheng 雨生, and Chijing 持靜.

Xu was of the opinion that the system, actually created under this name during the reform period under the Counsellor-in-chief Wang Anshi 王安石, was already described in principle in the Confucian Classic Zhouli 周禮, where it had the name xiangbi 鄉比. Xu said, it was also used by the legalist reformer Shang Yang 商鞅 (390-338 BCE), who called it shiwu 什伍 system.

The use of the autonomous local organization was manifold and reached from constabulary activities to the compilation of household and tax registers (see also lijia system 里甲). The Qing dynasty 清 (1644-1911) inherited this system but made some slight changes to it, created the posts of registration unit head (paitou 牌頭), tithing chief (jiatou 甲頭) and security group head (baozhang 保長). Each household was given a seal, and for each village, movements in settlement were minutely registered. The book was first printed in 1848.

In the early Daoguan reign-period 道光 (1821-1850), Xu Dong wrote a book on local governance (Mulingshu 牧令書, with a length of 30 juan), part of which was a first collection on the baojia registers with a length of 4 juan, with the title Baojiashu 保甲書. It was aimed to provide a handbook for district magistrates.

Ding Richang shortened the text of Xu, retained the 4 fascicles, but rearranged it in the following way: The book begins with "established regulations" (dingli 定例), the second fascicle includes "completed rules" (chenggui 成規), the third (Guangcun廣存) includes a great number of essays on the topic, and the fourth (Yuanshi 原始) is a history of the system.

Ding's book, called Baojiashu jiyao, was printed in 1868 by the Zhejiang Printing Office 浙江書局, and again in 1871. It is also available as an appendix to the Mulingshu, printed in 1865.

In 1873, Ding Richang published a collection of similar books called Muling quanshu 牧令全書. It includes Xu Dong's Mulingshu jiyao 牧令書輯要 and Baojiashu jiyao (both revisions by Ding), Zhang Yanghao's 張養浩 (1270-1329) Mumin zhonggao 牧民忠告 from the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368), and three short books of the Qing-period writer Liu Heng 劉衡, namely Yongli yongyan 庸吏庸言, Dulü xinde 讀律心得, and Shuliao wenda 蜀僚問答 (app. Qinpin zhouxian yishi 欽頒州縣事宜).

Yang Minxin 楊繩信, ed. (1987). Zhongguo banke zonglu 中國版刻綜錄 (Xi'an: Shaanxi renmin chubanshe), 200, 509.
Lu Wei 駱偉, ed. (2000). Guangdong wenxian zonglu 廣東文獻綜錄 (Guangzhou: Zhongshan daxue chubanshe), 431.
Zhongguo fanglüe congshu 中國方略叢書 (Chengwen Publishing),