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Chengui 臣軌

Oct 6, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Chengui 臣軌 "Pathways of ministers" is an instruction to state officials compiled by Empress Wu Zetian 武則天 (regent 684-690, ruler 690-704), who ruled during the Tang period 唐 (618-907) and founded her own dynasty called Zhou 周 (690-704).

The 2-juan long book had a forerunner called Bailiao xinjie 百僚新誡 "New admonitions to the hundred officials" that was issued in 686. It consisted of a lot of quotations from older sources. Shortly later the Chengui was issued.

The first part consists of five chapters discussion the unit created by the ruler and his ministers (Tongti zhang 同體章), the loyalty of officials (Zizhong zhang 至忠章), the ruler's duty to follow the "Way" of the state and the dynasty (Shoudao zhang 守道章), the impartial administration of officials (Gongzheng zhang 公正章) and the duty of ministers to submit remonstrances to their ruler (Kuangjian zhang 匡諫章).

The second part, also divided into five chapters, discusses sincerity and trustworthiness (Chengxin zhang 誠信章), sincerity and consciousness of duty (Shenmi zhang 慎密章), resistance to corruption (Lianjie zhang 廉潔章), leadership qualities of generals (Liangjiang zhang 良將章) and the duty of everyone to serve only the people (Liren zhang 利人章).

In 693 Empress Wu ordered that graduates of the provincial examinations had to study the Chengui and eliminated the book Laozi 老子 (Daodejing 道德經) from the curriculum (which had been an important text for the Tang dynasty because Laozi was the patron of the house of Tang).

The original text was lost when the Jurchens conquered northern China, but a copy survived in Japan. It is included in the series Yicun congshu (Isson sōsho) 佚存叢書 and has also found itsway into the Chinese series Wanwei biecang 宛委別藏 and Yueyatang congshu 粵雅堂叢書. A commented edition was published by Luo Zhenyu 羅振玉 (1866-1940) in the collection Dongfang xuehui congshu 東方學會叢書.

Sources:
Du Chengxian 杜成憲 (1996). "Chengui 臣軌", in Zhou Gucheng 周谷城, ed. Zhongguo xueshu mingzhu tiyao 中國學術名著提要, Vol. Jiaoyu 教育卷 (Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe), 215.
Jiaoyu da cidian bianzuan weiyuanhui 《教育大辭典》編纂委員會, ed. (1991). Jiaoyu da cidian 教育大辭典, Part 8, Zhongguo gudai jiaoyu shi 中國古代教育史 (Shanghai: Shanghai jiaoyu chubanshe), Vol. 1, 239.
Li Hexian 李荷先 (1986). "Cong Chengui kan Wu Zetian de junchen lunli sixiang 從《臣軌》看武則天的君臣倫理思想", Huazhong Shifan Daxue xuebao (Zhexue shehui kexue ban) 華中師範大學學報(哲學社會科學版), 1986 (10).
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Pei Chuanyong 裴傳永 (2012). "Tangdai guanzhen mingzhu Chengui yanjiu 唐代官箴名著《臣軌》研究", Lilun xuekan 理論學刊, 2012 (2).
Su Shimei 蘇州士梅 (2012). "Wu Zetian Chengui zhong de chengxin sixiang ji qi chuanbo 武則天《臣軌》中的誠信思想及其傳播", Pingdingshan Xueyuan xuebao 平頂山學院學報, 2012 (12).
Wang Shuanghuai 王雙懷 (1992). "Chengui de zuozhe, niandai he jiazhi 《臣軌》的作者、年代和價值", Xibei Di Er Minzu Xueyuan xuebao (Zhexue shehui kexue ban) 西北第二民族學院學報(哲學社會科學版), 1992 (7).
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 316.
Zhang Xianghong 張向鴻 (2018). "Chengui yu wei chen zhi dao 《臣軌》與為臣之道", Zhongguo lingdao kexue 中國領導科學, 2018 (5).