An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Daxue yanyi bu 大學衍義補

Oct 16, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Daxue yanyi bu 大學衍義補 "Supplement to the 'Abundant Meanings of the Great Learning'" is a treatise on statecraft from the Confucian perspective written during the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) by Qiu Jun 丘濬 (1421-1495), courtesy name Zhongshen 仲深, style Shen'an 深庵, Yufeng 玉峰, Qiongshan 瓊山 or Haishan Laoren 海山老人. Although from the title it seems to be a philosophical exegesis of the Confucian classic Daxue 大學 "The Great Learning", the book is concerned with history and practical politics.

During the Song period 宋 (960-1279), when the chapter Daxue was extracted from the ritual Classic Liji 禮記 and received a separate status as a Classic and one of the so-called "Four Books" (sishu 四書), the Confucian scholar Zhen Dexiu 真德秀 (1178-1235) wrote the book Daxue yanyi 大學衍義, in which he explained the practical adaption of the Daxue with a deep-going study of all things to achieve and all-embracing insight, further sincerity, an upright mind, cultivation of the self, and the "regulation" of one's family.

What Zhen had not covered in his book was the practical use of the Daxue concerning the government of a state. Qiu Jun therefore wrote a vast supplement to cover this topic. He screened a large amount of writings of historiography and other fields and in 1487 presented to the throne his 160 juan-long book. In twelve chapters, Qiu dives into the practical use, while Zhen had only covered the theory, as Qiu Jun says in his preface.

The Daxue yanyi bu was first printed in the very late 15th century, and then again around 1600. The Wanli Emperor 萬曆 (Emperor Shenzong 明神宗, r. 1572-1619) wrote a preface to the book, which gave it an official status. There are four other prints produced during the Ming period, namely one by Zhang Pu 張溥, one by Chen Renxi 陳仁錫, a third by Qiao Yingjia 喬應甲, and the so-called Xubu quanshu print 續補全書本.

During the Qing period 清 (1644-1911), the Daxue yanyi bu was included in the official series Siku quanshu 四庫全書 and in the series Siku quanshu huiyao 四庫全書薈要. The importance of Qiu's book can also be seen in the fact that many Ming and Qing scholars wrote excerpts and additions to it, like Ling Dizhi 淩遞知 (Daxue yanyi bu jinghua 大學衍義補精華, in 17 juan), Hu Shining 胡世寧 (Du Daxue yanyi yujian 讀大學衍義虞見, 2 juan), and Chen Hongmou 陳弘謀 (Daxue yanyi bu jiyao 大學衍義補輯要, 12 juan).

Table 1. Contents of the Daxue yanyi bu 大學衍義補
1. 正朝廷 Zheng chaoting Rectifying the court
2. 正百官 Zheng baiguan Rectifying the state offices
3. 固邦本 Gu bangben Solidifying the fundaments of the regions
4. 制國用 Zhi guoyong Systematizing the state income
5. 明禮樂 Ming liyue Elucidating rituals and music
6. 秩祭祀 Zhi jisi Bringing order into the state sacrifices
7. 崇教化 Chong jiaohua Estimating education
8. 備規制 Bei guizhi Preparing rules and regulations
9. 慎刑憲 Shen xingxian Being careful with punishments and laws
10. 嚴武備 Yan wubei Taking seriously military preparation
11. 禦夷狄 Yu yidi Controlling the barbarians
12. 成功化 Cheng gonghua Accomplishing virtuous government
Jiang Dachuang (1992). "Daxue yanyi bu 大學衍義補", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 1, 150.