An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Huang-Ming baoxun 皇明寶訓

Jul 11, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

There are two different books called Huang-Ming baoxun 皇明寶訓 "Precious instructions of the August Ming". The first book is dating back to the Hongwu reign-period 洪武 (1368-1396), when Zhu Yuanzhang 朱元璋, founder of the Ming dynasty 明 (1368-1644), issued his imperial instructions in 5 juan.

The "Instructions" are modeled on the Tang-period 唐 (618-907) book Zhenguan zhengyao 貞觀政要, a book that presents models for institutional regulations. The first chapter of the Huang-Ming baoxun contains general regulations for the emperor and his conduct of government, from observing Heaven's will to the duty to exert a benevolent and exemplary government.

The second chapter points out details in daily government with the duty to observe rituals, to honour meritorious officials and to rely on a household policy of austerity. The third chapter presents details about how to interact with the ministers and state officials from the side of the officials, the fourth chapter from the viewpoint of the emperor. The fifth chapter finally deals with the interrelations between the court and the military and with the "barbarians".

The book was published under the editorship of Zhan Tong 詹同 and Song Lian 宋濂 (1310-1381).

A second book with the title Huang-Ming baoxun was issued during the Wanli reign-period 萬曆 (1573-1619). It was compiled by Lü Ben 呂本 (1504-1587) and Chen Zhiben 陳治本 (jinshi degree 1592) and contains an enlarged version of the earlier Hongwu instructions. The new title was Taizu Gaohuangdi baoxun 太祖高皇帝寶訓 in 15 juan.

There is also an extension containing the instructions of the successive emperors in 6 more juan. The Wanli version is 40-juan long and contains the governmental instructions of ten Ming emperors.

Table 1. Contents of the Huang-Ming baoxun 皇明寶訓 (Hongwu version 洪武本)
1. 敬天 Venerate Heaven
2. 孝思 Have filial thoughts
3. 勤民 Care for the people
4. 仁惻 Be kind and pitiful
5. 恩澤 Be benevolent and gracious
6. 卻貢獻 Decline tributes
7. 勵忠節 Encourage loyalty
8. 敬鬼神 Respect the spirits
9. 斥異端 Reprimand deviationists
10. 練兵 Train the army
11. 育人 Educate people
12. 教太子諸王 Teach the princes
13. 正家道 Rectify the Way of the (imperial) house
14. 保全功臣 Preserve meritorious ministers
15. 禮臣下 Regulate the officialdom
16. 謙德 Be modest and virtuous
17. 警戒 Adhere to austerity
18. 務實 Adapt to reality
19. 節儉 Be frugal and sparing
20. 戒奢侈 Refrain from extravagance
21. 議禮 Discuss the rituals
22. 定律 Fix the law
23. 守法 Keep to the rules
24. 釁刑 Use the penal law
25. 評古 Regard antiquity critically
26. 禮前代 Take earlier rituals as a model
27. 求賢 Search for worthies
28. 任官 Appoint (competent) officials
29. 尊儒術 Venerate the Confucian skills
30. 定都 Fix the capital
31. 論治道 Dispute the rule by the Way
32. 求諫 Seek for critical admonitions
33. 納諫 Accept critical admonitions
34. 謀略 Plan carefully
35. 祥異 Respect omina
36. 諭群臣 Instruct the (civilian) officialdom
37. 諭將士 Instruct generals and troops
38. 招諭 Issue instructions
39. 懷遠人 Pity those who became estranged of you
40. 制蠻夷 Regulate the savages
Liao Xinyi 廖心一 (1992). "Huang-Ming baoxun 皇明寶訓", 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, 400.
Niu Jianqiang 牛建強 (2000). "Ming chu Da-Ming rili yu Huang-Ming baoxun de zuanxiu 明初《大明日曆》與《皇明寳訓》的纂修", Shixue shi yanjiu 史學史研究, 2000 (2).
Yang Yongkang 楊永康 (2008). "Hongwu qinian guanqiu Huang-Ming baoxun shiliao jiazhi chutan 洪武七年官修《皇明寳訓》史料價值初探", Shixue shi yanjiu 史學史研究, 2008 (9).