An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Jingshi dadian 經世大典

Jul 11, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Jingshi dadian 經世大典 "Great statutes of statecraft", original title Huangchao jingshi dadian 皇朝經世大典 "Great statutes of statecraft of the August Dynasty", is an administrative and institutional history of the Yuan dynasty 元 (1279-1368) compiled by a team of officials under the supervision of Zhao Shiyan 趙世延 (1260-1336) and Yu Ji 虞集 (1272-1348). The 880 juan "scrolls" long Jingshi dadian imitates the structure of the Tongdian 通典 and the Song huiyao (jigao) 宋會要輯稿, both collections of statutes and regulations for all layers of the imperial administration, from state offices, tax system, state rituals and imperial sacrifices to military and jurisdictional regulations. The Jingshi dadian was finished in 1331. It is divided into 10 chapters and two parts. The first part (qishi 啟事 "affairs [regulated] by imperial announcement"), includes the chapters on designations, instructions, regulations and genealogies of the imperial house. The second part (chenshi 臣事 "affairs [to be managed by] the ministers") informs about the governmental structure, taxes, rituals, rules in government, jurisdictional matters and such of official labour. The chapters and sub-chapters of the Jingshi dadian are an important source of the Yuan period state and government and were used for the compilation of the official dynastic history of the Yuan, the Yuanshi 元史.
Alghough the most important duties of the particular state offices do not largely differ from those in relevant political encyclopaedias from the Tang 唐 (618-907) and Song 宋 (960-1279) periods, there is also a great deal of new subjects and themes, like imperial gardens, state granaries, city walls, bridges, canals, temples, monasteries, Mongolian tents, weapons, salt production, handicrafts for jade, metals, leather, felt, sculpture. Especially the last few themes show the sense for practical crafts that was prevalent during the Yuan period.
The book was lost during the mid-Ming period 明 (1368-1644) and is only preserved in fragments. Fragments of the Jingshi dadian are mainly assembled in three books, firstly, the literary anthology Guochao wenlei 國朝文類 (also known as Yuanwenlei 元文類), which contains the prefaces to the chapters, secondly, the encyclopaedia Yongle dadian 永樂大典, where the parts on the grain management system, the grain transport system and the official courier system can be found, and thirdly, several chapters in the reprint series Guangcang xuejun congshu 廣倉學宭叢書, like the horse trade, the granary system, official felt and tapestry workshops, painting and modelling, notes on varies state offices, and the relations to Korea. The Qing period 清 (1644-1911) scholars Xu Song 徐松 and Wen Tingshi 文廷式 extracted these parts and included it in the reprint series Guangcang xuejiong congshu 廣倉學窘叢書, resp. the book Daxing mazheng ji 大興馬政記.
In 1984, Su Zhenshen's 蘇振申 thorough investigations to the Jingshi dadian and the administrative system of the Yuan was published, the Yuan zhengshu jingshi dadian yanjiu 元政書經世大典研究.

啟事 Qishi Affairs [regulated] by imperial announcement
帝號 Dihao Terms concerning the emperor
帝訓 Dixun Instructions by the emperor
帝制 Dizhi The imperial system
帝系 Dixi The imperial family
臣事 Chenshi Affairs [to be managed by] the ministers
治典 Zhidian "Governing": State offices, central government, appointment, titles of nobility, succession in offices
賦典 Fudian "Taxation": Capital city, household administration and taxation, money, sea transport, tax remittance
禮典 Lidian "Rites": Court ritual, seals, chariots and robes, music, calendar, memorials and edicts, state academies, literature, official selection and appointment, omina, temples and altars, Buddhism and Daoism
政典 Zhengdian "Government": War, military system, weapons, reward and punishment, military garrisons and colonies, postal stations
憲典 Xiandian "Law": Precedent system, five punishments, police system, judicial system, bandit suppression, impositions and amnesty
工典 Gongdian "Official work": Imperial palaces and gardens, official buildings, state granaries, city walls, bridges, canals, temples, monasteries, crafts of the imperial household
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (ed. 1996), Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 1, p. 1436. ● Lu Junling 陸峻嶺 (1992), "Jingshi dadian 經世大典", 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, p. 490. ● Zhao Hankun 趙含坤 (ed. 2005), Zhongguo leishu 中國類書 (Shijiazhuang: Hebei renmin chubanshe), pp. 170-171.