An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

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", was 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 long Jingshi dadian imitated the structure of the statecraft encyclopaedias Tongdian 通典 and Song huiyao 宋會要 (reconstructed as 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 was divided into 10 chapters and two parts. The first part (qishi 啟事 "affairs [regulated] by imperial announcement"), included 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") informed 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 Yuan-period state and government and were used for the compilation of the official dynastic history of the Yuan, the Yuanshi 元史.

Although the most important duties of the particular state offices do not largely differ from those in relevant political compendia 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 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 (1781-1848) and Wen Tingshi 文廷式 (1856-1904) extracted the latter group of fragments and included it in the series Guangcang xuejiong congshu 廣倉學窘叢書, and the book Daxing mazheng ji 大興馬政記, respectively.

In 1984, Su Zhenshen 蘇振申 published a thorough investigations to the Jingshi dadian and the administrative system of the Yuan, namely the book Yuan zhengshu jingshi dadian yanjiu 元政書經世大典研究 (Wenhua Daxue 文化大學, Taibei).

Table 1. Contents of the Jingshi dadian 經世大典
啟事 Affairs [regulated] by imperial announcement
帝號 Terms concerning the emperor
帝訓 Instructions by the emperor
帝制 The imperial system
帝系 The imperial family
臣事 Affairs [to be managed by] the ministers
治典 Governing: State offices, central government, appointment, titles of nobility, succession in offices
賦典 Taxation: Capital city, household administration and taxation, money, sea transport, tax remittance
禮典 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 Government: War, military system, weapons, reward and punishment, military garrisons and colonies, postal stations
憲典 Law: Precedent system, five punishments, police system, judicial system, bandit suppression, impositions and amnesty
工典 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, 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, 490.
Wang Shenrong 王慎榮 (1990). "Yuanshi zhuzhi yu Jingshi dadian 《元史》諸志與《經世大典》", Shehui kexue bianji 社會科學輯刊, 1990 (5).
Wang Yanxia 王彦霞, Hao Yanhua 郝艷華 (2006). "Qing chaoben Jingshi dadian shulüe 清抄本《經世大典》述略", Tushuguan zazhi 圖書館雜志, 2006 (6).
Wei Xuntian 魏訓田 (2010). "Yuandai zhengshu Jingshi dadian de shiliao laiyuan 元代政書《經世大典》的史料來源", Shixue shi yanjiu 史學史研究, 2010 (3).
Zhang Shaohua 張韶華 (2013). "Yuandai zhengshu Jingshi dadian canxiu renyuan bianxi buzheng 元代政書《經世大典》參修人員辨析補正", Zhongguo dianji yu wenhua 中國典籍與文化, 2013 (7).
Zhao Hankun 趙含坤, ed. (2005). Zhongguo leishu 中國類書 (Shijiazhuang: Hebei renmin chubanshe), 170.
Zhou Shaochuan 周少川 (2016). "Jingshi dadian jishi kaolun 《經世大典》輯佚考論", Wenshi 文史, 2016 (5).