An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Qiguokao 七國考

May 29, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Qiguokao 七國考 "A treatise about the seven states" is a study of the political system of the seven Warring States 戰國 of the late Zhou period 周 (11th cent.-221 BCE) written during the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) by Dong Shuo 董說 (1620-1686), courtesy name Ruoyu 若雨, style Xi'an 西庵, Yuehan 月函 or Louxiang Laoren 漏霜老人, from Wucheng 烏程, Zhejiang.

In his 14-juan long book, Dong describes the state offices, capital, palaces, designations and terms, rituals, music, military, penal law, in total 14 themes, of the states of Qin 秦, Qi 齊, Chu 楚, Zhao 趙, Han 韓, Wei 魏 and Yan 燕.

He used the histories Shiji 史記 and Zhanguoce 戰國策, as well as a lot of other contemporary sources providing information on this theme. Inspite of all his merit to provide information about the administrative systems of the various states during that time, Dong Shuo has been criticized for quoting from unreliable, literary sources like the Liexianzhuan 列仙傳 or Shiyiji 拾遺記, and also for overlooking some information and integrating some institutions or terms from the earlier Spring and Autumn period 春秋 (770-5th cent. BCE).

Concerning the reliability of his sources, there are also some doubts whether the writings of Han period 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE) scholars are sources to be trusted.

The Qiguokao is included in the series Shoushange congshu 守山閣叢書 and Siku quanshu 四庫全書. There is also a print of the Jiaye Studio 嘉業堂 of Master Liu 劉氏 from Wuxing 吳興. In 1956 the Zhonghua Shuju Press 中華書局 published a modern version. In 1987 a revised and commented version appeared, the Qiguokao dingbu 七國考訂補, published by the Shanghai Guji Press 上海古籍出版社.

Li Bingzhong 李秉忠, Wei Canjin 衛燦金, Lin Conglong 林從龍, ed. (1990). Jianming wenshi zhishi cidian 簡明文史知識詞典 (Xi'an: Shaanxi renmin chubanshe), 573.
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, 1458.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 9.
Zhu Shunlong 朱順龍 (1994). "Qiguokao 七國考", in Zhou Gucheng 周谷城, ed. Zhongguo xueshu mingzhu tiyao 中國學術名著提要, Vol. Lishi 歷史卷 (Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe), 614.