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Qingbi shuwen 清祕述聞

Nov 1, 2019 © Ulrich Theobald

Qingbi shuwen 清祕述聞 "Report from the Hall of the Pure Mystery" is a biji 筆記 "brush notes"-style text on the state examinations during the early and high Qing period. The 16-juan long book was compiled by Faššan (Fashishan 法式善, 1753-1813), a Mongol Bannerman and long-term examining editor (jiantao 檢討) in the Hanlin Academy (Hanlinyuan 翰林院), so that he had an excellent insight into the system of the state examinations. He also compiled the books Huaiting zaibi 槐廳載筆 and Taolu zalu 陶廬雜錄. His collected writings are called Jiansutang shiwen ji 薦素堂詩文集 and Huhai shi 湖海詩.

The title of the Qingbi shuwen is derived from a building in the Hanlin Academy, the Qingbi Hall 清祕堂. The book was finished in 1797 and lists the chief (zhukaoguan 主考官) and assistant examiners (tongkaoguan 同考官) of the provincial and metropolitan examinations and provincial examination commissioners (xuezheng 學政) from 1645 to 1798. It also lists the theme of the examination and the names of the holders of the first degree (yijia 一甲, i.e. the three best, bestowed the titles zhuangyuan 狀元, bangyan 榜眼 and tanhua 探花) of graduates of the palace examination, the principal graduates (huiyuanjieyuan 解元).

As the first book of this type delivering information on the Qing examinations, the Qingbi shuwen is a very important source, and can be used for supplementary data to the statecraft encyclopaedia Huidian shili 會典事例.

Faššan's book Huaiting zaibi is a narrative description of the examination system, and also quite valuable. The two boks were printed during the Jiaqing reign-period 嘉慶 (1795 – 1820), and then again in 1889. In 1982 the Zhonghua Book Company (Zhonghua Shuju 中華書局) published a modern edition in the series Qingdai shiliao biji congkan 清代史料筆記叢刊, in a joint version with Wang Jiaxiang's 王家相 supplement Qingbi shuwen xu 清祕述聞續 (16 juan, with Wei Maolin 魏茂林 and Qian Jiafu 錢嘉福, covers the period from 1800 to 1887) and Xu Yuan's 徐沅 (b. 1880) Qingbi shuwen zaixu 清祕述聞再續 (3 juan, with Qi Songwei 祁頌威 and Zhang Zhaofen 張肇棻, 1888 to 1904). A further supplement with a length of 2 juan was written by Qian Weifu 錢維福, the Qingbi shuwen bu 清祕述聞補, which ends in 1886. These texts are also included in the collection Qingbi shuwen sanzhong 清祕述聞三種 of the Zhonghua edition, appended to Wang's Qingbi shuwen xu.

Sources:
Chen Chunbao 陳春保 (2015). "Qingbi shuwen san zhong zai Shangshu xiangguan shiti kaolun 《清秘述聞三種》載《尚書》相關試題考論", Lantai shijie 蘭台世界, 2015 (11).
Feng Jianmin 馮建民 (2011). "Qingdai xiang, huishi kaoguan de diyu fenbu zhuangkuang yanjiu: Jiyu Qingbi shuwen de tongji 清代鄉、會試考官的地域分布狀況研究——基于《清秘述聞》的統計", Jiaoyu xueshu yuekan 教育學術月刊, 2011 (11).
Jiang Jinxing 蔣金星 (2013). "Qingbi shuwen zaixu xiangshi shi tie shi shi ti buyi 《清秘述聞再續》鄉試試帖詩試題補遺", Zhongguo yunwen xuekan 中國韻文學刊, 2013 (7).
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