An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Yizhoushu 逸周書

Sep 14, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Yizhoushu 逸周書 "Superfluous [chapters of the] Book of Zhou" is a history of early China, covering the reigns of the early Western Zhou dynasty 西周 (11th cent - 770 BC) rulers from King Wen 周文王 down to King Jing 周景王 (r. 544-521 BCE). The book was originally called Zhoushu 周書 "Book of the Zhou" and is often traditionally called Jizhong zhoushu 汲冢周書 "Book of Zhou from the tomb of Ji 汲". The Yizhoushu can be called a parallel to a part of the much more famous Confucian classic Shangshu 尚書 "Book of Documents".

In ancient times it was assumed that the Yizhoushu was a compilation of documents not included in the Shangshu, in other words, rated to be of minor value by Confucius as alleged compiler of the Shangshu. While this assumption is without substantial prove it can be sure that the book Yizhoushu is a compilation created during the Warring States period 戰國 (5th cent-221 BCE), although some of the chapters might origin in the Western Zhou period. Other chapters, on the other hand, were revised or even written during the Han period 漢 (206 BCE-220 AD), like the chapter Shixun 時訓.

When Liu Xiang 劉向 (79-8 or 77-6 BCE), court librarian of the early Han period, investigated the book he had 45 chapters at hand, while the received version known today has 60 chapters. Some scholars suggest that the received version is a combination of the old Zhoushu known to Liu Xiang and a Zhoushu unearthed from a tomb during the late 3rd century CE.

The Yizhoushu consists of 10 juan and 70 chapters (jie 解). Of 11 chapters only the titles survive. For 42 chapters a commentary was written by the Jin period 晉 (265-420) scholar Kong Zhao 孔晁. Similar to the Shangshu, there is a short preface to each chapter.

The content of the Yizhoushu is very heterogenous. Some chapters are speeches of the kings to the army (Duxun 度訓, Mingxun 命訓, Changxun 常訓), other chapters speak of disaster relief (Dikuang 糴匡, Dakuang 大匡), other are theoretical explanations of the way of war, or records of certain events and speeches by the kings to each kind of occasion. Chapters 30 to 50 describe the conquest of the Shang dynasty’s 商 (17th-11th cent. BC) realm by King Wu of Zhou 周武王 and the establishing of the Zhou kingdom. To strenghten their reign, for instance, the king made an address to the old ministers of the Shang who would serve the new dynasty (Shangshi 商誓). The Duke of Zhou 周公 surveyed the place where the capital of Luoyang had to be established (Duyi 度邑). Some chapters are theoretical and speak about astronomy (Shixun), posthumous titles (Shifa 謚法), the dynastic cycles (Shiji 史記) or state offices (Guanren 官人, Zhifang 職方).

The oldest and perhaps 'genuine' chapters of the Yizhoushu are Shifu 世俘, Shangshi, Huangmen 皇門, Jigong 祭公, and Rui liangfu 芮良夫. Others (Duyi, Ke Yin 克殷) can be identified as at least reporting historical events as reflected in contemporary documents like bronze inscriptions.

For the most part of history the Yizhoushu was neglected by scholars because some of the paragraphs in the book do not correspond with the established theories of Confucianism and its interpretation of history. Any surviving prints have treated very negligent and are therefore full of printing errors.

There are more than ten different versions of the Yizhoushu surviving of which the oldest is a print from 1354 from the provincial academy in Jiaxing 嘉興, Zhejiang. This version served for the reprint in the first series of the series Sibu congkan 四部叢刊. The Qing period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Lu Wenchao 盧文弨 compared several versions and published a text-critical edition, known as the Baojing Study version 抱經堂本.

Quite a few Qing scholars studied the Yizhoushu which shall be mentioned here in brief: Zhu Youceng 朱右曾 (Zhoushu jixun jiaoshi 周書集訓校釋), Ding Zongluo 丁宗洛 (Yizhoushu guanjian 逸周書管箋), Pan Zhen 潘振 (Zhoushu jieyi 周書解義), Chen Fengheng 陳逢衡 (Zhoushu buzhu 周書補注), Tang Dapei 唐大沛 (Yizhoushu fenbian jushi 逸周書分編句釋), Wang Niansun 王念孫 (Du Yishoushu zazhi 讀逸周書雜志), Yu Yue 俞樾 (Zhoushu pingyi 周書平義), Sun Yirang 孫怡讓 (Zhoushu jiaobu 周書斠補), Liu Shipei 劉師培 (Zhoushu buzheng 周書補正), and Chen Hanzhang 陳漢章 (Zhoushu houan 周書後案).

Table 1. Alternative Histories (bieshi 別史)
1. 度訓解 Duxun
2. 命訓解 Mingxun
3. 常訓解 Changxun
4. 文酌解 Wenzhuo
5. 糴匡解 Dikuang
6. 武稱解 Wucheng
7. 允文解 Yunwen
8. 大武解 Dawu
9. 大明武解 Damingwu
10. 小明武解 Xiaomingwu
11. 大匡解 (I) Dakuang
12. 程典解 Chengdian
13. 程寤 Chengwu (lost)
14. 秦陰 Qinyin (lost)
15. 九政 Jiuzheng (lost)
16. 九間 Jiujian (lost)
17. 劉法 Liufa (lost)
18. 文開 Wenkai (lost)
19. 保開 Baokai (lost)
20. 八繁 Bafan (lost)
21. 酆保解 Fengbao
22. 大開解 Dakai
23. 小開解 Xiaokai
24. 文儆解 Wenjing
25. 文傳解 Wenzhuan
26. 柔武解 Rouwu
27. 大開武解 Dakaiwu
28. 小開武解 Xiaokaiwu
29. 寶典解 Baodian
30. 酆謀解 Fengmou
31. 寤敬解 Wujing
32. 武順解 Wushun
33. 武穆解 Wumu
34. 和寤解 Hewu
35. 武寤解 Wuwu
36. 克殷解 Keyin
37. 大匡解 (II) Dakuang
38. 文政解 Wenzheng
39. 大聚解 Daqu
40. 世俘解 Shifu
41. 箕子 Jizi (lost)
42. 耆德 Xide (lost)
43. 商誓解 Shangshi
44. 度邑解 Duyi
45. 武儆解 Wujing
46. 五權解 Wuquan
47. 成開解 Chengkai
48. 作雒解 Zuo Luo
49. 皇門解 Huangmen
50. 大戒解 Dajie
51. 周月解 Zhouyue
52. 時訓解 Shixun
53. 月令解 Yueling (lost)
54. 謚法解 Shifa
55. 明堂解 Mingtang
56. 嘗麥解 Changmai
57. 本典解 Bendian
58. 官人解 Guanren
59. 王會解 Wanghui
60. 祭公解 Jigong
61. 史記解 Shiji
62. 職方解 Shifang
63. 芮良夫解 Rui liangfu
64. 太子晉解 Taizi Jin
65. 玉佩解 Yupei
66. 殷祝解 Yinzhu
67. 周祝解 Zhouzhu
68. 武紀解 Wuji
69. 銓法解 Quanfa
70. 器服解 Qifu
周書序 Zhoushu xu Postface
Feng Fang 馮方 (1996). "Yizhoushu 逸周書", in Feng Kezheng 馮克正, Fu Qingsheng 傅慶升, ed. Zhuzi baijia da cidian 諸子百家大辭典 (Shenyang: Liaoning renmin chubanshe), 314.
Huang Huaixin 黃懷信 (1992). "Yizhoushu 逸周書", 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), 3, 1406-1407.
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文郁, ed. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 1, 925.
McNeal, Robin (2012). Conquer and Govern: Early Chinese Military Texts from the Yi Zhou shu (Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai'i Press).
Shaughnessy, Edward L. (1993). "I Chou shu", in Michael Loewe, ed. Early Chinese Texts: A Bibliographical Guide (Berkeley: Society for the Study of Early China/Institute of East Asian Studies), 229-233.
Shi Xuanyuan 施宣圓 et al., ed. (1987). Zhongguo wenhua cidian 中國文化辭典 (Shanghai: Shanghai shehui kexue yuan chubanshe), 106.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 794.
Zhu Shunlong 朱順龍 (1994). "Yizhoushu 逸周書", in Zhu 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), 221.