An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Yuan dianzhang 元典章

Sep 13, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Yuan dianzhang 元典章 "Statutes of the Yuan dynasty" is a collection of edicts on legislative matters from the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368). The edicts are arranged topically and only include such issued before 1322. The unabbreviated title of the collection is Da-Yuan shengzheng guochao dianzhang 大元聖政國朝典章 "Statutes of the sacredly governed the state of the Great Yuan dynasty".

During the reign of Emperor Chengzong 元成宗 (r. 1294-1307) it was ordered that in all local administration units edicts concerning legislative matters had to be collected and submitted for the compilation of a code.

The whole collection comprises 60 juan and is arranged according to ten topics, containing documents until the year 1320, with a supplement extending the content until 1322. Each topic is divided into smaller categories, headlines, and paragraphs (tiao 條), totalling 2,390. The arrangement is similar to the Tang liudian 唐六典 "The six statutes of the Tang dynasty 唐 (618-907)", but might also be derived from the categories into which the archives of the local districts had to be divided.

The Yuan dianzhang is a very rich and important source for the study of the administration of the Yuan period, containing informations about virtually all aspects of Yuan society, law, economy and politics. A very interesting is the use of common language used during that time in everyday conversation, as well as a lot of Mongolian expressions.

There are several slightly differing versions of the Yuan dianzhang. In 1908 the Law Academy of Beijing (Beijing Falü Xuetang 北京法律學堂) publshed the so-called Shen edition 沈刻本, but the most widespread edition is that reprinted by the Palace Museum in Taipeh (Gugong Bowuyuan 故宮博物院) from 1972. The newest edition is that of the Shanghai Guji Press 上海古籍出版社 from 1995.

A Chinese study of the Yuan dianzhang by Chen Yuan 陳垣 (1880-1971) appeared in 1931, and there are several Japanese studies of the collection.

Table 1. Contents of the Yuan dianzhang 元典章
詔令 Edicts and decrees
聖政 Sacred Policy
朝綱 The structure of the Court
臺綱 The structure of the Secretariates
吏部 Issues under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Personnel
戶部 Issues under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Revenue
禮部 Issues under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Rites
兵部 Issues under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of War
刑部 Issues under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice
工部 Issues under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Official Works
Ding Huadong 丁華東 (2001). "Yuan dianzhang de bianzuan pinglüe 《元典章》的編纂評略", Dang'an guanli 檔案管理, 2001 (5).
Li Chongxing 李崇興 (2000). "Yuan dianzhang Xingbu de yuliao jiazhi 《元典章•刑部》的語料價值", Yuyan yanjiu 語言研究, 2000 (8).
Liu Xiao 劉曉 (2013). "Yuandai junshi shi santi: Yuan dianzhang zhong chuxian de sizou xiaolu jun, baojia dingzhuang jun yu tongshi jun 元代軍事史三題目——《元典章》中出現的私走小路軍、保甲丁壯軍與通事軍", Zhongguo shi yanjiu 中國家史研究, 2013 (8).
Mao Liangwei 毛良偉, Shi Jilong 施繼龍, Feng Lisheng 馮立昇(2015). "Cong Yuan dianzhang kann Yuanchao zhibi guanli 從《元典章》看元朝紙幣管理", Beijing Yinshua Xueyuan xuebao 北京印刷學院學報, 2015 (4).
Shu Binglin 舒炳麟 (1995). "Shixi Yuan dianzhang de tese 試析《元典章》的特色", Faxue 法學, 1995 (1).
Yi Linzhen 亦鄰真 (1992). "Yuan dianzhang 元典章", 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. 3, 1453.
Yin Ying 殷纓 (2012). "Yuan dianzhang zhong de Yuanchao dang'an guanli zhidu yanjiu 《元典章》中的元朝檔案管理制度研究", Lantai shijie 蘭台世界, 2012 (12).
Zhao Yanchang 趙彦昌 (2012). "Cong Yuan dianzhang kann Yuandai de dang'an guanli zhidu 從《元典章》看元代的檔案管理制度", Dang'anxue tongxun 檔案學通訊, 2012 (7).