An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Han zashi mixin 漢雜事秘辛

Dec 3, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Zashi mixin, also called Han zashi mixin 漢雜事秘辛 "Secret jewels of miscellaneous matters from the Han", Han zashi 漢雜事 or Mixin zashi 秘辛雜事, is a novella with historical content written by an unknown author during the Later Han period 後漢 (25-220 CE) . Some critics say that it is a forgery by the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) scholar Yang Shen 楊慎.

In the preface to his edition, Yang Shen says that he obtained the Zashi mixin by a Master Dong 董氏, prefect of Anningzhou 安寧州 as a print formerly owned by Wang Zichong 王子充. The term mixin roughly means "secret adornment". The content of the novella is the history of Liang Ying 梁瑩, as Empress Yixian 懿獻皇后 consort of Emperor Huan 漢桓帝 (r. 146-167), and sister of the powerful regent Liang Ji 梁冀. The literary quality of the Zashi mixin is very ambiguous, with some very illustrative passages and others that are rather monotonous. It is a mixture of historical events, phantasy and some taste of eroticism. Some scholars call the novella therefore a forerunner of erotic novels like Jinpingmei 金瓶梅 or Shenlouzhi quanzhuan 蜃樓志全傳. It is especially such passages that raise doubt about the authenticity of the Zashi mixin as a Han period book.

The Zashi mixin in included in the series Mice huihan 秘冊彙函, Jindai mishu 津逮秘書, Lüchuang nüshi 綠窗女史, Shuofu 說郛, Wuchao xiaoshuo 五朝小說, Wuyishizhai congchao 無一是齋叢鈔, Xiangyan congshu 香艷叢書, Guang Han-Wei congshu 廣漢魏叢書, Longwei mishu 龍威秘書, Shuoku 說庫, Han-Wei xiaoshuo caizhen 漢魏小說采珍, as well as in Wu Zengqi's 吳曾祺 collection Jiu xiaoshuo 舊小說 and Li Gefei's 李格非 Wenyan xiaoshuo 文言小說 (partially).

Li Shuihai 李水海 (ed. 1994). Zhongguo xiaoshuo da cidian 中國小說大辭典, Xian-Qin zhi Nanbeichao 先秦至南北朝, p. 292. Xi'an: Shaanxi renmin chubanshe.
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, vol. 2, p. 2176. Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe.