An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Mingwenheng 明文衡

Jul 24, 2022 © Ulrich Theobald

Mingwenheng 明文衡 is a collection of prose and poetry writings from the early Ming period. The anthology was compiled by Cheng Minzheng 程敏政 (d. c. 1499), courtesy name Keqin 克勤, from Xiuning 休寧, Anhui. His highest office was Right Vice Minister of the Ministry of Rites (libu you shilang 禮部右侍郎). His collected writings are called Huangdun ji 篁墩集.

Cheng submitted the collection to the throne for official imperial acknowledgement. It has a length of 98 juan and includes writings of all literary genres from the pre-Ming period until the late 15th century. Following the example of the poetry collection Yutai xiyong 玉臺新詠, the names of all writers are mentioned, barring Fang Xiaoru 方孝孺 (1357-1402), who is called with his courtesy name because his name was tabooed because of political reasons. The collection stresses the outstanding importance of some writers like Song Lian 宋濂 (1310-1381) or Liu Ji 劉基 (1311-1375). It also underlines a group of poets that are called the "school of the ministerial style" (taige pai 臺閣派), even if their writings presented in this collection are not of an outstanding literary quality. There is therefore no difference made between old-style and modern-style poetry.

As a Neo-Confucian scholar, Chen Minzheng saw his duty in showing how literature carried the "Way" (zai dao 載道) in itself. For this reason, many of the works included express the praise of virtue and focus on Confucian concepts.

The anthology was first printed in 1510 by Zhang Peng 張鵬. is included in the imperial series Siku quanshu 四庫全書 and the Sibu congkan 四部叢刊, where it is called with its original name Huang-Ming wenheng 皇明文衡.

Bryant, Daniel (1986). "Ming-wen heng 明文衡", in William H. Nienhauser, ed. The Indiana Companion to Traditional Chinese Literature (Bloomington/Indianapolis: Indiana University Press), 632.
Guo Yu 郭玉 (2014). "Cheng Minzheng Mingwenheng banben yuanliu kao 程敏政《明文衡》版本源流考", Nanchang Gongcheng Xueyuan xuebao 南昌工程學院學報, 33 (2): 73-77.
Lin Fei 林非, ed. (1997). Zhongguo sanwen da cidian 中國散文大辭典 (Zhengzhou: Zhongzhou guji chubanshe), 299.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 491.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1994). Zhonghua gu wenxian da cidian 中華古文獻大辭典, Vol. Wenxue 文學卷 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 389.