An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Shijing kao 石經考

Oct 6, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

There are two books with the title Shijing kao 石經考 "Research on the Stone Classics", both being studies on the Stone Classics. The first was written by Gu Yanwu 顧炎武 (1613-1682), and the second by Wan Sitong 萬斯同 (1638-1702), who lived both during the early Qing period 清 (1644-1911).

Gu Yanwu's book is a treatise on seven inscriptions of Confucian Classics on stone slabs, the so-called Stone Classics, about former scholars had had fierce disputes about the time of origin, the authenticity, and the author of both text and calligraphy. Of Pei Wei's 裴頠 (267-300) inscription from the Western Jin period 西晉 (265-316) no trace has survived, and scholars disputed about the Stone Classics of the Han 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE, calligraphied only in one typeface) and Wei 曹魏 (220-265) periods (the latter in three writing styles), but not about those of the Tang period 唐 (618-907) that have survived in the "stone forest" of Chang'an 長安 (Xi'an 西安, Shaanxi).

The Song period 宋 (960-1279) scholars Zhao Mingcheng 趙明誠 (1081-1129), author of Jinshilu 金石錄, and Hong Shi 洪適 (1117-1184), author of Lishi 隸釋, had tried to settle the most important questions about the early inscriptions. Gu Yanwu provides a detailed overview of these disputes and tries to find out a solution with the help of arguments that earlier authors had not detected, for instance, the argument that the Stone Classics written in three typesets (sanzi shijing 三字石經, in ancient script, seal script and chancery script) can barely have been produced by Handan Chun 邯鄲淳 (c. 132-221), as can be seen in the rules for calligraphy as described by the Jin-period calligrapher Wei Heng 衛恆 (d. 291).

Gu Yanwu's Shijing kao is included in the imperial series Siku quanshu 四庫全書.

Wan Sitong's book made a step further and used Gu Yanwu's arguments and methods to clarify further questions. He quoted statements of Wu Renchen 吳任臣 (c. 1628-c. 1689), Xi Yi 席益 (fl. 1131), Fan Chengda 范成大 (1126-1193), Wu Yan 吾衍 (1272-1311, also called Wuqiu Yan 吾丘衍) and Dong You 董逌 (fl. 1127) and added his own findings. His book is a valuable addition to Gu Yanwu's earlier text, but not as refined as Hang Shijun's 杭世駿 Shijing kaoyi 石經考異. While Gu focused on the early Stone Classics, Wan Sitong's interest was in Tang and Song-period inscriptions.

His book is likewise included in the Siku quanshu, where it is called Wanshi shijing kao 萬氏石經考, in order to discern it from Gu's book.

Chen Longyu 陳隆予 (2012). "Wan Sitong Shijingkao banben yuanliu ji guancang chaoben kaoshu 萬斯同《石經考》版本源流及館藏抄本考述", Henan Tushuguan xuekan 河南圖書館學刊, 2012 (6).
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, ed. (1996), Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 1, 1505.
Yang Hengping 楊恆平 (2008). "Beisong erti shijing kaoshu 北宋二體石經考述", Zhongguo dianji yu wenhua 中國典籍與文化, 2008 (2).