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Shijing 詩經 (Classic of Odes) Chan, Pak-ka Parker


The Shijing 詩經 (Classic/Book of Odes/Songs) is the earliest Chinese poetry anthology, contains 305 odes from the early Western Zhou (eleventh century BC) to the middle of the Spring and Autumn period (sixth century BC). There are also six other sheng 笙 (reed pipe) odes listed in the table of contents with only titles. It has long been called Shi 詩 (Odes) or Shisanbai 詩三百 (Three Hundred Odes) until receiving the title of Shijing after its canonisation in the Western Han dynasty. After the canonisation, Shijing had long been a part of the study of Confucian classics instead of literature, for nearly two millennia until the end of the imperial era. The Shijing is divided into four main sections: (1) guo/bangfeng 國/邦風 (airs of the states), xiaoya 小雅 (minor court hymns), daya 大雅 (major court hymns), and song 頌 (eulogies). Feng includes 160 odes from the 15 groups of the odes of the states. Ya 雅 includes 31 major and 74 minor odes of the states. Song includes 40 odes. Shijing’s prosodic pattern is dominantly (ca. 92%) a four-syllable line. There is a close relationship between the Shijing and performance in early China. These odes served originally as word texts for chanting, performing with instruments, singing, and singing to the accompaniment of dancing. The differences in musical features are regarded as a base of the division of the sections. Feng has generally been defined as local airs, bearing musical features of various geographical regions. Ya was also defined as proper, the music of the central states. Song was music used exclusively for sacrificial offerings in ancestral temples. A few of the odes include the names of the composers. Some pieces are attributed to historical figures, but most of the odes are anonymous. The content of the pieces included the voices from a variety of backgrounds, ranging across men and women, commoners and nobles, farmers and soldiers. The topics range from daily life (courtship, marriage, agriculture) to royal activities (battles, feasts, sacrifices). There were two theories on how the odes were collected but neither of them is confirmed: (1) The Han dynasty historical record Hanshu 漢書 (History of Han) claims that the Zhou court had an office known as the caishi zhi guan 采詩之官 (ode collecting office), which was charged with collecting odes from various parts of the Zhou empire by recording odes sung by people. (2) The Guoyu 國語 (Discourses of the States) and the Liji 禮記 (Records of Rites) state that the officials and musicians presented odes (composed by themselves or collected from various places) to the court. Despite the theories, it is certain that the odes had gone through a process of polishing, arrangement, and editing therefore the current form is somewhat uniform in form and language. During the early Han dynasty, there were three interpretative lines of filiations of Shijing study enjoyed positions at the Imperial Academy and imperial patron, namely Lu 魯, Qi 齊, and Han 韓. Another line of filiations, the Mao tradition received such status only briefly under Emperor Ping (r. 1 BC-6). There is no decisive evidence showing the differences between the lines, instead, the lines shared some common grounds: (1) attempted to assign individual odes, or group of odes, to specific historical circumstances; (2) attributed to the odes a secondary layer of meaning in the more spiritual realm of ethical and political philosophy. Despite the long period of being out of power, the Mao Shi 毛詩 and its attached daxu 大序 (major preface) and xiaoxu 小序 (minor preface) became the orthodox interpretation and recension of the text after Zheng Xuan 鄭玄 (127–200) wrote the Mao Shi zhuan jian 毛詩 傳箋 (A Commentary on the Mao Shi). The Mao tradition eventually eclipsed all other three interpretative lines so that their interpretations and recensions of the Shijing have not survived except in fragments. The Qi tradition had died out during the third century and Lu the early fourth. The Han tradition has one work escaped from vanishing - Han Shi waizhuan 韓詩外傳 (Outer Commentary on Han Interpretative Line of Filiations to the Odes) - was no longer being taught at least before the sixth century. The recension and interpretative texts of the Mao tradition later became mandatory texts for imperial examinations. That is, the transmitted version of the Shijing after the Han dynasty became confined to a sole interpretative tradition: the Mao Shi. The transmitted Shijing was preserved only intact in the interpretative tradition of Mao. This was the only case where this happened amongst the Five Classics and the much later Wujing zhengyi 五經正義 (Corrected Meanings of Five Classics) compiled by Kong Yingda 孔穎達 (574–648) in Tang dynasty and Thirteen Classics (shisan jing 十三經) in Ming dynasty. The following listed some major excavated manuscripts for the study of Shijing. The sequence arranged chronologically to the estimated date of texts: (1) the Anhui University 安徽大學 obtained a collection of ancient manuscripts dated ca. 330 BC. Among the collection there is a set of written Shi, making it the earliest version of Shijing by now. The slips of the Anhui Shi manuscripts are all numbered consecutively at the tail of the front side of the slips, from 1 to 117. As 24 slips are missing today, a total of 93 slips remain, carrying 57 odes. All of the odes are from the guofeng, thus the Anhui Shi has slightly more than one-third of the 160 odes of the ‘Airs of the States’ of the transmitted Shijing. Anhui Shi demonstrated a geographical western bias of the states. Not one of the eastern states and only one of the central states of the transmitted guofeng is present in the Anhui Shi. The sequence order of the states also differs remarkably from the received Shijing. See Dirk Meyer and Adam C. Schwartz, The Songs of Royal Zhōu and Shào: Shī 詩 of the Ānhuī Warring States Manuscripts (Berlin: De Gruyter, forthcoming). (2) the Shanghai Museum acquired in Hong Kong a large collection of Warring States period (ca. 300 BC) texts written on bamboo strips. One work, titled “Kongzi Shi lun” 孔子詩論 (“Confucius’ Discussion of the Odes”) by the editors from the museum, contains what purports to be Confucius’ interpretation of certain Shijing pieces. The Shi lun is, for now, the earliest discussions of the odes which differ fundamentally from all other transmitted and excavated interpretations. See Ma Chengyuan 馬承源, ed., Shanghai bowuguan cang Zhanguo Chu zhushu 上海博物館 藏戰國楚竹書 (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 2001). (3) two versions of the “Ziyi” 緇衣 (“Black Robes”) text which has a number of Shijing citations. One from Guodian 郭店 (Hubei province) and dated ca. 300 BC, the other again in the Shanghai Museum. "Ziyi” is a chapter of the transmitted Liji 禮記 (Records of Rites). The citations and interpretations from such manuscripts play a vital role in comparing them with the numerous citations of Shijing in early China. See Martin Kern, “The Odes in Excavated Manuscripts,” in Martin Kern, ed., Text and Ritual in Early China (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2005), 149-193. (4) two versions of the “Wuxing” 五行 (“Five [Forms of] Conduct”) which has a number of Shijing citations. One from Guodian, the other with an elaborating commentary from Mawangdui 馬王堆 tomb no. three near Changsha 長沙 (Hunan province; tomb closed 168 BC). See Martin Kern, “The Odes in Excavated Manuscripts,” in Martin Kern, ed., Text and Ritual in Early China (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2005), 149-193. (5) in a tomb at Shuanggudui 雙古堆 (Fuyang 阜陽, Anhui province; tomb closed 165 BC), 65 odes from the guofeng and 4 odes from xiaoya written on 170 wooden strips were discovered. The fragments contain many variants that cannot be found from the transmitted interpretative lines of filiations. This version of Shijing is important particularly for the study of interpretative lines as it is dated at the time that interpretative traditions were flourishing and started to secure their imperial positions. See Hu Pingsheng 胡平生 and Han Ziqiang 韓自強, eds., Fuyang Han jian Shijing yanjiu 阜陽漢簡詩經研究 (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1988). (6) over 1200 broken bamboo slips of Shi were retrieved from the main burial chamber of the archaeological site of the Mausoleum of Marquis of Haihun (Haihunhou 海 昏侯) near Nanchang 南昌 (Jiangxi province; tomb closed 59 BC). Compared to the findings listed above, the preservation condition of such a set is worse. The original sequence is lost and many characters are damaged. Given the extent of the damage, the arrangement of the slips is inevitably confined under the shadow of the transmitted Mao recension. Despite the adverse condition, the discovery is phenomenal for the study of Han interpretative traditions as the only recorded Shi teacher of the Marquis of Haihun was a teaching master of the Lu interpretative line of filiation. The Haihun Shi is thus being regarded as the first and complete recension of the long lost Lu Shi. See Zhu Fenghan 朱鳳瀚, Xihan Haihunhou Liu He mu chutu zhujian Shi chutan 西漢海昏侯劉賀墓出土竹簡《詩》初探, Wenwu 6 (2020): 63-72. (7) the Xiping Stone Classics 熹平石經 carved in the Eastern Han (175) include the Lu recension of the Shijing. See Ma Heng 馬衡, Han shijing jicun 漢石經集存 (Beijing: Kexue chubanshe, 1957).

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