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The Five Yi Yin Texts Zhou, Boqun


The Five Yi Yin Texts are a group of ancient Chinese bamboo-slip manuscripts that were looted, sold to the Hong Kong Antiquites Market, and purchased by Tsinghua University in 2008. The names of these manuscripts, some of which were given by the Tsinghua editors (indicated by an asterisk), are *Yin zhi 尹至 *Yin's Arrival (Volume 1), *Yin gao 尹誥 *Yin’s Announcement (Volume 1), Chi jiu zhi ji Tang zhi wu 赤鳩之集湯之 屋 A Red Pigeon’s Alighting on Tang’s Hut (Volume 3), *Tang zai chimen 湯在啻門 *Tang at the Gate of the Thearch (Volume 5), and *Tang chu yu Tangqiu 湯處於湯丘 *Tang Resided at Tang Hill (Volume 5). Scholars have come to treat these five manuscripts of unknown authorship as a group, because they all focus on the exemplary relationship between Tang, the first king of Shang, and his legendary minister Yi Yin. The first two texts, *Yin zhi and *Yin gao, tell stories about Tang and Yi Yin’s conquest of Jie, the last king of Xia. They are identified by most scholars as belonging to the textual tradition of the Shang shu 尚書 or “Exalted Scriptures.” The third text, Chi jiu, was originally bound together with *Yin zhi and *Yin gao and copied by the same scribe, but unlike the historical anecdotes in the other two texts, it is a fantastic story about magic, exorcism, and numinous animals. The last two, *Tang zai chimen and *Tang chu yu Tangqiu, were also bound together and copied by the same hand (though not the one that copied the above three). Both are philosophical dialogues between Tang and Yi Yin. While *Tang zai chimen constructs a systematic cosmology of heaven, earth, state, and person, *Tang chu yu Tangqiu centers around the virtue of the king and its political significance. Prior to the discovery of these manuscript, there were already numerous anecdotes about Yi Yin in ancient Chinese texts. As philosophers and storytellers often used him to illustrate their arguments, Yi Yin came to assume several new identities as a spy, a cook, and a dowry escort in the Warring States period. All of these identities are seen in the Tsinghua manuscripts, but they rarely have argumentative functions.

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