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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Linzhang county and the culturally central periphery in mid-Ming China Sedo, Timothy R. 2010

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   ABSTRACT This dissertation offers a local history of a small, peripheral county located in the most northern part of Henan Province during the Ming dynasty known as Linzhang County. Henan suffered a great deal from the wars that recurred frequently from the end of the Six Dynasties Period through the late fourteenth century and Linzhang County was among its many places that seemed to “fall behind” as the economic and cultural centres of the empire shifted to the south. Linzhang could however, claim a direct link with some of the empire’s most culturally central heartlands of the past.  Given that the foundation of the Ming state followed a period of prolonged alien rule under the Mongol Yuan Dynasty, promotion of such “cultural centrality” was at the discursive core of the Ming state’s restorationist legitimacy. In this context, even a small peripheral county that went largely untouched by the dramatic commercial transformations characterizing southern China throughout the 15th to 17th centuries could rightfully claim a degree of “centrality” within the Ming realm. One particular mid-Ming magistrate named Jing Fang, realized this opportunity and in his tenure actively promoted projects that publicly linked the county to its distant antiquity. In just a few years Jing Fang successfully rectified Linzhang’s historic record; compiled and edited the county’s gazetteer; promoted the cult of the region’s most famous ancient culture hero, Ximen Bao; and renovated the county’s most important historic sites, temples and public buildings. Jing Fang’s dizzying pace of activity reveals the use and power of a stylized antiquity as a vital resource for local governance in north China during the mid-Ming period. While the dominant southern, or Jiangnan model of Ming studies emphasizes relatively autonomous commercial development and literati academic achievement as the key to late imperial wealth and culture, this “northern,” or perhaps more precisely “central” study gives more credit to state supervision and popular culture in the sustenance of the Ming. It also offers a new local vantage point to begin to rethink the deeply regional characteristics of the composite Ming realm.      iii	
   TABLE OF CONTENTS  Abstract ................................................................................................................................ ii Table of Contents................................................................................................................ iii List of Figures ..................................................................................................................... vi Acknowledgements ............................................................................................................ vii Dedication............................................................................................................................ ix 1    Beyond Jiangnan: Micro-History in the “Culturally Central” Periphery............... 1              1.1 Introduction: First Impressions ........................................................................................ 1              1.2 The Jiangnan Model of Ming Studies .............................................................................. 6              1.3 Beyond the Jiangnan Model ........................................................................................... 14 1.4 A Regional Approach..................................................................................................... 17 1.5 A Mid-Ming A Resource History .................................................................................. 20 1.6 Gazetteer Sources: From the Macro to the Micro .......................................................... 25 1.7 Linzhang Gazetteer Particulars ...................................................................................... 32 1.8 Gazetteer Strategies........................................................................................................ 36 	
   2   Linzhang Orientations: Reading and Seeing the Locality ........................................ 41 2.1 Introduction .................................................................................................................... 41 2.2 Reading the Locality: a Marginal Preface...................................................................... 46 2.3 Seeing the Locality: the 1506 Gazetteer’s Prefatory Map ............................................. 64 2.3.1 Symbolic Scale, Selection and Sign Language .............................................. 72 2.3.2 Zhong: Power and Authority.......................................................................... 75 2.3.3 State and Water .............................................................................................. 80 2.4 Conclusion.................................................................................................................... 100  3   Creating the Confucian Saint: the Canonization of Ximen Bao ............................ 102 3. 1 Introduction ................................................................................................................. 102 3.2 Ximen Bao in the Early Textual Record ...................................................................... 109 3.2.1 Inept and Disloyal: the Lushi chunqiu .........................................................109 3.2.2 Impatient and Quick Tempered: the Han Feizi............................................112 3.2.3 Local Resistance to Ximen Bao’s Rule: The Huainanzi..............................113 3.3. The Confucian Shift: Ximen Bao in the Zhan guo ce/Shuo yuan and in the Shi ji .....116 3.3.1 A Confucian Pupil:  The Zhan guo ce and the Shuo yuan ...........................116 3.3.2 The Canonical Account: the Shi ji ...............................................................118 3.4 Contextualizing Ximen Bao and the Shi ji: Shamans, He Bo and        Magical Efficacy ......................................................................................................... 122 3.4.1 Female Shamans in the Pre-Han Period....................................................... 123 3.4.2 He Bo and Water Sacrifices ......................................................................... 126 3.4.3 The Decline in State Shamanism ................................................................. 133 3.5 Constructing the Confucian Saint ................................................................................ 135 iv	
   3.5.1 Opening the 12 Irrigation ditches: Managerial Efficiency........................... 137 3.5.2 What about Shi Qi........................................................................................ 141 3.6 Conclusion ................................................................................................................... 144 	
   4 The Religious Rise, Fall and Rehabilitation of Ximen Bao in  Linzhang County: 220 -1644 AD............................................................................. 146  4.1 Introduction .................................................................................................................. 146 4.2 From the Secular to the Religious: Ximen Bao Worship Following the       Han Period.................................................................................................................... 149 4.3 Ye and the North China Plain during the Six Dynasties Period .................................. 153 4.4 The Religious and Social Life of the Ximen Bao Shrine during the        Six Dynasties Period ................................................................................................... 156 4.5 The End of the Six Dynasties and the Fall of the Ximen Bao Shrine .......................... 160 4.6 The Late Imperial Rehabilitation of Ximen Bao in Linzhang County......................... 162 4.6.1 Cultural Centrality and the Mid-Ming Textual Revival of Ximen Bao ....... 164 4.6.2 Ximen Bao as City God: Building/Renovating Linzhang’s           City God Temple......................................................................................... 169 4.6.3 Public Performance and the Restoration of the City God           Temple in Linzhang .................................................................................... 174 4.6.4 A Mid-Point Renovation? ............................................................................ 177 4.7 Claiming Ximen Bao.................................................................................................... 179 4.8 Conclusion.................................................................................................................... 187   5 “From the Minute that he Stepped out of the Cart:” Jing Fang’s   Magistrate Activism in a 1506 Northern Gazetteer.............................................. 190  5.1 Introduction .................................................................................................................. 190 5. 2 Finding the Banal Magistrate ...................................................................................... 191 5.3 Career Local Administrators: the Rank-and-File Magistrate....................................... 197 5.4 A Transplanted History: The Jing Family in Shandong’s Dingtao County ................. 200 5.5 Waiting for Work ......................................................................................................... 209 5.6 “From the Moment that Jing Fang stepped out of the Cart:” An Activist          Magistrate’s Successes.............................................................................................. 212 5.7 Local Gazetteer as Personal Biography: Jing Fang’s 1506 Gazetteer ......................... 220 5.7.1 Jing Fang’s Biography ................................................................................. 225 5.7.2 The Magistrate’s Private/Public Charity...................................................... 227 5.7.3 The Magistrate’s Moral Sway...................................................................... 228 5.7.4 The Magistrate’s Statecraft .......................................................................... 229 5.7.5 The Magistrate’s Judicial Cunning .............................................................. 232 5.8 Losing the Trail: Jing Fang Record in Subsequent Appointments .............................. 234 5.9 Conclusion: Jing Fang as Mid-Ming Magistrate .......................................................... 237   6 Conclusions: Reflections of an Unworthy Magistrate: Linzhang County in the Late Ming ............................................................................................................. 241  6.1 Introduction .................................................................................................................. 241 6.2 Droughts, Famines, Epidemics and Floods: the late Ming Context in        Linzhang County ......................................................................................................... 242 v	
   6.3 Dislocation and Social Unrest in late Ming Linzhang County .................................... 246 6.4 Zhang Erzhong in the Late Ming ................................................................................. 250 6.5 A Brief Record of an Unworthy Magistrate of Linzhang County ............................... 253 6.6 Conclusions: Reading Back from Zhang Erzhong....................................................... 259  Bibliography..................................................................................................................... 264 Appendices ....................................................................................................................... 283	
   Appendix A: Translation of Ximen Bao Passage from the Lushi Chunqiu .......................283 Appendix B: Translation of Ximen Bao Passage from the Han Feizi ...............................285 Appendix C: Translation of Ximen Bao Passage from the Huainanzi ..............................286 Appendix D: Translation of the Ximen Bao Passage from the Shuo Yuan........................288 Appendix E: Translation of Ximen Bao Passage from the Shi ji .......................................289 Appendix F: Translation of Yu Xin’s “A Poem for the Ximen Bao Temple”................... 292 Appendix G: Historical Chart of Changing Jurisdictions for Anyang and                        Linzhang Counties ...................................................................................... 293                   vi	
   LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1.1 Historic Monument in Linzhang County……………………………............... ... 2  Figure 1.2 William Skinner’s Physiographic Macroregions……………………............... . 18  Figure 2.1 “Map [of the Terrain] within the [County] Borders” (境內之圖)……………..70  Figure 2.2 “Map of the County Seat” (縣治之圖)……………………………………….. .71  Figure 2.3 Yao Jianzhi’s Map of the Zhang River During the Shang Period…………... ...87  Figure 2.4 Yao Jianzhi’s Map of the Zhang River During the Late Zhou Period………....88  Figure 2.5 Yao Jianzhi’s Map of the Zhang River During the Ming Period…………… ...90  Figure 3.1 Monument to Ximen Bao in Linzhang County……………………………….107                   vii	
   ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This dissertation could have never been completed without a great deal of help, support, and guidance from a number of people.   I first stumbled onto this topic when a Ming documents reading group that I was a part of at the University of Toronto randomly selected a gazetteer from the Tianyige collection to read in the fall of 2003. I would like to thank the initial members of this group, Desmond Cheung, Darryl Sterk, Adam Bohnet and Ihor Pidhainy who are probably just as shocked as I am that somehow our arbitrary selection seven years ago grew into this dissertation project.  While at the University of British Columbia I have had the great fortune of being surrounded by an incredible group of teachers, scholars, colleagues and friends.   I am extremely grateful to the Centre for Chinese Research and its Director, Alison Bailey, for her continued support and for graciously housing me and my books over the past few years.  At various stages in this project, I received insightful suggestions, comments and criticism from Leo Shin, Diana Lary, Alexander Woodside, Timothy Cheek, Alison Bailey, Michael Szonyi, Thomas Nimick, Roger Des Forges, Jing Liu, Cherie Hanson,  Michael Schoenhals, Guo Xiaolin, Grace Fong and Robin Yates. I also could have not have asked to be surrounded by a better cohort of classmates.  I would especially like to thank: David Luesink, Malcolm Thompson, Dai Lianbin, Huang Xin, Anna Belogurova, Jack Hayes, Noa Grass, Tom Woodsworth, Nick Simon, Craig Smith, and Heidi Kong. I am also thankful to all of my friends in China, Shi Lei, Han Minjie, Che Lin, Chen Runyo, Bao Jiajian, Fu Lingchao, and Mat Morgan who generously provided me with all of their insider’s knowledge of China.  My experiences in China would have never been the same without it At key stages of this project I received generous financial support for which I am thankful including: the Ontario Graduate Scholarship Program, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the Chiang Ching Kuo Foundation.   I am also grateful to other members of UBC’s History Department, especially Gloria Lees, Leslie Paris, and Danny Vickers who have helped me secure funding at the times when I needed it the most I reserve a special thanks for the following people who have played important roles in my growth and intellectual development: to Ralph Crozier, Richard King and Greg Blue who first introduced me to China and encouraged me every step of the way as I began my studies; to Jason Young who generously offered to read through the entire dissertation and kept me sane while finishing this final draft in the cold of a Montreal winter; to Zhang Dewei who I could also count on for help and guidance through tricky passages of Chinese text; to Matt Irving, John Welk, Roy Turner, and Ben Liu who kept me honest; to my brother and sister who keep me grounded; and to Abhishek Kaicker, for always having something intelligent to say about everything– a warm thank you to all of you.  I would also like to offer a very special thanks to my close mate Desmond Cheung for being with me every step of the way.  From U of T to UBC, his friendship, erudition, and generous help is a major factor behind this dissertation’s completion.  I cannot thank him enough.  I am especially grateful to my teacher Timothy Brook who urged me to pursue my own interests and provided me the intellectual freedom to do so.  With patience he viii	
   guided me through Ming sources and was always generous with his time when I had questions and problems.  His learning, dedication, and intellectual curiosity continue to inspire me. I reserve my last thanks for my wife and my parents. Debbie Wong has kept my spirits high while completing this dissertation and has provided me with the emotional supported that I needed to see this project to its completion.  She also kept me fed and if you ever have the fortune of eating her food you will know how truly lucky I am.   To my parents, words cannot express my thanks and gratitude for your support and guidance throughout the years.  Writing a dissertation is a complicated and stressful process and knowing that I could always count on your love and support means the world to me.  I dedicate this dissertation to you.                     ix	
     1  Chapter 1: Beyond Jiangnan: Micro-History in the “Culturally Central” Periphery   1.1 Introduction: First Impressions When traveling to a new place, first impressions are always important.  In 2006, I had the opportunity to travel to my area of study, Linzhang County (臨漳縣), for the first time.   Getting there was not particularly easy and required riding a small beat-up “bun-van” from Handan city located in the southernmost tip of Hebei Province for almost two hours before I reached the “county city” (縣城) of Linzhang.   Linzhang is somewhat off the beaten path.  Few Chinese have ever heard of the place and it is not directly linked to the national highway or railway system.  The preferred mode of transportation for many in the area is still two-wheeled carts pulled by donkeys.  With no large scale industry to speak of, historic sites that are far too esoteric to be of interest to most people and a predominately agricultural landscape there is little reason for most to visit Linzhang county.  Yet after almost two hours of being thrown around inside the suspension-less minivan, which somehow managed to magnify every bump in the potholed road, we emerged onto a pristinely paved circle with a massive spire that soared into the sky.   Amused by a foreigner wanting to stop and look at something so routine to the locals, the driver in a barely intelligible local dialect asked if I wanted to stop and have a look.  I responded with an enthusiastic “yes” and in seconds I was outside of the cramped van and walking around the monolith that somehow resembled both a dollar sign and the head of a mythical creature all at the same time.      2  Figure 1.1 Historic Monument in Linzhang County  Source: Photo by author, summer 2006  I was pleasantly surprised to find that sitting below the imposing spire, typical of monumental architecture found in the central plains region, was an enormous granite-faced cube with four sides depicting reliefs from the annals of the county’s past. Because the historic remains of Cao Cao’s (曹操, 155-220 CE) Wei (曹魏) capital are preserved within the Linzhang County boundary, one of the four sides was reserved for images of the famous Three Kingdoms ruler and his ministers.1  The next two sides depicted stories associated with the most famous  1Both reliefs depict Cao Cao (曹操) and his ministers resting below the famous Three Terraces Pavilions (San tai 三 臺). Following the defeat of his chief rival, Yuan Shao (袁紹), in 200 CE, the famous Three Kingdoms general Cao Cao was able to consolidate control over the North China Plain and establish his capital in Ye (today’s Linzhang) in  3  local official and first hydro-bureaucrat to rule the region, Ximen Bao (西門豹, 5th Century BCE).2  One of these sides illustrated the well-known historical incident when the upright and righteous Ximen Bao supervised the tossing of a group of corrupt local shamanesses (巫) into the billowing waves of the local river;3 the second portrayed Ximen Bao supervising the construction of twelve irrigation canals used to irrigate the fields of Ye. Nestled between these two sets of reliefs was a lengthy inscription that outlined the administrative history of the county and traced its distinct connection to a glorious and distant past.4  204.  To celebrate his achievements Cao Cao ordered the construction of the Copper Sparrow Terrace (Tong que tai 銅雀臺) in 210, followed eight years later by construction of the Golden Tiger Terrace (Jin hu tai金虎臺) and the Ice Well Terrace (Bing jing tai冰井臺).  According to the Records of Ye (Ye zhong ji 鄴中記), it was during the reign of Shi Hu (石虎 295-349 CE) that the Golden Tiger Terrace’s name was changed to Golden Phoenix Terrace (Jin feng tai金鳳臺) to avoid an imperial naming taboo.  Taken together these three structures were commonly referred to throughout the ages as the Three Terraces (San tai三臺). The Records of Ye provides the most complete account of the majesty, size, and use of these terraces and their importance within the Jian’an (建安) culture of the times. While the Ice Well Terrace had 150 foot deep pits to store ice, the two other terraces were primarily ceremonial - perhaps defensive - in design.  Cao Cao is said to have led two of his sons to the top of the Copper Sparrow Terrace in 212 to compose rhapsodies on the majesty of the structures and their kingdom.  Many subsequent emperors, officials and members of the literati, such as Cao Pi (曹 丕, 220-265 CE) and Ouyang Xiu (歐陽修, 1007-1072 CE), would follow suit and compose their own poems odes to the magnificence of the Three Terraces.   For a complete translation of the Records of Ye see Edward H. Schafer, “Yeh Chung Ji,” in T’oung Pao, Vol. 76, livr. 4/5 (1990): 147-207, pp. 175-178; Robert Joe Cutter has also analyzed the rhapsody written by Cao Cao’s son, Cao Zhi in 212 CE.  See Robert Joe Cutter, “Cao Zhi’s (192-232) Symposium Poems,” in Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles and Reviews, vol. 6 no. 1/2 (July 1984): 1-32.  For local information on the Three Terraces and a collection of related poems and texts see Jing Fang 景芳, ed. Linzhang xian zhi  臨漳縣志 [Gazetteer of Linzhang County], 1506:  juan 1, 1a; juan 6,  2b-3a; juan 9, 13a-21a; and Hao Liangzhen 郝良真, et. al. eds., Zhao du guan guan guang zhi nan 趙都觀光指南 [Handbook for Sightseeing in the Zhao Capital] (Handan: Handan shi shehui kexue yanjiu suo, 1993), pp. 23-24.  2 From the surviving historical records it is impossible to know the exact dates for both Ximen Bao’s life and his tenure in Ye.  We only know that he served in the county sometime during the reign period of the Marquis of Wei (446 – 396 BCE).  Ximen Bao’s record in Ye will be taken up in much more detail in Chapter Three.  3 From the historic sources it remains unclear exactly what river these shamanesses were tossed into.  Situated in the fertile Central Plains region of China, Linzhang County has witnessed the constant meandering of a wide variety of rivers and tributaries across its territory over the past two thousand years.  This situation makes it difficult to gauge exactly which river or river tributaries were in the region at any given historic time.  4 The inscription is entitled, “Soaring Clouds of the Copper Sparrow Pavilion” and was dedicated by the Linzhang County People’s Government in 1998. Linzhang xian renmin zhengfu 臨漳縣人民政府 [Linzhang County’s People’s Government], Tong que fei yun ming ji 銅雀飛云銘記 [Soaring Clouds of the Copper Sparrow Pavilion – Monument Inscription], 1998: n.p.   4  According to this text, the administrative territory now occupied by Linzhang County was first known as Ye and was initially established by Duke Huan of Qi5 at the end of the 7th century BCE.  Under orders from the Marquis of Wei (魏文侯, 403-387 BCE), Ye became the Wei state’s administrative capital in the first years of the 4th Century BCE.  Over the centuries, Ye took on many forms and at times served as the capitals for the Cao Wei (曹魏, 220-265 CE), the Later Zhao6 (后趙, 319 – 351 CE), and the short lived Northern Qi (北齊, 550 – 577 CE) dynasties.  It was not until 314 CE that Ye became known as Linzhang, a name reflecting the importance of the Zhang River (漳水) that figured so prominently in the local environment.7 Aside from the more generic references to Linzhang’s role in the 20th century War of Resistance, the inscription had surprisingly very little to say about Linzhang County itself before 1949; the majority of its text is devoted to outlining the cultural achievements found in the region’s Ye antiquity. The text states that it was at this time that the region served as a key political, economic, military and cultural centre for the Yellow River flood plain and that it was the “fertile soil of ancient Ye that nurtured the countless examples of benevolent  5 Duke Huan of Qi or, Qi Huangong (齊桓公) ruled the Qi state from 685 BCE to 643 BCE. While sovereign Duke Huan of Qi appointed his chief advisor Guan Zhong (管仲) to the post of Prime Minister and initiated a wide range of political and administrative reforms for which he is well known to this day. See Cho-yun Hsu, “The Spring and Autumn Period,” Cambridge History of Ancient China: From the Origins of Civilization to 221 B.C., eds. Michael Loewe and Edward L. Shaughnessy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999): 545-586, pp. 553-554.  6The later Zhao (後趙, 319-351 CE) was one of the Sixteen Kingdom’s established during the Jin Dynasty (265-420 CE) by Shi Le 石勒 of the Jie ethnicity.  While the Later Zhao’s capital was first established in Xiangguo (襄國) situated in modern Xintai, Hebei), it was moved soon after in 335 CE by Shi Hu (石虎) to the former site of Ye (鄴 城) - today’s Linzhang.  7 See Hebei sheng Linzhang xian difangzhi bianzuan weiyuan hui, Linzhang xian zhi 臨漳縣志, 1999, p. 11; Anon., Henan sheng qu xian yange jianbiao河南省區縣沿革簡表 [Simplified Chart of County Evolution in Henan Province] n.d, Republican era  (Taibei: Chengwen chubanshe, 1968): p. 13; and Shao Jian 少劍, “Linzhang you he er lai” 臨漳由何而來 [Where did Linzhang Come From?], Zhao wenhua 趙文化 [Zhao Civilization]. no. 15 (Feb. 2006): 40-41.   5  government . . .found in the county’s brilliant historic record.”8  According to the inscription, this brilliant record is best reflected in the several anecdotes that were told widely throughout the various realms of empires past that dealt with Ye’s most famous local official, Ximen Bao. The historic staying power of these distant anecdotes provides the inscription’s conceptual and textual bridge to the present day.  If Linzhang is to “build up the structure of the county and city square, to rationalize its thoroughfare, to make the county beautiful and bring back a spirit of culture to the city” locals must first under the leadership of the party study and emulate “the spirit of Wei times and bring back the efflorescence and beauty of Ancient Ye.”9 It may seem odd to start a dissertation focusing on a small locality during the mid-Ming period with such a lengthy description of a late twentieth century monument.  Yet the significance of this monument and its inscription go far beyond its value as an opening literary hook.   Given the current accelerated state and rhetoric of modernization in contemporary China, Linzhang’s monument to the past seems completely out of step with the rhythm of the times.  At the same time as Shanghai promotes images of lofty skyscrapers as symbols of the city’s economic and cultural capital in contemporary China and the world, Linzhang meagerly offers up an obscure and ancient culture hero.   In this current era of radical and dramatic transformations, I had to ask, why would Linzhang promote such an ancient and relatively obscure culture hero as a model for the county’s modernization? A cynic’s answer might be that Linzhang has simply nothing else going for it - and to a certain extent this may be true.  The county is certainly peripheral with no real national reputation to speak of; its residents remain poor and tied to the land; and its economy is weakly integrated into the larger trends of China’s current state of rapid economic growth.  Maybe this  8 Linzhang xian renmin zhengfu 臨漳縣人民政府 [Linzhang County’s People’s Government], Tong que fei yun ming ji 銅雀飛云銘記 [Soaring Clouds of the Copper Sparrow Pavilion – Monument Inscription], 1998: n.p.  9 Linzhang xian renmin zhengfu, Tong que fei yun ming ji, 1998, n.p.  6  monument is a case of the truism illustrated by all the countless attractions erected in highway- side towns located throughout Canada and the United States – the larger and more obscure the structure, the smaller and less significant the town.  Linzhang’s monument might simply be explained as such - a small roadside curiosity in a backwater place; a stagnant monument to honour a matter of local pride significant only to those who call this place home. If I was not familiar with the county’s historic record beforehand, I too may have arrived at this conclusion, got back on the “bun-van” and headed straight to the county archives. However, having the benefit of previously studying the 1506 edition of the county’s local gazetteer, I was struck by the continued symbolic resonance of Ye and this Ximen Bao character in the county’s historical record.  Much like the 1998 monument, the 1506 gazetteer similarly emphasized the county’s strong connective links with past and offered little evidence of the dramatic social, cultural and economic shifts more commonly associated with the times.  Judged from its public records, Linzhang County was as curiously out of step with the times in 1506 as it was in 1998; when I arrived in 2006, it appeared that not much had changed. Perhaps a local official first arriving in Linzhang County in the middle decades of the Ming period might have also felt the same.  1.2 The Jiangnan Model of Ming Studies As a discipline, history is often described as the study of change and continuity over time. However, it is my sense that much historical writing tends to privileges change as the prime unit of historical analysis and only engages with questions of continuity in so far as they provide a backdrop to better understand more progressivist modes of historical development.  From this perspective, there is little reason to study a place like Linzhang.  Throughout the course of the Ming period (1368-1644), the local gentry remains small, weak, and unorganized, the county  7  produces only one figure of any dynastic reputation, and the local economy remains largely the same as it had in previous times (except for the limited introduction of a few New World food stuffs towards the latter half of the Ming).  One might simply dismiss Linzhang as the stagnant exception to the better understood rule of Ming social, cultural and economic transformation. You could even ask, “Why historically study a place that does not change?”   This dissertation is a deliberate attempt to shift some focus away from “change” as the key variable in our historic understanding of the Ming towards the ways in which a type of local “dynamic continuity” was constructed around the creation and use of a canonized antiquity in a small peripheral northern county.  In other words, rather than use continuity as a stagnant foil from which to understand the “more important” historical issue of change, I take the construction and sustenance of continuity as a dynamic historical force itself, and one that could be mobilized to important social, political and cultural ends in peripheral places like Linzhang County. Throughout much of this dissertation I will be working implicitly against the grain of what I label the “Jiangnan model” of Ming scholarship.   “Jiangnan” (江南) literally means “South of the River” and refers to the lands located immediately south of the Yangzi River. Geographically the term includes the southern parts of Jiangsu and Anhui Provinces, and the northern parts of Jiangxi and Zhejiang Provinces.  More specifically it has come to represent the agriculturally, economically and culturally vibrant region located along the lower reaches of the Yangzi River Delta.   Many of China’s historically most important cities, literati centres and commercial hubs such as Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Ningbo and Yangzhou10 are included within the Jiangnan designation.  10 In her Speaking of Yangzhou: a Chinese city, 1550-1850, Antonia Finnane also includes Yangzhou, a city located north of the Yangzi River, into the Jiangnan designation due to shared cultural and economic similarities.  See Antonia Finnane, Speaking of Yangzhou: a Chinese city, 1550-1850 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2004).   8  By focusing on the dramatic socio-economic changes that occurred in the Jiangnan region during the Ming and Qing periods an entire generation of English language scholars came of age during the 1980s and 1990s and challenged previous notions of “Chinese stagnation” that many scholars held throughout much of the twentieth century.11    Much of their work owed its conceptual underpinning to previous Japanese Marxist scholarship on the socio-economic history of the Ming and mirrored their long-standing interest in the monetary and commercial history of the Jiangnan region in late imperial China.12      No one book better represents this focus than Timothy Brook’s foundational Confusions of Pleasure.13  Rich in historic detail and vivid in style, Brook’s 1998 work outlines the ways in which society emancipated itself from the heavy hand of the early Ming state.  Working against many of the assumptions of earlier scholars, who often stressed the inherently autocratic nature of the Ming state and its strangle-hold on society,14 Brook examines how the Ming era state- society relationship was radically reworked through the rising tide of commerce brought on by both changes in domestic commercial relations and the influx of foreign silver from the 16th century onwards.  Other scholars such as Craig Clunas have also shifted their focus away from issues of Ming autocracy to examinations of how new commercial relations were reflected in the maturation and expansion of the gentry’s aristogenic pursuits,15 such as Ming garden  11 The most noted work associated with the Chinese stagnation model is Karl August Wittfogel’s Oriental Despotism.  See Karl August Wittfogel, Oriental Despotism: a Comparative Study of Total Power (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1957).  12 Much of this highly influential work was later translated and published in Linda Grove and Christian Daniels Eds, State and Society in China: Japanese Perspectives on Ming-Qing Social and Economic History (Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press, 1984).  13 Timothy Brook, The Confusions of Pleasure: Commerce and Culture in Ming China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998).  14 For a discussion of this historiographical shift see Peter Perdue, Exhausting the Earth: State and Peasant in Hunan, 1500-1850 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1987), pp. 2-9.  15 Robert Hymes first advanced the term aristogenic, which refers to elite status that is not only conferred by birth and land holdings, but also through cultural pursuits. He argues that the composition and focus of the Chinese gentry  9  construction and elite patterns of art connoisseurship.16 The overwhelming majority of these works derive their evidence from Jiangnan case studies. This Jiangnan bias is witnessed even more clearly in the more recent growth fields of world/global history and urban history where the Jiangnan region generally forms the sole geographic backdrop of inquiry.  Works such as Kenneth Pomeranz’s The Great Divergence,17 William Atwell’s contribution to the Cambridge History of China entitled “Ming China and the Emerging World Economy, c. 1470–1650,”18 and Dennis O. Flynn and Arturo Giraldez’s edited volume Metals and Monies in an Emerging Global Economy19 all focus on the Jiangnan core in their attempts to integrate China into world history.  Moreover, recent urban histories, with the notable exception of Susan Naquin’s Peking: Temples and City Life,20 have also tended to focus  changed dramatically in the Southern Song period when local gentry became less tied to national networks. In this new context, the southern gentry elite began to focus more clearly on “local stategeis rather than national ones. Hyme writes that this changed marked a “shift from a national strategy centered on high office to basically a localist one, seeking occasional office as one element of success but not concentrating on bureaucratic position above all else.”   See Robert Hymes, Statesmen and Gentlemen: the Elite of Fu-chou, Chiang-hsi, in Northern and Southern Sung (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), p. 119.  16 See Craig Clunas, Fruitful Sites: Garden Culture in Ming Dynasty China (Durham: Duke University Press, 1996); and Craig Clunas, Superfluous Things: Material Culture and Social Status in Early Modern China (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1991).  17 Kenneth Pomeranz, The Great Divergence: China, Europe and the Making of the Modern World Economy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000).  18 William Atwell, “Ming China and the Emerging World Economy, c 1470-1650,” The Cambridge History of China - The Ming Dynasty, 1398–1644, Part 2, eds. Denis Twitchett and Frederick W. Mote  (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998): 376 – 416.  19 Denis O. Flynn and Arturo Giraldez, eds. Metals and Monies in an Emerging Global Economy (Aldershot: Variorum, 1997).  20 Owing to its central capital status and the city’s strong ties to realm-wide gentry culture, I would also argue that Beijing is also a somewhat unique place during the Ming period and cannot provide useful generalizations beyond its own immediate capital region. For a recent examination of the impact of Ming court culture on wider Beijing society see David M. Robinson, ed., Culture, Courtiers, and Competition: The Ming Court (1368-1644) (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Asia Center, 2008); and Susan Naquin, Peking: Temples and City Life 1400-1900 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000).   10  largely on key urban centres in the Jiangnan region such as Shanghai,21 Yangzhou22 and Suzhou.23 The reasons for this Jiangnan focus are not arbitrary and are perhaps most eloquently stated in Paul Jakov Smith’s introduction to his co-edited volume entitled The Song-Yuan-Ming Transition in Chinese History.24  In this introduction, Smith outlines the larger intellectual project of the volume, which is to address the “historiographical black hole” that separates the study of mid-imperial (Tang and Song) and late imperial (Ming and Qing) China.25    Smith argues that what best unifies the Song-Yuan-Ming transitional period as a coherent whole is the long term “transformation in the scope and nature of economic activity, the emergence of new forms of social organization, and [the] dramatic expansion in the production and consumption of knowledge and culture,” that started in the Southern Song period and fully matured in the Ming.26  Drawing heavily on previous scholarship regarding China’s “medieval economic revolution,”27 Smith also stresses that these transformations were first facilitated by a large scale  21 Linda Cooke Johnson, Shanghai: from Market Town to Treaty Port: 1074-1858 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995).  22 Antonia Finnane, Speaking of Yangzhou: a Chinese City, 1550-1850.  23 Michael Marme, Suzhou: Where the Goods of all the Provinces Converge (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005).  24 Paul Jakov Smith and Richard von Glahn, eds.  The Song-Yuan-Ming Transition in Chinese History (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UniversityAsia Center, 2003).  25 Paul Jakov Smith, “Introduction: Problematizing the Song-Yuan-Ming Transition,” The Song-Yuan-Ming Transition in Chinese History, eds. Paul Jakov Smith and Richard von Glahn, (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Asia Center, 2003), p. 1.  26 Paul Jakov Smith, “Introduction: Problematizing the Song-Yuan-Ming Transition,” p. 1.  27 Such as Mark Elvin, The Pattern of the Chinese Past (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1973); and Robert M. Hartwell, "Demographic, Political and Social Transformations of China, 750-1550," Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 42:2 (December, 1982):  365-442.   11  “demographic shift from the dry cereal regions of north China to the rice regions of the south” that occurred from the mid-eighth century onwards.28 This shift southwards was facilitated by a variety of factors including: the completion of the Grand Canal system during the Sui Dynasty (581–618 CE) that connected the fertile rice growing regions of the south to the political centre in the Central Plains;29 the relative isolation of the lower Yangzi River valley from the political disruptions in the north caused by invaders from the steppe lands over the course of the twelfth to the fourteenth centuries; the establishment of the Southern Song’s (1127–1279) capital in Lin’nan (today’s Hangzhou); and a shift in political and cultural power away from the “medieval aristocracy”30 to the “local gentry” who derived their power through success in the civil service exams as well as a variety of locally orientated strategies.31 Smith argues that the most salient feature of these general trends over the Song-Yuan-Ming transitional period is the “compression of people and processes into one region of China, the lower Yangzi macroregion and especially its Yangzi Delta core, Jiangnan.”32 Sheltered from the direct impact of the Mongol conquest of China, the Jiangnan region from the thirteenth century onwards continued to undergo dramatic socio-economic and cultural developments, which cumulated in the region’s undisputed cultural, social, political and economic prominence in the late imperial period.  28 Paul Jakov Smith, “Introduction: Problematizing the Song-Yuan-Ming Transition,” p. 2.  29 For a very brief discussion of the origins and development of the Grand Canal and Grain Tribute systems see the introduction to Hoshi Ayao, The Ming Tribute Grain System, trans. Mark Elvin (Ann Arbor: Michigan Abstracts of Chinese and Japanese Works on Chinese History, 1961): pp, 1-20.  30Smith defines the ‘medieval aristocracy as, “…a small but tightly knit status group that specialized in office holding and maintained real or fictive ties to the great clans of the Tang.” Paul Jakov Smith, “Introduction: Problematizing the Song-Yuan-Ming Transition,” p. 2.  31 Paul Jakov Smith, “Introduction: Problematizing the Song-Yuan-Ming Transition,” p. 2.  32 Paul Jakov Smith, “Introduction: Problematizing the Song-Yuan-Ming Transition,” p. 8.   12  In her article “Economic and Social Foundations of Late Imperial Culture,” Evelyn Rawski also outlines several economic trends that start in the Ming and stretch into the Qing period, which help to characterize the two dynasties as a coherent unit of historic analysis.33  She discusses: the commercialization of agriculture as facilitated by the influx of foreign silver and the rationalization of the Ming fiscal system; the creation of a hierarchy of inter-connected and regionally integrated rural markets and market towns; the upsurge in rural and urban handicraft production; and changing relations in land tenure patterns.  Following these economic transformations came a whole host of equally dramatic social and cultural transformations such as: a rapid growth in population; increasing levels of social stratification; the rise of absentee landlordism; the maturation of village clan organizations; increased urbanization; the expansion of the educational system; and the growth of large-scale printing, the book trade and levels of literacy to name just a few.   Yet Rawski is careful not to generalize and states that most of these dramatic shifts were localized in the lower Yangzi Region along with a few other select areas along China’s southeast coast.34 Given the weight of historic evidence, one cannot doubt the economic, commercial and cultural dynamism found in the Jiangnan region starting in the 15th century; however, without a critical mass of scholarship on the more economically and culturally peripheral areas of Ming China, historians are left with essentially localized generalizations derived from the Jiangnan experience to understand the entire Ming realm- even its economic and cultural periphery.    The reasons for this situation are something akin to the inherent Eurocentric bias found in early  33 Evelyn S. Rawski, “Economic and Social Foundations of Late Imperial Culture,” Popular Culture in Late Imperial China, eds. David Johnson, Andrew J. Nathan, and Evelyn S. Rawski (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985): 3-33.  34 Rawski does mention however, that some of these transformations can be witnessed in North China in places that adjoined the Grand Canal.  For a discussion of how Jiangnan was inflected in northern towns situated along the Grand Canal, see Sun Jinghao “City, State, and the Grand Canal: Jining’s Identity and Transformation, 1289–1937,” PhD Diss, the University of Toronto, 2007.   13  modern world history as outlined in Andre Gunder Frank’s ReOrient.  In this work, Frank examines the general failure of early modern world historians to include East Asia into their historical narratives. 35  To Frank, this omission is partially driven by deeply seated Eurocentric assumptions about the “nature” of the early modern world, but more importantly by the fact that most models used to conceptualize world historical development are derived from a more limited western historical experience.  In Frank’s terminology, both the disciplinary and methodological “light posts” that historians draw upon to help conceptualize world history are all firmly rooted in the west and in the western historical experience.  As such, they cast little light on areas the further one moves away from the centre. 36  Just as the world history field has tended to generalize from western historical experiences, so too has much of the Ming history field generalized from the Jiangnan experience.  This situation is intensified by the fact that a great deal of the surviving textual records from the Ming originate from the Jiangnan region.37  To use Frank’s phraseology, such Jiangnan sources often cast “very dim light” on places like rural Henan.  Moreover, even historians who wish to work against this Jiangnan dominance are often  35 Andre Gunder Frank, ReOrient: Global Economy in the Asian Age (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998).  36 Frank writes that even sympathetic scholars are “handicapped by having to place so much reliance on the already existing European and other Western light posts, which cast very dim light if any on the more distant evidence.” See Andre Gunder Frank, ReOrient: Global Economy in the Asian Age (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), p. 31.  37 To date, no scholar has created a breakdown of available Ming sources organized by region.  Such a monumental task also remains outside the scope of this dissertation.  However, owing to its higher rate of gentry domination, we do know that Jiangnan society was far more literate than other regions of the empire. Jiangnan literacy rates were also spurred by the region’s active publishing and trade industries.  On these issues see: Joseph P. McDermott, A Social History of the Chinese Book: Books and Literati Culture in Late Imperial China (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2006); Dorothy Ko, Teachers of the Inner Chambers: Women and Culture in Seventeenth Century China (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994), pp. 19-23; and Lucille Chia, “Of Three Mountains Street: the Commercial Publishers of Ming Nanjing,” Printing and Book Culture in Late Imperial China, eds. Cynthia Brokaw and Kai-Wing Chow (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005): 107-151.   14  reluctant to take on projects in the Ming periphery due to the almost certain possibility of severe source limitations.38  1.3 Beyond the Jiangnan Model In recent years however, there have been some attempts by scholars to look beyond the immediate Jiangnan region in their search for a more comprehensive picture of late imperial China.39   Philip Huang’s 1985 The Peasant Economy and Social Change in North China was one of the first books to explicitly put the study of north China during the late imperial period on the agenda.40  Although Huang’s work is largely focused on the early Qing through the Republican periods, his focus on Hebei and Shandong provinces and on rural peasants over local gentry was somewhat exceptional for the time.  A few years later, Huang’s work was followed up by an equally compelling study of peasants in a non-Jiangnan region, Peter Perdue’s Exhausting the Earth.41  Finally, Kenneth Pommeranz’s 1993 work, The Making of a Hinterland,  38 This type of sympathy is best displayed in Paul Jakov Smith and Richard von Glahn’s edited volume, The Song- Yuan-Ming Transition.  In his introductory chapter, Richard von Glahn writes that, “…the hallmark of the Song- Yuan-Ming transition is the emergence of the Jiangnan (江南) region of the lower Yangzi Basin as the economic and cultural centre of the Chinese world, a dominance that would endure until the eighteenth century.”  However, given this unequal balance in regional scholarship, the need “… to expand the scope of our study beyond Jiangnan and South China, is all the more pressing.” Given this consideration, the title for von Glahn’s main contribution to the volume is quite telling - “Towns and Temples: Urban Growth and Decline in the Yangzi Delta, 1100-1400. See Richard von Glahn, “Imagining Pre-modern China,” The Song-Yuan-Ming Transition in Chinese History, eds. Paul Jakov Smith and Richard von Glahn  (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Asia Center, 2003), p. 69; and Richard von Glahn, “Towns and Temples: Urban Growth and Decline in the Yangzi Delta, 1100-1400,” The Song-Yuan- Ming Transition in Chinese History, eds. Paul Jakov Smith and Richard von Glahn,  (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Asia Center, 2003): 176-211.  39 Recent years have also seen a growing interest in the Ming’s southwestern frontier region, best represented by Leo Shin’s recent work The Making of the Chinese State: Ethnicity and Expansion on the Ming Borderlands.  In this work, Shin looks well beyond the Jiangnan core to explore literary constructions of “Chinese identity” in China’s southwestern frontier – namely, Guangxi Province.   However, Shin’s work is not explicitly concerned with the larger questions of region in Chinese historical analysis but rather more focused on issues of classification, ethnicity and identity as emanated from a Han-core to a non-“Chinese” periphery.  Leo Shin, The Making of the Chinese State: Ethnicity and Expansion on the Ming Borderlands (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006).  40 Philip Huang, The Peasant Economy and Social Change in North China (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1985).  41 In this work, Perdue examined the ways that state policies regarding agricultural commercialization differed in Hunan from China’s equally larger rice growing region, Jiangnan.   Given the massive influx of migrants to the  15  also took north China as a unit of analysis and examined how, in response to foreign pressures, state policies unwittingly led to the further peripheralization of the “Huang-Yun” region.42  What one will immediately notice in all three instances however is that the real weight of each of these works lies primarily in the Qing and Republican periods and not in the Ming.43 Roger Des Forges’ recent work, Cultural Centrality and Political Change in Chinese History: Northeastern Henan in the Fall of the Ming, is undoubtedly the most important exception to this dearth of writing on the Ming Empire’s “other” regions.44  Des Forges’ focus on the “Central Plains” region in Ming history is innovative unto itself, but what makes this work so foundational is its use of another regional experience to build up an alternative narrative for the Ming period.  “Central Plains,” or Zhongyuan (中原), is the Chinese term that is commonly given to the region that occupies the lower reaches of the Yellow River and includes parts of today’s Henan, Hebei and Shandong Provinces.45 Historically it was in this region where China’s first fully historical dynasties emerged and for this, the region is still generally regarded  region, the commercialization of the agricultural economy and the intensification of land use patterns, Perdue’s work argues several important differences between Hunan and Jiangnan despite their increasing economic integration.  Peter Perdue, Exhausting the Earth: State and Peasant in Hunan, 1500-1850.  42 “Huang-Yun” referring to the area where the Yellow River and the Grand Canal intersect including parts of western Shandong, northeastern Henan and (by 1928) southeastern Hebei Provinces.  See Kenneth Pommeranz The Making of a Hinterland: State, Society, and Economy in Inland North China, 1853-1937 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), pp. 4-12.  43 It should be noted here that in recent years there has been a surge of work on the southwestern reaches of the Ming Empire along with the empire’s border regions.  For a sampling of this new work see chapters by Timothy Brook, Leo K. Shin, and Benjamin Elman in Diana Lary, ed., The Chinese State at the Borders (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2007); and Leo K. Shin, The Making of the Chinese State: Ethnicity and Expansion on the Ming Borderlands. Such work for the Qing period is plentiful and falls outside the scope of this project.  44 Roger Des Forges, Cultural Centrality and Political Change in Chinese History: Northeastern Henan in the Fall of the Ming (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003).  45 Sometimes parts of southern Shanxi, Shaanxi and northern Anhui and Jiangsu Provinces are also included in the Central Plains designation.   16  as the cradle of Chinese civilization.46  Owing to the area’s “culturally central” history and the fact that the Ming dynasty was a restorationist dynasty after the period of Mongol alien rule, the entire region became “an important touchstone for Chinese notions of culture and change that lasted through Ming times.”47 While a great deal of our understanding of the Ming period has been built upon a historical architecture that tends to draw the majority of its sources from the more immediate Jiangnan experience, Des Forges’ notion of “cultural centrality” however, is firmly rooted in another regional experience.   More conventional historic narratives of the Ming (or what I have labeled the “Jiangnan model”) tend to stress the ways in which society emancipated itself from the heavy hand of the early Ming state through the largely autonomous workings of economy, culture and various localist strategies.  Des Forges’ “cultural centrality” model however, offers a compelling alternative to this narrative and demonstrates the ways in which people in China’s Central Plains region drew on such “culturally central” resources such as history, historical memory, and historical allusion to help deal with the present and to shape their future. Owing to the region’s culturally central status and location, Des Forges argues that the experiences of these people may have been “more representative of the entire Ming polity” than any other region at this time, especially the more exceptional and commercial rich Jiangnan region.48 As  46 To this day the most common synecdoches for China, such as Zhongyuan (中原), Zhonghua (中華) and Zhongzhou (中州) all have their etymologically origins in this region.  Des Forges also points out that the Chinese word for “history” (史) is derivative of the word for “centre” (中), which to Des Forges suggests the intimate relation between these two concepts.  Roger Des Forges, Cultural Centrality and Political Change in Chinese History: Northeast Henan in the Fall of the Ming, 2003, p.  xviii.  47Roger Des Forges, Cultural Centrality and Political Change in Chinese History: Northeast Henan in the Fall of the Ming, 2003, p. xviii.  48 Des Forges writes: “During the Ming dynasty, the cultural and political center of China was presumably in the north, in Beijing, while the social and economic center was arguably in the south in Jiangnan.  Henan province, however, maintained its claim to centrality in several ways.  It remained near the geographical center of the Ming polity, drew its name from several different previous administrative units, and continued to be called the central province.  Trends in its population, land, and taxes were quite representative of those of Ming China as a whole.” Roger Des Forges, Cultural Centrality and Political Change in Chinese History: Northeast Henan in the Fall of the Ming, 2003, p. 314.  17  such, Des Forges discussion of the more “culturally central” portions of Henan Province exposes the historical importance of this region and is an important first step in moving us beyond Jiangnan and towards a fuller appreciation of the regional character of larger Ming dynamics.  1.4 A Regional Approach To better understand the larger regional units of analysis that operate throughout this dissertation, I will first discuss in some detail G. William Skinner’s foundational work on Chinese macroregions.  In his The City in Late Imperial China, Skinner laid out one of the lasting paradigms for understanding regional dynamics in late imperial China, something he called the “physiographic macrogregion”49 Skinner describes how socioeconomic, human settlement and urbanization patterns historically can be spatially divided into eight key macroregions that generally coincide with key river drainage basin systems in China.   These eight macroregions include: north China, northwest China, the upper Yangzi, the middle Yangzi, the lower Yangzi, the southeast coast, Lingnan, and the Yun-Gui region.50    49 G. William Skinner, “Regional Urbanization in Nineteenth Century China,” the City in Late Imperial China, ed. G. William Skinner (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1977): 211- 249.  50 Owing to its somewhat removed position in “Chinese” history, Skinner does not discuss a possible ninth macroregion, Manchuria, in any detail.  In Skinner’s analysis, these physiographic macroregions represent a sort of spatial hierarchy whereby each macroregion has its own system of discrete, hierarchically descending relations. Although Skinner was primarily interested in these relations in terms of the creation of urban-rural networks in late imperial China, his work laid out the basic premise that each macroregion was characterized by having both distinct cores and distinct peripheries.   Represented by the shaded portions seen in Figure 1, cores tended to be situated in the macroregion’s lowlands where a given system’s secondary rivers and streams converged.  Moving away from these low-lying cores was a descending network of lower-level cities, market towns and villages that were located in the higher reaches of the macroregion’s drainage basin system. Although these cores and peripheries were functionally interrelated, the urban centres served as the nodal “command posts” that articulated and integrated the socioeconomic activities of the macroregion’s whole. These activities were defined primarily by the macroregion’s physiographic features such as access to resources, size of arable land and ease of transport but were then articulated in human geographic patterns of population growth, human settlement, market integration/maturation, and urbanization. G. William Skinner, For a further explanation see G. William Skinner, “Regional Urbanization in Nineteenth Century China,” 1977, pp. 213-216.   18  Figure 1.2 William Skinner’s Physiographic Macroregions  Source: G. William Skinner, “Regional Urbanization in Nineteenth Century China”51   Skinner employs this macroregional approach in the interest of discerning historic patterns of regional urban growth in China.  He argues that each macroregion displays a “distinctive rhythm” of “economic development, demographic history and sociopolitical dynamics” that tends to cumulate in the emergence of an apex city in a key macroregion followed by its subsequent breakdown.52 To illustrate his theory, Skinner offers two case studies - one drawn from north China and the other from the lower Yangzi River region.  He argues that  51 G. William Skinner, “Regional Urbanization in Nineteenth Century China,” 1977, p. 214.  52 G. William Skinner, “Introduction: Urban Development in Imperial China,” The City in Late Imperial China, ed. G. William Skinner (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1977), p. 16.   19  China’s medieval period saw the rise of Kaifeng in the north as the region’s apex nodal city. However this status was disrupted by Mongol invasions starting in the 13th century, which led to the “disruption of trade and transport, the collapse of the Kaifeng market, and the eventual destruction of most of the region’s cities…”53 Kaifeng’s preeminence was later replaced by Beijing and the changes in the macroregional socioeconomic structure reflected this shift into the late imperial period.  Similarly, the lower Yangzi macroregion also saw the rise of particular nodal cities such as Yangzhou during the Tang (618-907) and the Northern Song (960-1127) periods, Hangzhou during the Southern Song (1127-1279) and Nanjing during the Ming. Skinner argues, however, that unlike in the north, the ascendency of a new apex city in the lower Yangzi macroregion did not bring about the complete eclipse of the previous regional centre. While he does not entirely spell out the reasons for this difference, Skinner hints that it may have to do with the commercial importance of the region.54  Perhaps more compelling than Skinner’s regional approach to Chinese history is the somewhat less examined Key Economic Areas in Chinese History by Ch’ao-ting Chi, originally published in 1936.55  Rather than dividing China into eight key physiographic macroregions based on watersheds, Chi examines the historical shifts in what he calls China’s “key economic area.”   Like Skinner, Chi also uses water and hydraulic systems to underscore dynamics of historical change in China; however, unlike Skinner, who divides China into eight key physiographic macroregions based on watersheds, Chi looks at the evolution of three “key economic areas” based on their hydrological projects.   Like his mentor, Karl Wittfogel, Chi was most interested in explaining the coercive nature of the Chinese state as it related to water and  53 G. William Skinner, “Introduction: Urban Development in Imperial China,” 1977, p. 16.  54 G. William Skinner, “Introduction: Urban Development in Imperial China,” 1977, p. 16.  55 Ch’ao-ting Chi, Key Economic Areas in Chinese History: As Revealed in the Development of Public Works for Water-Control (1936; New York: Augustus M. Kelly Publishers, 1970).   20  water control; however, his analysis differed from Wittfogel’s famous formulation of the “Oriental Despot” rooted in the Asiatic “hydraulic society” in that he focused on the state’s capacity to extract grain resources from the localities through the exploitation of water resources.56 Historically, Chi argues that China’s first key economic area was located in the lower reaches of the Yellow River basin and lasted from the Qin (221-206 BCE) to the Han (206 BCE – 220 CE) period.  This key economic area was later eclipsed during the Sui and Tang periods, by the rise of the lower Yangzi River region.  The third cycle that carries through the Yuan, Ming and Qing period was also in the lower reaches of the Yangzi, but more attention was focused on the Grand Canal region as all the states were worried about the separation of their political centres from the key economic areas in the south. Thus according to Chi’s analysis, while at one time China’s core economic area was once located in the Yellow River flood plain region and represented by the formerly great political centres of Xi’an, Kaifeng, and Anyang, this centre had moved southwards by the early sixth century and remained there until the end of the dynastic period in 1911.  Chi’s analyses help to explain why, despite its one time regional preeminence, Linzhang County by the Ming period had become decidedly peripheral.  1.5 A Mid-Ming Resource History The wide variety of social, political, economic and cultural resources that emerged in tandem with the increasing commercialization and marketization of the Jiangnan landscape has  56 While these two men indeed had a working relationship, it remains unclear exactly who influenced whom in their similar ideas about water and the ‘nature’ of Chinese society.  According to William T. Rowe, Ch’ao-ting Chi was a disciple of Wittfogel; however according to Professor Wu Pei-yi who attended Columbia University at the same time as Chi, says that Wittfogel’s work was a much less inspired and a far less thoughtful application of Chi’s original Chinese language work.   In any case, Chi’s work did not proclaim ancient China to be an “Oriental Despotism,” but rather he settled on the term ‘feudal’ to describe the more coercive aspects of Late Imperial Chinese state/society relations.  See William T. Rowe, “Approaches to Modern Chinese Social History,” Reliving the Past: The Worlds of Social History eds. Olivier Zunz, David William Cohen (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1985): 236 - 285, p. 264.  Information from Professor Wu based on private correspondences, summer 2007.   21  been examined in much detail by scholars of the Ming period.  Indeed the emergence of these resources and the ways that they helped to facilitate “society’s” emancipation from the state has undergirded much of the Ming field in recent years. This dissertation is similarly concerned with “resources” broadly defined; however, it tasks itself with examining the ways in which cultural, political, and historical resources could be mobilized in areas more peripheral to the commercial and market developments characterizing the Jiangnan region. Given the dearth of writing on places outside the Jiangnan core in the Ming period, my dissertation shifts its geographical focus to one such peripheral county located in the North China Plain, named Linzhang County.57 Linzhang County during the Ming Dynasty was located in the most northern tip of Henan Province and was placed under the jurisdictions of Zhangde Prefecture (彰德府).58 The county was named for the Zhang River (漳河) which ran prominently through the county and across the fertile farmlands of China’s Central Plains region.  As we will see in the next chapter, the challenges posed by this river formed a perennial source of concern for those who lived and governed in Linzhang County.   The county was predominantly agricultural and produced crops more commonly found in north China such as: barley, wheat, beans, sesame, nuts, peaches, pears, melons, eggplant, and cabbage along with a variety of other  57 Linzhang is located in one of these peripheral areas of the “Huabei Qu” (華北區 North China Region), which Skinner defines as the lower reaches of the Yellow River drainage basin and includes areas of the Huai and Wei River drainage basins.  G. William Skinner, “Regional Urbanization in Nineteenth Century China,” p.  213.  58 Throughout the dissertation I will often refer to Linzhang County as being under the jurisdiction of Henan Province as it was throughout the entire late imperial period.  It was only in 1949 that Linzhang County was incorporated into the newly formed Hebei Province. From 1958 to 1961 Linzhang County and Cizhou County were amalgamated as one unit.  In 1961 Linzhang was once again split off and made into its own independent entity. Finally, in 1993 with the incorporation of Handan City, Linzhang County was put under Handan City governance where it remains today.  Conducting local history in a county with such frequent changing jurisdiction has presented a wide variety of challenges.  To this day some of the county’s records are held in the Hebei Provincial Library in Shijiazhuang (despite a Hebei never existing during the Ming period) and others are held in Zhengzhou’s Henan Provincial Library. See Hebei sheng Linzhang xian difangzhi bianzuan weiyuan hui 河北省臨漳縣地方志編纂委 員會 [Linzhang County Gazetteer Compilation Committee, Hebei Province], Linzhang xian zhi 臨漳縣志 [Gazetteer of Linzhang County] (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1999), p. 56; and Zhang Huizhi 张惠芝, et al., ed, Hebei fengwu zhi 河北风物志 [Local Records of Hebei Province] (Shijiazhuang: Hebei renmin chuban she, 1985), pp. 31- 40.   22  hearty vegetables.59  Evidence from the county’s local records suggests little evidence of any wide scale commercial cropping or strongly developed local handicraft industries.60  By all accounts Linzhang County was not considered an important county in the Ming realm, nor was it considered a particularity troublesome one either.  Official records describe locals as not particularly active yet neither were they prone to incite rebellion or be recalcitrant to imperial rule either.  Owing to its entirely mediocre status, the county, therefore, received very little attention in the official records and was not well represented in the body of late imperial works dealing with local governance or imperial geography.  Despite these source limitations, I do believe that there is still enough local information available to construct a reasonable picture of Linzhang County during the Ming period.  Chapter 2 is dedicated to this task and seeks to historically situate Linzhang County in the mid-Ming period through a close reading of the prefatory material contained in the county’s 1506 gazetteer.  I argue that the textual first impressions provided by the gazetteer’s preface and prefatory maps offer a great deal of information, which help to orientate readers, both then and now to a variety of important dynamics in Linzhang County and the larger North China Plain region.  Personnel, governmental and environmental dynamics are all considered in my discussion. Although local histories always run the risk of offering nit-picky exceptions to otherwise useful generalizations, my particular micro-history of Linzhang County seeks to accomplish three clear goals.  First, I set out to offer a detailed local history of a place that, owing to its  59 Jing Fang 景芳, ed., Linzhang xian zhi, 臨漳縣志 [Gazetteer of Linzhang County], 1506, juan 3, 1a-1b.  60 A recent sociological study of fertility behavior in north China, which takes its subject area as Linzhang County, offers comparable statistics for the late 20th century.   According to 1990 statistics the county’s primary local product was wheat, with corn, cotton, beans, and other vegetables following after.   The author of this study also writes, “Owing to deficiencies in industrial resources, the industry of the county is weak.  According to the county officials, industry contributed only one-fourth of the financial income of the county in early 1990s, and in 9 of the 23 townships there were no township-or village-run industrial enterprises in 1993.” See Jing Fang,ed, Linzhang xian zhi, 臨漳縣志, 1506, juan 3, 1a-2b; and Zhang Weiguo, Chinese Economic Reforms and Fertility Bahaviour [sic]: a Study of a North China Village (London: China Library, 2002), p. 45.   23  utterly peripheral status, would be unlikely to ever receive any critical attention by historians of Ming China.  As such, my local history of Linzhang County is driven by a strong desire to better understand the nature of peripherality and county status itself during the Ming period. Second, I aim to explain how some Ming-era Linzhang County magistrates seem to have understood this peripherality and took active measures to renovate and rehabilitate the county by mobilizing the region’s “culturally central” past.  I argue that although these magistrates were not able to draw upon the same type of economic or cultural resources that their counterparts might have in Ming Jiangnan, they could at least utilize aspects of the region’s antiquity to conduct their administrations, and to help craft notions of local governance and aid in the formation of local identity and public morale. Finally, an implicit thread running throughout this entire dissertation is that much of what is often derived from the Jiangnan experience to explain larger Ming dynamics simply does not apply to places like Linzhang County and by extension much of north China.  This argument is not intended to cast doubt on the actual Jiangnan experience itself, but rather to begin to consider some of the larger regional and local dynamics that have often been overlooked in describing the larger makeup of the Ming realm and its polity. Temporally, I situate much of my discussion in the middle-Ming period, which I date roughly from the beginning of the Hongxi period in 1425 to the death of the Zhengde Emperor in 1521.61  While all historic periodizations present their own set of unique problems, I agree with Edward Farmer’s argument that the mid-Ming period is a unique period of historical  61 This 147 year period covers the reign periods of the Hongxi (洪熙 1425), Xuande (宣德 1426-1435), Zhengtong (正統 1436-1449), Jingtai (景泰 1450-1456), Tianshun (天順 1457-1464), Chenghua (成化 1465-1487), Hongzhi (弘治 1488-1505), Zhengde (正德 1506-1521) Emperors.   It is also reasonable to begin the “mid-Ming period” with the Tumu Crisis of 1449, which resulted in the capture of the Zhengtong Emperor by Mongol forces and set off a crisis of imperial authority in the capital.   I however, follow Edward Farmer’s periodization, which stresses the uniqueness of the period following the initial military consolidation of the Ming Empire.   24  development and also a useful unit of historical analysis.62 Written in 1988, Farmer’s “An Agenda for Ming History: Exploring the Fifteenth Century,” argues that Ming scholarship tends to be weighted in either the early or late Ming periods.  To Farmer, the early Ming is marked by a dynamic period of imperial consolidation and military expansionism starting with founding of the Ming dynasty in 1368 and ending with the death of the Yongle Emperor in 1424.  While the beginning of the late Ming period is more difficult to date, Farmer begins this period with the Great Rites Controversy in the Jiajing reign period (嘉靖 1522-1566), which set the factional tone and vocabulary of the late Ming court.63  Sitting somewhere in-between these two poles is the mid-Ming period, which according to Farmer, is less distinguished by its own internal historical dynamics and more by the sharp differences of the time periods that came immediately before and after it.  This is not to suggest that there is nothing distinctively “mid-Ming” about the mid-Ming period, but rather, that far less is known about this crucial historical period to make any generalizations at this point. Some recent scholarship has begun to take steps in this direction.  In his survey of the changing roles of local officials over the Ming period, Thomas Nimick has demonstrated that many of the most innovative and vibrant “institutional” changes in local administration occurred in the mid-Ming period this time.64    Official records from the mid 15th to the late 16th century  62 Edward. Farmer, “An Agenda for Ming History: Exploring the Fifteenth Century,” Ming Studies no. 26 (Fall 1988): 1-17.  63 Farmer also provides a long list of historical dynamics, which are particular to the Late Ming period and properly set it apart including: the wide range of reforms associated with the Wanli era (萬歷 1573-1620) official, Zhang Juzheng (張居正); the massive demographic, population and commercial shifts that transformed Ming society and economy; the influx of foreign silver and the dawn of the global silver trade; the rise of Wang Yangming’s (王陽明 1472-1529) Xinxue style (心學) Neo-Confucianism; the arrival of Jesuits on Chinese shores starting in the late 16th century; the growth of vernacular literature and popular printing; and finally, the multitude of Late Ming rebellions. Edward. Farmer, “An Agenda for Ming History: Exploring the Fifteenth Century,” 1988, pp. 1-4.  64I problematize the word “institutional” here because many of the innovations in terms of taxation, jurisdiction, and other forms of local governance were never officially changed in the codes and statutes.  Rather we see many of these innovations in practice.  See Thomas Nimick, Local Administration in Ming China: The Changing Roles of Magistrates, Prefects, and Provincial Officials.  25  offer many compelling clues to the deep structural changes that were happening at the state, society and whole variety of intervening intermittent levels.    While these changes have been examined in detail for the more economically dynamic areas of the Ming, little is known about the same issues outside of the Jiangnan context.  One of the key arguments contained in this dissertation is that while the vibrancy of the mid-Ming period for the Jiangnan core was primarily articulated in market, commercial and gentry dynamics, the lack of such comparable forces and agents in the North China Plain region created a vastly different array of possible spaces, resources, and dynamics.   However, given that there is very little written on the subject, I too follow Farmer’s argument and derive some of my evidence for this study of mid-Ming Linzhang by period by examining what came before and immediately after this time period.  1.6 Gazetteer Sources: From the Macro to the Micro  To write this history of a somewhat peripheral county during the Ming dynasty, I have had to rely heavily on the local records.   Such a bottom up approach is not unique in the vast literature on local societies in the late imperial period.  Indeed, often the easiest way to “get to know a locality” is to peruse the various editions of the local county gazetteer.  While this ease of use can be related to the standardization of the genre’s form, content and narrative voice that gradually occurred from the 14th to the 17th century, some gazetteers are decidedly different and offer uniquely particularized windows into local societies of the past. The 1506 edition of the Linzhang County Gazetteer is one of these unique windows and provides the central starting point for much of this study.  On first glance though, this edition is not that unlike other contemporary gazetteers found in the surrounding Central Plains region. All the notable hallmarks of the genre - such as: maps of the county and its administrative seat; an administrative history of the region; prominent topographic features such as mountains and    26  rivers; lists of locally produced products; land, population and tax registers; important state and religious structures both past and present; lists and biographies of venerated officials and other local notables; and miscellaneous literary works regarding the locality – are found within the source’s ten fascicles. Yet, while hitting all the required notes within the gazetteer idiom, a closer reading of the source reveals the unique narrative and compilation strategies at play within the text.  Employing some of the ‘inter-textual’ reading techniques advanced by Joseph Dennis, this section argues that the 1506 Linzhang County Gazetteer exhibits a distinct strategy in how it presents the County’s history.65   Through various compilation strategies, historic inclusions and omissions, the gazetteer editor attempts to fix the county’s history into a canonized version of past antiquity. Before going any further a discussion of both the general development of the gazetteer format in Chinese history and the particular issues surround the production of the 1506 Linzhang County Gazetteer are equally necessary.   The English term “gazetteer” is convenient shorthand for the wide genre of Chinese sources referred to as difang zhi (地方志), fang zhi (方志), or in some cases, simply zhi (志).   What categorically unites all of these various zhi is their focus on a specific spatial and/or administrative unit.   Gazetteers were generally produced under the auspices of a governing agency having jurisdiction over a delineated territory.  At the highest level was the comprehensive gazetteer of the entire dynastic realm such as the Unified Gazetteer of the Great Ming (大明一统志).  From here, gazetteer production descended downwards through the empire-wide spatial-administrative hierarchy and saw production at the provincial (省志), prefectural (府志), sub-prefectural (州志), county (縣志)and sometimes canton (鄉志) levels.  However, not all gazetteers that were produced were explicitly linked to this  65 Here my thinking has been heavily influenced by the inter-textual approach to Ming gazetteers advanced by Joe Dennis in his PhD Dissertation entitled “Writing, Publishing, and Reading Local Histories in Ming China.” Joseph Dennis, “Writing, Publishing, and Reading Local Histories in Ming China,” PhD. Diss. University of Minnesota, 2004.  27  administrative hierarchy.  During the Ming and the Qing dynasties it was not uncommon for Buddhist temples and Daoist monasteries to produce their own gazetteers; moreover, famous mountains, lakes and rivers were sometimes celebrated in their own editions. 66  Given the wide scope of the zhi genre, Joseph Dennis has recently suggested that, while possibly more cumbersome, it may be more accurate to translate the Chinese term zhi into English as “treatise on a place” rather than “gazetteer.”67 Timothy Brook has aptly characterized the gazetteer as a “multi-volume repository of public information about the history, geography, administration, biography and culture of a local area.”68 Most gazetteers offer an extensive cataloguing of all things local: place names, prominent buildings, local products, and the names of successful local candidates in the imperial exams.  They also include lists regarding administrative matters such as tax quotas, corvée labor requirements, local official posts, and tribute requisitions to the imperial household.69  Over the course of the 15th century these categories were slowly regularized through a series of imperial edicts regarding compilation principles (凡例).70  By the 16th century, the gazetteer form was relatively uniform across administrative units.   The ideal of gazetteer production was that each administrative unit would produce one roughly every sixty years.  In actuality we can see that  66 Notable examples  include a variety of topographical and institutional gazetteers for prominent landscape features such as mountains (山志), lakes (湖志) and rivers (河志); famous ritual sites such as shrines (祠志 ), temples (廟志), monasteries (觀志) and tombs (墓志); and a variety devoted to constructed elements such as gardens (園志), pavilions (閣志), dikes (堤志), bridges (橋志) and canals (渠志).  Timothy Brook has complied an extensive list of 860 such non-administrative topographical and institutional gazetteers in his Geographical Sources of Ming-Qing History.  See Timothy Brook, Geographical Sources in Ming-Qing History, 2nd ed. (Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, 2002).  67 Joseph Dennis, “Writing, Publishing, and Reading Local Histories in Ming China,” pp. v. I agree that zhi is more accurately translated as “treaties on place;” however, I retain the word “gazetteer” throughout my discussion because I feel it better translates the common sense of the genre by the Ming period.  68 Timothy Brook, “Native Identity under Alien Rule: Local Gazetteers of the Yuan Dynasty,” Pragmatic Literacy East and West, 1200-1330, ed. Richard Britnell (Suffolk: the Boydell Press, 1997): 235-245, p. 235.  69 Timothy Brook,  “Native Identity under Alien Rule: Local Gazetteers of the Yuan Dynasty,” p. 236.  70 Ideally, county gazetteers would be recompiled and reedited in 50-70 year cycles.  Joseph Dennis, “Writing, Publishing, and Reading Local Histories in Ming China,” p. vi.  28  this ideal was often never met, but this varied from locality to locality and depended on the vigor of the magistrate and the local gentry in the production process.  Joseph Dennis estimates that over 3,000 various gazetteers were produced during the Ming period, with roughly 1,000 surviving to this day.  The bulk of these gazetteers were produced at the county and prefectural level.71 Gazetteers differ from “histories” (史) in that they are cumulative records that collect information transcending dynastic changes, whereas histories are generally records of single dynasties.72  This archival quality teamed with the standardization and regularization of the format make gazetteers excellent sources for historians wishing to produce more reliable local histories.  Moreover, because of their comparability over time and space, local gazetteers are essential sources to better understand the larger socio-economic, political, cultural and ecological changes in late imperial China. Yet, despite their almost ubiquitous use by contemporary scholars of late imperial China, very little critical attention has been paid by the English language literature to the historic development and maturation of the gazetteer genre over time.   One notable exception is Timothy Brook’s work on the rising popularity of the Gazetteer format during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).73 In his 1997 essay entitled “Native Identity under Alien Rule,” Brook offers an account of the historical dynamics that shaped the less systematized and regularized gazetteers of the Tang and Song dynasties into their more recognizable form found in the Ming and Qing  71 Joseph Dennis, “Writing, Publishing, and Reading Local Histories in Ming China,” p. v.  This number dramatically increases after the 17th Century with approximately 7,000 different surviving Qing and Republican period editions.  Timothy Brook calculates that about 800 editions from the Ming and 5,000 from the Qing are from the provincial, prefectural and county level administrative units.  Timothy Brook, “Native Identity Under Alien Rule: Local Gazetteers of the Yuan Dynasty,” pp. 235-236.  72 Joseph Dennis, “Writing, Publishing, and Reading Local Histories in Ming China,” p. v.  73 Timothy Brook, “Native Identity under Alien Rule: Local Gazetteers of the Yuan Dynasty,” p. 235.   29  periods.  He argues that although China’s first gazetteers were produced during the Tang Dynasty and proliferated throughout the Song,74 that they are best understood as a late imperial genre due to the historical dynamics that saw their popularization. Drawing on Robert Hymes’ concept of “localist strategies” in the Southern Song period, Brook describes how gazetteer production during the Yuan can be understood as a product of elite Han alienation by the Mongol ruling elite. Disenfranchised from the national polity, Han scholars often retreated back to their localities and looked to aggrandize their own accomplishments and the beauty of their localities in a public record.75 Elite aggrandization of the local area becomes a lasting motif in gazetteer writing and can be seen as part and parcel of the creation and sustenance of the “aristogenic” order characterizing the late imperial period.  With the Ming expansion of gentry society, the increasing numbers of official degree holders throughout the realm and a general disillusionment with the perceived cruelty, corruption and indifference of the Ming court, many successful exam candidates actively chose to stay in their hometowns and involve themselves in local affairs and institutions.76  The  74 Estimates about the actual number of gazetteers produced during the Song range from 600 to 1,200.  Just over 30 remain extant to this day.  Timothy Brook, “Native Identity under Alien Rule: Local Gazetteers of the Yuan Dynasty,” pp. 235-236.  Peter Bol has also argued that the gazetteer genre developed out of the “map guide” (圖經) model from the Tang and Song periods. Bol’s production estimates are more conservative, fixed at around 500, as cited in Joseph Dennis, “Writing, Publishing, and Reading Local Histories in Ming China,” p. v.  75 Timothy Brook,   “Native Identity under Alien Rule: Local Gazetteers of the Yuan Dynasty,” pp. 237-245.  76 The literature regarding this retreat to the locality is vast and complex.  Regarding the growth of gentry society starting from the Song Dynasty see Robert Hymes’ Statesmen and Gentlemen: The Elite of Fu-chou, Chiang-hsi,in Northern and Southern Sung; and Peter Bol, “The ‘Localist Turn’ and ‘Local Identity’ in Later Imperial China” Late Imperial China 24.2 (2003): 1-50.  Ho Ping-ti’s classic, Ladder of Success in Imperial China: Aspects of Social Mobility, 1368-1911 (New York: Columbia UP, 1968) examines the relationship between population growth during the late imperial period and the resulting bottleneck in upward promotion it created within the Ming and Qing bureaucracies.  This work is best expanded on by John R. Watt in his The District Magistrate in Late Imperial China (New York: Studies of the East Asian Institute, Columbia University, 1972) where Watt examines in detail the diminishing career prospects of Qing magistrates.  In Joanna F. Handlin’s, Action in Late Ming Thought: The Reorientation of Lu K’un and Other Scholar Officials (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983) the author examines the increased emphasis on statecraft thinking, local knowledge and moral action characteristic of late Ming thinkers such as Lu Kun. John Meskill’s, Academies in Ming China: a Historical Essay (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1982), explores how the academic seclusion of Ming thinkers resulted in the growth of local academies and a further localist turn in intellectual orientation.   30  mid-Ming proliferation of gazetteers can be read in partial relationship to this gentry elites’ new concern with elevating the prestige of their home township or county. By the mid 16th century if a locality did not have a gazetteer it would be regarded as inconsequential in cultural and political terms.77  Moreover, the production of a county gazetteer could strengthen the reputation of local sons who participated in the realm-wide bureaucratic and cultural worlds. As the actual production of gazetteers was expensive and time consuming, the local elite often became involved in funding the compilation and publication process.  The magistrate of the locality at the time of gazetteer’s compilation was often awarded the title of chief compiler, yet this title was often more of a reflection of his ability to coordinate and raise resources for the gazetteer’s production. In the actual research and compilation process, editorial teams were created and were generally composed of members of the local educated elite.  Due to their active participation in the compilation process, gentry concerns and their emerging sense of identity form a strong undercurrent in most local gazetteers.78   Aside from matters of local pride, the importance and function of gazetteers can also be understood in tandem with the rise of statecraft thinking characteristic of the late imperial period. Focusing on the Ming and Qing periods respectively Joanna Handlin and Benjamin Elman have examined the late imperial literati’s explicit shift away from the more philosophical and esoteric concerns expressed by such thinkers as Wang Yangming (王陽明, 1472–1529) towards a more locally orientated and practically minded style of thinking often called ‘statecraft’ (經世).79  77 For a discussion of the development of the gazetteer genre in Song and Yuan times see Fang, Jun, "A Bibliography of Extant Yuan Gazetteers." Journal of Sung-Yuan Studies, no. 23 (1993): pp. 123-138.  78 These themes are further elaborated in Timothy Brook, “Xu Guangqi in His Context: the World of the Shanghai Gentry,” Statecraft and Intellectual Renewal in Late Ming China: the Cross Cultural Synthesis of Xu Guangqi (1562-1633), eds. Catherine Jami, Peter Engelfriet, and Gregory Blue (Leiden: Brill, 2001):  72-99.  79 See Joanna F. Handlin, Joanna, Action in Late Ming Thought: The Reorientation of Lu K’un and Other Scholar Officials; and Benjamin Elman, From Philosophy to Philology: Intellectual and Social Aspects of Change in Late Imperial China, 2nd ed.  (Los Angeles: University of California Los Angeles, Asia Institute, 2001).   31  Central to this new intellectual orientation was a renewed focus on local administration and the idea that proper local governance required accurate local information.  Yet prior to the 17th century crystallization of this new intellectual agenda, district administrators and local gentry were busy collecting such detailed local information for their local gazetteers.  Because one of the core aims of any gazetteer project was to collect and edit detailed information about the locality it makes sense to place the proliferation of Ming gazetteer production within the larger trajectory of late imperial statecraft thinking. The links between local knowledge, local administration and gazetteer production were clearly understood by administrators of the time and perhaps helps to account for the genre’s enduring appeal.    In his late 17th century magistrate handbook entitled A Complete Book Concerning Happiness and Benevolence, the then retired county magistrate, Huang Liuhong, wrote: Mountains, rivers, noted inhabitants, tributes to imperial court, local products, communities, temples, bridges and so on are clearly recorded in the local gazetteer.  When the Magistrate makes a thorough study of the local gazetteer he will be able to have a clear picture of its geographical layout, the amounts and rates of taxation, and the vital statistics and degree of prosperity of its population.  This information is indispensable in planning his administration.”80  Even before a magistrate was dispatched to his new locality he was advised to familiarize himself to the post with a thorough and meticulous read-through of the local gazetteer.   The convenient fixing of such an abundance of local information to the immediate lines of administrative jurisdiction certainly made gazetteers an invaluable resource in local governance. For magistrates like Huang Liuhong, local gazetteers provided the “clear picture” necessary for able local administration and they also timelessly preserved images of the locality for future  80 Huang Liuhong黃六鴻, Fu hui quan shu 福惠全書 [A Complete Book Concerning Happiness and Benevolence], translated and edited by Djang Chu as, A Complete Book Concerning Happiness and Benevolence: A Manual for Local Magistrates in Seventeenth-Century China  (Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1984), p. 129.   32  administrators.81  However there is no real reason to assume that Huang Liuhong necessarily believed this himself.  Having once personally edited a county gazetteer he most likely would have been aware of the difficulties of committing an entire county -its history, ecology, social dynamics, economics and politics among other things – to historic record.   Yet his silence on the complexities of how the locality was mediated and to a certain degree “fixed” in and by the gazetteer is telling of the constraints in which its production occurred; moreover, it illustrates the peculiar place gazetteers occupied somewhere between state and local interests.  1.7 Linzhang Gazetteer Particulars If we assume that by the Ming period county gazetteers were essentially “local” products that represented “local” interests, Linzhang County’s 1506 gazetteer is something of an anomaly in the prominent position and level of praise that it offers to the non-local magistrate compiler, Jing Fang. Due to the laws of avoidance Ming magistrates were not allowed to serve in their native province; however they were often placed in positions that were at least regionally familiar to them. For example seven of the eleven recorded magistrates that served in Linzhang before Jing Fang were from the immediate surrounding North China Plain provinces of Shandong, Beizhili and Shanxi.82  Given this trend, it is not surprising to find that Jing Fang also came from the historic Yellow River flood plain region.  Hailing from southwestern Shandong’s Dingtao County, Jing Fang was no exception to larger trends found across appointment of local officials in late imperial China; magistrates could not be from the province in which they were to  81 Huang Liuhong, Fu hui quan shu, p. 129.  82 Jing Fang, ed, Linzhang xian zhi, 1506, juan 7, 2b.   33  serve but every attempt possible was made to match up qualifications and regional familiarity with the particularities of a given post. 83  Despite this qualification, magistrates were never local and the ability to influence a given magistrate often became a way for local society to exert its own influence and agendas.84 Despite being the highest level of state power in a given locality, the magistrate’s office was also a vector through which a variety of local interests came to contend, compete, and operate. This is evidenced in much Ming dynasty gazetteer production where although the local magistrate is often granted the honorary title of chief compiler, the overall content and narrative trajectory of the gazetteer was largely determined by local interests.  Joseph Dennis has gone so far as to suggest that some Ming gazetteers are best understood as reflections of lineage and clan strategies.85   Using inter-textual reading techniques, Dennis has demonstrated that much of what appears to be discrete information in local gazetteers is in fact quite inter-related.  To see these inter-relations, Dennis argues that you not only have to read gazetteers in their entirety, but also read them in tandem with outside genealogical records to understand the various marriage and lineage strategies at play in the locality.  While Dennis’ inter-textual methodology of reading gazetteers as strategic texts makes major contributions to our understandings of this vital source for writing late imperial Chinese history, his findings may be somewhat limited to gazetteers produced in areas with strong gentry presence.  This at least seems to be the case with Linzhang’s 1506 Gazetteer, where in the absence of a strong local gentry, Jing Fang is decidedly in control of the production of the gazetteer and its overall textual strategies.  83 The most systematic demonstration of this trend is found in John Watt’s, District Magistrate in Late Imperial China, which focuses more closely on the Qing period and appointment of magistrates.  Evidence of this is also found in Pierre-Etienne Will, “The 1744 Annual Audits of Magistrate Activity and their Fate,” Late Imperial China, 18:2 (Dec. 1998): 1-50.  84 However, they could be regional, which is an important distinction that I will take up in the biography and career chapter regarding Jing Fang.  85 See Joseph Dennis, “Writing, Publishing, and Reading Local Histories in Ming China.”   34  Linzhang’s 1506 county gazetteer opens with a preface written by neighboring Cizhou Sub-prefecture (磁州) education intendant, Chen Wenhuai (陈文淮).86 While following many of the conventions found in Ming gazetteer prefatory material, Chen’s preface sets a somewhat unusual tone that hints at local failure, which is less common in the larger body of prefatory material found in Ming gazetteers.87 Chen’s preface opens with standard salutations on the greatness and prosperity that the Ming dynastic founding afforded the realm; it then mentions the “scenic triumph of the local landscape” the “heroism of [the county’s] people of talent” and the “achievements of its meritorious officials.”88  However, after these initial celebratory words, the focus of the preface turns to the county’s deficiencies found in more recent years.  Chen writes how the local historic records before this 1506 gazetteer were “tattered, fragmentary and incomplete.”89  He elaborated that even the county’s most precious writings, carvings and rubbings could not be rectified due to their degree of ruin and poor level of education found in the district.  It was clear to non-local resident, Chen Wenhuai, that Linzhang’s historic beauty and record of cultural achievement were not reflected in the state of their local records. Although Linzhang had been a glorious county in the past, Linzhang’s locals failed to recognize this fact and had let their county fall into ruin. Starting at this textual low point allows the gazetteer to tell a new story of renewal, repair and restoration.  Most interesting is how this renewal is primarily attributed to the non-local  86 Chen Wenhuai’s preface is dated the first year of the Zhengde Reign period (1506).  More discussion of this native of  Fujian’s Putian (莆田) County will follow in Chapter Two.   Chen Wenhuai 陳文淮, “Linzhang xian zhi xu” 臨漳縣志序 [Preface to the Linzhang County Gazetteer],  Linzhang xian zhi, 臨漳縣志 [Gazetteer of Linzhang County], ed. Jing Fang景芳, 1506, preface, 1a-3b.  87 Many Ming period gazetteer prefaces spend a great deal of time justifying the reasons for the current volume’s production.  The reasons offered often cite the need to rectify and standardize confused historic local records. However, it is rare to see a preface that points out these faults in such clear terms as Chen Wenhuai’s found in Linzhang County’s 1506 Gazetteer.  88 Chen Wenhuai, “Linzhang xian zhi xu,” 1506, preface, 1a-1b.  89 Chen Wenhuai, “Linzhang xian zhi xu,” 1506, preface, 1b-3a.   35  magistrate and gazetteer compiler, Jing Fang - or Master Jing (景公) as he is often referred to in the text. Chen’s preface states that under Jing Fang’s careful direction, two local stipend students surnamed Yang (楊) and Niu (牛) were selected.90  Working days and nights, Jing, Yang and Niu collected materials, corrected mistakes, repaired the local record and through tireless and meticulous work they gradually completed the county’s 1506 gazetteer.91  Chen describes their work as “unrushed, refined and polished”; an excellent example of good governance that will leave a mark as “straight as a carpenter’s line” for the influence and benefit of future generations.92  Chen’s preface is so celebratory of Jing Fang’s work that by its end one gets the impression that the 1506 gazetteer is not only primarily due to Jing’s work alone, but that it is also the county’s first gazetteer.  In fact as we learn later, the county had produced an earlier edition, but that this edition only existed in a tattered manuscript copy and was full of errors and omissions. Perhaps even more telling than Chen Wenhuai’s gazetteer preface is Jing Fang’s postface to the same edition.  Throughout the text, Jing’s tone reveals a certain amount of frustration with the locals and their inability to rectify their own historic record.   When he arrives at the post, Jing Fang complains that it was marred by a myriad of problems (“one hundred holes and one thousand scars”) and that all of his attempts to investigate and solve these problems failed as the previous local records were unclear and confused.93  He writes: When I of little talent took up office [in Linzhang], there were a myriad of problems resulting from accumulated customs found [in the local] administration.  All attempts at investigating and planning failed. I asked the village elders for suggestions and consulted the old gazetteer [in an attempt] to bring about some transformation.  The former  90 Chen Wenhuai, “Linzhang xian zhi xu,” 1506, preface, 2a-3b.  91 Chen Wenhuai, “Linzhang xian zhi xu,” 1506, preface, 2a-2b.  92 Chen Wenhuai, “Linzhang xian zhi xu,” 1506, preface, 3b.  93 Jing Fang, ed., Linzhang xian zhi, 1506, postface  (序), 1a-3a.   36  gazetteer was [only] in the form of a hand written manuscript.94  Things that should have been recorded in detail were omitted while things that were simple were made complicated with many miscopied and superfluous characters.95  With the help of the local village elders, Jing Fang first attempts to rectify the local record, but had to quickly move to attend to the county’s more pressing needs such as repairing dilapidated public structures and rebuilding the county’s morale through promoting local education. Eventually: the old was removed and replaced with the new and beneficial; the ruined and dilapidated was reconstructed; the collapsed was repaired; the leaky was covered and the faded and dull walls were all repainted. The local people were put at ease and in ritual order talent rose steadily; diligently everyone made ambitious progress through study and cultivation.96  After these initial steps were taken, in his “spare time” Jing Fang selected local students97 from the Confucian school to investigate the available written materials and consult with the local people.98 Through “making comparisons, drawing out and judging the relevant materials, correcting errors and adding and omitting information” they eventually completed the gazetteer.  1.8 Gazetteer Strategies   The preface and the postface to Linzhang County’s 1506 gazetteer are useful windows for exploring the overarching themes, editorial choices, and various strategies found throughout the work.  If we work with the assumption that contemporaries of the 1506 edition possibly read the gazetteer more thoroughly than modern historians who often only spot-mine local gazetteers for information, then the preface and the postface play the important role of introducing and  94 This is the only mention in the entire gazetteer of a previous edition of the Linzhang County gazetteer. No surviving copy exists.  95 Jing Fang, ed., Linzhang xian zhi, 1506, postface, 1a-1b.  96 Jing Fang, ed., Linzhang xian zhi, 1506, postface, 1b-2a.  97 Surnamed Gao (高), Zhang  (張), and Yuan (袁).  See Jing Fang, ed., Linzhang xian zhi, 1506, postface, 2a.  98 Jing Fang, ed., Linzhang xian zhi, 1506, postface, 2a.  37  concluding the gazetteer’s textual arc.  They serve as bookends to the overarching theme/message/strategy that runs throughout the entire gazetteer; namely, that Linzhang County, while heir to a long and fantastic historic and cultural pedigree, had long forgotten its own history due to decades of local neglect.  Under the able governance of Jing Fang, order was restored, the county’s record was rectified and the former glory of Ye was slowly returning to Linzhang County.  The gazetteer is the public record of this historic rescue mission led by the careful and active leadership of Jing Fang. So what exactly did Jing Fang choose to rescue from Linzhang’s distant past? And what do his editorial choices tell us about historic governance in the Linzhang County? To address these questions it is useful to return once again to Jing Fang’s 1506 postface.  In this postface, Jing Fang offers a fairly candid description of his administrative predecessors stationed in Linzhang County.  He states that while some previous magistrates were virtuous and worthy of emulation others were wicked and their records needed to be scrutinized and reevaluated.  In doing so, the new gazetteer allowed “the county’s aspiring scholars (“Blue-Robed scholars”) to rectify their own minds and become familiar with the ancients and to emulate the achievements of the county’s historic sages.”99 Throughout the entire gazetteer one of the county’s ‘historic sages’ is highlighted and celebrated above all the rest, the famous Warring States governor of Ye, Ximen Bao (西門豹). While Ximen Bao’s story – of how the upright and virtuous official Ximen Bao eradicated the annual river sacrifices in Ye to the region’s local water deity - remains popular in China even to this day, the actual historic records concerning him and his legacy are few and brief.  Owing to his profound weight in the construction of Linzhang County’s local identity even to this day, I have devoted both Chapters 3 and 4 to explore the origin and development of the body of texts  99 It remains unclear if Jing Fang places himself in this pedigree of worthy local sages; however, he does write in final evaluation that his administrative record “is not inferior to his predecessors.” Jing Fang, ed., Linzhang xian zhi, 1506, postface, 2b-3a.  38  and meanings associated with Linzhang County’s most famous historic official, Ximen Bao. The first of these two chapters starts at the very beginning of the story and explores Ximen Bao’s “canonization” into a Confucian “saint.”  I argue that although the Ximen Bao story has been transferred through the ages as a relatively unproblematic and simplistic tale of upright Confucian governance, the body of early textual evidence surrounding his achievements is by no means as uniform.  It was not until Sima Qian’s (司馬遷), Shi ji (史記), that Ximen Bao was recast as the model of sagely secular governance that we know today.  I also contend that important metaphors of water control, upright administration and the maintenance of public order provided by the Ximen Bao tale intimately reflect the larger Han era development of official state Confucianism.  I offer this discussion to lay the groundwork for the next chapter, which explores the various social, cultural, and political lives of the Ximen Bao story in Linzhang County through the Ming period. Chapter 4 then explores the elevation of Ximen Bao into a religious deity during the Six Dynasties period.  I argue that the realm-wide prestige that the Ximen Bao Shrine eventually enjoyed reflects the larger status of Ye/Linzhang region following the collapse of the Han Dynasty.  I also paint a rough sketch of the types of temple practices associated with his shrine based on the limited historical resources available. Finally I argue that the rise and fall of the Ximen Bao cult over the Six Dynasties period and into the Song era intimately reflects the declining status of Linzhang as the county moved into the late imperial era.  The second half of this chapter moves to examine the local rehabilitation of the Ximen Bao cult in mid-Ming Linzhang. By the end of the Ming period, Linzhang County could boast three distinct ritual structures devoted to Ximen Bao worship. The rehabilitation of Ximen Bao not only allowed Linzhang County to make direct links with the region’s past antiquity, but also established a clear and personified model of virtuous local governance, or what I call the “Ximen  39  Bao example,” that would come to affect generations of subsequent local officials.   Central to this rehabilitation was Linzhang’s continued quest for “cultural centrality” in a dramatically changing Ming world. One of the most active agents in the county’s cultural rehabilitation was the mid-Ming magistrate, Jing Fang. Chapter 5 explores his life biography as revealed primarily through the county’s 1506 gazetteer. I argue that both Jing Fang’s career path and the county gazetteer that he helped to produce sit at the centre of important institutional and administrative changes that took place in the mid-Ming period. By examining Jing Fang’s family history and career trajectory we see a world of new possibilities emerging that was facilitated by an active state intervention to incorporate more northerners into the larger Ming polity. Once in the system, Jing Fang worked in a distant corner of the Ming state, but used whatever resources were available to him to publicize and spread his own reputation.  As such, Jing Fang oversaw the production of the 1506 Linzhang county gazetteer and used the public nature of this source to publicize his successes to his administrative superiors. This auto-representation of Jing Fang’s local accomplishments can best be understood as a personal interjection of his own life biography into the quasi-public local gazetteer record; it also displays Jing Fang’s active dialogue with the state that put him into power and functions as his personal biography of achievement. In sum, I argue that Jing Fang’s life, along with his agenda and target audiences were distinctly different - perhaps even more “northern” - in their statist orientation than what is more commonly explained by southern models of gentry life and gazetteer production.  Such a reading of Linzhang County’s 1506 Gazetteer also not only tells us something about the different strategies available to lesser known gazetteer compilers in lesser known counties but also significantly expands our understanding of the different venues in which one could write about himself for posterity in late imperial China.  40  By way of conclusion, the final chapter discusses the last surviving local record Linzhang County from the Ming period, Zhang Erzhong’s Brief Account of an Unworthy Magistrate of Linzhang.  When examining Zhang’s official handbook, one cannot help but to be struck by the sense of impending doom that hovers over his entire text.  Unlike Jing Fang who governed Linzhang County in a time of relative stability and peace, Zhang Erzhong entered the county in 1632 and had to deal with the cumulative effects of decades of environmental crisis and the growing threat of local rebellion, Manchu aggression, and dynastic collapse.  In this late Ming context, Zhang simply did not have the luxury of promoting the same type of cultural renovation projects that previous mid-Ming magistrates had enjoyed, such as the revitalization the Ximen Bao example in the locality. Starting with this late Ming text, I argue that reading back from Zhang Erzhong’s Brief Account, allows a better understanding of the uniqueness of the mid- Ming period in Linzhang County itself. My discussion of Zhang Erzhong is followed by some final thoughts on the importance of examining Ming history from a new regional perspective. Given the county’s unique historical experience and its distinct set of local dynamics, I conclude that Linzhang County provides an excellent vantage point from which to rethink the deeply regional character of the larger Ming historical experience and to begin moving historians beyond the “Jiangnan model” of Ming studies.  41  Chapter 2: Linzhang Orientations: Reading and Seeing the Locality   2.1 Introduction   In his well known guide for local magistrates A Complete Book Concerning Happiness and Benevolence (福惠全書), the mid 17th century magistrate, Huang Liuhong (黃六鴻), wrote: When a magistrate is appointed to rule over a department or district, he should acquire some knowledge of its special administrative problems and the social customs of the locality.  He should make conscious effort to get such information from those who have served as officials in the department or district and from members of local gentry now living in the capital.  Not only will this information help him prepare for his future problems, it will also help him decide what kind of assistants he must recruit.1  For Huang, it was the duty of every official to familiarize himself as much as possible with his new position before taking up his post.  Huang’s concern is understandable given the well- known difficulty of local administration during the late imperial period.2  Any foreknowledge of a post would certainly help to smooth over an incoming magistrate’s transition into a new and often foreign locality.3 It would also aid the magistrate in identifying important local dynamics, such as “rapacious yamen underlings and local bullies” as well as help him to set the administrative tone of his tenure before presenting himself in the locality.4  Huang’s suggestion  1 Huang Liuhong黃六鴻, Fu hui quan shu 福惠全書 [A Complete Book Concerning Happiness and Benevolence], translated and edited by Djang Chu as, A Complete Book Concerning Happiness and Benevolence: A Manual for Local Magistrates in Seventeenth-Century China  (Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1984), p. 77.  2 For comprehensive discussions of local administration in the late imperial period see Thomas Nimick, Local Administration in Ming China: The Changing Roles of Magistrates, Prefects, and Provincial Officials (Minneapolis: Society for Ming Studies, 2008); and John Watt, The District Magistrate in Late Imperial China  (New York: Columbia University Press, 1972).  3 By 1511, a “sort of official guide for magistrates” was issued along with his official seals to every newly appointed magistrate from the Board of Officials.  This guide was titled Shouzhi daoren xuzhi  授職到任須知 [What one needs to know when receiving a charge and reaching one’s office] and contained a list of 31 items outlining aspects of local administration.  Thomas Nimick estimates that the guide was prepared sometime during the Yongle reign period (1403-1424), and that the 1511 version of the text was first included in the 1587 edition of the Daming huidian 大明會典 [Collected Statues of the Ming Dynasty].  See Thomas Nimick’s Shouzhi daoren xuzhi entry in the Pierre-Etienne Will, Official Handbooks and Anthologies of Imperial China: A Descriptive and Critical Bibliography. Work in progress, 2010, entry 144.  4 Huang Liuhong, Fu hui quan shu, p. 77.   42  rests on the assumption however, that officials who had previously served in the same post or members of the local gentry were resident in the capital.   What happened in instances when this was not the case?   How was an incoming magistrate to gather information about a locality when the locality that he was travelling to was not fully represented in the capital?  One method of gathering information was to read through a copy of the county’s local gazetteer.  Indeed, Huang’s handbook explains that this essential source of information could help new magistrates familiarize themselves with the locality’s “Mountains, rivers, noted inhabitants, tributes to imperial court, local products, communities, temples, bridges” as well as its “geographical layout, the amounts and rates of taxation, and the vital statistic and degree of prosperity of its population.”5  Gazetteers offered a comprehensive, albeit stylized view of the locality and sought to summarize the county’s historical, political, cultural, fiscal and environmental dynamics.6  It was, and still is, the go-to source for anybody looking to find quick and comprehensive information about a given locality in Chinese history. Gazetteers were generally compiled by the local magistrate and reflected his official duty to collect and collate information about the locality.  However, they also reflected the interests of the local gentry who sought to elevate the prestige of their locality through this printed source. The ability to raise the prestige of a given locality was directly related to the two primary ways that gazetteers circulated throughout the empire – through hierarchal compilation practices and through elite literati collections.  While the vast majority of Ming and Qing gazetteers were produced at the county level, most sub-prefectural, prefectural, provincial and even dynastic units also produced their own gazetteers from the sixteenth century onwards.7  Much of the  5 Huang Liuhong, Fu hui quan shu, p. 129.  6 Not all gazetteers were as successful in their comprehensive surveys of their respective localities.  7 Over 8,000 local gazetteers from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) periods survive to this day.  See James M. Hargett, “Song Dynasty Local Gazetteers and Their Place in the History of Difangzhi Writing,” Harvard Journal of Asian Studies, 56.2 (December, 1996): 405-442, p. 405.  43  information contained in gazetteers produced by more superior administrative units was directly culled from gazetteers created by units under their immediate jurisdiction. This editorial practice facilitated the upward flow of information, with the county gazetteer serving as the basic unit of local knowledge collection; it also meant that all local information could become dynastic knowledge.8 It was thus in the interests of the local gentry to make sure that their county was adequately represented in all of the various gazetteers produced by their county’s upward administrative chain. The second way that local information circulated throughout the empire by way of gazetteers was through elite collecting practices. While we have no firm statistics regarding exactly how many local gazetteers were circulated throughout the empire at any given time, we do know they were widely traded and collected by elites in both the Ming and Qing periods. Scholars interested in geography, local history, and the increasing trend of what would later become known as “evidential research” (考證) all “considered gazetteers, and not just those of their own locale, worth owning.”9  Local gazetteers were also collected in elite private libraries. The most famous of these libraries was Ningbo’s famous Tianyige Library (天一閣), founded by the Ming Minister of War, Fan Qin (藩欽 - 1506-1585), which at one time is said to have housed over 400 unique Ming period local gazetteers.10   8 Gazetteer information could also move laterally across administrative units and it is not uncommon to find repeated information, especially biographical information, in a variety of gazetteer sources not in the same administrative hierarchy. For example, the biography of one local degree holder named Yang Xin that is contained in his native Gaoyuan County’s (Shandong) gazetteer is copied almost verbatim from his biography in the local officials section in the 1506 Linzhang County (Henan) gazetteer.  See Song Bi 宋弼, ed., Gaoyuan xian zhi  高苑縣 志 [Gazetteer of Gaoyuan County], 1672, juan 6, 3b; and Jing Fang景芳, ed., Linzhang xian zhi, 臨漳縣志 [Gazetteer of Linzhang County], 1506, juan 7, 2b.  9 Timothy Brook, “The Gazetteer Cartography of Ye Chunji,” The Chinese State in Ming Society  (London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2005), p. 44.  10 The first Ming gazetteer in the collection is dated, 1395 (Illustrated Gazetteer of the Capital, Hongwu Era 洪武京 城圖志) and the last, 1642 (Gazetteer of Wu County 吳縣志).  The Tianyige library at one time held 435 unique gazetteer editions for this 247 year period.  Today 270 of these editions are still extant.  See Ma Zhaoping 駱兆平,  44  Given that local gazetteers were often found outside of the localities that produced them (either in their aggregate form or in elite private collections) it is reasonable to assume that many magistrates could have been at least textually familiar with their post before arriving there. Such foreknowledge also helps to explain why some magistrates began their work immediately as though they were already well acquainted with the county and the sum of its local dynamics. The 1506 Linzhang County gazetteer is full of stories of one such magistrate, Jing Fang (景芳), who “from the moment that he stepped out of the cart” (“以下車…”) immediately began his restoration of the decayed county seat to which he was dispatched to.11 Jing Fang however, could not have had the benefit of viewing a complete and cohesive local record before arriving in Linzhang County.  In his postface (後序) to the county’s 1506 gazetteer, Jing Fang complained that the previous county record was unclear and confused and “all the things that should have been recorded in detail were omitted while simple things were made complicated with many miscopied characters.”12  To Jing Fang, the shabby state of the  ed., Tianyige cang ming dai di fang zhi kao lu 天一閣藏明代地方志考錄 [Critical Notes and Record of Ming Dynasty Gazetteers Collected in the Tianyige Library] (Beijing: Shumu wen xian chubanshe, 1982), p. v.   Reprints from the Tianyige Ming Dynasty gazetteer collection can be found in: Tianyige cang mingdai fan zhi xuan kan 天一 閣藏明代方志選刊 [Selected Reprints of Ming Dynasty Gazetteers from the Tianyige Collection] 72 v. (Shanghai: Shanghai shu dian, 1990)  and; Tianyige cang mingdai fangzhi xuan kan xu bian 天一閣藏明代方志選刊續編 [Selected Reprints of Ming Dynasty Gazetteers from the Tianyige Collection; Supplementary Selections] 72 v. (Shanghai: Shanghai shu dian, 1990).  11 The 1506 Linzhang County Gazetteer uses this phrase, “from the moment that he stepped out of the cart” (以下車) throughout the entire source to describe the speed at which Jing Fang tackled the county’s myriad of problems. It appears that this phrase was in somewhat common usage during the Ming period and was used to describe the speed at which an incoming magistrate sprung into his activity.  One late Ming text entitled Xia che yiji lu 下車異績錄 [Extraordinary Accomplishments After Getting out of One’s Cart] uses this term to describe the swift famine relief efforts of one incoming magistrate named Wang Guocai (王國材) in Zhejiang’s Linhai County (臨海)  The literary value and meaning of this phrase is taken up in more analytic detail in Chapter Five. See Jing Fang, ed., Linzhang xian zhi, 1506, postface, 1a; and Wang Guocai (王國材), Xia che yiji lu下車異績錄 [Extraordinary Accomplishments After Getting out of One’s Cart], 1621. m.s.  12 There exist no surviving copies of this pre-1506 Linzhang County Gazetteer to help evaluate Jing Fang’s frustrated claims. Jing Fang, ed, Linzhang xian zhi, 1506, postface, 1a.   45  county’s record was just another symptom of the “one hundred holes and a thousand scars” (“百 孔千瘡”) that plagued Linzhang County.13 In this postface, Jing Fang explains that although the county record was a mess, he had to first attend to the more pressing needs of the county – namely, repairing and renovating its dilapidated public structures.  Once Linzhang’s physical state was restored, Jing Fang then moved to address all the inadequacies in the county’s textual record.  He enlisted the help of a select group of students registered in the local Confucian school and together they spent countless hours “judging materials, correcting errors, adding information and omitting information.”14 Through their work the county’s 1506 gazetteer was completed.   No longer would any incoming magistrate have to rely on a spotty local record to help guide his administration.  As such, Jing Fang’s gazetteer was crafted to be “helpful and beneficial to all the subsequent gentlemen holding office [in Linzhang].”15 Although Jing Fang did not have the benefit of consulting a source as complete as his own 1506 gazetteer before arriving in office, it is safe to assume that Jing Fang’s successors did. Much of the 1506 Linzhang gazetteer’s information is directly cited in the 1522 Zhangde Prefectural Gazetteer16 as well as the 155517 edition of the Henan Provincial Gazetteer. Moreover, the fact that all three of these gazetteers found their way into the esteemed Tianyige collection offers strong evidence that these sources were traded and collected in elite networks. Through such editorial and collection practices, it is highly possible that by the early 16th century  13 Jing Fang, ed., Linzhang xian zhi, 1506, postface, 1a.  14 Jing Fang, ed., Linzhang xian zhi, 1506, postface, 1b-2a.  15 Jing Fang, ed., Linzhang xian zhi, 1506, postface, 2a.  16 Cui Xi 崔銑, ed., Zhangde fu  zhi彰德府志 [Gazetteer of Zhangde Prefecture], 1581.  17 Zou Shouyu 鄒守愚, ed., Henan tong zhi河南通志 [General Gazetteer of Henan Province], 1555.   46  any incoming Linzhang County magistrate could have some textual foreknowledge of the locality before arriving in office. We might ask however, what kind of first impressions did the 1506 gazetteer produce for those textually encountering the county for the first time? Although today’s readers tend to spot-mine historical gazetteers for specific information, I follow Joseph Dennis’ contention that to best understand these sources we must read them in their entirety and start at their beginnings.18 This chapter thus offers a close reading of the prefatory material that opens the 1506 Linzhang County gazetteer.  The first half of this chapter entitled, “Reading the Locality” explores the single preface that opens the gazetteer.  I argue that much of the county and region’s personnel dynamics can be sketched through a close reading of the preface and a deeper understanding of its author - an instructor (學政) from the neighbouring Cizhou Sub-prefecture’s (磁州) Confucian school named Chen Wenhuai (陳文淮).  The second half of the chapter, entitled “Seeing the Locality” uses the gazetteer’s prefatory map to outline the county’s unique historic relationship between its physical environment and its local governance.  To explore this relationship, I advance conceptual tools borrowed from the “new cartographic history,” which helps to demonstrate exactly how much “mapping” this singular image of the county actually accomplishes.  2.2 Reading the Locality: A Marginal Preface  Like most local gazetteers produced during the Ming period, the 1506 Linzhang County gazetteer also starts with a preface (序) written by a man we can assume is of some local, or perhaps even realm-wide reputation.19  While there exists no full-length study of gazetteer  18 Joseph Dennis, “Writing, Publishing, and Reading Local Histories in Ming China,” PhD Dissertation, University of Minnesota, 2004.  19 As with most gazetteer prefaces, the 1506 Linzhang County gazetteer’s preface is simply titled, “Preface to the Linzhang County Gazetteer.”  Chen Wenhuai 陳文淮, “Linzhang xian zhi xu” 臨漳縣志序 [Preface to the Linzhang County Gazetteer], Linzhang xian zhi, 臨漳縣志 [Gazetteer of Linzhang County], ed. Jing Fang 景芳, 1506, preface, 1a.  47  preface writing in late imperial China, one can make a few generalizations about the genre as it applies to the politics of gazetteer production during the Ming period.  Gazetteer prefaces satisfied the dual purposes of orientating the reader to the gazetteer’s content while also situating the work within a larger world of literati cultural production.20  It was in the interests of the gazetteer’s chief complier to secure a man of notable status to pen the preface.  If more notables could be included, more prefaces were added, and in some famous literati centres it was not uncommon to have four or even five prefaces.21  The types of people who were asked to write gazetteer prefaces ranged from local sons who had earned reputations outside of their immediate county to notables within the Ming bureaucracy, such as prefectural, provincial, circuit, or metropolitan officials.   Securing preface writers was thus a political act that reflected networks of patronage and place status within the nested geo-political hierarchies of the Ming imperial and literati structure. Although the actual prefatory content could range in historic detail and value, the status of the person who wrote it offers hints to the reputation of a given county outside of its immediate locale.   In this regard, the low status of the scholar who wrote the one and only preface to the 1506 Linzhang County gazetteer, a minor official named Chen Wenhuai, is quite telling.22  Linzhang County Magistrate and chief gazetteer compiler, Jing Fang, is silent on the issue of why Chen Wenhuai was chosen to write the introductory preface to the county’s 1506   20 See Joseph P. McDermott, A Social History of the Chinese Book: Books and Literati Culture in Late Imperial China (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2006) especially Chapter 3 “Distribution of Books and Literati Culture,” pp. 83-114.  Although McDermott does not include the gazetteer genre in his study of late imperial books and book culture, this chapter offers a succinct overview of the social life of books and the social positions of their distributors, readers and collectors; moreover this chapter offers a succinct overview of the textual production, distribution and consumption in the late imperial period.  21 For example the 1609 gazetteer produced by Zhejiang Province’s Qiantang County (today’s Hangzhou) included five prefaces.  Nie Xintang 聶心湯, ed., Wanli Qiantang xian zhi 萬歷錢塘縣志 [Gazetteer of Qiantang County], 1609. Thanks to Desmond Cheung for supplying this information.  22 Chen Wenhuai’s style name was Chang Bo (常伯).  Wang Dajing 汪大經and Liao Biqi  廖必琦, eds., Putian xian zhi, 莆田縣志 [Gazetteer of Putian County], 1758,  juan 13,  21b.   48  gazetteer.  Perhaps, Jing Fang’s choice points to the conclusion that he simply had very few options in selecting a more notable official to provide literary or official credibility to his gazetteer.  According to the 1506 source, Chen Wenhuai was an Instructor in the Confucian School from the immediately neighbouring Cizhou Sub-prefecture.23  Chen hailed from Fujian’s Putian County (莆田縣) and was recognized as a “Prefectural Nominee Jinshi” (鄉貢進士), a somewhat unusual title with important implications that will be taken up shortly.  No dates are given for this honour in the source and judging from silences in his native Putian County’s gazetteer, Chen Wenhuai had much less success in his administrative career than other members of his impressive Chen family lineage.24 Other sources also give few clues as to who Chen Wenhuai was.  The 1522 Zhangde Prefectural Gazetteer offers the most complete information on Chen Wenhuai’s life, but is still extremely limited.  Chen Wenhuai is said to have taken up the position of Classics Instructor (書 經校教授) in the tenth year of the Hongzhi Reign period (1497).  He is listed as holding a juren (舉人) provincial graduate degree, but the source does not mention any jinshi, or “presented scholar” degree.25  This omission in the 1522 prefectural source raises some suspicions about Chen Wenhuai’s “jinshi” status. 26 Data taken from Cizhou Sub-prefecture, in which Chen Wenhuai served as an instructor in the Confucian school, also raises some suspicions. The 1553  23 Jing Fang, ed, Linzhang xian zhi, 1506, preface, 3b.   Charles O. Hucker translates Xue zheng (學正) as “Instructor in a Confucian School” at the sub-prefectural level.  Over the late imperial period this position’s official rank rose from 9b in the Yuan, to 9a in the Ming and finally to 8a in the Qing period.  Charles O. Hucker, A Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1985), p. 252.  24 Without genealogical records it is impossible to construct the exact patrilineal line that Chen Wenhuai descended from; however, a multitude of references to various local and highly accomplished Chen’s are found throughout the Putian Gazetteer.  It is safe to assume that Chen Wenhuai was related to at least a few of these men. Wang Dajing and Liao Biqi, eds., Putian xian zhi, 1758.  25 The “Jinshi,” or “Presented Scholar” title was given to all those who had successfully passed the highest level examination in the three tiered structure of the late imperial examination system.  Over the course of the Ming, the jinshi exam was generally held in the imperial capital every three years.  26 Cui Xi, ed., Zhangde fu zhi, 1522, juan 5, 48a.   49  Cizhou gazetteer not only inserts the wrong character for Chen’s surname,27 which casts some doubt on his real local importance, but also provides no jinshi credentials.28 Chen Wenhuai’s home gazetteer from Fujian’s Putian County is equally vague on the subject.  Putian’s 1758 county gazetteer briefly states that along with thirty-six other people, Chen obtained “examination success” in the eighth year of the Hongzhi Reign period (1495) and that he went on to serve as an instructor in Cizhou.29  There is no explicit record of Chen ever obtaining a jinshi degree nor any record of any subsequent positions held after his posting in Cizhou Sub-prefecture.  The steles outside of the Imperial Academy in Beijing, which list all Ming and Qing jinshi degree holders, also offer no mention of Chen Wenhuai.30  Furthermore, any jinshi status is immediately put into question by Chen’s lowly rank in the Sub-prefecture’s Confucian School, which was ranked at 9a, the second to lowest rank in the regularized Ming bureaucracy.31 The sum of all these sources supports the conclusion that Chen Wenhuai was in fact never a jinshi degree holder and that we should resist the temptation to translate ‘Prefectural Nominee Jinshi” as such.   We are thus left with the question: given that the 1506 Linzhang County gazetteer is a mid-Ming source where “jinshi” generally means “jinshi,” how should we understand this curious title? Is it possible that Chen’s status is simply a misprint in the source, a case of a careless calligrapher inserting the wrong title?  Such banal mistakes can never be  27 Chen Wenhuai’s surname is listed as “Shen” (申) instead of “Chen” (陳). Zhou Wenlong周文龍 and Sun Shao孫 紹, eds, Cizhou  zhi 磁州志 [Gazetteer of Cizhou Sub-Prefecture], 1533, juan 2, 9b.  28  Zhou Wenlong and Sun Shao, eds, Cizhou zhi, 1533, juan 2, 9b.  29 “弘治八年乙卯: 是科中式三十六人,” in, Wang Dajing and Liao Biqi, eds, Putian xian zhi, 1758, juan 13, 21b. In all cases except for when jinshi degree status was earned, the source is unclear on exactly what degrees were conferred in all cases except for when jinshi degree status was earned.  30 Zhu Baojiong 朱保炯and Xie Peilin谢沛霖, eds, Ming Qing jinshi timing beilu suoyin 明清進士題名碑錄索引 [Index to Ming-Qing stele lists of jinshi degrees] 3 vols. (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1980).  31For ranking see Charles O. Hucker, A Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China, p. 252.   50  entirely ruled out when reading Ming sources.  Or was there something more deceitful going on? Was Chen Wenhuai deliberately lying about his credentials?  To answer this question, we need to examine the history of the term “Prefectural Nomine Jinshi” itself. The term “Prefectural Nominee Jinshi” can be traced back to its origins in the Tang Dynasty (618-907) when the civil examination system acquired its characteristic multi-tiered structure. To qualify for the highest level metropolitan exam, in the Tang system, the Gaozu (高 祖, 618-26) and Taizong (太宗, 627-50) emperors required that one not only had to first pass qualifying exams (ju 舉)32 but also be recommended (xuan 選) for the exam.  Hence the entire shorthand name for the examination system came to be known thereafter as “xuanju” (選舉).33 During the Tang period there were two examinations at the metropolitan level that served different purposes.  The first exam, called the “Clarifying the Classics’ or Mingjing (明經) examination, tested candidates’ classical learning and their ability to construct policy essays. The second, and more prestigious of the two exams, was the “Presented Scholar” or jinshi (進士) exam, which focused more heavily on literary skills and the ability to construct eloquent prose and poetry.  In his study of the Tang dynasty literati world, David McMullen argues that although both of these exams were situated at the top metropolitan level and were aimed at testing different aspects of a scholar’s training, due to its low quota of successful candidates, the jinshi degree was far more prestigious than the Clarifying the Classics, mingjing exam.34 In this  32 This exam was known as the “decree examination” (制科) and in theory was held on an ad hoc basis whenever “the emperor indentified the need for officials in any of a wide range of categories, skills, or moral worth.” David McMullen, State and Scholars in T’ang China (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), p. 25.  33 Benjamin Elman, A Cultural History of Civil Examinations in Late Imperial China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), pp. 7-9.  For a more detailed discussion of the changes in the examination system as they related to larger intellectual trends and political events in the Tang, see David McMullen, State and Scholars in T’ang China, pp. 29-43.  34 David McMullen estimates that only 2 - 3 percent of the 1000 candidates who sat the jinshi exam were successful each year.  Thus those who successfully satisfied the exam’s demands were instantly catapulted into the empire’s elite.  David McMullen, State and Scholars in T’ang China, p. 24.  51  context, being recommended for the more prestigious jinshi degree exam was a sign of status in itself and one’s recommendation would often be included in his list of credentials.  Thus all of the qualified prefectural candidates (鄉貢) who had been recommended to take the jinshi exam were known as “Prefectural Nominee Jiinshi” (鄉貢進士).35  If one was successful in the jinshi examinations he would thereafter be simply known as a “Presented Scholar” or jinshi (進士); however, if he failed the exam he would be still allowed to retain his title “Prefectural Nominee Jinshi.”  The “Prefectural Nominee Jinshi” title thus singled out a candidate who had been recommended for the prestigious jinshi examination, which was an honour in itself, but who had not been successful in passing it.36 From the Song period onwards, the “Prefectural Nominee Jinshi” title gradually fell out of use and by the Ming period it is rarely seen in the primary source material.   Nominations still played an important role in the examination system, but in order to qualify for the metropolitan exam one first had to pass the fiercely competitive provincial exam.   By the Ming period, official records generally state the highest degree level one had obtained, not the exams one sat for but failed.   This is not to say that the term had completely fallen out of use by the Ming period.  In fact, a stele was erected in the fifth year of the Chenghua reign (1469) period in Jiangsu’s Haizhou Prefecture (海州) that explicitly lists all of the prefecture’s local juren degree   35 Charles Hucker offers no definition for “Xianggong jinshi.”  My somewhat cumbersome translation of the terms uses Hucker’s translation of 鄉貢 as “Prefectural Nominee.” Hucker states that this title was only used in the Tang and was an “unofficial reference to a man nominated by a Prefect…to participate in the regular civil service recruitment examinations.” Charles O. Hucker, A Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China, p. 232.  36 Very little has been written about “prefectural nominee jinshi.”  In fact I have only been able to locate one very brief discussion of the topic in Gao Fushun高福順, “Liao chao ‘Jinshi’ chengwei kaobian” 辽朝’进士’称谓考辨 [Analysis of the Title ‘Jinshi’ During the Liao Dynasty], Shixue jikan 史學集刊 [Collected Historiography Papers] no.1 (2009), n.p.   52  holders as “Prefectural Nominee Jinshi.”37  It does suggest however, that when the term was used in the Ming it was done so with deliberate effect - in the Haizhou stele’s case, most likely to create an air of classical authority. To return to the original question then, was Chen Wenhuai lying about his credentials; the answer is technically, no.  Calling himself a “Prefectural Nominee Jinshi” was strictly speaking not incorrect. Historic sources clearly state that Chen Wenhuai held a juren degree and given the fiercely competitive nature of the examination system at the time, he most likely sat the jinshi exam and failed it, making him the quintessential “Prefectural nominee Jinshi” in the Tang sense of the term. Chen’s usage of the word still begs the question however, why list a credential that hints at failure; here, I can only speculate.  Given the anachronism of the term by the mid-Ming period, I suspect that less educated people in the region might have simply glossed over the title, thought Chen was a jinshi degree holder and continued reading.   After all, by early 16th century most mid-Ming gazetteer prefaces were penned by men with jinshi degree credentials as the bare minimum.  More educated audiences however, would understand the classical allusion and be invited to delight in Chen’s historical erudition. We should not be surprised by Chen Wenhuai’s lack of jinshi status while holding office in this region, however.   Judging by the lists of officials stationed in such peripheral counties in Northern Henan, it was actually quite rare to have jinshi status officials serving in office.  Of the twelve Ming era Linzhang County magistrates listed in the 1506 gazetteer, only two are recorded as jinshi degree holders.  Of the nine non-jinshi degree holding magistrates who held office in this region, seven were juren degree holders, two held jiansheng (Imperial Academy Students) status, and one, who served in the immediate years following the founding of the Ming dynasty,  37A brief description of this stele can be found  can be found at the Lianyungang 連云港 City Government website. Anon., “Haizhou Xianggong Jinshi timing pai” 海州鄉貢進士題名碑 [Stele Inscription of Haizhou’s Prefectural Nominee Jinshi],  22 July 2007 http://www.lygwh.gov.cn/show.asp?id=1667 (Accessed 28 August 2009)  53  has no status listed at all.  A similar pattern is repeated throughout many of the other administrative units found throughout Zhangde Prefecture, which Linzhang County was a part of. Of Cizhou’s forty-two subprefectural magistrates (知州 - rank 5b) recorded from the founding of the Ming up until 1553, only six held the highest ranking jinshi degree while the rest were comprised of twenty-two juren degree holders, ten jiansheng and four whose statuses are indeterminate.38  It was only at the prefect level (知府 – rank 4a) in this region, where one begins to see the majority of officials holding office also having jinshi degree status.39 This pattern suggests a different regional trend than the argument outlined in Benjamin Elman’s Cultural History of Civil Examinations in Late Imperial China regarding the changing relations between degree status and office holding starting in the 15th century.  Drawing on evidence from Shandong province, Elman argues that the number of juren degree holders who went on to obtain jinshi status steadily increased beginning in the mid 15th century. While this percentage was initially high in the early Ming - 27% in 1369 and 36% in 1384 - it dropped to a record low in 1417 (0.5%) and slowly recovered from the mid-Ming period onwards.  In 1450, 10% of Shandong’s provincial graduates obtained the coveted jinshi degree and in the following years we see a steady increase in this percentage: 1474 (20%), 1501 (29%), 1549 (43%), and 1642 (46%).40   While Elman never explicitly states that he takes these provincial statistics to be representative of the larger realm wide trend, the way that he presents this provincial data seems  38 Zhou Wenlong and Sun Shao, eds, Cizhou zhi, 1533, juan 2, 3a-5b.  39 Of the 27 prefects recorded from the start of the Ming until 1522, 15 were jinshi degree holders, 2 were Juren and the remaining 10 are obscure.  These obscure numbers all account for scholars found between the Hongwu (1368- 1398) and Hongxi Regin (1425) periods.  By the Xuande period (1426-1435) county gazetteer production was increasingly regularized and the tumultuous nature of the early Ming brought to an end. Thus such personnel statistics from the early 15th century onwards become more reliable and detailed.  Cui Xi, ed., Zhangde fu zhi, 1522, juan 5, 13a-19b.  40 Information drawn from the Huang ming Shan dong li ke xian shi lu 皇明山東歷科鄉試綠 [Record of Shandong Provincial Examinations during the Ming Dynasty] (ca. 1642 reprint) in Benjamin Elman, Cultural History of Civil Examinations in Late Imperial China, p. 666, table 3.7.   54  to suggest such a conclusion; as the Ming dynasty proceeded, more and more juren degree holders were successful in obtaining jinshi status.41 The reasons for this increase are complex but can be best understood in relation to the changing politics of degree status and office holding during the Ming.  One general trend that Elman observes is the increasing domination of jinshi degree holders in all metropolitan, provincial, and local offices of significance.42 While the competition for a juren degree was intensely fierce (due to the sheer numbers who qualified for the exam) success in the provincial exam did not guarantee a commensurately high position in official office.  As Elman states, “… by the late Ming it became difficult for candidates who only got as far as the provincial chu-jen [juren] degree to gain reputable government positions.”43  Thus it was in the interests of successful juren candidates to seek accomplishment at the higher jinshi degree level.  Due to new regulations that accompanied the founding of the Ming, unsuccessful jinshi candidates would not lose their juren status and could continue to re-take the jinshi exam until they were successful.44 Drawing on an impressive array of statistical data, Elman demonstrates that from the 15th century onwards, as the rate of juren degree holders obtaining jinshi status rose, so too  41This increase should not suggest a combined overall growth in the number of successful candidates in all three levels of exams (local, provincial, metropolitan).   What it does suggest however is that the most acute level of examination competition was at the provincial, not the metropolitan level.  According to one late Ming observer, Juren competition had grown so fierce in Nanjing that, “gold went to the chu-jen [juren] and [only] silver to the chin-shih [jinshi]” (金舉人,銀進士). Gu Gongxie 顧公燮, Xiao xia xian ji zhai chao 消夏閑記摘抄 (Selected Notes Jotted in Leisure to Pass the Summer), ca, 1797 edition, in Yong fen lou mi ji 涌芬樓秘記  (Shanghai: Commercial Press, 1917), er ji, B.2a.  As cited in Benjamin Elman, Cultural History of Civil Examinations in Late Imperial China, p. 143.  42 Benjamin Elman, Cultural History of Civil Examinations in Late Imperial China, p.149.  43 Benjamin Elman, Cultural History of Civil Examinations in Late Imperial China, p.146.  44 During the Tang, Song and Yuan dynasties if one failed the jinshi exam the unsuccessful candidate would lose all examination status.  If he wanted to re-take the jinshi exam he would have to start the entire examination process again at the lowest regional level.  See John Chaffee, The Thorny Gates of Learning in Sung China (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995), pp. 30-34.   55  did their domination of all levels of offices ranked within the eighteen grade Ming bureaucratic system (ranks 9b to 1a). Given all of these trends towards jinshi domination, the general lack of jinshi officials in the highest levels of local office in Linzhang County and Cizhou Sub-Prefecture is an interesting anomaly and is perhaps best understood as a product of the region’s peripheral status.  While it would be rare to see a juren degree holder acting as county magistrate in such important areas of the empire as Hangzhou or Yangzhou, the opposite is true for places like Linzhang and Cizhou where the majority of office holders were ranked at the juren level and often even lower.  This is not to suggest that Elman’s assessment of the general growth trend in jinshi office domination is incorrect, but rather, to draw attention to the existence of some compelling exceptions where the very marginality of a place was expressed in local patterns of degree holding and office placement.  From an administrative perspective, places like Linzhang County and Cizhou Sub- prefecture were relatively unimportant and did not warrant the placement of high-ranking jinshi officials.45 In fact, the 14th century treatise on Ming local administration, the Daming Guanzhi (大明官制), which also served as the de facto guide to county rankings during the Ming period, described Linzhang County as isolated from prominent travel routes46 and inhabited by “simple  45The marginality of these places is further expressed in the little attention that Linzhang and Cizhou recieved in the more noted geographic works of the time.  See Lu Yingyang陸應陽, ed., Guangyu ji 廣輿記 [Record of the Vast Empire], 1600. Modern reprint (Taipei: Xuehai chubanshe, 1969), 485-493; and, Li Xian 李賢, et al. ed., Da ming yitongzhi 大明一統志 [Union Gazetteer of the Great Ming], 1461, juan 28.  46While the neighbouring Cizhou Subprefecture had its own Postal Rely station (鄴城馬驛), Linzhang County could not boast such a similar distinction. Linzhang’s closest postal rely station was located in the neighbouring Anyang County, which further contributed to the county’s peripheral status.  See Yang Zhengtai 楊正泰, Mingdai yizhan kao明代驛站考 [Study of Postal Relay Stations during the Ming Dynasty] (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe,2006), p. 38.   56  people” (僻饒民淳).47   In such a place, lower ranking juren or even jiansheng officials would suffice as they had for much of the region’s history. Not only did places like Linzhang and Cizhou have trouble attracting high status officials they also had very little success in producing their own.  From the founding of the Ming until 1506 when the county gazetteer was published, Linzhang only produced a total of three jinshi scholars.  The first of these men, Niu Shun (牛順) received his jinshi degree in the fifth year of the Xuande reign period (1430) and went on to hold subsequent posts as a secretary in the Guangdong Province department in the Ministry of Personnel before being promoted to a post in the Ministry of Works.48  Next in line was Cheng Pu (程普) who earned his degree in the eighth year of the Chenghua reign period (1472), but died of sickness before taking office.49  The last of these three locals was Zhang Jing (張璟) who earned his jinshi degree in the eleventh year of the Chenghua regin period (1475) and went on to serve as magistrate of Lucheng County (潞城) in Jiangsu Province before being promoted to Assistant in the Court of the Imperial Stud (太僕寺 寺丞); according to local sources, Zhang died of sickness but was still admired after his death by locals.50 All in all, none of these men had the type of distinguished careers that characterized the career advancement paths of more prominent jinshi degree holders throughout the empire.51 In  47 See, the Daming guazhi 大明官制 [Bureaucratic System of the Great Ming], juan 2, 65b.  in, Huang-Ming zhishu 皇明制書 [Systems of the August Ming], 1579 edition. Thanks to Professor Thomas Nimick for alerting me to this crucial source.  48 Jing Fang, ed., Linzhang xian zhi,, 1506, juan 8, 7a.   Niu Shun graduated 41st out of 62 candidates in the third class (第三甲); Zhu Baojiong and Xie Peilin, eds., Ming Qing jinshi timing beilu suoyin, pp. 2443.  49 Jing Fang, ed, Linzhang xian zhi, 1506, juan 8, 7a. Cheng Pu graduated 62nd out of 170 in the third class; Zhu Baojiong and Xie Peilin, eds., Ming Qing jinshi timing beilu suoyin, p. 2467.  50 Jing Fang, ed., Linzhang xian zhi, 1506, juan 8, 7b. Zhang Jing graduated 130th out of 202 candidates in the third class; Zhu Baojiong and Xie Peilin, eds., Ming Qing jinshi timing beilu suoyin, p. 2470.  51 One need only look at the countless records of more illustrious officials who served in more vibrant and often more important regions of the empire to prove this point.   57  fact, the section of the 1506 gazetteer that lists all of Linzhang’s local degree holders who went on to have distinguished careers as “meritorious officials” during the Ming (國朝功臣) includes only one person, a local juren degree holder by the name of Shi Pu (石璞).52 Although Shi Pu only held juren degree status, his career was a phenomenal success;53 a type of success that simply was not possible for subsequent generations of juren degree holders starting from the fifteenth century onwards.   Shi Pu first earned his juren degree in the ninth year of the Yongle reign period (1411) and was posted to the Shaanxi Circuit as an Investigating Censor.54 Thereafter, Shi Pu received nine official reappointments over the duration of his career and eventually became a Grand Minister in the Ministry of Works (rank 2a), followed by the same position in the Ministry of War (rank 2a), and lastly the Chief Censor on the Left in the Censorate (rank 2a). 55  During his last three postings, Shi Pu also held the concurrent post of Grand Guardian to the Heir Apparent (rank 1a), generally regarded as one of the top three  52 Shi Pu’s style name was Zhong Yu (仲玉).  53 Shi Pu is the only Linzhang County native to be honoured with a complete biography in the Official History of the Ming (明史).  See Zhang Tingyu張廷玉 et al., eds.,  Ming shi 明史 [Official History of the Ming]. 1974 Reprint, (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1974), juan 160, p. 4360.  54 Shi Pu’s official title was as follows: Shaanxi dao jian cha yu shi  陜西道監察御史, rank 7a. Charles O. Hucker, A Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China, pp. 145-6.  55 One can easily get lost in translating Shi Pu’s dazzling list of promotions.  The official titles are as follows: 1.Investigating Censor in the Shaanxi Circuit (陜西監察御史) – rank 7a; 2. Surveillance Vice Commissioner in the Jiangxi Surveillance Commission (江西按察司副使) – rank 4a; 3. Surveillance Commissioner in the Jiangxi Surveillance Commission ( 江西按察司按使) – rank 3a;  4. Commissioner on the Right in the Shanxi Provincial Administration Commission (山西布政司右布政) -  rank 2b; 5. Commissioner on the Left in the Shanxi Provincial Administration Commission (山西布政司左布政) – rank 2b, with ‘left’ designation taking precedence over  ‘right’; 6. Minister of Works (工部尚書) – rank 2a;  7. Minister of Works and Member of the Court of Judicial Review (工 部尚書兼大理司郎) – rank 2a;  8. Grand Guardian to the Heir Apparent and Minister of Works太子太保兼工部尚 書 – rank 1a; 9. Grand Guardian to the Heir Apparent and Minister of War  (太子太保兼兵部尚書) rank 1a;  10. Grand Guardian to the Heir Apparent and Censor and Chief on the Left in the Censorate (太子太保兼都察院左都 御史) – rank 1a.  All translations from Charles O. Hucker, A Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China.  See Shi Pu’s biography in the Linzhang County gazetteer. Jing Fang, ed., Linzhang xian zhi, 1506, juan 8, 6a-7a.   58  ceremonial positions in the empire.56  Shi Pu’s ability to climb so high up the bureaucratic ladder without a jinshi degree is certainly a reflection of the early Ming period when such advancements were still possible.  It would be almost unthinkable for a man without a jinshi degree to hold such posts by even the late 15th century. Other than this one notable, and indeed exceptional juren degree holder, Linzhang County in 1506 possessed no real notable local degree holders, let alone a living one who could pen a gazetteer preface.  Similarly, the Cizhou Subprefectural gazetteer only lists a total of two locals who had earned jinshi degrees from the time of the founding of the Ming to 1506, when the Linzhang gazetteer was produced.57 The first of these men, Luo Qi (羅綺), graduated in the fifth year of the Xuande reign period (1430) and had a notable career as a Vice Minister on the Left in the Ministry of Punishment before moving to the Censorate where he served as Censor and Vice Commander in Chief on the Left in Sichuan’s Songpan County (松潘).58 The Second man, Ji Jie (紀傑), earned his jinshi degree in Chenghua 11 (1475) and went on to work as a Chief Investigating Censor in the Guangdong Circuit.59   While it is almost certain that Luo Qi had passed away long before 1506, it is hard to say with any certainty if Ji Jie was still alive when the Linzhang County gazetteer was compiled.  56 The other two positions were the Grand Preceptor (太師) and the Grand Mentor (太傅).  Together these three officials were unofficially known as the “Three Preceptors” (三師). Charles O. Hucker, A Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China, p. 401.  57 Five other local jinshi degree holders are listed in the 1553 source, but the date when they earned their jinshi degrees falls after 1506. The five men are as follows:  Jian Qin (菺覃) who earned his jinshi in Zhengde 9 (1514) and worked as a Vice Surveillance Commissioner in the Shaanxi Censorate; Wang Pan (王泮) a jinshi of Zhengde 12 (1517) who later worked in the Censorate; Zu Ju (俎琚) graduated in Zhengde 16 (1521) to become a Vice Director in the Ministry of Revenue; Ji Chun (紀純) who graduated in Jiajing 2 (1523) and worked as a Vice Commissioner in the Shaanxi Military Defense Circuit; and lastly, Hu Jing (胡經), a jinshi of Jiajing 17 (1538) and eventual Secretary in the Ministry of Revenue.  Zhou Wenlong and Sun Shao, eds, Cizhou zhi, 1533, juan 2, 20b- 21a.  58 Zhou Wenlong and Sun Shao, eds, Cizhou zhi, 1533, juan 2, 19a.  59 Zhou Wenlong and Sun Shao, eds, Cizhou zhi, 1533, juan 2 19b.   59  It should be clear from the above evidence that when the editorial committee of Linzhang County’s 1506 gazetteer sought a person of status to pen their preface they had very few regional options. High-ranking officials were simply not posted to this area even in the context of an empire wide trend that saw more and more jinshi degree holders taking up local office. Moreover, Linzhang and its immediate surrounding territory had a dismal record of producing their own jinshi degree holders. Of those local scholars who had previously passed the exam, such as Niu Shun, Cheng Pu, Zhang Jing and Ji Jie, and even the somewhat abnormal case of the lower ranked yet more accomplished Shi Pu, it is highly likely, almost certain, that these men had passed away well before the 1506 preface was penned. This lack of distinguished officials in office and surviving local jinshi degree holders must have presented a problem to Jing Fang and his editorial committee.  As the gazetteer format grew more standardized over the course of the Ming period, one can assume that readers’ expectations also followed suit.60  Gazetteers should start with the words of accomplished men and their writings were to confer prestige upon the locality.  Therefore, both the status of the place producing the gazetteer and the reputation of the work’s chief complier - generally the local magistrate - was directly at stake when selecting preface writers.   As the chief compiler of the 1506 Linzhang gazetteer, magistrate Jing Fang, was only a juren degree holder himself he was likely somewhat removed from the empire wide network of jinshi officials created through a shared experience in the triennial metropolitan exams.61 The sum of all of these deficiencies – including, the lack of jinshi degree holders serving in the area, a noticeable dearth of living local  60 Timothy Brook states that the initial gazetteer genre began in the Tang and “gained a measure of standardization” when the Yuan state issued its gazetteer compilation guidelines in 1296. Timothy Brook, “The Gazetteer Cartography of Ye Chunji,” p. 43.  61 Although focusing explicitly on the Qing period, Iona Man-Cheong’s study of the 1761 jinshi graduation class offers excellent insights into how elite networks were forged through common experience in the triennial examination system. See Iona Man-Cheong, The Class of 1761: Examinations, State, and Elites in Eighteenth- Century China (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004).   60  scholars, and Jing Fang’s own lowly position within the bureaucracy – all helps to make sense of why a lowly instructor from the neighbouring sub-prefecture’s Confucian school was chosen to write the 1506 preface.  Increasing expectations of what a gazetteer preface should look like also helps to make further sense of why Chen Wenhuai’s “Prefectural Nominee Jinshi’ status was possibly recorded as such. Status considerations aside, Chen wrote a fairly apt preface that hit all of the correct notes that one would expect from a Ming gazetteer.  The preface opens with the typical nod to the greatness of the dynasty and then explicitly states why this particular edition of the gazetteer was commissioned.  As Chen writes, the founding of the Ming brought prosperity and bounty to the realm.  Accordingly, a gazetteer record should function as a testament to this new prosperity and “not only pay respect to the flourishing of the age and the grandness of its unity, but also [honour] its cultured men of talent.”62 Chen writes that although Linzhang could claim a long pedigree of talented local officials this legacy had not been preserved in the county’s records, which were “substandard, fragmentary and tattered.”63  This situation was only remedied with the arrival of one particularly talented local official, Jing Fang. When Jing Fang first arrived in the county in1497, he found it in a state of severe disrepair and neglect and immediately jumped into action to repair its physical presence. Magistrate Jing also found the county’s records to be incomplete, fragmentary and flawed, but was worried that he would not have time to attend to this issue.64  Jing Fang was a particularly active magistrate however, and in his spare time recruited two students from the county school named Yang Jing (楊璟) and Niu Shun (牛舜).  Together they worked tirelessly day and night to  62“非惟仰見盛世大一統之隆而文人才士,” in Chen Wenhuai, “Linzhang xian zhi xu,” 1506, preface, 1a.  63“顧舊誌未能極行且殘缺破碎,” in Chen Wenhuai, “Linzhang xian zhi xu,” 1506, preface, 1b-2a.  64 Jing Fang’s overhaul of the county is discussed in detail in Chapter 5.   61  correct the disorderly and chaotic local record. Their initial research found that the county did indeed have a former gazetteer, but that it was physically unfit due to careless carving.  Overall, they condemned the work for being “unrefined…and forfeiting all reality in favor of flashy and showy embellishments.”65  The editorial committee then spent several exhaustive months working on the project and eventually obtained all the necessary documents needed to put the county’s record back into order.  When it came to finalizing this record, “for every stroke of the brush and for every cut of the block there was an active discussion to find the correct compromise; all of the gentlemen involved were diligent, attentive and meticulous [in their work].”66   Finally, when all their hard work was complete, the 1506 Gazetteer was committed to woodblocks.   The county’s record was rectified so that future officials would be able to study the examples of previous worthies and benevolently carry out their own administration.67  For those familiar with gazetteer prefaces, much of the above will sound quite unexceptional.  Indeed, most gazetteers start with a nod to the glory of the dynasty, proceed by describing the hard work of the editorial committee, and conclude with some remarks on the importance of the local gazetteer and the need for future locals to study this record diligently.  In this sense, Chen Wenhuai wrote a perfectly adequate, perhaps even cliché, preface. Yet just as Chen Wenhuai played a subtle trick in (mis) representing his official degree status, I suggest that there is much more than meets the eyes to this seemingly innocuous preface. We have already learned that during the Ming period, Linzhang did not have an impressive record of producing or even hosting distinguished officials.  Moreover, by the time  65“考訂弗精狀物也敘事也或雕鏤篆刻而傷其本或浮華緣飾而喪其真,” in Chen Wenhuai, “Linzhang xian zhi xu,” 1506, preface, 2a.  66“大抵筆則筆削則削折衷以至當之論皆君用心之密耳,” in Chen Wenhuai, “Linzhang xian zhi xu,” 1506, preface, 2b.  67 These records of former sage officials were said to be like the “words of immortals left for posterity.” Chen Wenhuai, “Linzhang xian zhi xu,” 1506, preface, 3b.   62  the 1506 gazetteer was produced, Linzhang was certainly not considered central to the literati landscape of the times.  Yet despite this low literati status, Chen Wenhu