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Hanshi waizhuan 韓詩外傳 "The Outer Commentary to the Book of Songs by Master Han"


The Hanshi waizhuan 韓詩外傳 "Outer commentary to the Book of Songs by Master Han" is a collection of commentaries based on historiographical sources collected by the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) scholar Han Ying 韓嬰 who lived during the late 2nd cent. BCE and served as a professor (boshi 博士 "erudite") of Confucian Classics at the court of the young Emperor Wu 漢武帝 (r. 141-87 BCE) of the Han dynasty. Han Ying was a commentator to one of the three transmissions of the Book of Songs Shijing 詩經, the so-called Han Shi 韓詩 "Book of Songs by [Master] Han". He also transmitted a version of the "Book of Changes" 易經, the Hanshi yi 韓氏易 and wrote the books Hanshuo 韓說 "Explanations of Master Han", Han(shi) neizhuan 韓(詩)內傳 and Han(shi) waizhuan 韓詩外傳, the "inner" and "outer" commentaries of Master Han, and the Hangu 韓故 "Stories of Master Han". Except the 10 juan "scrolls" long collection Hanshi waizhuan, all his books are lost. Fragments are preserves in Li Shan's 李善 commentary to the literary anthology Wenxuan 文選, as well as in some encyclopedias of the Song period 宋 (960-1279). Even the Hanshi waizhuan has been transmitted in a very chaotic state which makes the book not very useful for the study of the Shijing transmission.
The Hanshi waizhuan mainly includes political explanations of the songs that are based on quotations of Confucius' discourses with his disciples, and of quotations of other philosophers and thinkers of the Zhou period 周 (11th cent.-221 BCE). There were originally two such commentaries, namely the "inner" and the "outer" commentary. His interpretation of the "Songs" is said to have represented a line between the two other versions of the Shijing, the Qi 齊詩 and the Lu 魯詩 traditions. Later Han period 後漢 (25-220) scholars criticized Han Ying for his phantastic interpretation of the early Zhou period book Shijing by quotations from late Zhou period writings. His political standpoint is inclining towards Xunzi's 荀子 interpretation of rituals as a means to control society, the veneration of scholars and the ruler’s duty to nourish the peasant population. Besides these points, some statements also go into the direction of Mengzi 孟子, like the importance of a ruler's benevolence, and even into the direction of the legalists, the a stress of the importance of laws. Han Ying's interpretation is made according to stanzas. He first explains the background of the song and its meaning, and finally quotes a few sentences to prove his statements. Han Ying used a lot of quotations of stories that were later used for collections of short stories or novellas like the Shuoyuan 說苑, Xinxu 新序, Lienüzhuan 列女傳 or Wu-Yue chunqiu 吳越春秋. Even if the philosophical or political content of the Hanshi waizhuan might be doubtful, its language is of a refined character.
There is a commentary to the Hanshi waizhuan written by the Qing period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Zhou Ting'an 周廷案, the Hanshi waizhuan jiaozhu 韓詩外傳校注. It is 10 juan long, plus 1 juan of fragments (Shiyi 拾遺). It was printed in 1791. Another collection of commentaries was written during the same time by Zhao Huaiyi 趙懷義. The modern scholar Xu Weiju 許維遹 has published a collection of all commentaries, the Hanshi waizhuan jishi 韓詩外傳集釋.
The Hanshi neizhuan 韓詩內傳 was reconstructed by the Qing period scholar Wang Mo 王謨. His collection includes 158 fragments collected from various commentaries to Confucian Classics, but also from commentaries to the histories, dictionaries and in enyclopedias. The collection is not complete. Fragments can also be found in Wang Yinglin's 王應麟 Shigu 詩故 from the Song period 宋 (960-1279). Wang Mo was written another collection, seemlingly a supplement to his fragment collection, called Hanshi shiyi 韓詩拾遺, in 16 juan. It is unfortunately lost. The Hanshi neizhuan is preserved as a manuscript in the collectaneum Han-Wei yishu 漢魏遺書.
Wang Mo has also collected fragments of Shen Pei's 申培 version of the Shijing, known as the Lu version of the "Songs" 魯詩傳. His collection includes 61 fragments of Shen Pei's books Lugu 魯故 and Lushuo 魯說, two books with an original size of 25 and 28 juan, respectively. Shen Pei had obtained his version from a certain Fuqiu Bo 浮丘伯. Some titles of the songs included in the Lu version can be found in the Lienüzhuan, with statements about the female authors of these poems, like Fouyi 芣苢 (written by the wife of someone from Cai 蔡), Ruren 汝墳 written by the wife of a noble from Zhounan 周南大夫, Xinglu 行露 written by the daughter of someone from Shen 申, Bozhou 柏舟 written by the wife of Wei Yi 衛宜, and others. Wang Mo's fragment collection is also included in the collectaneum Han-Wei yishu.
Fragements of the Qi version 齊詩傳 of the Book of Songs were collected by Ma Guohan 馬國翰. There were four books belonging to this tradition, namely the Qi Houshi gu 齊后氏故 in 20 juan, Qi Sunshi gu 齊孫氏故 in 27 juan, Qi Houshi zhuan 齊后氏傳in 29 juan, and Qizaji 齊雜記 in 18 juan. The author was a certain Hou Cang 后蒼 or Yuan Gu 轅固. The books of this tradition were to first to get lost, so that only very few fragments can be attested as originals. The earliest attempt to assemble such fragements were made by Chen Shouqi 陳壽棋 and Chen Qiaocong 陳喬樅 in their book Sanjia shi yishuo 三家詩遺說 "Surviving explanation of the Book of Song by the three schools". Ma Guohan's collection has been published as a commented and supplemented version of the Langhuan Studio 嫏嬛館.
The Hanshi waizhuan has been translated by James R. Hightower (1952), Han Shih Wai Chuan: Han Ying's Illustrations of the Didactic Application of the "Classic of Songs", Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.


Sources:
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, vol. 1, pp. 216, 218. Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe.
Ni Qixin 倪其心 (1992). "Hanshi waizhuan 韓詩外傳", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo wenxue 中國文學, vol. 1, p. 227. Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe.


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July 24, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail