The Baihutong delun 白虎通德論 is a kind of literary protocol of the discussions on the relationships between politics, cosmology and philosophy that were held in 58 CE in the White Tiger Hall 白虎觀. The discussants were high state officials and Confucian scholars, as experts in the Five Confucian Classics. Questions about theology, superstition and the relationship between Heaven and Man were not new at that time. People like Wang Chong 王充 (Lunheng 論衡) and Huan Tan 桓譚 (Xinlun 新論) already had opposed against the superstitious thinking of their contemporarians.
With the restauration of the Han dynasty 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE) in 25 CE Emperor Guangwu 漢光武帝 (r. 25-57) allowed the tradition of apocryphal texts (chenwei 讖緯) to be integrated in the canon of Confucian classics taught at the National University (taixue 太學). The professors (boshi 博士 "erudites") teaching the Confucian classics were furthermore not united in the question which versions of the classics had to be used for teaching, either the so-called new text classics (jinwen jing 今文經) which were geared to cosmological interpretation, or the old text classics (guwen jing 古文經) that had a more worldly approach with a philological tradition.
During the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BC-8 CE) a first conference about the canon of Confucian classics had been held in the Shiqu Hall 石渠閣. Emperor Zhang 漢章帝 (r. 75-88) decided to convoke a similar conference at the White Tiger Hall in Luoyang 洛陽 (modern Luoyang, Henan). It was presided by the emperor himself. The main discussants were Wei Ying 魏應, Chunyu Gong 淳于恭, Jia Kui 賈逵, Ban Gu 班固 and Yang Zhong 楊終. The questions to the matters to disputed were handed in to Wei Ying who had them presented to the emperor. Chunyu Gong answered as a representant of the Confucian scholars. The emperor then decided which answer should be adopted as the imperial standard. The conference lasted over a few months before all questions were dealt with.
The main result of the discussions in the White Tiger Hall was the adaption of the new text classics as the orthodox versions, as had been already suggested by Dong Zhongshu 董仲舒 a century earlier, as well as the inclusion of apocryphal texts as interpretive sources. The correlative theories of the Five Phases and of yin-yang thus became more stable as a basis for natural science, social science, the governmental system and the understanding of human relationships.
The book Baihutong is an essence of Han period thought. Heaven and Earth were seen as the parents of the ruler, the "Son of Heaven" (tianzi 天子). Heaven was the superior judge over the moral comportment especially of the ruler. If the ruler followed the will of Heaven by exerting a virtuous government, he is benefitted by a long rule and the subjects' support. If the ruler was disobedient to Heaven's will, earthquake, disasters and anormal events contradicting the natural flux of seasonal and phenological changes would give him hints of his misbehavior, and in the end, the people would rebell and the ruler or his dynasty be wiped away. A ruler exerting politics of humanity and righteousness would have Heaven's religious authority or the "Heavenly mandate" (tianming 天命). All things under Heaven followed the natural Celestial order. This order began with the different grades for governmental officials and ends with the social order inside the families, the ancestor being the highest person in a household, after him the father, the son, the wifes, and then the daughters. What was therefore to acheive is a natural harmony between the nature and man, and the state and its subjects. The discussions of the White Tiger Hall were therewith a mirror of the Confucian society. All patterns and rules of the social order serve to facilitate the human relationships.
The book Baihutong was compiled by the historian Ban Gu 班固 and has the full title Baihutong delun 白虎通德論 "Virtuous discussions held in the White Tiger [Hall]", or Baihu tongyi 白虎通義 "Comprehensive meanings [as discussed] in the White Tiger [Hall]".
The Baihutong has been translated by Tjan Tjoe Som (1952), Po Hu T'ung: the Comprehensive Discussion in the White Tiger Hall, Leiden: Brill.
Source: Bao Zunxin 包遵信 (1992). "Baihuguan huiyi 白虎觀會議", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史, vol. 1, p. 17. Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe.
1. 爵 Jue Ranks
2. 號 Hao Titles
3. 謚 Shi Posthumous titles
4. 五祀 Wusi The Five offerings
5. 禮稷 Liji Ritual and offerings to the Lord of Millet
6. 禮樂 Liyue Ritual and music
7. 封公侯 Feng Gonghou Enfeoffment
8. 京師 Jingshi The Capital
9. 五行 Wuxing The Five Phases
10. 三軍 Sanjun The three hosts
11. 誅伐 Zhufa Execution and punitive expeditions
12. 諫諍 Jianzheng Admonishing and remonstrating the ruler
13. 鄉射 Xiangshe The district archery contest
14. 致仕 Zhishi Retiring from office
15. 辟雍 Biyong The Central Academy
16. 災變 Zaibian Natural disasters
17. 耕桑 Gengsang Tilling and weaving
18. 封禪 Fengshan The fengshan offerings to Heaven and Earth
19. 巡狩 Xunshou Imperial inspection tours
20. 考黜 Kaochu Examination and degradation
21. 王者不臣 Wangzhe Bu Chen Whom the king does not consider his subjects
22. 蓍龜 Shigui Divining by milfoil and tortoise bones
23. 聖人 Shengren Sages
24. 八風 Bafeng The eight winds
25. 商賈 Shangjia Merchants and vendors
26. 文質 Wenzhi Ritual presents
27. 三正 Sanzheng The three rectifications
28. 三教 Sanjiao The three instructions
29. 三綱六紀 Sangang Liuji The three major and six minor principles
30. 情性 Qingxing Temperament and character
31. 壽命 Shouming Life and Heavenly Mandate
32. 宗族 Zongzu Ancestors and kinship
33. 姓名 Xingming Names and surnames
34. 天地 Tiandi Heaven and Earth
35. 日月 Riyue Sun and moon
36. 四時 Sishi The four seasons
37. 衣裳 Yichang Clothes and robes
38. 五刑 Wuxing The five punishments
39. 五經 Wujing The Five Classical Writings
40. 嫁娶 Jiaqu Wedding and nuptial customs
41. 紼冕 Fumian Cords and caps
42. 喪衣 Sangyi Mourning garments
43. 崩薨 Benghong Dead and burial of the emperor and the feudal lords