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Zhenguan zhengyao 貞觀政要 "Essentials about Politics from the Zhenguan Reign"

The Zhenguan zhengyao 貞觀政要 "Essentials about politics from the Zhenguan reign (627-649)" is a compendium on statecraft from the reign of Emperor Taizong 唐太宗 (r. 626-649) of the Tang dynasty 唐 (618-907). The book was compiled by Wu Jing 吳競 who worked in the Historiographic Institute (guoshiguan 國史館). Two of Wu's writings, a history of the founding of the Tang, the Tangshu 唐書 in 98 juan "scrolls" (not the great Jiutangshu 舊唐書!), and the Tang chunqiu 唐春秋 in 30 juan, are lost. The Zhenguan zhengyao is 10 juan long and deals with different matters of statecraft in 40 chapters. The content is arranged in a pattern of question and answer in which the emperor requests advice by his highest ministers Wei Zheng 魏徵, Wang Gui 王珪, Fang Xuanling 房玄齡, Du Ruhui 杜如晦, and many others. The emperor is depicted as a virtuous ruler possessing the necessary talent to govern the dynasty. The Zhenguan zhengyao attracted much attention not only by other emperors of the Tang dynasty but by rulers of all later ages, and virtually served as a textbook for crown princes.
There are more than 20 hand-written manuscripts of the 12th century surviving, most of which are stored in libraries in Japan. There are also 12 woodblock prints preserved from the Song period 宋 (960-1279). The oldest surviving moveable-type print dates from 1370, stored in the Beijing Library 北京圖書館. A print by Ge Zhi 戈直 from 1333 includes many Song and Yuan 元 (1279-1368) period commentaries, as from Liu Fang 柳芳, Ouyang Xiu 歐陽修, or Sima Guang 司馬光. It was, revised by a Ming period 明 (1368-1644) editor, republished in 1978 by the Shanghai guji press 上海古籍出版社. In 1962 Harada Taneshige 原田種成 published a large number of the manuscript versions stored in Japan.

Source: Wu Feng 吳楓 (1992). "Zhenguan zhengyao 貞觀政要", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史, vol. 3, p. 1519. Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe.

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3 July, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail