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Syllabus of the Provincial Examination (hsiang-shih) under the Early Ch'ing (1644–1795)

  • Adam Yuen-Chung Lui (a1)
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The main aim of this paper is to trace the changes of syllabus of the Early Ch'ing Provincial Examination, while on the other hand, a rational approach is adopted to account for the changes. The Provincial Examination is chosen for discussion, mainly because its successful candidates (chü-jen) were eligible for office and because the Metropolitan Examination (hui-shih), a more advanced public examination which produced chin-shih, bore a close resemblance to it.

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1 For a general description of the Ch'ing Civil Service Examination in English, see Parker, E. H., ‘The Educational Curriculum of the Chinese’, The China Review, Vol. IX, No. 1, pp. 113. For further reference, see Chung-li, Chang, The Chinese Gentry, Seattle, Washington, 1955.

2 See Reischauer, Edwin O. and Fairbank, John K., East Asia, The Great Tradition, Cambridge, Mass., 1960, p. 366.

3 The origin and the construction of the eight-legged essays are discussed in Ch'en Te-yun ‘Pak-ku wen-hsüeh ’, Ling-nan hsüeh-pao chüan 6, No. 4 (06, 1941), pp. 17–49. The China Review for the year 1879–80 contains the full text of an eight-legged essay with translation and notes by F. S. A. Bourne. The Four Books and the Five Classics have been translated into English. See J. Legge, The Chinese Classics, 5 vols., 3rd ed., Hong Kong, 1960.

4 The Canons of Filial Piety, as the name implies, is a collection of exhortations, advising scholars ‘to think of their ancestors, reproducing their virtues etc.’ see Giles, H. A., A History of Chinese Literature, New York and London, 1930, p. 48, and Kaltenmark, Odile, Chinese Literature, New York, 1964, p. 32.

5 The ‘verdict-writing’, the ‘address to the emperor’ and the ‘imperial declaration’ were self-explanatory by their names. They had to be written in a clear and concise manner.

6 ‘The elucidation problems’ were questions on the Classics, Chinese history and politics which the candidate had to answer clearly one by one with no need to copy the questions. Though there was a fixed form which the candidate had to follow at the beginning and the end of the answer, he was given the chance to express his own opinions. For an actual example, see Chung-ju, ChangCh'ing-tai kao-shih chih-tu, (2 vols. Shanghai, 1932), Vol. 2, p. 26. The syllabus of the Provincial Examination was prescribed in an edict of 1644 (Ta-Ch'ing li-ch'ao shih-lu compiled by Man-chou ti-kuo kuo-wu yüan 4664 chüan, Tokuo: Okura shuppan kabushiki kaisha 1937–38, shih-tsu 15: 15a-b; Ch'ing-shih-kao edited by Chao Erh-sun and others, 536 chüan in 65 ts'e, 1928 ed, hsüan-chu-chih 3:1b).

7 Ch'ing-ch'ao wen-hsien t'ung-k'ao (edited by Yung Hsüan and others 300 chüan, 1882, Shih-t'ung edition t'se 8411000), 48: Ia;Ch'ing-shih (8 vols., Taiwan, 1961), 3:2a.

8 Tung-yüan, Ch'en, Ching-tai k'o-chüyü chiao-yüHsüehfeng chüan 3, No. 4 (1933), pp. 1952.

9 Shou-yung, Chang ed. Huang-ch'ao chang-ku hui-pien, nei-pien (60 chüan, 1902), 35:5a.

10 Ch'en, LiTung-shu chi(6 chüan in 6 ts'e), 2: 12b–13a.

11 Ch'ing-chih, Ch'enChung-kuo chiao-yü shih Taiwan, p. 460.

12 See Hsieh, Pao Chao, The Government of China (1644–1911), Baltimore, 1925, pp. 148, 156, 162–3. Also see Chung-li, Chang, The Chinese Gentry, Seattle and London, 1967, pp. 9091, 168–70.

13 Tung-yüan, Ch'enChung-kuo chiao-yü shih Commercial Press, 1931, p. 404.

14 Ch'ing-shih kao (hsüan-chü chih), I:2b.

15 See Yen-liu, Shang, Ch'ing-tai k'o-chu k'ao-shih shu-lu Peking, 1956, p. 63.

16 Ch'ing-ch'ao wen-hsien t'ung-k'ao, 51:3b; Ch'ing-shih kao (hsüan-chü chih), 3:3b; Huang-ch'ao chang ku hui-pien, nei-pien, 35:16a.

17 For Sung rationalism see Yu-lan, Feng, A Short History of Chinese Philosophy, edited by Derek, Bodde, 2 vols., New York, 1948, pp. 407571.

18 Ch'ing-shih kao (hsüan-chü chih), 3:3b.

19 See T'ung-tsu, Ch'ü, Local Government in China under the Ch'ing, Cambridge, Mass., 1962, pp. 93115.

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Modern Asian Studies
  • ISSN: 0026-749X
  • EISSN: 1469-8099
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