Miyun’s Pros­per­ous An­nals

Beijing (English) - - CONTENTS - Trans­lated by Su Yi­long, pol­ished by Mark Zuiderveld

Miyun Xianzhi (“an­nals of Miyun County”) com­piled in 1914 be­came a best­seller among handed down lo­cal an­nals, be­com­ing in­dis­pens­able for read­ers in­ter­ested in Miyun's his­tory.

One day in 1578, a book known as the Miyun Xianzhi (“an­nals of Miyun County”) was pub­lished in Bei­jing, and be­came a hot topic for peo­ple in the city. Pre­vi­ously, they only knew there had been a city lauded by his­to­ri­ans as the “land of abun­dance in Bei­jing” north­east of where they lived. How­ever, the tor­tu­ous and im­pass­able route de­nied them the chance of view­ing it, so the pros­per­ous city ex­isted only in fan­tasies.

For the An­nals of Miyun Xianzhi, com­pil­ers gave a re­al­is­tic de­scrip­tion of the district's his­tory. Un­for­tu­nately, with the pas­sage of time, the ear­li­est an­nals in the his­tory of Miyun dis­ap­peared with­out a trace, along with its com­pil­ers. Now, only its ti­tle of Wanli Miyun Xianzhi (“an­nals of Miyun County com­piled in the reign of Em­peror Wanli”) can be found as an en­try in his­tor­i­cal archives (Em­peror Wanli [1573–1620] in a pe­riod of the Ming Dy­nasty [1368–1644]).

Although the Wanli Miyun Xianzhi (com­piled in 1578, now miss­ing) ap­peared only briefly in China's vast his­tor­i­cal records, the name “Miyun County” had since stuck in the an­nals com­piled in Bei­jing. With more than 400 years, the county which had earned great pop­u­lar­ity for a book once more sparkled heated dis­cus­sions in the cap­i­tal city from a small piece of news.

The news stated that with ap­proval from the State Coun­cil, Miyun and Yan­qing coun­ties would be trans­formed from county ar­eas into ur­ban dis­tricts in Novem­ber 2015, and that the thou­sand-year name “Miyun County” was his­tory.

Three An­nals

Lo­cated north­east of Bei­jing, Miyun is one of China's an­cient coun­ties. Ac­cord­ing to his­tor­i­cal records, it was made a county in 397, with the county seat orig­i­nally lo­cated in the vicin­ity of Nan­guan Vil­lage, more than five kilo­me­tres to the south of present-day Fengn­ing Manchu Au­tonomous County Seat in He­bei Prov­ince. North­east of the city was a moun­tain at an al­ti­tude of 2,047 me­tres.

Be­cause of its high al­ti­tude and high rain­fall, the moun­tain was of­ten shrouded in mist and rolling clouds. Grad­u­ally, it came to be known as Yunwu Moun­tain (“the moun­tain of clouds and mist”) or Miyun Moun­tain (“the moun­tain of thick clouds”). Cor­re­spond­ingly, the nearby county seat was called Miyun County. For over more than a thou­sand

years, Miyun County re­placed other names to be­come the of­fi­cially es­tab­lished name for the re­gion of Miyun since the Ming and Qing (1644–1911) dy­nas­ties.

In Bei­jing's his­tory, Miyun had al­ways been a strate­gic post for de­fend­ing the cap­i­tal. It was es­pe­cially so since the be­gin­ning of the Qing Dy­nasty, when it be­came an in­evitable path for com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the cap­i­tal and re­gions be­yond Shan­haiguan Pass, to­gether with its nat­u­ral de­fence bar­ri­ers.

Its po­lit­i­cal and mil­i­tary sig­nif­i­cance made it im­per­a­tive for later of­fi­cials to com­pile lo­cal an­nals. A tra­di­tion of com­pil­ing an­nals was then formed. Ac­cord­ing to lit­er­ary sources, nine lo­cal an­nals had been com­piled with five left in ex­is­tence.

Kangxi Miyun Xianzhi (“an­nals of Miyun County com­piled in the reign of Em­peror Kangxi”) is the old­est ex­ist­ing county an­nals for Miyun. In 1673, dur­ing the reign of Em­peror Kangxi (reign: 1661–1722) in the Qing Dy­nasty, Mag­is­trate of Miyun County Zhao Honghua added 18 vol­umes to the pre­vi­ous an­nals and named the ti­tle Kangxi Miyun Xianzhi.

It marked a re­newal of Wanli Miyun Xianzhi 90 years af­ter its com­ple­tion. In the be­gin­ning, there was a pref­ace to Wanli Miyun Xianzhi, the pref­ace for re­newal, le­gends in twelve en­tries and a ta­ble of con­tents. The com­plete map of the city, maps of the an­cient city, new city and county were also ap­pended, to­gether with its list of com­pil­ers.

The ta­ble of con­tents of Kangxi Miyun Xianzhi is di­vided into three sec­tions: as­tro­nom­i­cal records, ge­og­ra­phy and celebri­ties, for doc­u­ment­ing as­tro­nom­i­cal phe­nom­ena, dis­as­ters and aus­pi­cious signs, ge­og­ra­phy, moun­tains and rivers, pro­duce, town gods, de­ploy­ment, shops, al­tars and tem­ple, town names, lo­cal gen­try, leg­endary im­mor­tals, arts and lit­er­a­ture. New ma­te­ri­als were added, with valu­able data re­tained, con­sti­tut­ing a pro­to­type for sub­se­quent lo­cal county an­nals.

The six-vol­ume Yongzheng Miyun Xianzhi (“an­nals of Miyun County com­piled in the reign of em­peror Yongzheng”) com­piled by Xue Tian­pei, mag­is­trate and Chen Hongmo, a na­tive of Zhe­jiang Qiantang in 1723, also won high ac­claim.

Xue Tian­pei, as a suc­cess­ful im­pe­rial can­di­date dur­ing the reign of Em­peror Kangxi, was ap­pointed dis­ci­pline mas­ter of Miyun County in 1718. He was later ap­pointed mag­is­trate of the county by Em­peror Yongzheng (reign: 1722–1735) in 1723, in recog­ni­tion of his mer­i­to­ri­ous gov­er­nance. He was deeply touched by its “im­pe­rial grace, and de­cided to take it down.”

He then ex­plored all the moun­tains and rivers within his ju­ris­dic­tion, stud­ied its his­tory, drew on var­i­ous pub­li­ca­tions and sought el­derly ad­vice. With Chen Hongmo's as­sis­tance, his coun­try fel­low, “checked the ref­er­ences and made amend­ments and col­la­tions,” and he even­tu­ally fin­ished Yongzheng Miyun Xianzhi.

To­day, the wood­block edi­tion of Yongzheng Miyun Xianzhi is still kept in the Na­tional Li­brary of China, the Li­brary of the For­bid­den City, and the Li­brary of Minzu Univer­sity of China. Fea­tur­ing a smooth nar­ra­tive, it is a ref­er­ence for learn­ing and study­ing his­tor­i­cal facts of Miyun district in the Ming and Qing dy­nas­ties.

The two edi­tions of Miyun Xianzhi com­piled dur­ing the reigns of em­per­ors Kangxi and Yongzheng pooled to­gether vol­umes for sub­se­quent com­pi­la­tions of county an­nals, and made it pos­si­ble for the ex­cel­lent tra­di­tion to be sus­tained through­out the Qing Dy­nasty. In 1882, Guangxu Chongxiu Miyun Xianzhi (“an­nals of Miyun County

re­vised in the reign of Em­peror Guangxu”) com­piled by the mag­is­trate Ding Fu­jiu and Zhao Wen­cui was printed. The book of six vol­umes con­sisted of “three records, two maps, four il­lus­trated ac­counts, six fig­ures with­out an­no­ta­tion, three ta­bles, three cor­rob­o­ra­tions, one vol­ume of gov­er­nance strate­gies and one vol­ume of po­ems.”

Com­piled An­nals

The three lo­cal an­nals of the Qing Dy­nasty not only laid the ba­sis for writ­ing about the his­tory of Miyun, but also fur­nished in­stru­men­tal data for the emer­gence of lo­cal an­nals com­piled in the third year of the Repub­lic of China (1912– 1949). Known to sub­se­quent gen­er­a­tions as Miyun Xianzhi, the book high­lighted the his­tor­i­cal sta­tus of Miyun County among other ar­eas in Bei­jing, and be­came unique in the his­tory of Bei­jing's lo­cal an­nals.

In 1910, Ning Quan, a mem­ber of lo­cal gen­try pro­posed to re­vise the county an­nals and his propo­si­tion won the sup­port of the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties. In 1912, Ning es­tab­lished the com­pi­la­tion Bureau in the county coun­cil, in­vited his fel­low friend Zong Qingxu to pre­side over the com­pi­la­tion, “in­vited en­thu­si­asts of pub­lic af­fairs in the county to join the in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” which of­fi­cially launched the project.

In the spring of 1913, Zong Qingxu “dis­cussed with his col­leagues day and night and for­mu­lated the prin­ci­ples for col­lat­ing the pre­vi­ous lo­cal an­nals and mak­ing ad­just­ments with dele­tions and ad­di­tions.”

In May this year, when Zang Lichen was made mag­is­trate of Miyun County, Zong Qingxu “pro­posed that Mag­is­trate Zang be ap­pointed chief ed­i­tor.” In May 1914, when the mag­is­trate Zhu Yi took of­fice, the com­pi­la­tion was near­ing the end. How­ever, Zhu Yi “metic­u­lously col­lated the manuscripts.” In July 1914, the vo­lu­mi­nous lo­cal an­nals were even­tu­ally com­pleted. It was named Min­guo San­nian Miyun Xianzhi (“an­nals of Miyun County com­piled in the third year of the Repub­lic of China”), dif­fer­ing from its coun­ter­parts pre­pared in the Qing Dy­nasty.

Min­guo San­nian Miyun Xianzhi con­sists of one pref­ace and eight vol­umes. The pref­ace vol­ume in­cludes three pre­am­bles, of­fi­cial posts and names of com­pil­ers, a ta­ble of con­tents and le­gends in 17 en­tries, as well as 15 maps. Its eight vol­umes of text are di­vided into four classes, namely ge­og­ra­phy, po­lit­i­cal af­fairs, peo­ple, arts and lit­er­a­ture, which har­bour 24 cat­e­gories un­der 13 va­ri­eties.

As the first lo­cal an­nals pre­pared in Bei­jing dur­ing the Repub­lic of China, it in­evitably took on dis­tinct con­tent and style, re­flect­ing tur­bu­lent con­di­tions and trans­formed aware­ness in the time of fun­da­men­tal revo­lu­tion in the late Qing Dy­nasty and the early Repub­lic of China. Those char­ac­ter­is­tics made it a prom­i­nent new gen­er­a­tion of lo­cal an­nals among the over 100 old an­nals in ex­is­tence. Teem­ing with the spirit of a new era, its timely emer­gence and bold in­no­va­tion in con­tent and style have been in­stru­men­tal for sub­se­quent com­pi­la­tions of lo­cal an­nals in Bei­jing, for in­her­it­ing the past and ush­er­ing in the fu­ture.

The map has al­ways been an im­por­tant part of tra­di­tional lo­cal an­nals, as tes­ti­fied by the say­ing that one map out­per­forms thou­sands of words. The im­por­tance of maps was not lost on the part of the ed­i­tors of Min­guo San­nian Miyun Xianzhi. They ar­ranged field sur­veys and drew upon pro­fes­sional sur­vey­ing and car­tog­ra­phy in pre­par­ing the 15 maps, which in­cluded a vol­ume of the pref­ace. The re­sult­ing maps marked the high­est level among all maps in lo­cal an­nals com­piled in the Bei­jing re­gion and the whole coun­try. They were very dif­fer­ent from their pre­de­ces­sors, which re­sem­bled paint­ings as they fea­tured three-di­men­sional com­po­si­tion and had a strik­ing re­sem­blance. New maps were based on the lat­est West­ern ex­per­tise in car­tog­ra­phy.

Through field in­ves­ti­ga­tions, com­pil­ers first de­ter­mined the east­ern bound­ary of Miyun County, and clar­i­fied the ju­ris­dic­tion of the east­ern part of the county. In the Pref­ace Vol­ume, a full map of the fron­tiers be­yond Qiangzilu Road marks de­tails of moun­tains and rivers, vil­lages and forts with their names. The east­ern ter­ri­tory of Miyun County was clar­i­fied for the first time.

This con­sti­tutes one of the im­por­tant achievements of this edi­tion of lo­cal an­nals. The spirit demon­strated in field sur­vey was worth learn­ing for sub­se­quent com­pil­ers. From maps, changes to the way life was lived in Miyun County can also be seen. For ex­am­ple, in Miyunx­ian Quantu (“full map of Miyun County”), leg­end and sym­bols were used to in­di­cate the di­rec­tion of sev­eral elec­tric wires. Although no de­scrip­tion of elec­tric sup­ply can be found in the text, sym­bols clearly show that elec­tric wire cov­er­age had been ex­tended to the county proper, tes­ti­fy­ing to Miyun's early power sup­ply.

An­nals Re­flect­ing the New Era

Min­guo San­nian Miyun Xianzhi is also the ear­li­est an­nals in Bei­jing to doc­u­ment the sys­tem of demo­cratic re­publics. At that time, feu­dal im­pe­rial power that had lasted for thou­sands of years was fi­nally done away with and a demo­cratic repub­lic sys­tem was es­tab­lished. Ed­i­tors were con­sciously aware of doc­u­ment­ing this his­tor­i­cal change. This meant that the lo­cal an­nals would be dif­fer­ent from its pre­de­ces­sors, and that ma­jor ad­just­ments would be made to its style and con­tent. The time­li­ness of the lo­cal an­nals also proved it as the first of its kind in doc­u­ment­ing this epoch-mark­ing change.

As is com­monly known to all, doc­u­ment­ing

the itin­er­ary, favours and recita­tions of feu­dal em­per­ors was a ma­jor stylis­tic fea­ture of tra­di­tional lo­cal an­nals. Com­pi­la­tion of the Miyun Xianzhi in the early years of the Repub­lic of China con­curred with a fun­da­men­tal change to the na­tional sys­tem. The monarch had be­come a thing of the past, giv­ing way to democ­racy, au­ton­omy and the repub­lic.

De­lib­er­ate avoid­ance of ma­te­ri­als re­lated to the feu­dal em­per­ors be­came a prom­i­nent fea­ture of this edi­tion of lo­cal an­nals, which was the po­lit­i­cal at­ti­tude of com­pil­ers. Sub­se­quently, lo­cal an­nals made ref­er­ence to it. As a re­sult, get­ting rid of the old and bring­ing in the new and de­tail­ing the present while sketch­ing the past be­came im­por­tant fea­tures of com­pil­ing lo­cal an­nals in the Bei­jing area.

While re­nounc­ing ma­te­ri­als re­lated to the monarch and the feu­dal era, com­pil­ers added new con­tents and cre­ated new styles. For ex­am­ple, Chap­ter 1 Xian Yishi­hui (“county coun­cil”), Chap­ter 2 Jingwu (“po­lice work”) and Chap­ter 3 Shanghui (“cham­ber of com­merce”) in Vol­ume 5 de­scribed the rea­sons and time for es­tab­lish­ing the three in­sti­tu­tions, as well as their or­gan­i­sa­tion, char­ters, per­sonal quota and lo­ca­tion.

De­spite a rel­a­tively shorter length, those chap­ters in­clude ma­te­ri­als not found in any pre­vi­ous lo­cal an­nals com­piled in Bei­jing and con­sti­tute the ear­li­est em­bod­i­ment of a demo­cratic sys­tem in a con­cen­trated man­ner. In ad­di­tion, their style is a unique in­no­va­tion and a ma­jor change to older styles. Its fruit­ful at­tempt in stylis­tic in­no­va­tion played an ex­em­plary role for later gen­er­a­tions, be­com­ing a blueprint.

Among the var­i­ous lo­cal an­nals of Bei­jing, Min­guo San­nian Miyun Xianzhi was the ear­li­est to record the abo­li­tion of im­pe­rial ex­am­i­na­tion and other ed­u­ca­tional re­forms. Abol­ish­ing the im­pe­rial ex­am­i­na­tion and set­ting up schools were the fo­cus of re­form at the end of the Qing Dy­nasty and the be­gin­ning of the Repub­lic of China. Min­guo San­nian Miyun Xianzhi should be con­sid­ered lucky to be­come the ear­li­est lo­cal an­nals to doc­u­ment the mea­sures and results of ed­u­ca­tional re­form dur­ing the pe­riod. In Chap­ter 1 of Vol­ume 4, Xuex­iao Kao (“ori­gin of schools”) not only de­scribes an aca­demic method prior to the Qing Dy­nasty and its var­i­ous academies, but also records the abo­li­tion of im­pe­rial ex­am­i­na­tion and re­form of the ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem in the late Qing Dy­nasty and the early Repub­lic of China.

The vol­ume is pre­ceded by Miyun Gao­deng Xiaox­uex­iao Tu (“the map of ad­vanced pri­mary schools in Miyun”), which clar­i­fies un­der­stand­ing of school dis­tri­bu­tion at a glance. It can be seen that de­spite its lo­ca­tion in the re­mote bar­ren land in ar­eas ad­ja­cent to the cap­i­tal, Miyun County was lucky enough to boast of­fi­cials who con­sid­ered ed­u­ca­tion ex­tremely im­por­tant. Its ef­forts to re­form ed­u­ca­tion and es­tab­lish schools were com­pa­ra­ble to those of the cap­i­tal.

These lo­cal an­nals took the lead to put min­er­als un­der one separate genus in doc­u­ment­ing Bei­jing's eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. Of all pre­fec­tural and county lo­cal an­nals in Bei­jing, pro­duce have al­ways been an im­por­tant com­po­nent. Con­trary to its pre­de­ces­sors, this edi­tion of lo­cal an­nals added the genus of min­er­als to va­ri­eties of an­i­mals and plants. The newly added min­er­als was fur­thered di­vided into gold, sil­ver, as­bestos, iron ore, coal, crys­tals and other min­er­als.

As the first lo­cal an­nals of the Bei­jing area com­piled dur­ing the pe­riod of the Repub­lic of China, Min­guo San­nian Miyun Xianzhi is only housed in the Na­tional Li­brary of China, Pek­ing Univer­sity Li­brary, Bei­jing Normal Univer­sity Li­brary and Cap­i­tal Li­brary, with con­sid­er­able value as an in­her­i­tance. On the oc­ca­sion of the 100th an­niver­sary for its com­pi­la­tion, Cathay Book­shop reprinted the magna opus af­ter its col­la­tion in 2013, mark­ing a ma­jor event in the cir­cle of an­nals stud­ies of Miyun.

In 2016, the Lo­cal An­nals Of­fice Miyun District reprinted 3,000 copies of the book, and dis­trib­uted them to of­fices and bu­reaus of var­i­ous min­istries, and com­mu­ni­ties, vil­lage com­mit­tees and pri­mary and sec­ondary schools. An­nals com­piled in 1914 once again be­came a best­seller among all lo­cal an­nals handed down with its rich con­tents, be­com­ing in­dis­pens­able for read­ers in­ter­ested in Miyun's his­tory.

A copy of Miyunx­i­anzhi (“an­nals of Miyun County”)

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