The Lo­cal Chron­i­cle of Shuntian Pre­fec­ture

Beijing (English) - - CONTENTS - Trans­lated by Zhang Hong­peng Edited by Mark Zuiderveld

The 130-vol­ume edi­tion of Shuntianfu zhi, compiled by Miao Quan­sun dur­ing the Qing Dy­nasty (1644–1911), boasts the most com­pre­hen­sive con­tent and exquisitely carved print­ing wood­blocks.

Dur­ing the early Ming Dy­nasty (1368–1644), Zhu Yuanzhang (1328–1398), Em­peror Hongwu, ap­proved the es­tab­lish­ment of Beip­ing Pre­fec­ture, sub­se­quently re­named Shuntian Pre­fec­ture since the reign of Em­peror Yon­gle (reign: 1402–1424). Since then, the Bei­jing re­gion was called Shuntian Pre­fec­ture dur­ing the Ming and Qing (1644–1911) dy­nas­ties and the ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fice of the pre­fec­ture was lo­cated in present- day Gu­lou East Street.

The Ming gov­ern­ment be­gan to com­pile Shuntianfu zhi (“lo­cal chron­i­cle of Shuntian Pre­fec­ture”) as early as Em­peror Yon­gle's reign. Af­ter­wards, the chron­i­cle was amended and up­dated sev­eral times, but no com­plete edi­tion of the chron­i­cle was passed on un­til the early reign of Em­peror Guangxu (reign: 1871–1908) of the Qing Dy­nasty. Some high-rank­ing of­fi­cials were dis­ap­pointed, including Li Hongzhang 1823–1901) and Zhang Zhi­dong (1837–1909).

In 1886, Miao Quan­sun (1844–1919), the founder of mod­ern Chi­nese li­braries, compiled and printed an ac­cu­rate lo­cal chron­i­cle of Shuntian Pre­fec­ture, which be­came the largest one among all the an­nals re­gard­ing Bei­jing.

The Capital’s Long His­tory

Bei­jing boasts a more-than-3,000-year his­tory as a city and an over-800-year his­tory as a capital. The regime of the Liao Dy­nasty (AD 916–1125) up­graded Bei­jing to the sta­tus of Youdu Pre­fec­ture and later re­named it Xi­jin Pre­fec­ture, and left be­hind the chron­i­cle Xi­jin zhi (“lo­cal chron­i­cle of Xi­jin”). In the Jin Dy­nasty (1115–1234), Bei­jing was built as Zhongdu (“cen­tral capital”) and pro­moted to the sta­tus of Dax­ing Pre­fec­ture.

Af­ter China's re­uni­fi­ca­tion in the Yuan Dy­nasty (1271–1368), the Yuan es­tab­lished Bei­jing as its capital and up­graded it to the sta­tus of a gen­eral pre­fec­ture of Yuan Dadulu, the ti­tle of an ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fice to man­age the whole city. The Dadulu ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fice was tem­po­rar­ily lo­cated in a large tem­ple early and es­tab­lished an of­fice build­ing on to­day's Gu­lou East Street af­ter buy­ing a plot of land cov­er­ing 1.27 hectares from the Zhou fam­ily.

Af­ter the found­ing of the Ming Dy­nasty, Zhu Yuanzhuang changed the gen­eral pre­fec­ture of Yuan Dadulu into Beip­ing Pre­fec­ture and placed it un­der Shan­dong Province's ju­ris­dic­tion. A year later, the cen­tral gov­ern­ment es­tab­lished Beip­ing Province and sub­or­di­nated it un­der the province. Af­ter Em­peror Yon­gle as­cended the throne, he re­named Beip­ing as Bei­jing and up­graded it to the sta­tus of Shuntian Pre­fec­ture to gov­ern Bei­jing and its sur­round­ing ar­eas.

In 1421, Em­peror Yon­gle moved the capital to Bei­jing and named the Bei­jing re­gion as “Shuntian Pre­fec­ture of Bei­jing Capital” so that Shuntian Pre­fec­ture be­came the cen­tre of the coun­try. At that time, di­vided by the Cen­tral Axis, east­ern Bei­jing and its out­skirts were un­der the ju­ris­dic­tion of Dax­ing County; western Bei­jing and neigh­bour­ing sub­urbs were un­der the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Wan­ping County; the of­fice of Shuntian Pre­fec­ture re­mained on Gu­lou East Street.

Dur­ing the reign of Em­peror Zheng­tong (reign: 1436–1449), the of­fice build­ing of Shuntian Pre­fec­ture was ren­o­vated to com­prise the front, mid­dle and back halls (each with five, three and five rooms). In ad­di­tion to gate houses and wing rooms, the build­ing had a to­tal of 58 rooms. The main hall of the build­ing still ex­ists.

The Qing Dy­nasty con­tin­ued the name of Shuntian Pre­fec­ture as well as its ad­min­is­tra­tive sys­tem. In 1676, the im­pe­rial court in­te­grated 19 coun­ties and county-level pre­fec­tures into Shuntian Pre­fec­ture, including Chang­ping and Liangx­i­ang. In 1723, the im­pe­rial court added an of­fi­cial to Shuntian Pre­fec­ture to gov­ern civil af­fairs. Em­peror Yongzheng (reign: 1723–1735) con­sid­ered de­fence and de­vel­op­ment of the capital im­por­tant and once made for Shuntian Pre­fec­ture an in­scrip­tion of “su qing ji dian,” mean­ing of­fi­cials in Shuntian Pre­fec­ture should be de­cent and im­par­tial. He dic­tated, “Shuntian Pre­fec­ture, home to the capital, must have po­lit­i­cal trans­parency.” The post of the chief of Shuntian Pre­fec­ture was usu­ally as­sumed by pres­ti­gious high­rank­ing of­fi­cials or princes.

In 1743, the im­pe­rial court had Shuntian Pre­fec­ture gov­ern five countylevel pre­fec­tures of Tongzhou, Jizhou, Zhuozhou, Bazhou and Chang­ping and 19 coun­ties such as Dax­ing, Wan­ping, Liangx­i­ang and Fang­shan. The ad­min­is­tra­tive sys­tem of Shuntian was fi­nalised un­til the end of the Qing Dy­nasty. As Shuntian Pre­fec­ture was a lo­cal ad­min­is­tra­tive body with ju­ris­dic­tion over the capital, and its chief was usu­ally su­pe­rior to other pre­fec­ture chiefs. The post of its chief was con­cur­rently taken by a min­is­ter or other high-rank­ing of­fi­cial.

Al­though the 24 county-level pre­fec­tures and coun­ties of Shuntian Pre­fec­ture were within the ter­ri­tory of the Viceroy of Zhili, they were not sub­ject to his ju­ris­dic­tion. The ar­eas of Shuntian Pre­fec­ture out of Bei­jing's city walls were un­der joint gov­er­nance of the gov­ern­ments of Shuntian

Pre­fec­ture and Viceroy of Zhili but those within the city wall were only gov­erned by the gov­ern­ment of Shuntian Pre­fec­ture. The ad­min­is­tra­tive sys­tem of Bei­jing in the Qing Dy­nasty fea­tured di­vi­sion of res­i­den­tial ar­eas and gov­er­nance of the Manchu and Han peo­ple. Manchu peo­ple lived in the In­ner City and western sub­urbs and Han and other eth­nic groups set­tled in the Outer City of Bei­jing.

The an­cients con­sid­ered lo­cal chron­i­cles im­por­tant. For ex­am­ple, Zhang Xuecheng (1738–1801), a scholar from the Qing Dy­nasty, re­marked in his book Wen­shi tongyi (“the­ory of lit­er­a­ture and his­tory”) that “Lo­cal chron­i­cles can re­flect de­tailed and ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion of lo­cal­i­ties.” Usu­ally, lo­cal chron­i­cles doc­u­ment ad­min­is­tra­tive es­tab­lish­ment, his­tor­i­cal evo­lu­tion, land taxes and com­pul­sory labour, land­forms, folk tra­di­tions and eth­nic groups, celebri­ties and of­fi­cials, de­fence prepa­ra­tions and troops and other in­for­ma­tion of lo­cal ar­eas. More­over, most of the lo­cal chron­i­cles were compiled by lo­cal schol­ars at the in­vi­ta­tion of of­fi­cials, which stressed ac­cu­racy. Print­ing wood­blocks of those chron­i­cles were also ex­quis­ite. Some peo­ple were fond of com­pil­ing chron­i­cles on their own.

Since Bei­jing moved up to the sta­tus of Shuntian Pre­fec­ture, the Ming and Qing dy­nas­ties fo­cused on com­pil­ing lo­cal chron­i­cles of Shuntian Pre­fec­ture. The 130-vol­ume Shuntianfu zhi compiled by Miao Quan­shun and his fel­lows was the best of its kind.

Painstak­ing Six-year Com­pi­la­tion

With Bei­jing's tra­di­tion of com­pil­ing chron­i­cles, ear­lier ones such as Yan shu (“book of Yan”) and Youzhou tu­jing (“il­lus­trated book of Youzhou Pre­fec­ture”) prove to be ex­em­plary. Miao called Yan chun­qiu (“spring and au­tumn of Yan”), Yan shishi (“ten events of Yan”) and Yan danzi (“Prince Dan of Yan”) “three Yan-re­lated books” and re­garded them as Bei­jing's ear­lier chron­i­cles. Xiong Mengx­i­ang (years of birth and death un­known) from the Yuan Dy­nasty wrote Xi­jin zhi, a rel­a­tively com­plete chron­i­cle and also the first ever lo­cal chron­i­cle of Bei­jing au­thored by a scholar with­out of­fi­cial au­tho­ri­sa­tion or com­mis­sion. Dur­ing the early Ming Dy­nasty, Shuntianfu zhi was compiled and printed but only seven vol­umes of the book were pre­served un­til the reign of Em­peror Guangxu. Few peo­ple knew this chron­i­cle. Miao Quan­sun learned of the seven vol­umes from Yon­gle da­dian

( The Yon­gle Canon) when he compiled Shuntianfu zhi of the Qing Dy­nasty. Miao recorded his find­ings in the book Yifeng cang­shu ji (“notes of book col­lec­tion”). The seven vol­umes found by Miao in The Yon­gle Canon were from the sev­enth to four­teenth of Shuntianfu zhi of the Ming Dy­nasty. As ex­cerpts of this chron­i­cle were in­cluded in The Yon­gle Canon, but weren't listed in the Wenyuange shumu

(“book cat­a­logue of Wenyuange”) made in the reign of Em­peror Zheng­tong, the chron­i­cle had to be compiled in the early reign of Em­peror Yon­gle. This Shuntianfu zhi was the ear­li­est edi­tion. How­ever, it has been lost.

Dur­ing the reign of Em­peror Wanli (reign: 1573–1620) of the Ming Dy­nasty, Shen Ying­wen, chief of Shuntian Pre­fec­ture, and Zhang Yuan­fang, an as­sis­tant of county mag­is­trate, compiled the six-vol­ume Shuntianfu zhi. How­ever, this book was made in a rough way so it wasn't val­ued by other schol­ars. Dur­ing the reign of Em­peror Kangxi of the Qing Dy­nasty, Zhang Jiwu, chief of Shuntian Pre­fec­ture, compiled an eightvol­ume Shuntianfu zhi, which was spread in hand­writ­ten copies. Cur­rently, the Na­tional Li­brary of China only col­lects seven vol­umes from the sec­ond to eighth.

Dur­ing the reign of Em­peror Tongzhi ( reign: 1862– 1873) of the Qing Dy­nasty, Li Hongzhang and oth­ers compiled Jifu tongzhi (“lo­cal chron­i­cle of the capital and its vicin­ity”). While the book was be­ing com­pleted, Li de­cided to com­pile a new edi­tion of Shuntianfu zhi. Thus, he ad­vised Em­peror Tongzhi to make a new Shuntianfu zhi to re­in­force Jifu tongzhi. The em­peror fol­lowed his ad­vice. When pre­par­ing for the com­pi­la­tion, Li in­vited Zhang Zhi­dong to make a plan. Zhang drew up Xiushu lueli (“brief reg­u­la­tions on com­pi­la­tion of the book”) to reg­u­late the com­pi­la­tion.

Ini­tially, Peng Zux­ian, chief of Shuntian Pre­fec­ture, was ap­pointed to or­gan­ise the com­pi­la­tion but was trans­ferred to an­other of­fice in place apart from Bei­jing be­fore start of the com­pi­la­tion. Sub­se­quently, Peng's suc­ces­sor, Zhou Ji­amei (1835–1887) from Yix­ing, Jiangsu, was hon­oured as an “hon­est of­fi­cial from heaven” in his home­town of Yix­ing. In 1878, Zhou was des­ig­nated as chief of Shuntian Pre­fec­ture and min­is­ter of for­eign af­fairs. Dur­ing his ten­ure as chief of Shuntian Pre­fec­ture, Zhou im­peached cor­rupt of­fi­cials, helped res­cue vic­tims of dis­as­ters, pro­moted eco­nomic and so­cial de­vel­op­ment and im­proved ed­u­ca­tion. He was also dili­gent in the com­pi­la­tion of Shuntianfu zhi.

How­ever, Zhou had to quit his job af­ter his mother passed away. As a re­sult, the com­pi­la­tion task fell to Miao Quan­sun.

Miao Quan­sun, a renowned book col­lec­tor from Jiangyin, Jiangsu, was also known as Yifeng Se­nior Cit­i­zen in his later years. Miao was adept at chorog­ra­phy and bib­li­og­ra­phy. In 1909 [the first year of Em­peror Xuan­tong (reign: 1909–1911), Miao was ap­pointed as cu­ra­tor of Jing­shi Li­brary (the pre­de­ces­sor of to­day's Na­tional Li­brary of China). When act­ing as the cu­ra­tor, he su­per­vised the li­brary's es­tab­lish­ment, em­ployed li­brar­i­ans and sorted out books. He sin­gle-hand­edly founded the Jing­shi Li­brary and af­ter the Rev­o­lu­tion of 1911, served as ed­i­tor-inchief of the Mu­seum of Qing His­tory.

Com­pi­la­tion of a Clas­sic Chron­i­cle

Dur­ing the reign of Em­peror Guangxu, Li Hongzhang and Zhang Zhi­dong made ef­forts in and val­ued com­pi­la­tion of Shuntianfu zhi and thus as­signed the task of com­pi­la­tion to Miao Quan­sun. Zhang had great ex­pec­ta­tions of Miao and said that Miao would make fur­ther suc­cess in com­pil­ing an out­stand­ing chron­i­cle.

Miao lived up to Zhang's ex­pec­ta­tions and gath­ered com­pe­tent ex­perts to com­mence com­pi­la­tion in the fifth year of the reign of Em­peror Guangxu. In 1885 ( the 11th year of the reign of Em­peror Guag­nxu), Miao com­pleted the com­pi­la­tion and be­gan to carve print­ing wood­blocks of the chron­i­cle. This edi­tion of Shuntianfu zhi has 130 vol­umes. Af­ter read­ing the book, Li Hongzhang highly praised it and al­leged that it would be passed on to later gen­er­a­tions. The first 18 vol­umes of the book were in­te­grated into the first part “Jing­shi zhi” (“chron­i­cle of Bei­jing”), ac­claimed by Qu Xuany­ing ( 1894– 1973), a Chi­nese writer and his­to­rian.

This book was printed us­ing two­colour process print­ing (red and black) on white pa­per with var­i­ous il­lus­trated maps. On the ti­tle page is the in­scrip­tion of “guang xu jia shen zhong dong kai diao, bing xu ji xia bi gong” which in­di­cates the time of begin­ning and end of carv­ing the print­ing wood­blocks. Fur­ther­more, it is pref­aced with memo­ri­als re­gard­ing Shuntianfu zhi sub­mit­ted by Wan Qingli and Zhou Ji­amei to the throne in 1879. Af­ter its pub­li­ca­tion, the book be­came very pop­u­lar and was widely praised.

Miao Quan­sun made painstak­ing ef­forts in com­pil­ing Shuntianfu zhi.

He not only wrote the pro­logue and con­tents of “Jing­shi,” “Yi­wen,” “Jin­shi” and “Renwu” but also took charge of com­pil­ing the en­tire book.

Miao was a skilled bib­li­og­ra­pher who once compiled Shumu dawen (“in­tro­duc­tion to books”) on be­half of Zhang Zhi­dong when Zhang served as pro­vin­cial ed­u­ca­tion com­mis­sioner of Sichuan. Miao col­lated and in­tro­duced more than 2,000 books in Shumu dawen, ac­claimed by schol­ars.

Adept in bib­li­og­ra­phy, Miao was ap­pointed to com­pile Shuntianfu zhi with more than 3.5 mil­lion Chi­nese char­ac­ters. This lo­cal chron­i­cle was rated as the best of its kind.

Dur­ing com­pi­la­tion, Miao care­fully col­lated doc­u­ments and ma­te­ri­als and clearly an­no­tated ref­er­ences. More­over, Miao also em­pha­sised field in­spec­tions and col­lected in­for­ma­tion from the el­derly. Zhou Ji­amei said that when Miao compiled the chron­i­cle, he usu­ally cor­rob­o­rated and sub­stan­ti­ated all in­for­ma­tion and ref­er­ences in the book. If he couldn't con­firm any in­for­ma­tion, he sought ev­i­dence. As the book in­volved many facts and ref­er­ences, Miao asked to re­fer to the ear­li­est doc­u­ments when cit­ing in­for­ma­tion. To clar­ify re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, Miao re­quired all editors to la­bel ev­ery vol­ume with their names. Dur­ing com­pi­la­tion, Miao also sug­gested de­tail­ing in­for­ma­tion re­lated to land and peo­ple of the Qing Dy­nasty and de­scribed this in­for­ma­tion con­cisely. He up­dated in­for­ma­tion pe­ri­od­i­cally and added two sec­tions on tra­di­tions and di­alects to the book.

Miao in­sisted on us­ing con­cise, trust­wor­thy and ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion. When de­scrib­ing war­fare, he doc­u­mented the Taip­ing Re­bel­lion, the Bri­tish naval fleet in­va­sion into Dagukou and the loot­ing and burn­ing of Yuan­mingyuan. This chron­i­cle was also a pre­cious his­tor­i­cal doc­u­ment of mod­ern China. Af­ter com­pil­ing this book, Miao dis­cov­ered an ex­cerpt of Shuntianfu zhi of the Ming Dy­nasty in The Yon­gle Canon, and or­gan­ised it into an­other ex­cerpted edi­tion of Shuntianfu zhi of the Ming Dy­nasty.

Yang Shou­jing (1839–1915), a renowned Chi­nese ge­og­ra­pher and book col­lec­tor in late Qing Dy­nasty, also praised Miao Quan­sun in his poem Cang­shu jueju (“Ex­cel­lent Sen­tences on Book Col­lec­tion”). The edi­tion of Shuntianfu zhi from the reign of Em­peror Guangxu is re­garded as a doc­u­ment for study­ing Bei­jing's his­tory.

Read­ers can read more about these five county-level pre­fec­tures and 19 coun­ties in Shuntian Pre­fec­ture in Shuntianfu zhi from the reign of Em­peror Guangxu of the Qing Dy­nasty.

Shuntianfu zhi (“lo­cal chron­i­cle of Shuntian Pre­fec­ture”) compiled dur­ing the reign of Em­peror Yon­gle (1402–1424)

Guangxu Shuntianfu zhi (“lo­cal chron­i­cle of Shuntian Pre­fec­ture compiled dur­ing the reign of Em­peror Guangxu, 1875–1908”)

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