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Table of contents :
THE IMPERIAL CIVIL SERVICE EXAMINATION (IMPERIAL EXAMINATION) SYSTEM
THE IMPERIAL MILITARY EXAMINATIONS
IMPERIAL EXAMINATION STUDIES
THE ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY
1 Publications between 605 and 1911
2 Publications between 1912 and 1949
3 Publications between 1950 and 1976
4 Publications between 1977 and 2010
5 Publications about the Imperial Military Examination System
Timeline of Chinese Dynastic History
About the Author
The Chinese Imperial Examination System An Annotated Bibliography Rui Wang
THE SCARECROW PRESS, INC. Lanham • Toronto • Plymouth, UK 2013
Published by Scarecrow Press, Inc. A wholly owned subsidiary of The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc. 4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, Maryland 20706 www.rowman.com 10 Thornbury Road, Plymouth PL6 7PP, United Kingdom Copyright © 2013 by Scarecrow Press, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote passages in a review. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Information Available Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Wang, Rui, 1956– The civil service examinations in China : a selected annotated bibliography / Rui Wang. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-8108-8702-2 (cloth : alk. paper) — ISBN 978-0-8108-8703-9 (ebook) 1. Civil service—China—Examinations—Bibliography. I. Title. JQ1512.Z13E879174 2012 016.35151076—dc23 2012028135 The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992. Printed in the United States of America.
More than 30 years ago, when I was an undergraduate student of Chinese language and literature, my father mentioned an aphorism, “ literature and history have never been apart.” I did not think too much of this saying, taking it for granted as a cliché, until I wrote this book. I have not only come to recognize the deeply tangled roots of Chinese literature and history, but I also now understand why these two cannot be apart in Chinese society. Literature is an ultimate reflection of the combination of history, politics, and society. I have been fascinated by this combination for a long time. It seems no coincidence that I pursued my master’s degree in sociology and then became a faculty librarian of anthropology, sociology, social work, political science, and psychology. My research for and writing of this book were largely based on my broad education and professional experience. Therefore, my first thanks should go to the professors of the Chinese Language and Literature Department at the Northeast Normal University in China. As a member of the class of 1977, the first class after China’s Cultural Revolution, I had the good fortune to study with these iconic professors, including, to name a few, Xu Changli, professor of Chinese classic literature, and Wang Menghua, professor of Chinese classical language. I also thank my sociology professors, especially Kent Rice, professor of sociological theory, Steven Worden, my thesis advisor, and William Mangold, who was well-known as a rigorous professor in training graduate students in research methods and statistics at the University of Arkansas in the United States. The idea for this project originated in 2009 when I was invited to give a guest lecture on the Chinese imperial examination system to the history class Traditional China at Central Michigan University (CMU). Apparently, my lecture generated students’ interest in this subject. One of questions asked was “What happened after the end of the system?” At that point, the idea of writing this book came to mind. Thus, I must thank Dr. Jennifer Liu Demas and her students for their inspiration, which triggered my decision to create this book. I also thank my colleague, Rob Faleer, for sharing his good experience in working with Scarecrow Press on his book. At Rob’s suggestion, I sent my book proposal to Scarecrow Press, because of its long-standing tradition in publishing academic reference books. I am especially thankful to Martin Dillon, the editor who had a keen sense to foresee the potential value of this book, accepted the proposal,
and worked with me throughout the publishing process. I began writing in September 2010, during my six-month sabbatical leave, granted by CMU and Tom Moore, dean of libraries. My thanks go to CMU and Tom for supporting my research, and to my colleagues, Pamela Grudzien, Stephanie Mathson, and Robin Sabo, who took over my duties during my sabbatical leave. It took a year and eight months for me to complete my manuscript. It was a challenging journey of research and writing because of the large amount of reading and research material, but it also was a rewarding process because of the fascinating subject and the superb studies produced by the international research community. Therefore, I feel that it was worthwhile to totally devote myself to the book, with no weekends off or vacations for almost two years. I am indebted to all students who work at the Writing Center of CMU. I am so grateful that they reviewed my manuscript carefully and patiently helped me correct language errors in my writings. In addition, I had many doubts about my manuscript and worried whether my writing on the subject would be understood by English readers as well as whether prospective readers would have the same interests in the subject that I had. These students were the first readers of this book. I observed that some of them showed naturally enthusiastic responses to and interest in this book. The unexpected responses from these students were a huge encouragement for me to keep going with my writing. Finally, I have to thank my family: my mother and brother, who always support me, my sister, who helped me to access the digital collections hosted in China and bought books I needed, and my son, who encouraged me to write the book.
The book Dialogues and Detached Sentences in the Chinese Language: With a Free and Vesrbal Translation in English, which was published in 1816, provides five forms of congratulations at the Chinese New Year. The first form is, “I wish you joy. May you this year 1 A Chinese scho rise to the golden button [success in the imperial examination] .” notices the trivial detail and thinks it is an interesting indication of how the imperial examination system dominated people’s daily lives at that time. What is the imperial examination? Why is it important to know about it? This book provides a reference to answer such inquiries. Having existed in China for 1,300 years, the Chinese imperial examination system is known as “one of the most distinctive features of Chinese civilization and [it] constituted an institution unmatched by any other nation in the world,”2 even though the system was originally designed as a political institution to recruit officials to serve the imperial government. The Chinese imperial government, which was a complex and unwieldy bureaucracy, mainly comprised two groups of officials, civil service officials wenguan and military officials wuguan. The Chinese imperial examinations correspondingly included two systems, the imperial civil service examination system and the imperial military examination system. Because there was no clear division between the two groups’ officials and the predominant status of the imperial civil service examination system, the military examination system was insignificant compared to its counterpart. 3 Ke means The Chinese word for the imperial civil service examinations is keju . examination curricula, and ju indicates the whole process, which includes activities to prepare for taking examinations and being selected to official positions.4 The system existed for 1,300 years (605–1905). The Chinese word for the imperial military examination system is wuju ; Wu means military. Empress Wu Zetian established the first imperial military examination as a parallel to the imperial civil service examination in 702, to select military officials during the Tang dynasty. The system was ended by the Qing government in 1901; it had lasted almost 1,200 years.
THE IMPERIAL CIVIL SERVICE EXAMINATION (IMPERIAL EXAMINATION) SYSTEM The imperial examination system was established during the Sui (581–617) and Tang dynasties (618–907), developed during the Song dynasty (960–1279), and reached its peak during the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing dynasties (1644–1911). The system did not appear overnight but stemmed from previous political practices for recruiting officials for the governance of Chinese society. Practices for Recruiting Officials Prior to the Sui Dynasty During ancient times (prior to ca. 2000 BC) in China, a leader of federal tribes was selected by each branch tribal leader based on his virtues and merits. Later, between the western Zhou and Qin dynasties (1027–207 BC), the hereditary system became a dominant political practice. The emperor granted royal titles and lands to his descendants and relatives according to how close their blood ties to him were. Political power, social status, and economic privilege were inherited through kinship. Beginning in 196 BC, Emperor Han Gaozu required his aristocrats and local officials to recommend the most virtuous and meritorious candidates and send these candidates to the state capital with their tributes to the imperial government. Aristocrats and local officials would be punished if they failed to send such candidates to the emperor. Finally, the candidates had to answer the emperor’s questions about their strategies and proposals for solving problems and governing the country before they were appointed to official positions. This type of recruiting system was called c haju , which means literally “investigation and recommendation.” Chaju broke the heredity system and brought new blood into the imperial government during the Han dynasty. After 140 BC, Emperor Han Wudi accepted his minister, Dong Zhongshu’s proposal, “to abandon the other philosophies and promote only Confucianism 5 Confucianism became the doctrine for chaju, which was later adopted as the .” examination content of the imperial examination system.6 By the end of the Eastern Han dynasty (25–220), the chaju system was hypo-critically abused by local officials and aristocrats. The candidates who received recommendations were mostly descendants and relatives of officials and aristocrats. During the Wei dynasty (220– 265), the Nine Ranks System emerged. Instead of using local officials and aristocrats to recommend candidates, the inspection officers, who were appointed directly by the central imperial government, were responsible for evaluating candidates following the criteria of the Nine Ranks System. However, in the Southern Dynasty and Northern Dynasty (420–588), the selection process was controlled by local officials and aristocrats owing to frequent wars among the overly powerful aristocratic political groups. Official positions in higher ranks were occupied by privileged families . Establishment After China was unified under the Sui dynasty, Emperor Sui Yangdi replaced the Nine Rank
System, opening examinations to the public in 583. In 605, he established the jinshi curriculum of examination, in which the examinees were required to write essays to discuss current policies and issues. The word jinshi first appeared in the oldest Chinese history book, Liji . It originally meant a person who deserves a title with a reward or salary. Starting around the middle of the Tang dynasty, jinshi examination was developed into the most prestigious examination curriculum in the imperial examination system and was a career path to high-ranking official positions. The short-lived Sui dynasty only existed for about 30 years. The imperial examination system was truly established during the Tang dynasty. Four years after Tang Gaozu took power, the Tang imperial government followed the Sui system, opening the examination and recruiting new officials, in 622. Three important aspects mark the birth of the imperial examination system. First, the examination was opened to almost every male, who could directly apply for the examinations without official recommendations. Second, the examination was held every year on a regular basis and became systematic. Third, the selection of successful candidates was mainly based on examination results.7 Two types of examinations were created during the Tang dynasty: the regular examination, which was held every year, and the irregular examination, which was held only under the emperor’s temporary orders. The purpose of the irregular examinations was to look for special talents. There were over a hundred subjects for the irregular examinations. The applicants could be students from the state universities or anyone who did not attend school. There were two tiers to the regular examinations; the one held at the local level to qualify local candidates for the state examination was called jieshi , and the one held at the state level was called shengshi . The local examinations and the state examination during the Tang dynasty were held every year. Among more than 50 curriculums for the regular examinations, mingjing and jinshi were the most popular subjects in the regular examinations and attracted more applicants. The jinshi examination focused on literary writings discussing current issues and Confucian principles and writing poems and verses, whereas the mingjing curriculum tested examinees’ ability to memorize texts of Confucian canons. The jinshi examination was the most difficult curriculum, because a 30-year-old mingjing candidate was considered old, whereas a 8 Beginning jinshi title-holder in his fifties was perceived as a young achiever . during the reign of Emperor Tang Xuanzong (713–756), jinshi became the highest honor title, because there were only about 30 jinshi candidates selected from each examination, compared to over 100 mingjing candidates each year. Most high-ranking Tang officials were appointed from the jinshi. The final list of the successful candidates was announced in the spring, followed by a series of celebrations, including lavish banquets, parades, and events sponsored by the government in the capital city, Changan. The celebration ritual for the final winners was integrated into the imperial examinations as part of the examination system in the subsequent dynasties of the Chinese empire. During the Tang dynasty, the successful candidates selected from the state examination could not be appointed to office directly until they passed the examination quanshi, which was administered by the Human Resources Board . For instance, Han Yu , a well-known writer and high-ranking Tang official, failed his quanshi three times and received his official appointment nearly 10 years after he obtained his jinshi title. In quanshi, the candidates were measured by four criteria: physical appearance , verbal communication , calligraphy ,
and ability to make a judgment in dealing with a civil or criminal case . Beginning with the Tang dynasty, the examinees were required to write their biographical information on their examination papers, which included their names and family background. Since the biographical information would be seen by examiners when making their final decisions about accepting successful candidates, the chief examiners could reference recommendations made by influential figures, who usually were eminent officials or social elites. This practice was called tongbang , and was considered legitimate in the Tang dynasty. As a result, the examinees had to network social elites for their recommendations by sending them their literary writings. The networking process was called xingjuan . Although the purpose of tongbang and xingjuan was to identify the talented, examinees from privileged families were most likely to be recommended and chosen. Consequently, these practices brought about not only unfair competition but also political conflicts, contributing to the downfall of the Tang dynasty’s 289-year rule in 907. Development Established as a system during the Tang dynasty, the examination system developed into a significant social phenomenon during the spectacular Song dynasty (960–1279), an era of unprecedented cultural development and economic prosperity. As soon as the first Song emperor, Song Taizu, took power, he immediately followed the Tang practice and reinstituted the examination system to recruit officials for his new government in 960. To preserve the centralized imperial power, in 962 Song Taizu prohibited the practice of tongbang. After that, personal recommendations were no longer legitimate in the imperial examination system. Emperor Song Taizu and his successors implemented a series of innovations. In addition to examinations at the local and state levels, to ensure jinshi candidates were chosen from the truly talented, in 973, Song Taizu added dianshi , the palace examination, which was the final examination for jinshi candidates, held in the palace and hosted by the emperor. The jinshi candidates were ranked into three groups in the palace examination. They immediately received official appointments with no further examinations. Thus, all winners were considered the emperor’s students. The strategy of teacher–student relationship was used by the emperor to instill a sense of loyalty. The palace examination became a standard practice and was built into the system until the end of the Qing dynasty. During the Tang dynasty, on average, each year’s examinations produced about 30 jinshi title-holders. In the Song dynasty, the average number of jinshi increased to over 300, which was 10 times the number of jinshi in the Tang dynasty. Initially the examination followed the practice of the Tang dynasty and was held every year. Because of the large number of surplus jinshi holders, after 1065 the examination was held every three years. Under the Song dynasty, a number of techniques and procedures to ensure fair competition for the examination system were implemented. For example, huming was a method to conceal the examinees’ names, and tenglu was a method to rewrite examination papers to prevent official examiners from identifying examinees in their handwriting. Although checking examinees at the gate before they entered the examination facilities was begun during the Tang dynasty, under the Song dynasty the checking procedure was more rigorous. Examinees were
not allowed to bring in any reference materials and could only bring food, pens and ink, and paper. They were scrutinized from head to toe. The examination facilities were locked during the examination period. No contact was allowed with the outside. Having learned their lesson from the previous rulers of the Five Dynasties, the policies of the Song emperors very much favored civil service bureaucratic administration, instead of depending on military control. All important positions, from the local governments to the imperial court, were given to the graduates of the imperial civil service examinations. The Song imperial examinations produced a record high number of jinshi degree-holders, 115,427, over 300 years. On average, each year produced about 361 graduates.9 To encourage people to take part in the imperial examinations, in 970 Emperor Song Taizu granted the jinshi title to 106 older examinees, who had taken the state examinations 15 times in a row without any success. This special award was called tezouming 10 and became part of the imperial examination practice inherited by all subsequent dynasties. Emperor Song Zhenzong once wrote a poem, “Study Books,” to persuade his people to study hard for the imperial examinations, which could bring one fortune and fame:11 No need to buy land, there are tons of grain in the books. No need to build a big house, there are mansions in the books. Don’t worry that [there are] no good matchmakers to find a wife for you, there are beautiful women in the books. Don’t worry that you have no entourages; there are horses and carriages in the books. If a man wants his dreams to become true, he needs to study the six Confucian books as hard as possible. Because a person’s fate could be changed instantly by taking an examination, during the Song dynasty a social frenzy developed over taking the imperial examinations. The overcrowded civil service government could only lead to bureaucratic inefficiency. The Southern Song was ended in 1279 by the Yuan rulers, a nomadic minority government. There was no examination during the 80 years between 1234 and 1314 in the Yuan dynasty, the longest gap in history of the imperial examinations. The first Yuan imperial examination was held in 1315; it was discontinued in 1335 and resumed after five years. Yuan society was stratified, with four groups ranked from high to low. The Mongolian group possessed the highest status, followed by other minorities in the west. Chinese status was lower than all minorities, and the southern Chinese were the lowest social group, behind the northern Chinese. Correspondingly, the examination system was divided into a right part and a left part. The right part was for Mongolians and other minorities; the left part was for Chinese. The examination curriculums for Chinese were much more difficult than those for minorities. Although the number of Chinese examinees was overwhelmingly higher than Mongolians and other minorities, the quota for the successful candidates was the same: 50 for Mongolians and other minorities and 50 for Chinese. The assignments of official positions for the two groups also discriminated against the Chinese. The ranks of official positions for Mongolians and other minorities were higher than positions for Chinese. Thus, the most important and highranking official positions were occupied by the Yuan imperial relatives. The minorities’ experiences in learning the Chinese language and culture for the imperial examinations did accelerate their assimilation into Chinese culture and society. Emerging during the Southern
Song dynasty, neo-Confucianism was legitimated as the official examination subject of the imperial examinations in the Yuan dynasty, during which xiangshi was first named as the provincial examination to be held every three years.12 The Peak Three years after Emperor Ming Taizu came into power, the first imperial examination in the Ming dynasty was held, in 1370. According to The Ming Dynastic History, the emperor announced that all governmental official positions must be filled by successful candidates from the imperial examinations. Soon after, Emperor Ming Taizu adjourned the examination for 10 years because he felt that the candidates from the examinations were only good at literary writings and lacked practical administrative skills. During this decade, officials were recruited through recommendations, which was similar to the chaju system in the Han dynasty. Because of the inefficiency and favoritism that occurred with personal recommendations, Ming Taizu eventually resumed the imperial examination system in 1382. After two years, the Ming government issued the Regulations of Imperial Examinations, which became the foundation of the laws for the imperial examination system for the next 500 years, during the Ming and Qing dynasties. During those dynasties, only students from government-sponsored schools were qualified to take the imperial examinations. The examination system was altered into a four-tier system: tongshi , the local or district examination; x iangshi , the provincial examination; huishi , the state or metropolitan examination; and dianshi , the palace examinations hosted by emperors. Tongshi included four examinations. Examinees who passed the first three examinations would be qualified as students of local official schools and receive the title shengyuan . The last tongshi examination was to qualify candidates for the provincial examination. The shengyuan title was not only the first step to pursuing official positions through the imperial examinations but also a title of the prestigious social status gentry. Shengyuan enjoyed economic and political privileges in their communities. They dressed differently from commoners and were exempted from taxes and labor duties for the government. Xiangshi, huishi, and dianshi were held every three years. Xiangshi successful candidates were called juren . Their social status was higher than shengyuan. Juren not only enjoyed more privileges, but were also qualified to receive governmental appointment to lowerranking positions. Huishi was held in the capital city in the spring following xiangshi. Each huishi produced about 200 or 300 successful candidates for the next examination, dianshi. Dianshi was hosted by the emperor. All candidates from huishi were granted the jinshi title and ranked into three groups in dianshi. The first rank only included the top three winners, zhuangyuan , bangyan , and tanhua . They were appointed to the most prestigious institution, the Imperial Academy (Hanlin Yuan). The best from the second and third groups were also appointed to lower positions in the Imperial Academy. The rest of the jinshi were appointed to other departments of the imperial government. Starting around the middle of the Ming dynasty, only jinshi could enter the Imperial Academy, and nine out of ten officials in the emperors’ cabinets came from the Imperial Academy. According to Liang Qichao, the
chances of success were extremely slim: “only 1 percent of examinees were selected from the district and provincial examinations to be qualified for taking the state examinations; 10 percent of them were granted the jinshi title after the state examinations; and 10 percent of jinshi degree-holders were finally chosen as the Hanlin members.”13 Historically, more southerners received the jinshi title, because the economy and culture in the southern region were more advanced than in the northern region of China. In 1397, all 52 jinshi candidates were selected from the South. The northern examinees accused the chief examiners of manipulating the test results. Two chief examiners and the top jinshi winner were put to death. Emperor Ming Taizu reexamined the test materials and selected 62 new jinshi, all northerners. The resulting bloodshed brought about a reform requiring that the test materials, which were still sealed, be marked “South” or “North.” The quotas for the jinshi candidates for southerners and northerners were set at 60 and 40 percent, where previously no quota had existed. Later the quotas were divided into three regions: North, South, and the middle area. The other contribution of the Ming dynasty was the eight-legged essay , a standardized essay examination. All topics in the eight-legged essay had to be taken from the Confucian Four Books. The examinees had to write in the tone of the Confucian sages and follow neoConfucian interpretations. The essay had to be rigorously structured, with required rhetorical expressions. However, critics during the Ming and Qing dynasties considered that examinees’ creativity and independent thoughts were constrained by the narrow scope of the subjects and tedious writing rules.14 Decline and Abolition The Qing government, originally from a northern minority, embraced Chinese culture comprehensively by consistently continuing the practice of the Ming examination system, which contributed stability to its 267-year reign. However, the government made a number of changes between 1663 and 1787. After heated debate, the eight-legged essay was canceled in 1663, to be reinstated in 1688 after only two examinations were administered without it. Two technical compositions were dropped, and the poetry examination was added to the civil service examination between 1758 and 1787. Unlike the poetry examination during the Tang dynasty, all the themes for poetry examination in the Qing dynasty had to come from the Confucian canons and follow certain rigorous rules and rhymes. As a Chinese scholar has pointed out, the development of the imperial examination system was a process by which, as the established privileged groups were disappearing, the absolute imperial power was strengthened; as the examination system became impeccable, new forms of fraud and corruption appeared. The unlawful practices and scandals not only undermined the fairness of the examinations, but also threatened imperial power.15 Under the Tang dynasty, when a chief examiner selected the successful candidates, referencing recommendations by the social elites was barely legal. During the Song dynasty, an examination official could lose his position for any wrongdoing. The bloodshed triggered by the decision discriminating in favor of the northern examinees under the Ming dynasty was the first such severe punishment in the examination’s history. In the Qing dynasty, the scandals, crimes, and punishments were extraordinary. For example, in 1657 a dozen examination
officials were bribed during the process of selecting successful candidates from the provincial examination in Beijing. All the successful candidates chosen were sons and brothers of highranking (above the third rank) officials. After the situation was uncovered, Emperor Shunzhi ordered the death penalty for seven official examiners. Their properties were confiscated. Dozens of people who were involved in the case were sent to prison.16 Nevertheless, in spite of implementing laws, regulations, and harsh punishments, the imperial government could not stop corruption and fraud in the examination system. Facing other national crises as well, the entire empire was crumbling in the late period of the Qing dynasty. Having remained unchanged for thousands of years, the Chinese empire had no strength to deal with opium wars, invasion by Western countries, and domestic uprisings. People consequently questioned and opposed the imperial government and its obsolete examination system. In 1895, Kang Youwei and other reformers rallied juren examinees from the state examination to request that Emperor Guangxu immediately reform the political and educational systems and build new schools, eliminate the eight-legged essay, and add engineering and science subjects to the imperial examinations. The Qing government struggled with its attempted reforms. Two years after the last state and palace examinations were held in Beijing, on September 2, 1905, the Qing government announced that examinations would no longer be held after 1906. Six years after the abolition of the imperial examination system, the Chinese empire also ended in 1911.
THE IMPERIAL MILITARY EXAMINATIONS The imperial military examination system was less glorious than its counterpart because of a love and hate relationship between emperors and military forces. During times of war, the imperial government needed a strong and effective military leadership; during peace, a strong military force could be perceived as a threat to the emperor. Thus, the history of the imperial military examination system was rather different from that of the imperial civil service examination system. Prior to the imperial examinations, there was no clear-cut division between civil services and military services. The methods for recruiting military leaders were the same as in the selection of civil service officials, but were based more on the candidates’ military skills, moral excellence, and military family background. Skills were measured by strength, archery, horsemanship, and so forth. During the Zhou dynasty, the criterion for selecting candidates to serve the government was that they must be adept in archery. Because only aristocrats’ sons could be trained in archery and reins in their childhood, military positions were dominated by aristocrats. During the Warring States period (475–211 BC), military officials were promoted from soldiers based on merits demonstrated during battle. Since the chaju system in the Han dynasty did not list military service as a separate category, civil service officials were often reassigned into military positions. In the Wei and Jin dynasties (220–420), passing on positions and titles to military officials’ descendants was a common practice, because aristocrats were in power.
The Tang Dynasty (618–907) Although there is debate surrounding the date of the establishment of the civil service examination, there is no controversy about when the imperial military examination was started. In 702, modeling the civil service examination under the Tang dynasty, Empress Wu Zetian launched the first imperial military examination to select her military officials. The applicants were meritorious military professionals, descendants of military officials, and commoners. Unlike in the civil service examinations, there were no student applicants, because there were no military schools in the Tang dynasty. The applicants’ backgrounds were screened by the district and state military administrations. Like the civil service examination system, the military examinations were also held at two tiers: the local examination, which qualified the candidates for the state examinations, and the state examination, held by the Military Board of the imperial government every year. The military examinations were built into the imperial examination system and open to almost every male. During the Tang dynasty, a man who possessed a great deal of strength and was good at archery and horsemanship was considered a good candidate for a military position. Thus, the military examination emphasized testing examinees’ techniques and strength in archery, weapon skills on horseback, weight lifting, verbal communication, physique (height above 177 centimeters), and age (under 40 years of age). Among these tests, archery and horsemanship were most important because they were the most effective weapons and techniques during the era of cold weapons.17 Each examinee’s performance was graded into ranks. The selection of successful candidates was based on their grades. Unlike in the civil service examination, the successful candidates from the military examination were not required to take quanshi, the examination for the successful candidates from the civil service held by the Human Resources Board, before receiving official appointments. Among the successful candidates from the state military examinations, the meritorious military professionals and descendants of military officials were appointed into official positions immediately, whereas inexperienced commoners could only be interns before receiving their formal appointments. Only about 10 candidates were selected from the military examinations each year, so it was not the only system for recruiting military officials in the Tang dynasty. There were other channels. Officials’ descendants and brothers could inherit military official positions. Civil service officials were often reassigned to military positions. The military examination system was discontinued in 798 because the emperor was afraid that militant forces could gain control over the state. The examination was reopened in 808 because of the imperial government’s urgent need for military leadership to fight wars.18 The Song Dynasty (960–1279) There was no military examination during the turmoil of the Five Dynasties (907–960). After 69 years the first Song emperor came into power, and the Song imperial government eventually opened its first military examination in 1029. The military examination system was very much like the triple-tier civil examination system: local, state, and palace examinations. Before the
local military examination, there was an entrance examination to qualify candidates for the local examination. After experiencing the militant chaos of the Five Dynasties, the Song emperors were vigilant about avoiding too powerful military forces. The applicants for the military examinations were required to have local officials’ recommendations and background checks. In contrast, applicants for the civil service examinations did not have to go through this process. If an examinee performed poorly or cheated during the military examination, the official who had recommended the examinee would be punished. After 20 years, the Song government closed the military examinations in 1049, fearing that many people would own weapons, which could threaten imperial power. However, in 1064, facing the threat of war, the Song imperial government restored the military examinations, seeking ideal military leadership, defined as men who not only excelled at the art of war but also displayed moral excellence by following Confucianism in their loyalty to the imperial government. After that, as part of the imperial examination system, the military examination was held every three years until the end of the Song dynasty. The Song military examination system was actually designed and controlled by the civil service officials. The requirement to write essays to discuss military tactics, strategies, theories, and case studies from previous wars, which were recorded in the seven classic military books,19 was added to the military examination system. There was also a memory test, which asked examinees to explain concepts or answer questions drawn from the seven classic military books. The seven tests for strength and techniques offered in the Tang dynasty were simplified into two categories by the Song military examination system: archery on feet and archery on horseback. A Song scholar used 12 Chinese characters to point out the unique aspect of the Song military examination system that separated the Tang system from the Song system, which was, “The writing examination was used to determine who was in or out; while the examinations of archery and horsemanship only measured examinees’ skills.”20 The other development in the military examinations during the Song dynasty was the government-sponsored military schools. The first military school was opened in 1043. It lasted only 93 days because of a lack of students, owing to the immense popularity of the civil service examination. The military school was reopened 40 years later, in 1072. Students included military professionals, military officials’ sons and brothers, and commoners. Each student was required to have two guarantors, who were officials of high rank. The imperial government provided stipends to students. This was a three-year program. The curriculum consisted of military theories, tactics, and case studies of wars. After three years, students who passed the school examinations were appointed directly to military official positions. Students who failed the examinations would continue their studies until they graduated from the school. Students could also be exempted from the local military examination and be qualified for the state military examination. Outstanding students could be exempted from the state examination, although such special treatment was only for a small group of students. The military school became a supplemental source for the military examination system later on. On average, each military examination only produced about 10 to 30 military jinshi, compared to over 300 successful candidates from a civil service examination each year in the Song dynasty. These military examination graduates were appointed to military administrations, starting their careers at the lower ranks with nonmilitary duties. After
accumulating seniority for years, they would be promoted to higher ranking positions and placed in charge of armies, with no professional military training. The flawed military system was created intentionally by emperors to protect the imperial government from a military threat. After all, graduates of the military examinations made up only a small portion of military officials. Most military officials either inherited their positions or were promoted through merit exhibited in war. Although the imperial government of the Southern Song dynasty raised the ranks of initial appointments, the graduates of military examinations were still not interested in directly entering professional military positions, because the military occupation was held in contempt by the mainstream culture. Many candidates for the military examinations were former examinees who had failed the civil service examinations. The military examination to them was just a stepping stone to their civil service careers. As a result of the imperial government’s fear of overly powerful military forces, society’s fanatical belief in the glory of the civil service examinations, and the flawed military system, the military examination system failed to produce a strong military leadership for the Song dynasty. The Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) Of the three minority governments—Jin, Liao, and Yuan dynasties—between the Song and Ming dynasties, the military examination system was only adopted by the Jin imperial government (1115–1234). The first Ming emperor opened the imperial examination in 1370, which made no distinction between the civil service examination and the military examination. He stated that all civil service and military officials should be selected through the imperial examinations. His intention was to select meritocrats who possessed combined leadership qualities for both civil services and military affairs. Meanwhile, he legalized the military hereditary system to win military officials’ support for his new imperial government. Almost a hundred years later, in 1465, Emperor Ming Xianzong issued the first military examination law, which regulated the examination subjects, procedure, and ranks of the military official appointments for successful candidates. The Ming military examination was offered in 1493 and held every six years. After 1504, the examination was consistently held every three years. The Ming military examination system was held at three levels: the local, state, and palace examinations. The applicants were students of military schools. Military professionals and commoners who were good at using weapons could also take the local examinations, but they had to be recommended by officials. There were three rounds of examinations: archery on feet, archery on horseback, and writing essays. The levels of difficulty and grading criteria differed among the examinations at three levels. The successful candidates from local military examinations were named military juren . The successful candidates from state military examinations were entitled military jinshi . As in the civil service examinations, successful candidates from the state examination were assigned according to regional quotas. The Ming palace examination was started in 1631. Military jinshi were also ranked into three groups, as in the civil service palace examination. The top winner of the military examination was military zhuangyuan . The successful candidates were appointed based on their grades and backgrounds. The appointments for descendants of
military officials were higher than those for commoners. In the beginning of the Ming dynasty, military officials were appointed through an inheritance system. In accordance with the law, these descendants could inherit military officials’ positions after they passed a test of military skills and literacy specifically designed for this group. Living on military bases in remote areas, many military officials’ children had no opportunities to get a literary education, so they often failed the test. As a result, more military schools were opened in the Ming capital and districts to provide education for these military officials’ descendants. Unlike the Song military schools, which were open to commoners, the Ming military schools were mainly open to these descendants. The curriculums were offered in three broad categories: literacy education, moral education, and military techniques. Unlike the Song military schools, which focused on study of military theories and techniques, the Ming military schools instead emphasized the literacy curriculum and moral education, because the primary purpose of these schools was to hone these descendants’ literary skills and make them loyal to the imperial government. The textbooks were the Confucian classics and the seven classic military books. The students could receive their appointments by passing the test of the Military Department or could choose to take the civil service examinations to pursue civil service careers. Although the frenzy about taking the civil service examination continued in the Ming dynasty, the Ming military schools and the military examination system were more successful and effective in producing the military leadership needed because of an increase in the number of military students and the scale of military schools. This success was achieved through a compromise in the form of the military inheritance system and a reduction in fair opportunities for commoners.21 The Qing Dynasty (1644–1911) The Qing imperial government took its ruling power using cavalry. Military ambition was in the Qing rulers’ blood. After only two years, the Qing imperial government opened the first military examination in 1646, a strategy to win the support of the Chinese, because the military examination could recruit unemployed military professionals to eliminate a military threat to the new government. The Qing military examination system was almost identical to the civil service examinations. The military examinations were held at four levels every three years. The first military examination was military tongshi, the entrance examination to qualify military students. The successful candidates from military tongshi were given the title wusheng . Wusheng was also the privileged title that separated the group from commoners, like its civil service examination counterpart, shengyuan. They could get tax exemptions and receive stipends from the government. Xiangshi was the local examination. The xiangshi successful candidates were named wujuren. Huishi was the state examination. The successful candidates were called wugongsheng, and qualified for wujinshi. The palace examination ranked wujinshi into three groups. Wujinshi were the major source of higher-ranking military officials, in contrast to their lower-ranking positions in previous dynasties. Overall, wujinshi’s position ranks were higher than civil service examination jinshi under the Qing dynasty. Based
on regional quotas, each military examination produced between 100 and 200 wujinshi. During the Ming dynasty, the descendants of military officials were usually appointed into higher-ranking positions. Under the Qing dynasty, a candidate’s family background was not that important anymore. The appointments were based strictly on the examinee’s performance in the military examinations. Wujinshi was not the only group to receive official appointments. Wujuren and wusheng also earned tickets to enter the imperial bureaucracy. Most of wusheng could be enlisted as soldiers, after they lost the hope of becoming wujuren. Compared to ordinary soldiers, wusheng were more likely to be promoted, because their trained military skills helped them be successful in battle, in addition to their literacy education. Most wujuren started their careers in the lowest positions. After five years of military service, they could be promoted. There were no military schools during the Qing dynasty. The military students were enrolled with others in the Confucian schools. Tongshi, the first military examination, was opened to almost everyone, except for criminals and descendants of prostitutes, actors, and slaves. The registration was more difficult than for the civil service examination. An applicant for the military tongshi examination was required to have six guarantors, his military trainer and five others. These guarantors would be punished if the examinee broke a rule during the examination. There were three rounds in the Qing military examinations. The first was the examination of archery on horseback. The second round included archery, striking (sword), and weight lifting (heavy stone). The third round was writing essays. Military techniques and strength were weighted more important than writing essays. The criteria for grading were so stringent that the examinations were almost like a competition in martial arts. Bows had to be fully stretched. Swords had to be struck like choreographed dance. Heavy stones had to be lifted more than 13 inches above the ground. Emperor Kangxi issued numerous edicts to make sure the selection of successful candidates was strictly based on military skills. To reinforce his policy, Emperor Kangxi performed archery and amazingly hit every target in the palace examination in 1714. Essay examination became less important. Only three of the seven classic military books were used in the military examinations. Writing essays was later changed to memorizing a paragraph, about 100 words, from the three classic military books. Abolition The year 1840 was a defining moment for the military examinations, because the British military, armed with modern weapons, defeated the Qing military in the Opium War. Although firearms, like landmines and artilleries, were used in the Ming military, skills in using firearms would never be in the curriculum of the military examinations. In 1885, the first Chinese naval institute was launched in Tianjin by Minister Li Hongzhang. After that, more military academies were opened across the nation. These academies significantly impacted the military examination system, because more professional military officials were trained in these institutions. In 1897, Emperor Guangxu ordered his military ministers to discuss the reform of the military examinations. These ministers proposed five new examination curriculums, which
intended to recruit professionals in military engineering and manufacturing of firearms. In 1898, Emperor Guangxu issued an edict to reform the imperial examinations, stating that, starting in 1899, military examination curriculums would be changed to firearms, and writing from memory from the classic military books would be abandoned. However, after only six months, Queen Cixi ordered that all military examinations still needed to follow the previous examinations on archery skills and strengths, while firearm training should take place in military academies and military barracks. One of the reasons for the failed reform was the unrealistic vision of examinations for firearms. It was impossible for an ordinary individual to own expensive firearms and get proper training at home. The military examination system was beyond repair. It came to an end before its counterpart, the imperial civil service examination system. In 1901, Emperor Guangxu announced, “The military examination system, which is adopted from the Ming Dynasty, is flawed. Stretching bows, archery, and weight lifting are useless and irrelevant to today’s military operation. To adapt to the changes, all military examinations are terminated forever.”22 The imperial military examination system had existed almost 1,200 years.
INFLUENCE Originally created as an apparatus to select and recruit meritocrats to serve the imperial government in over a thousand years, the imperial examination system became a social nexus and impacted every aspect of Chinese society. Some scholars view it as an open system to ensure the fairness of competition, which successfully replaced the aristocratic hereditary system, opened opportunity to commoners, and brought about social mobility. A number of scholars believe that the examination system integrated Chinese society and maintained social stability. One American scholar even sees the system as democratic and thinks of it as “the Chineseman’s ballot-box” because “it operates as a counterpoise to the power of an absolute monarchy.”23 The examination system has even been considered “the fifth great invention of China.”24 On the other hand, the imperial examination system is viewed as a bureaucratic apparatus that was “a release lever” for the imperial government to win political support and maintain its dictatorship.25 The imperial examination system redistributed scarce resources, created social elites, and benefited a small, privileged group at the expense of the interests of the majority of ordinary people. As Elman asserted, the civil examination process “was not a system designed for increased social mobility” because “the educational curriculum and its formidable linguistic requirements effectively eliminated the lower classes from the selection process.” The examination system was thus a “process of social, political, and cultural reproduction of the status quo.”26 The imperial examination system also served the state ideology for political control. It “served as a mechanism for the practice and transmission of both the meritocratic principle and the values created by classical learning.”27 After 140 BC, Emperor Han Wudi accepted his minister, Dong Zhongshu’s, proposal “to abandon the other philosophies and promote only Confucianism .” Confucianism became the most important examination curriculum,
Jinxue . Jinxue was a study of Confucian classics, which includes explicating, defining, and researching the meanings of Confucianism. The principle of Confucianism is to believe that society is harmonious and ordered: “[S]ociety is necessarily hierarchical and the award of privileges should be by merit.”28 The Four Classifications Catalog during the Qing dynasty compiled 1,773 publications of Jinxue.29 After the Song dynasty, Confucianism developed into neo-Confucianism, which was accepted and authorized as not only an examination curriculum but also the default state ideology. While the state ideology was used by the imperial government for political control, Confucianism was the predominant philosophy absorbed by Chinese society through intellectual movements such as neoConfucianism, education, and cultural practices. As a Chinese scholar indicates,30 Confucianism, which represented the mainstream culture, became the dominant ideology unifying the social value system. Examinees only needed to memorize Confucian classics, not alternatives, and creativity was forbidden. The social elite group, which was created under such conservative social and cultural values, was inevitably vulnerable and weak when facing national crises and modern challenges in the late nineteenth century. Since the Qing government chose to end the examination system without building a new system first, Chinese society thereafter collapsed along with its social and cultural value system. Because the society could not absorb a large number of unemployed literati, these former examinees became a marginal group detached from society. The unemployed literati and a new type of young people from the modern school system became “gravediggers” of the Qing dynasty (see entry 136). During the Xia, Shang, and Zhou dynasties (ca. 2000–221 BC), expensive educational resources were offered and controlled by the government. However, government-sponsored schools were mainly accessible to descendants of aristocrats and social elites. Private schools developed in the Spring and Autumn Period (770–221 BC), when a great number of philosophies were emerging . Government and private education all focused on learning Confucian classics, because the goal of education was to produce officials for the imperial government. The imperial examination system served as the most important institution to transmit the meritocratic principle of Confucianism. In the era of the imperial examination system, education was delivered by three types of institutions. Official schools were sponsored by (1) district, prefecture, and state governments; (2) private schools, which provided education from childhood to higher education; and (3) academies sponsored by the government and private individuals. Because the examination system dominated the recruiting system, official schools became a dependency of the examination system. Students of official schools aimed at getting their credentials for taking imperial examinations. The administrations of official schools were ineffective, and the quality of education was low. The education in private schools was effective, but it was purely a training ground for students to prepare for taking the imperial examinations. Academies were an institution of higher education between government and private education. They emerged after the Tang dynasty. Although they had an independent spirit, they later evolved into subsidiary institutions for the imperial examination system. Since the purpose of education was to pursue wealth and social status, this pursuit became prevalent in Chinese society. Students spent their lives studying dreary materials and competed for only a few spots. The learning
content was impractical. Some scholars find that the modern educational system in China inherited the tradition of the imperial examination system, which was to prepare future officials for the government. The two systems are so similar that the new system seems like “a modern imperial examination.”31 The imperial examination system and literature were almost inseparable because that relationship was used to measure Chinese men’s writing skills and reward them for their talents and good learning. Through literary attainment, the examination system was “a sure passport to the highest offices of the state” for literary aspirants, who could be born from humble families.32 The imperial examinations were usually translated as “literary examination” or “literary competition,” which indicates that “the connection between literature and the examination for administrative appointments was well established.”33 Because of the influence of the eight-legged essay on Chinese language, and the phenomenal impact of the examination system on the society, a large number of classic Chinese literary works were produced during the 1,300 years. Regional development was also correlated with the development of the imperial examinations. More successful candidates were from the economically and culturally advanced regions such as Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces. Most prominent clans concentrated in these regions and produced more highly successful candidates from examinations. Control of marriages provided the genetic and social environment that enabled these prominent families to continue to produce achievers.34 The Chinese imperial examination system influenced not only East Asia but also Western countries. As a Chinese scholar finds,35 following the Chinese prototype, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam adopted the Chinese examination system completely from Confucianism and examination curriculums to procedures, and developed their examination systems in various time periods. Japan was the first country to adopt the Chinese system, and the Japanese system lasted about 200 years, from the seventh to the eighth centuries. The major examination curriculums were mingjing, jinshi, xiucai, laws, and medicine, and mingjin and jinshi were built around Confucian classics. Because the Japanese system was preserved for aristocrats’ descendants, it gradually faded away. Korea had the longest history of the imperial examination system outside China (958–1894). The Korean system was established with Chinese involvement and followed the Chinese system, from the procedure to the examination curriculums of Confucianism in the Tang and Song dynasties. Korean adoption was a “smooth transplantation of the Chinese civil examination system” and “immensely successful mastery of the Chinese Confucian scholarship” (see entry 99). The Korean system held even more examinations and produced more successful candidates than its Chinese progenitor. The Vietnamese system was enacted in 1075 and ended in 1919, even later than the Chinese system. The Vietnamese system was a version of the Chinese Ming examination system. Not only was the eight-legged essay used, but also examination halls. As in Japan and Korea, the Vietnamese system had its own innovations, including new examination curriculums for Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism, and using elephants to guard the examination halls from fraudulent practices. Because Korea and Vietnam were once satellite countries of China, they sent students to China starting in the Tang dynasty. Not only did the students take the Chinese imperial
examination, but some successful candidates also received examination degrees and official appointments from the Chinese imperial government. In the Ming dynasty the successful provincial candidates from Korea and Vietnam could be sent to the capital of China to take the metropolitan examination. Thus, the full-scale adoption of the Chinese system and unique development in each country spawned “the East Asian cultural zone.”36 The examination culture was a tradition in which the religious practice of hosting gods and spirits for success in the imperial examinations had existed for a long time. Research shows that classical religious practice continues to play a significant role in today’s exam-centered modern societies in East Asia and reached “an unprecedented scale” because of the meritocratic system of exams for social mobility.37 In 1942, Y. Z. Chang, a Chinese professor, published his study of Chinese influence on British civil examinations in American Historical Review.38 The Chinese examination system was known in England at least as far back as 1621. Open competition for the civil service in England was established after 1870. Chang’s survey of six important English periodicals published between 1840 and 1888 yields sixteen articles in which “the writers indicate their awareness of the fact that the system prevailed in China,” and that “there is a linkage in their minds between China and the idea of competitive examinations for civil service” (pp. 540– 541). Further evidence of Chinese influence is found in Hansard’s Parliamentary Debates on June 13, 1853. In defense of the proposal for competitive examinations for India, Earl Granville declared in the House of Lords: “I have heard it stated that one of the principal reasons why a small Tartar dynasty has governed the immense empire of China for upwards of 200 years, has been that they have got the talent of the whole Chinese population by opening every official situation to competition.”39 Chang even claims that the English protest against the competitive examination system “is indicative of its novelty in England.” Chang concludes that since the Chinese system had been known in England in the seventeenth century, and no country other than China had previously made use of the civil service examination system as its own invention, “Surely a measure of Chinese influence must be admitted upon the basis of this evidence.”40 At the same time, Deng Siyu, another Chinese American professor, published his study of Chinese influence on Western countries in the Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies. Inspired by Thomas Taylor Meadows’s two books—in which he strongly recommended the adoption in Great Britain of the Chinese principle of competitive civil service examination—and Sun Zhongshan’s statement in The Five-Power Constitution, “We have very good reason to believe that the Chinese examination system was the earliest and the most elaborate system in the world,”41 Deng seeks the truth about Chinese influence. The first truth Deng finds is that, according to Encyclopedia Britannica and other publications, China was the first country to use examinations to select officers for public service (ca. 1115 BC), not other old civilizations such as Egypt, Greece, and Rome. It was not until the eighteenth century that the written scholastic examination appeared in Europe. As for the civil service examinations, “France adopted such a system in 1791; Germany around 1800; India in 1855; and England applied the Indian system to all home service in 1870” (p. 275). Between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, many Western missionaries, merchants, travelers, and diplomatic officials traveled
to China and wrote articles and books about the Chinese people and culture. Many authors described the imperial examinations in detail, as well as their admiration, and some authors became activists to prompt their governments to adopt the Chinese system in their home countries. Deng collected 78 such publications written between 1570 and 1870 by Western authors to probe the Chinese influence on the Western civil service examination system and identified overwhelming evidence of Chinese influence on Western countries. For example, a French scholar admits that French education and civil service examinations all originated from the Chinese competitive literary examinations. Like Professor Chang, Deng notes the parliamentary debate about the adoption of the Chinese system in England. Both sides of the argument show the Chinese influence on the English system. The Chinese examination system influenced the U.S. system by means of its influence on the British civil service examination system, because the U.S. system was largely adopted from England. Nevertheless, Deng reports strong evidence of direct Chinese influence in his study. Thomas A. Jenckes, a U.S. congressional representative, issued a report from the Joint Select Committee to the House of Representatives of the United States in 1868 that contains a chapter on the civil service in China. The other piece of evidence is that in their papers on the Chinese examination and civil service reforms in the United States, published respectively in 1868 and 1870, W. A. P. Martin and A. R. Macdonough urged the U.S. government to adopt the Chinese examination system. In May 1868, in a grand reception for the members of an embassy from the Chinese emperor, the city government of Boston praised the Chinese examination system. Chang and Deng’s studies reveal Chinese influence on the Western countries’ systems. Western authors recorded what they experienced and witnessed in China and published it in popular magazines, journals, and books. Some of the travelers had worked and resided in China for a long time. For example, Dr. W. A. P. Martin lived in China for over 60 years as president of Tongwen College in Peiking (Beijing). Starting from their initial curiosity about the mysterious nation in the East, most of these authors developed an appreciation and admiration for the oldest civilization and formed critical opinions about the imperial examination system. Some became activists, urging their government to adopt the Chinese examination system. These activists’ proposals, actions, and connections with government stakeholders and lawmakers, and the political debates that have been identified in a large number of documents, prove that the principle of the Chinese examination system diffused to the West between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. In addition to the East Asian cultural zone mentioned previously, Chinese influence was worldwide. A Memorial by six Qing government officials on September 2, 1905, stated that “the proposal to abolish the system of examinations and to promote the establishment of schools is made, together with careful and safe plans for the carrying out of the scheme.”42 The proposal carried out the reformists’ vision to develop modern schools and train students in modern sciences and technologies to save China from national crises. However, things did not turn out as expected. Some scholars believe that the sudden collapse of the examination system and the Chinese empire cut off the source of literati/gentry and destroyed the four-stratification system of traditional Chinese society that had contributed to social stability for thousands of years. The four-stratification system consisted of four social groups—literati/gentry, peasants, artisans, and merchants—and the literati/gentry group was the elite group. Without a channel
for social mobility through the examination system, the new government was soon taken over by militants, and the literati became a marginal social group. The abolition of the examination system ultimately ended commoners’ dreams of elevating their social status. Without the literati/gentry’s leadership in local communities, the remote areas became disconnected from the central government. Resources in the countryside migrated to the cities, and the gap between cities and remote rural areas widened rapidly. As a Chinese scholar observed,43 the economy, culture, and literacy in vast rural areas were deteriorating. Bandits emerged and ultimately destroyed the cultural ecology of rural communities in China. Chinese society was beset by corruption and civil wars, which created opportunities for militants to seize power from the new government. The influence of the imperial examination system has been prolonged into modern China. After the Qing government was overthrown in 1911, subsequent Chinese governments, whether short-lived entities or long-standing states with ideologies of either capitalism or communism, have conceived and instituted a national examination system resembling the imperial examination system in many ways. Between 1912 and 1949, China was the Republic of China, which included the Yuan Shikai government, Beiyang government, and nationalist government. The People’s Republic of China was established on the mainland in 1949. However, the idea and practice of building a national examination system to recruit civil service officials never disappeared. Between 1913 and the 1920s, the Beiyang government took “two planks directly inherited from the later Qing: fostering an efficient civil service under strong executive control and open civil service examinations as the appropriate means by which to attract ‘men of talent’.”44 The Beiyang government implemented a series of regulations for the new civil service examination system. A Chinese scholar views these laws as “a positive influence”45 on the establishment of the civil service examination system during the entire period of the Republic of China because of various reforms. In addition to changing tangible stipends to paper money salaries, the regulations carried the traditional meaning of civil service official positions into modern government positions. The government civil service officials included not only executive officials, diplomats, judges, and police, but also engineers and other professionals. Four examinations were held between 1916 and 1920, which recruited nearly 1,400 successful candidates.46 Sun Zhongshan, the founder of the Nationalist Party and the Republic of China, envisioned the examination system as an independent branch of the five-branch government for modern China. A product of Sun’s idea, the Examination Institute was established in 1931, ending in 1946. Over those 15 years, more than three million examinees took various examinations, resulting in only about 10,000 successful candidates. A scholar observed that the slogan on the wall of the Examination Institute showed that the examination system was regarded as a symbolic idea of “a proud past” and “a progressive future.” The way the examination facilities were locked during the examinations, the ceremony for the successful candidates, and the architectural style of the Examination Institute buildings strikingly resembled the imperial examination system. Although the new civil service examination system was modernized with modern curriculums of science and technology subjects, it produced an insignificant number of successful candidates to meet the demand for technical personnel for the government, because
most official appointments were actually manipulated by personal networks. The Examination Institution never made a significant contribution to recruiting civil servants for the Nationalist government because “personal ties and old boy’s networks of various sorts continued to be the primary source of entry into the system.”47 After 1949, the two governments, the People’s Republic of China on the mainland and the Republic of China in Taiwan, both had national examination systems for higher education. The Communist government’s policies regarding the curriculum for higher education “were remarkably similar to those of the Nationalists” (p. 205), and both governments “were unconsciously reproducing features of the Confucian imperial order that held promise for political control” (p. 213). The National College Entrance Examination (NCEE) of mainland China was immediately instated for the purpose of selecting and training the best students to serve the country. It was very similar to the imperial examination system and recruited “loyal and bright brains to help . . . [the emperor] to control the empire.”48 Political science and law in the curriculum of higher education were the most prestigious disciplines “for entrance into influential positions in the socialist bureaucracy.”49 The structures of the examination institutions, centralized political control of higher education through the nationwide unification of the textbooks and teachers’ pedagogies, political requirements for candidates, quota policies for remote regions, political discrimination against the socially unacceptable, anonymous grading and selection methods, and placement policies that guarantee successful candidates’ appointment for governmental positions are all remarkably similar to the old system.50 The most significant way in which the NCEE resembles the imperial examination system is the annual NCEE event held every July (now June), regarded as a student’s life chance for social mobility. Because several million students take the examination to compete in the bottleneck opportunity, July has been labeled “black July.”51 Public opinion surveys show that the NCEE is regarded as the biggest social event in China, which mobilizes a large population in “black July.”52 The traffic controls, police escort cars, changes of bus and flight schedules, crowd of nervous students, and anxious parents are phenomenal. The NCEE has been criticized for being strikingly similar to the imperial examinations, because both dominate the educational system, which has an examination-driven focus on rote learning, blocking students’ creativity. Advocates respond that the NCEE fits the need for Chinese society to maintain the principle of fairness of open competition for its large population and to select successful students based on test results, not family backgrounds, socioeconomic status, or personal networks, although they admit that the system is flawed. Both reviews note that examination has become a “gene” in Chinese society, and Chinese society is an examination society.53
IMPERIAL EXAMINATION STUDIES 605–1911 Soon after the imperial examination system was established, it was recorded in imperial documents and various publications. By the time it was abolished, publications about the
imperial examination system were ubiquitous. As an English scholar observed, descriptions of the imperial examinations “can be found in all general books on China.”54 An eminent Chinese scholar observed the same phenomenon: “[T]here is almost no Chinese book that would not mention the imperial examinations.”55 Imperial history books written by officially appointed historians contain information about the examination system on policies, regulations, procedures, contents, events, and lists of successful candidates. New Book of the Tang History is an example of such publications; it includes 225 volumes written and compiled by official historians in the Song dynasty. Volumes 44 and 45 of this history specifically provide information about the examinations for the civil service, military, and personnel recruitment in the Tang dynasty. Another example is the 200-volume History of the State Systems by Du You, an official historian during the Tang dynasty. It is the first official encyclopedic work about the political, economic, military, and judicial systems across the dynasties from ancient times to 756. Volumes 13 to 18 present the origin and development of various selection and examination systems from the Zhou to Tang dynasties. Official history books were mainly aimed at recording accurate facts, mixed with brief and precise comments by official historians. The imperial examination system was also mentioned in private memoirs, essays, and biographies. Private publications were not affiliated with the imperial governments and usually contained more interesting details from personal experiences. Collected Statements by Wang Dingbao (870–ca. 954) was the first book to introduce the Tang imperial examination system.56 Wang Dingbao describes Emperor Taizong, who was in power between 599 and 649, saying after seeing an array of new jinshi in the ceremony at the imperial palace, “All heroes entered my bowshot,” meaning that the most talented people came to serve him and were under his control. This vivid detail has been cited in numerous publications and has become the most famous anecdote about the Tang imperial examination. Lists of the successful candidates could be published by either imperial governments or private individuals. These lists are important primary sources for biographical information about these candidates. Xu Song’s The Honor Roles of the Successful Candidates and the Chronology of the Imperial Examinations is the most valuable compilation of these lists. Prior to the middle of the Tang dynasty, such lists were mostly produced by private individuals. Xu Song (1781–1848), a scholar in the Qing dynasty, collected the materials available in his time into the 30-volume set, which preserves the lists of successful candidates and important events in the Tang dynasty and Five Dynasties between 618 and 960. The other common publications are study guides, reference books, local historical archives, gazettes, clan genealogies, novels, poetry, and plays. For example, The Scholars, completed around 1750 by Wu Jingzi (1701–1754), is the most famous classic Chinese novel of satirical realism. It portrays various characters living in the examination-dominated society and reveals the fundamental nature of the examination system. Various characters in this novel are frequently cited in studies on the imperial examinations. The publications created in this era are primary sources of the greatest value for research. The first generation scholars of the imperial examination, such as Du You, Wang Dingbao, Ma Duanlin, Xu Song, Tan Jicong, and Li Diaoyuan, passed on the most original descriptions, remarks, and thoughts to following generations.
1911–1949 The four decades from the end of the Chinese empire to the beginning of the People’s Republic of China were chaotic because of constant civil wars and the Japanese invasion during World War II. There was no centralized control of political ideology, which left room for scholars to develop new ideas. At that time, a large number of modern schools were built across the country, and modern universities were established by Western missionaries. Many Chinese students were sent to Western countries and Japan to study, either by the Qing government, the government of the Republic of China, or private funding, starting in the late Qing dynasty. New scholars emerged who were for the first time able to view the imperial examination system from different perspectives. History is always the home discipline of imperial examination studies. A number of scholars enthusiastically rewrote the history of the imperial examination system. The endeavor seems not to have been motivated by nostalgia, but rather “to borrow history for today’s new system and practice.”57 Several books on the history of the imperial examination system were published: Deng Dingren’s A Study of Chinese Examination History (1929), Zhang Zhongru’s The Examination System in the Qing (1931), Deng Siyu’s A History of the Chinese Examination System (1936), and Yu Fang’s The Examination System in the Tang Dynasty (1933). There was debate about whether the examination system was established during the Sui dynasty or the Tang dynasty. The point of contention was not so much about the date as about the nature of the system. More scholars hold the view that the system was begun in the Sui dynasty and fully established in the Tang dynasty,58 because applicants no longer needed recommendations, and the imperial examination system qualified the candidates based on knowledge and test results instead of vague standards of morality. A group of scholars produced works on the literary aspect of imperial examination studies: Lu Qian’s A Brief History of the Eight-Legged Essay (1933), Liu Linsheng’s The History of Pianwen (1937), Shi Ziyu’s “A Relationship between the Imperial Examination System and the Five-Word Poetry in the Tang Dynasty” (1944), and Liu Kairong’s A Study of Novels in the Tang Dynasty (1947). They discuss the undeniable relationship and mutual influence between Chinese language and literature and the imperial examinations. A number of scholars acknowledge the value and status of the eight-legged essay in classic Chinese literature. The psychological perspective on the imperial examination system generated an interesting argument. Zhang Yaoxiang, who obtained his master’s degree in psychology from Columbia University in the United States, was one of the first generation psychologists of China. In a speech at Beijing University in 1926, he suggested that the imperial examination was an intelligence test because of the difficulty of the examination subjects and its highly competitive nature. Thus successful candidates from the imperial examinations could be considered geniuses. Zhang’s study shows that the regional distribution of successful candidates was concentrated in the Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces. A student in the audience wrote articles countering Zhang’s thesis, arguing that the imperial examination should be considered a knowledge test, not an intelligence test. The article criticizes Zhang for ignoring the differences in socioeconomic status of examinees, because the imperial examination did not favor the economically disadvantaged. An article by Fu Yiling, “The Regional Distribution of the Prime
Ministers in Relation to the Jinshi System in the Tang Dynasty,” and Pan Guangdan’s book The Most Prominent Families in Jiaxing Area from the Ming to Qing Dynasties, also find that the highly successful candidates and primary ministers were more from the prominent clans in the economically and culturally developed regions of Zhejiang and Jiangsu in southern China. Studies of the political aspects of the imperial examination system took a modern turn during this period. Wang Yanan’s “The Imperial Examination System, the Second Release Lever to Support China’s Bureaucratic System” (1947) portrays the examination system as a political tool to recruit bureaucratic loyalists for the imperial power. Imperial Power and Gentry Power by Fei Xiaotong, Wu Han, and four other scholars (1948) presents the most significant reviews of Chinese despotic ruling power, which was produced by the imperial examination system, and discusses how the two types of power were intertwined and executed in Chinese society. An interesting comparison of the political systems of Western countries and China also generated debate. In “A Chinese-Styled Parliament,”(1948) He Yongji indicates that the imperial examination system was a Chinese-style parliament because of its quota system, in which successful candidates from the imperial examinations from various regions could represent the demographic population either through their official appointments or by being gentry, assuming leadership of their local communities. Immediately after He’s article was published, Lin Zhichun wrote an article refuting He’s thesis. According to Lin, the Chinesestyle parliamentary system was a political tool to select and recruit officials for the imperial government and had nothing to do with the representation of the regional population. The quota method was inherited from the selection system of Moral Excellence in the Han dynasty and was totally different from the essential meaning of representing the population. The imperial officials served the emperor, not the civil services. Wu Han’s “A Discussion of a Chinese-styled Parliamentary System” also joined the argument. Wu asserts that the imperial examination system was a Chinese style, but it was never a parliament because the imperial government was maintained by imposing heavy taxes and labor services on peasants. The quota system was only for three large regions, the South, the North, and the middle, which did not represent the demographics in each province. The country was governed by the emperor and oligarchy. Officials who were selected from among successful candidates from the imperial examinations only served the emperor for their own interests. The intense debate indicates scholars’ participation in political issues at that time. While investigating Chinese influence on Western countries, modern Chinese scholars were also curious about the government systems of the Western countries. Some 37 comparative studies or introductions to the political systems of the Western governments were published between 1911 and 1949. Examples are “Appointments of the Civil Service Officials in England”; “The Lesson That We Learned from the Implementation of the Civil Service Examination System in England,” by He Ziheng; “A Comparison of the Civil Service Examinations between Britain and the United States,” by Xie Yuanda; “A Comparison of the Civil Service Systems in England, the United States, and China”; and Ye Xinhua’s several articles on the developments of civil service systems in other countries. Examples of two books on this subject are The British Civil Service Examination System, by Fei Fuxing (1931), and The Civil Service Systems in England and the United States, by Chen Leqiao
(1935). H. E. Dale’s The Higher Civil Service of Great Brain, which was translated by Wang Shixian, was published in 1944. These publications indicate Chinese intellectuals’ search for a new political system that would be suitable for modern China at that time. The modern transformation of imperial examination studies was brought about by American and Chinese scholars researching social mobility in the imperial examination system. Edward Kracke, a sinologist at the University of Chicago, published “Family vs. Merit in Chinese Civil Service Examination under the Empire” in 1947, and Pan Guangdan and Fei Xiaotong published “The Imperial Examinations and Social Mobility,” also in 1947. As a historian, Kracke never spelled out the sociological concept of social mobility, but the concept was well used by Pan and Fei, the first Chinese sociologists educated in the United States. Both studies find social mobility in the imperial examination system. Kracke’s study shows a larger degree of social mobility; he found from the two official jinshi lists of the 1148 and 1256 examinations under the Song dynasty that over half of jinshi were from commoner families within two generations. Pan and Fei found in data from the 915 examination papers of the local and state examinations during the Qing dynasty that 13.33 percent of jinshi were from families that within five generations were commoners. “Social Mobility in China,” published in 1949 by Francis L. K. Hsu, a professor of sociology and anthropology at Northwestern University, shows that there was a considerable degree of vertical social mobility in China and that the vast majority of cases of prominence did not last more than one or two generations. Hsu acknowledges that there is a “rather drastic difference” (p. 771) between his discovery and Karl Wittfogel’s (see entry 53) conclusion that the number of officials from privileged families is impressive, and that Hsu’s evidence and Kracke’s findings reached a similar conclusion. In the ethnographic study “Maternal Influence: A Note” (1949), Carrington Goodrich addresses the question raised by Kracke in his article: “What of the maternal line [of the jinshi degree-holders]?” Goodrich finds that two top-ranked successful candidates, Ma Duo and Li Ji, were both from the same place, Ch’ang-lo in Foochow area, and were linked to the same mother, Huang, who was a concubine of Ma’s family and entered Li’s family later. However, the records about the mother of “these remarkable men” were not traceable. This is evidence that the maternal influence on successful candidates could exist but could not be proven. Because Chinese scholars of the new generation grew up in the imperial examination– dominated traditional society and were educated in modern schools in China or Western countries during this period, they were insiders who could nevertheless view the imperial examination system critically and open up unprecedented research directions with fresh ideas, new knowledge, and new methods. The debate on social mobility generated by Wittfogel, Kracke, Pan, Fei, and others in this period brought international attention to imperial examination studies. With international participation, the second generation scholars were well-trained in the modern disciplines of history, literature, psychology, sociology, education, political science, and economics, and their many high-quality, groundbreaking studies shaped imperial examination studies in the modern era. This period is referred to as “a golden era.”59 1949–1976
In mainland China, the era between the establishment of the People’s Republic of China and the end of China’s Cultural Revolution (1949–1976) is almost a silent period, because of extremely centralized political control by the state ideology. There are only a handful of publications on the subject of the imperial examination system in mainland China from this time period, while studies being done outside of mainland China, in Taiwan, Hong Kong, the United States, Japan, and Korea, were expanding. The debate on social mobility heated up during this period. New studies not only continued the previous focus on the degree of social mobility (large/small) and the direction of the mobility (upward/downward), but also brought in new data, methods, findings, and interpretations. In 1955, a new study, The Chinese Gentry: Studies on Their Role in Nineteenth-Century Chinese Society, was published by Chang Chung-li (Zhang Zhongli), a professor at the University of Washington with a PhD in economics. Change found: “The examination system did indeed make possible a certain ‘equality of opportunity,’ but the advantages were heavily in favor of those who had wealth and influence” (182–183), because the separate grading and quota systems discriminated between officials’ sons/brothers and commoners and there was corruption among the powerful and privileged. Nevertheless, finding that “for the whole nineteenth century 35 per cent belong to the group of newcomers,” Zhang concludes that “the data on ‘newcomers’ show a high and increasing social mobility.”60 Seven years after his first study, Chang published a sequel, The Income of the Chinese Gentry. Unveiling the income sources of the privileged group of Chinese gentry, Chang finds that the imperial examination certified the Chinese gentry, which not only mobilized the group into government offices but also bestowed on them the leadership of local communities. “As a RESULT of their special privileges and position, the gentry received a substantial share of the national income, even though they constituted only about 2 per cent of the population.”61 Chang’s two landmark studies not only continued the dialogue on social mobility, but also opened a new research direction, gentry studies, for imperial examination studies. Kracke published two more studies, Civil Service in Early Sung China 906–1067 (1953) and “Region, Family, and Individual in the Chinese Examination System” in Chinese Thought and Institutions (1957). The first publication is a study of the controlled sponsorship in the Sung dynasty, which was “a principal feature of Sung civil service administration” (viii). He finds that the controlled sponsorship was not nepotism, but rather a legitimate practice “in discovering men of superior character and outstanding talents” and “broadening the opportunity for advancement and raising the morale of the civil service”62 (p. 102). In the second publication, Kracke’s research indicates that social mobility existed in a political situation in which manipulation of political power, competition among social groups, and redistribution of resources were negotiated. Hence, “in the course of centuries of the dominant trend of Chinese opinion has continued for the most part to recognize the need for equal opportunity in the examinations.”63 Another brilliant work, “Aspects of Social Mobility in China, 1368–1911,” published in Comparative Studies in Society and History (1959) by Ho Ping-ti, a professor at the University of British Columbia, joined the heated debate on social mobility. Ho finds a substantial amount of upward social mobility through institutionalized channels, the imperial examination system. Some 44.9 percent of the entire jinshi group in the Ming dynasty were
candidates who came from families that had no holders of degrees or officialdom for the three preceding generations, and more than one-third of candidates were from commoner and nonruling class families in the Qing dynasty. However, Ho does not believe that social elevation was by and large based on individual merit, because other institutional channels were in favor of established families and promoted upward mobility in the Ming and Qing dynasties. Nevertheless, there were no institutionalized means to prevent downward social mobility. Social mobility thus “reached its maximum in the first two hundred years of the Ming period, and began to level off from the late sixteenth century.”64 With these groundbreaking studies, the debate on social mobility in the Chinese imperial examination system became a focal point of the research community. In 1963, The Chinese Civil Service: Career Open to Talent?, edited by Johanna Menzel, collected 13 publications focusing on the most important and essential aspects of the debate—social mobility, recruitment, and talent measurements—which are examined from various perspectives by 10 leading scholars with sometimes conflicting views. Menzel foresees that study of the Chinese examination system “shows promise of fruitful cooperation across disciplinary lines” (xii). This book has been regarded as “the textbook of imperial examination studies.”65 Other English publications that broadened the scope of imperial examination studies are Wolfgang Franke’s The Reform and Abolition of the Traditional Chinese Examination System (1960), Robert Marsh’s two publications (see entries 89 and 90), John H. Winkelman’s book on the imperial academy, and Adam Yuen-chung Lui’s research on the eight-legged essay (1974). The most popular work, Ichisada Miyazaki’s China’s Examination Hell: The Civil Service Examinations of Imperial China (1976), was a high point in imperial examination studies in the United States during this period. Studies of the imperial examination system became static in mainland China after 1949 because the system was regarded as “old trash and poison” by the state ideology and only sporadic research was allowed, to “clean up its poison.”66 However, some publications were allowed. Shang Yanliu’s two books on the Qing examinations and the examinations of Taiping Kingdom were published in 1958 and 1961, largely owing to his title of tanhua (the top third place) in the last palace examination. Xu Daling’s The System of Purchasing Offices by Contributions during the Qing Period 1644–1911, published by the Harvard Yenching Institute Peking Office in 1950, and Yang Liansheng’s “A Discussion of the Travel Expenses for the Imperial Examinations,” which appeared in Qinghua University Journal in 1961, were substantial investigations of new areas. Wei Xiumai’s study of official examiners, published in Taiwan in 1965, explores an interesting and untouched area. Like Shang Yanliu’s work, with first-person experience of the imperial examinations, Jia Jinde and Qi Rushan’s works,67 published in Hong Kong and Taibei in 1956, are invaluable. 1977–2010 This period began after the end of China’s Cultural Revolution. The debate on social mobility in relation to the Chinese imperial examinations among the new generation of scholars inside and outside of China was expanded and absorbed into a range of new studies and moved in
new directions. In his study of the intraregional development, the organization of the government, and social and political behavior of elites between the middle of the Tang dynasty and the Ming dynasty,68 Robert Hartwell, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, finds that the local elite lineages enhanced their economic advantage and upward political and social mobility through marriage alliances and control of the limited slots in the expanded civil service examination system. Hartwell thus challenges Kracke and Ho’s methodology for studying social mobility. Hartwell considers the use of individuals or the nuclear family the wrong unit of analysis. He asserts that the role of the extended family is a more fitting approach because the extended family would include maternal lineages and other relative lineages, which contain not only uncles or brothers but also the yin system for entering the bureaucracy. Robert P. Hymes was Hartwell’s student. In his dissertation, “Prominence and Power in Sung, China: The Local Elite of Fu-Chou, Chiang-Hsi,” Hymes also questions Kracke’s methodology and empirical evidence. Hymes’s study shows that the longevity of the local elite’s prosperity was not a result of upward social mobility, but “a horizontal expansion and internal ramification of the elite social network.”69 Hymes refutes the assumption that social mobility in the imperial examinations is measurable. He finds that eight chin-shih (jinshi) degree-holders from Fu-Chou on the 1148 and 1256 lists of successful candidates, which were used in Kracke’s study, were listed as being of nonofficial family background. Based on his research using local gazetteers and funerary inscriptions, Hymes finds that the eight chin-shih successful candidates all had hidden official connections through maternal families or other social networks. He thinks that Kracke’s study only includes three paternal generations, which might miss the official linkages to maternal families and other connections. As Kracke’s student, John W. Chaffee inevitably inherited his advisor’s knowledge system, but he takes his own stance. In The Thorny Gates of Learning in Sung China: A Social History of Examinations (1985), Chaffee acknowledges that Hartwell’s findings on elite lineages of the Song bureaucracy “demand special consideration.”70 (p. 10), but he challenges Hartwell’s argument that the examinations were “a virtual non-factor in social mobility . . . marriage, not examinations, was the critical criterion for entrance into a socially-defined elite” (p. 11). Chaffee asserts that “the examination system occupied a critical nexus in Sung society” (p. 13). As Chaffee observed, the number of participants in the examinations was a twenty-fold increase, whereas the number of opportunities to be successful in examinations and entering offices shrank. Although some elite families entered the bureaucracy via protection privileges, by taking these political, academic, and marriage strategies into account, it was possible for individuals from humble backgrounds to use success in the examinations for social climbing. Furthermore, neo-Confucianism, which represented the literati’s autonomous authority, the standardization of the government-sponsored school system, the entrance examinations, the innovations of printing examination materials, the development of an examination culture, and local support for the examination system all indicate a shift in political power from the centralized government to localities. As Chaffee concludes, “The examinations were a critical factor in the changes that elite society underwent during the Sung” (p. 187). Also in 1985, Thomas H. C. Lee made a well-argued contribution to the social mobility debate in Government Education and Examinations in Sung China, published in Hong Kong. To Lee, “social mobility is a modern concept and carries implications not necessarily accepted
in the past,” and social justice doesn’t mean “equal opportunities.”71 Although studies by Lee and others found a steady increase in the percentage of prominent people who came from nondistinguished families with a high rate of such a turnover within the examination system and officialdom, they were only “an extremely small range of people” (p. 209). The high degree of mobility in the Sung civil service examinations indicates the instability of officialdom rather than the mobility of Chinese society. The quota system balanced regional development at the expense of free individual competition. Lee thus argues that the Sung government used the examination system as a means of political control to “maintain an elite class by awarding its members with tremendous social honor, prestige and privilege” (p. 230), which further blocked the chances of upward mobility for commoners. Chaffee and Lee’s studies were a turning point in the social mobility debate between the twentieth and twentieth-first centuries. Whereas Chaffee’s study is regarded as the stepping stone for researching social mobility in a broad cultural context,72 Lee’s view represents a realistic interpretation that trims down the idealized flavor of the Western concept “social mobility,” explaining the imperial examination system within the context of traditional Chinese society, which took for granted the hierarchical order of social stratification. The monumental A Cultural History of Civil Examinations in Late Imperial China, published in 2000 by Benjamin A. Elman, a professor at Princeton University, is the first leading publication on Chinese imperial examination studies of the twenty-first century. This showcase of 10 years of research presents a kaleidoscope of the cultural history of the imperial examinations in late imperial China between the Ming and Qing dynasties. Elman argues that the civil examination process “was not a system designed for increased social mobility” because “the educational curriculum and its formidable linguistic requirements effectively eliminated the lower classes from the selection process.”73 However, the cultural impact was prevalent because of the large degree of horizontal social mobility: “[B]y a conservative estimate, one to two million men (two thousand per county with many repeaters), competed in biennial and triennial local examinations during these five hundred years, then the impact such mobilization had on daily life, individual hopes and anxieties, education priorities, and popular culture was widely experienced.”74 Thus, the abolition of the examination system removed “one of [the government’s] key tools of social, political, and cultural influence”; accelerated the demise of the dynasty; and “dismantled the cultural system built around the dynasty” (xxxv). Xiao Gongqin’s “A Cultural Crash in Modern China after the Abolition of the Imperial Examination System” had expressed a similar interpretation in 1996. To Xiao, the bureaucrats were the social elite group that held economic, cultural, and political power and maintained the integration of Chinese society. However, the bureaucratic positions could not be inherited. After several generations passed, officials’ descendants would become commoners, and they had to reenter the elite group through the imperial examination system. The open examination system thus created a constantly self-circulating system for social mobility between the bureaucratic group and commoners. Although there were only a few lucky winners in each examination, others could hope to succeed in the next opportunity, because there was no age limit, and losers’ frustration was self-absorbed in the system. Xiao’s “self-circulating system” coincidently and strikingly reached the same conclusion as Wittfogel’s 1938 article (see entry
53): “the ruling officialdom reproduced itself socially more or less from its own ranks.” In 2006, “The Social Integration Function of the Chinese Imperial Examination System in the Ming and Qing Dynasties: A Perspective of Social Mobility,” by Ji Yingying, a sociology undergraduate student at Beijing University, illustrated the interpretation of horizontal social mobility from Pan and Fei’s study and Elman’s book. Her data were drawn from other studies. Ji finds that most researchers agreed that only a small percentage of successful candidates from the imperial examinations (less than 1 percent) actually climbed up through social mobility, compared to the enormous population in the Ming and Qing dynasties. By drawing existing data from other studies, Ji reveals that, in the family-centered traditional Chinese society, a large number of people were actually involved in the examination system because of their family members’ lifelong participation in the imperial examinations. Therefore, an insignificant degree of social mobility could give people a sense of purpose and value in their lives; control their everyday lives; and generate passion, enthusiasm, and faith for the examination system. Thus, as an amplified opportunity for social mobility, the imperial examination system produced and maintained social integration. In 2007, Zheng Ruoling, a professor from Xiamen University, published A Study on the Relationship between the Imperial Examination and College Entrance Examination in Chinese Society. Using one generation and including shengyuan (the lowest degree of the examination system) in the commoner group, Zheng finds that 46.40 percent of these candidates were from this group. Zheng’s results indicate social mobility similar to that shown in Pan and Fei’s study and Ho’s study. Zheng also researched wives and maternal family backgrounds and found that about 70 percent of these successful candidates’ fathers-in-law and maternal grandfathers were commoners. Zheng concludes that her results prove that successful candidates who were from commoner families did not rely on their wives and maternal families’ help, instead relying on their own efforts for their success. Zheng reaffirms that the imperial examination system was an opportunity for social mobility. Ethnographic research by Hugh R. Clark75 also finds a marriage pattern in the local Fu clan in southern China. The Fu’s marriage strategy was that most wives of several branch groups were concentrated in a few local surnames through their immediate and long-standing social circles instead of being used as a political “strategy” for advancement. The social mobility research has been embraced in many studies by Chinese scholars on both sides of the debate about whether the imperial examination system was “good or bad.” Liu Haifeng, a leading scholar of the new generation, takes a positive view of the examination system. In “To Reverse the Verdict for the Imperial Examination System” (2005) Liu argues that since it functioned as a fair competition system, contributing to social integration in the past, its principle of fairness and the openness of competition for selecting a meritocracy should be valued in today’s society. The system was not bad. What made the imperial examination system dysfunctional was the outdated examination content. The opposite view considers the imperial examination system a social institution designed to produce dictatorship and an overzealous examination culture. The system and culture are still influencing Chinese political and educational systems in a pernicious manner. These conflicting views have changed since the late Qing dynasty. The distinction between these two views is whether or not the system is faulty. From Liang Qichao,76 to Qian Mu,77 to
Liu Haifeng,78 supporters of the imperial examination system blame the examination content, whereas others, such as Wang Yanan,79 Wu Han,80 and He Huaihong,81 consider the entire system faulty. Wu disagrees with the research method that counted the shengyuan group, successful candidates from the district examination, in the commoner group, because the privileges of the successful candidates separated them from commoners. A class activity about the imperial examination system in an introductory Chinese history course was designed and conducted by a history professor at Wheaton College in the United States in 1974. The three-classroom-day activity simulated almost every feature of the Chinese imperial examination system. The activity was considered a success, but the professor noticed that his students became more competitive for the one finalist spot from the same province (dormitory): The students grumbled over the evasiveness of the examiners, possibly preparing the ground for justifying their own failures if they should not be one of the successful candidates. Several attempts were made to curry favor with the examiners and Emperor, through gifts or humble poems of admiration. . . . Some unsuccessful candidates [students] complained about being victimized by incompetent Examiners . . . some felt that their talents had not been recognized . . . these were potential rebels against the system.82
The surprising behavior exhibited by these students seems to implicate a generic and unavoidable flaw in the imperial examination system. While Elman’s research, along with Iona D. Man-cheong’s The Class of 1761: Examinations, State, and Elites in Eighteenth-Century China and Hilde DeWeerdt’s Competition over Content: Negotiating Standards for the Civil Service Examinations in Imperial China (1127–1279) indicate a steady development of Chinese imperial examination studies outside of China, the landscape of research in mainland China has been totally transformed. After China’s Cultural Revolution, studies of the imperial examinations in mainland China thrived because of loosened political control by the state ideology. Chinese scholars have not only continued the debates generated by previous scholars but have also branched out into new research territory. Most publications are developed from dissertations or research projects sponsored by the Chinese government. These publications have emphasized discovering new data, methods, concepts, and theories, filling the gaps in previous research; participating in long-standing debates; deriving new perspectives and interpretations; and tracking the impact of the imperial examination system on current political, social, educational, and cultural aspects of Chinese society. New concepts have emerged from these publications in the areas of keju (examination) society, keju era, keju culture, keju psychology, keju regions, keju views, keju clans, keju population, keju literary genres, keju poetry, keju novels, keju archive studies , keju crimes, and keju studies, reflecting the comprehensive scope and depth linking historical roots to contemporary Chinese society. Only a fraction of the studies can be mentioned here. Guo Peigui’s A Study of the Examinations and Recruitments (2006), He Zhongli’s The Imperial Examination System and Society of the Song Dynasty (2006), Wu Zhengqiang’s The Imperial Examination System Penetrated by Neo-Confucianism: The Integration between the Imperial Governance and Its People in the Song through Ming Dynasties (2008), and Xiao Qiqing’s The Ethnic Culture
and the Imperial Examinations in the Yuan Dynasty (2008), published in Taiwan, are examples of in-depth investigations of the dynastic imperial examination system. He Huaihong’s The Imperial Selection Society and Its End: A Sociological Explanation of Chinese History from Qin-Han Dynasties to the Late Qing Dynasty (1998) and Qian Maowei’s The State, the Imperial Examination System, and the Society: An Investigation Focused on the Ming Dynasty (2004) represent studies that construct new concepts, perspectives, and interpretations in political and social theoretical frames. In addition to Chaffee and Lee’s books, examples of studies of education in relation to the imperial examinations are Liu Haifeng’s Education and the System of the Civil Examinations and Recruitments in the Tang Dynasty and Wu Ni, Hu Yan, and Wang Bingzhao’s Chinese Private Schools in the Chinese Empire and Modern Periods. Contemporary scholars are more interested in the influence of the imperial examination system on Chinese society. Examples are Julia C. Strauss’s “Symbol and Reflection of the Reconstituting State: The Examination Yuan in the 1930s,” Feng Yuan’s From the Imperial Examination to the National College Entrance Examination: The Dynamics of Political Centralism in China’s Education Enterprise, Ruth E. S. Hayhoe’s “China’s Higher Curricular Reform in Historical Perspective,” and Zheng Ruoling’s A Study on the Relationship between the Imperial Examination and College Entrance Examination in Chinese Society. New studies on the literary aspect of the imperial examinations have expanded into the fields of language and literature. An interesting paper, “A Background of Northern and Southern Dialects and the Change of the Imperial Examination System in the Tang and Song Dynasties” by Hirata Shoji, a Japanese scholar, probes how the disparity of linguistic phonics between the northern and southern dialects of Chinese affected the changes in the imperial examinations during the Tang and Song dynasties. A Discussion on the Eight-legged Essay and the Literature in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, by Huang Qiang, a further study of the eight-legged essay, develops two prototypes to categorize the essay: “spirit-focused eightlegged essay” and “examination-focused eight-legged essay.” The Imperial Examinations and Art of Poetry: The Literature and Literati in the Song Dynasty, by Takatsu Takashi, a Japanese professor, is a beautiful study of Song literature in relation to the imperial examinations. Gao Feng’s Gentleness and Sadness: The Imperial Examinations and Women and Zheng Xiaoxia’s A Study of Keju Poems (the Examination Poems) in the Tang Dynasty focus on capturing examinees’ lives and emotions from classic Chinese literature. The study of Chinese influence on the civil service examination systems of Western countries continues. Liu Haifeng found about 50 publications outside China between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries about the Chinese imperial examination system. Ren Shuang and Shi Qinghuai’s The Imperial Examination System and the Civil Service System: A Comparative Study of the Bureaucratic Politics between China and Western Countries is a step further in the debate about Chinese influence. It presents a comparative study of the Chinese imperial examination system and civil service systems in England, Germany, France, and the United States. These authors agree that Western civil service systems originated from the Chinese imperial examination system, and they were also the product of political parties. The differences between the Chinese system and the Western systems are that the Chinese imperial examination system was developed from the centralized power of the state to support
the absolute power of imperial governance, whereas the Western modern civil service systems emerged from the pluralized political and social structures. The imperial government was fully in charge of recruitment for their political control of the state, whereas the Western systems separated the administrative management from the political power of decision making.83 A number of researchers study the large group of examinees who spent their lives taking the examinations at local levels. Examples are Li Hongqi’s article “Juren in the Song Dynasty” and Chen Baoliang’s A Study of Shengyuan in Relation to Schools, the Imperial Examinations System, and the Society in the Ming Dynasty. Huang Yunhe’s “Begging While Traveling: A Lifestyle of the Examinees of the Tang Imperial Examinations” and Liu Liqin’s Lives of Examinees of the Imperial Examinations in the Tang Dynasty unveil ordinary examinee’s lives. Man-Keung Siu and Alexei Volkov’s articles “Official Curriculum in Traditional Chinese Mathematics: How Did Candidates Pass the Examinations?” and “How Did Candidates Pass the State Examination in Mathematics in the Tang Dynasty (618–917)?—Myth of the ‘Confucian-Heritage-Culture’ Classroom” explicate a connection between mathematics and the imperial examinations. Many researchers focus on the reforms of and the end of the imperial examination system. Examples are Luo Zhitian’s “Social Influences Brought by the Reforms of the Imperial Examination System in the Qing Dynasty”; Yang Qifu’s The Imperial Examination System and Modern Culture, focusing on the reforms of the late Qing dynasty; Xiao Gongqin’s “A Cultural Crash in Modern China after the Abolition of the Imperial Examination System”; and Ji Yingying’s “The Social Integration Function of the Chinese Imperial Examination System in the Ming and Qing Dynasties: A Perspective of Social Mobility.” There is no shortage of studies about clans and gentry. Hugh R. Clark’s “The Fu of Minnan: A Local Clan in Late Tang and Song China (9th–13th Centuries),” Zhang Jie’s The Prominent Clans of Chinese Civil Service Examination in Qing Dynasty, Zhu Kaiyu’s Examination Society, Regional Order and the Development of the Lineage Organizations: The Huizhou in the Period between the Sung and Ming Dynasties, 1100–1644, Xu Maoming’s The Gentry and Society in the Jiangnan Region in the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368–1911), and Wang Xianming’s Gentry in Modern China: The Destiny of the Social Group are good examples of meticulous investigations of clan/gentry and regional development, continuing the research branches established six decades ago. Shen Dengmiao’s article “The Regional Distribution of the Jinshi Title-holders in the Different Time Periods of the Ming and Qing Dynasties” confirms that the achievers were concentrated in the examination-advanced regions by finding that the ratio of jinshi title-holders between the developed areas and the remaining regions during the period of the Ming and Qing dynasties is very high, 22:1. Shen also finds that advanced regions did not produce distinguishably successful figures immediately after their economic and cultural prosperity. Rather, it usually took a hundred years after the peak of the regional educational success for the region to produce achievers . The imperial military examination has also received research attention, and quality works have been produced, although the number of studies cannot match the number on the civil service examination. Xu Yougen’s A History of the Military Examination System not only outlines the history but also has pictures of weapons used in the military examinations. Zhao
Dongmei’s A Baffled Journey: The History of the Imperial Military Examination and Schools and The Martial Envoys between the Civil Service Officials and Military Officials in the Northern Song Dynasty are significant studies and interesting presentations of how the complex military examination system worked in the bureaucratic system. Ho Fong-lei’s thesis, “A Study of the Imperial Military Examination System during the Reign of the Empress Wu, 690–704,” and Dai Weiqian’s book, An Exploration on Chinese Imperial Military Examinations and Martial Arts, are solid studies in their own right. Chinese imperial examination studies could not be completed without reference tools. Pertinent examples include Dictionary of the Imperial Examinations, A Dictionary of Chinese Examinations, The Chronology of the Imperial Examinations and Literature in the Ming Dynasty, A Collection of Selected Papers of Studies on the Civil Service Examination in the Twentieth Century, and The Dictionary of Military Culture in Chinese Empire from Ancient Times to the Qing Dynasty. More reference books will be published in the Series of Organizing and Research of Documents and Literature on the Civil Service Examination by Wuhan University Press, which has an ambitious agenda. In the 1960s an American scholar remarked that research on the Chinese examination system “shows promise of fruitful cooperation across disciplinary lines.”84 However, the concept of imperial examination studies was not formally proposed until the 1990s. Liu Haifeng, a prolific and refined Chinese scholar of the new generation, recognized the new and old discipline as “Chinese imperial examination studies” in an article in 1992. Thirteen years later, in 2005, Liu developed his proposal into a book, An Introduction to Imperial Examination Studies, which is a full presentation of the interdisciplinary studies of the Chinese imperial examinations. In it Liu validates the interdisciplinary nature of the field. He thinks that the discipline of the imperial examination studies is not only a knowledge system but also a system of theories. As Liu indicates, this discipline has been “a natural progress, not an artificially manufactured product.”85 Owing to its long history, research attention, and fruitful studies, imperial examination studies have been conducted by scholars around the world.
THE ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY What is an annotated bibliography? The two words, annotated bibliography, were not listed together in reference books of library and information science until the twenty-first century. In the 73-volume Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science (1968), the separate entries annotation and bibliography are well defined: “Annotation is a succinct explanation or description of a particular item, usually a book. Its purpose is to guide the reader to material worth his time, to warn him of works better left to gather dust.”86 Initially referring to marginal notations in medieval time, annotation has evolved “as equated with evaluation or criticism led away from the catalog card case and bibliography to another area of the library. Here, the purpose is no longer to simply indicate or explain, but to lead the reader. It is related to selection, reviews, and the so-called ‘best’ lists.”87 “Bibliography is about books. . . .
Everything which is a part of the book considered as a book is the concern of bibliography.”88 The combined term appears in The Dictionary for Library and Information Science (2004), with the definition broken down into two parts: “a bibliography in which a brief explanatory or evaluative note is added to each reference or citation. An annotation can be helpful to the researcher in evaluating whether the source is relevant to a given topic or line of inquiry” (p. 30). Libraries and librarians have been involved in bibliographic activities from very early times. Bibliographic work is not only descriptive, but also critical. As Stokes commented, “Unless the librarian is to be no more than an uninvolved storekeeper in a massive repository —and there are those who would urge this upon him—then he will need competency in two separate but contiguous areas. In certain specialized conditions he may render his major service as an authority of some standing with a subject field and so act as an interpreter and elucidator of that field . . . which will provide his raison d’être. The basis of all librarianship is bibliographic.”89 For these reasons, an annotated bibliography is an ideal form for executing all activities of bibliographic work, including selection, description, elucidation, reviewing, and critique. However, there are specific reasons for using this genre for this book. A Chinese historian said that “if we ask Chinese historians or any Western sinologists this question: which system had the most far-reaching impact on China? I believe that most people’s answer would be the imperial examination system.”90 It would be impossible for one to understand China without knowing the imperial examination system. In addition to copious primary sources, the universe of Chinese imperial examination studies is huge. To make these sources known to prospective readers is the primary purpose of this book. Users may be college students, faculty, or any other readers who are interested in learning, teaching, or doing research on the Chinese imperial examination system, Chinese history, Chinese governmental systems, education, culture, literature, ideology, and current social issues because of the connection between the imperial examination system and China’s past, present, and future. Why is a annotated bibliography used in the digital age, when online databases offer easy access to massive collections for individual researchers? A researcher can also track down sources in footnotes and bibliographies.91 There are two main reasons. First, imperial examination studies have developed into a large interdisciplinary research community with a complexity that involves a whole range of disciplines, including history, political science, sociology, education, psychology, culture, literature, linguistics, anthropology, philosophy, religion, mathematics, economics, and archive studies. The discipline of imperial examination studies has not only its own knowledge system and theories, but also its research methods, including quantitative, qualitative, ethnographic research, content analysis, and secondary analysis. By selecting and presenting a variety of significant publications, this annotated bibliography provides quick access to essential literature and the core collection of imperial examinations studies, especially for undergraduate students. Second, the majority of the publications annotated in this bibliography are written in Chinese. In previous times, scholars could depend on translated materials to create their masterpieces, as Max Weber, Wittfogel, Kracke, and many others did. However, the imperial examination studies have reached disciplinary maturity and generated debates with new data and new studies by more scholars, especially the large number of Chinese scholars in the new
generation who have emerged over the last four decades. Like the rapid growth rate of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in China, the new wave of imperial studies is rising high with the soaring number of Chinese publications. The keyword search keju in the largest digital collection of periodicals and theses/dissertations in China, the Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI) (http://www.cnki.net) yielded more than 1,600 results in 2011 alone. Most of these publications are not indexed in the English-dominated databases. Making these Chinese publications known to the English research community and prospective readers is a good reason for publishing this annotated bibliography. Furthermore, the research tradition, that is, the study of social mobility, which was mainly established in the United States, is evolving. Although the Chinese research community is well aware of this research tradition, most footnotes in the publications listed in this annotated bibliography show that most Chinese scholars depend on translated materials for their research because the required foreign language curriculum for humanities in China is usually an East Asian language such as Japanese. This annotated bibliography covers not only landmark studies written in English but also English publications that Chinese scholars may be unaware of. Thus, this book could be consulted as a list of English sources that need to be translated into Chinese. This annotated bibliography surveys 214 publications of imperial examination studies, including 130 books, 80 articles, 3 theses, and 1 dissertation. The selection process was a combination of searching online databases, which is good for initially comprehensive research, and tracking footnotes and bibliographies to find significant and unique studies mentioned in other publications. The major online databases consulted were WorldCat and JSTOR, which provide stream-lined online searching, interlibrary loan service, and access to articles available in full text. In addition, the annotated bibliography collects many historical articles from the Digital Collection of Dacheng Laojiu Periodicals (http://www.dachengdata.com/tuijian/showTuijianList.action?type=1), which provides fulltext access to over 1,500,000 articles from more than 6,000 Chinese periodicals published between 1840 and 1949. Each publication is selected, read, examined, and compared based on its accessibility, originality, research quality, and relation to other studies. Although the 214 publications comprise only a fraction of the imperial examination studies, with a variety of subjects and research quality, this bibliography represents a considerable depth and scope of the development of imperial examination studies. Each entry begins with publication information, followed by a brief physical description. A short description of the content follows. The annotations for some items run longer because of the complicity of the subjects covered in that source. Because most of the items are books, to make the description as concise as possible, an attempt has been made to drill the main theme out of a large book by focusing on the relationship between a particular item and other publications. For example, the relevance of and contribution to a major debate of a complex book are mostly highlighted rather than the other subjects covered in a book, which are only briefly mentioned. Of 214 publications, 155 are in Chinese and 59 are in English. The major task for this annotated bibliography was translation. The greatest challenge was to translate a huge number of Chinese materials into English in an authentic and accurate way without losing the elegant style of the original texts. When translating Thomas Henry Huxley’s Evolution and Ethics and
Other Essays into Chinese in 1897, Yan Fu (1854–1921), a well-known Chinese scholar, summarized the three greatest challenges for producing high-quality translations: authenticity xin, accuracy da, and elegance ya.92 Translating Chinese, especially classical Chinese, into other languages is a tedious task. Two Korean scholars fully explicate such a challenge:93 CONSISTENCY IN THE translation of terms, always a desirable goal, is difficult when applied to Chinese philosophical concepts which are often so broad and flexible in meaning as to justify diverse renderings in different contexts. One cannot say that each concept should have but one English equivalent, nor can we impose uniformity of usage upon scholars whose translations may be quite consciously intended to bring out nuances neglected by others. This is all the more true in the study of Neo-Confucianism, a neoclassical movement which used old terms in new ways and appropriated for its purposes concepts borrowed from other teachings.
This is true of translating various publications in imperial examination studies. It is also very common for a Chinese term to be translated differently by different authors at different time periods. For example, was translated as “the standard essay of examinations” between the late nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries, and later many authors adopted the rendition, “the eight-legged essay.” Hanlin is translated as the Imperial Academy by most scholars, but there are alternatives, including “Imperial Library” and “the Hanlin Academy.” When translating Chinese texts into English for this annotated bibliography, an effort was made to adopt the established and frequently used translations of Chinese terms. Sometimes the translation has to be justified with the pattern of language norms. For example, for , the literal meaning of the Chinese characters describes a situation in which “someone writes so fast, that his brush pen seems like flying.” The English translation is (see entry 45) modified “passed with flying colors,” so that the English translation can be delivered in a way that English readers can understand without losing the essence of the original text. Because the interdisciplinary studies come predominantly from the social sciences, another technique of translation in this book is to use disciplinary concepts to connote the disciplinary identities. For example, if it is a study with an anthropological perspective, the anthropological concept “lineage organizations” is used for the translation, even though the Chinese characters could have other meanings. By the same token, the concepts of social mobility, social stratification, social integration, etc., all apply to sociological studies. Thus, disciplinary studies can contribute their interdisciplinary perspectives without losing their identities. All Chinese translations in this book were made by the annotator, who is responsible for all errors. One of the challenges for consistency is the use of Romanization systems. Most English publications prior to the twenty-first century used the Wade-Giles system, whereas contemporary publications use the Pinyin system. A Chinese term is translated into different letters in the two systems. For example, the title of successful candidates from the palace examination in the Wade-Giles system is chin-shih; in the Pinyin system it is jinshi. The problem also occurs with authors’ names. For example, “Chang” in Wade-Giles is spelled “Zhang” in the Pinyin system. This annotated bibliography follows the Romanization systems used in the various publications being described, but mainly uses the Pinyin system in the narrative section, such as the introduction. The 214 publications are presented in five chapters in a historical and chronological order for readers to easily identify the trends, debates, and development of the imperial examination studies. Chapter 1 presents 28 publications from the period 605–1911. Chapter 2 covers 49
publications between the end of the Chinese empire and the beginning of the People’s Republic of China (1912–1949). Chapter 3 introduces 26 publications produced between 1950 and 1976. Chapter 4 covers 103 new imperial examination studies published between 1977 and 2010, and chapter 5 presents 8 publications on the imperial military examinations. Chapter 4 should include books published after 2010 and more groundbreaking studies published as journal articles. However, because of lack of accessibility and time, these could not be presented in this volume. It is said that “the ability to write a good annotation requires considerable practice,” and there is no doubt that writing this annotated bibliography has been a great deal of practice. Annotators are also advised that “[v]erbosity is the major sin; brevity and clarity the goal. There should be a bit of excitement and not a futile expenditure of dead verbs.”94 It is doubtful that this sin can be totally avoided, but there is certainly “a bit of excitement” in this book. Hopefully, with that bit of excitement, this annotated bibliography, which is only the tip of the iceberg of imperial examination studies, will trigger readers’ interest and further inquiries.
NOTES 1. Entry 178, p. 337. 2. Entry 38. 3. In this book, imperial civil service examinations and imperial examinations are used interchangeably, even though the imperial examination system included the imperial military examinations. 4. Cihai (Chinese Dictionary), rev. ed. (1869; reprint, Shanghai: Shanghai Dictionary Publisher, 1979). 5. Liu Haifeng and Li Bing, Learning for Entering Officialdom: Education and the Imperial Examinations (Changchun: Changchun Publisher, 2004), 8. 6. Entries 46 and 52. 7. Entries 42 and 55. 8. Entry 2, p. 4. 9. Liu and Li, Learning for Entering Officialdom, 8. 10. Ibid., 135. 11. Entry 204, p. 28. 12. Entry 155. 13. Entry 22, p. 22. 14. Entries 22 and 43. 15. Entry 121, p. 199. 16. Entry 191, p. 26–47. 17. Cold weapons are archery, swords, or battle axes, versus firearms, which are “hot weapons.” 18. This section is based on publications by Huang, Guangliang, Xu, Yougen, and Ho, FongLei. See entries 207, 209, and 213. 19. The seven classic military books are The Art of War, Sima’s Principles, ,
Weiliaozi, Six Strategies, Wuzi, , Three Strategies, and Tangli Duiwen. See entry 210, p.18. 20. Xu Song. “The History of the State System in the Song Dynasty” in the Complete Book of the Four Classifications (ShanghaiShanghai Archive Publisher, 1995), 7: 303. 21. This section is based on Zhao Dongmei’s publication. See entry 210. 22. See entry 209, pp. 94–95, quoted in Liu, Jingzao, Qingchao XuWenxian Tongkao , volume 88, The Recruiting system 5. 23. Entry 16, p. 76. 24. Liu Haifeng, “The Imperial Examination System—the Fifth Great Invention of China,” in The Chinese Examination Culture (Shenyang: Liaoning Education Publisher, 2011), 408–415. 25. Entries 60 and 70. 26. Entry 146, p. xxix. 27. Entry 111, p. 11. 28. Entry 111, p. 5. 29. Entry 204, p. 9. 30. Entry 136. 31. Entry 47. 32. Entry 15, p. 82. 33. Entry 56, p. 543. 34. Entry 66. 35. Liu, Chinese Examination Culture, 352–363. 36. This section is based on Liu, Chinese Examination Culture, 365–376. 37. Entry 137, pp. 277–279. 38. Entry 56. 39. Entry 59, p. 541. 40. Entry 59, p. 544. 41. Entry 61, p. 267. 42. Entry 28, p. 79. 43. Entry 136. 44. Entry 130, p. 213. 45. Entry 193. 46. Entry 194, p. 169. 47. Entry 130, p. 234. 48. Entry 131, p. 2. 49. Entry 116, p. 209. 50. Entry 132. 51. Entry 193, p. 304. 52. Entry 189, chs. 5–7. 53. Entry 189, p 309. 54. Entry 26, p. 62. 55. Entry 50, p. 387. 56. Liu Haifeng, The Imperial Examination Culture (Shenyang: Liaoning Education
Publisher, 2011), 462. 57. Entry 50, preface. 58. Entry 50 and 55. 59. Liu Haifeng, The Imperial Examination System and the Imperial Examination Studies (Guizhou: Guizhou Publisher, 2004), 246. 60. Entry 81, pp. 214 and 219. 61. Entry 94, p. 332. 62. Entry 80, p. 102. 63. Entry 84, p. 268. 64. Entry 86, p. 359. 65. Entry 178, p. 61. 66. Entry 204, p. 4. 67. Entries 82 and 83. 68. Entry 108. 69. Entry 108, p. 189. 70. Entry 109, p. 10. 71. Entry 110, p. 209. 72. Entry 188, p. 14. 73. Entry 146, pp. xxix and xxxv. 74. Entry 146, p. xxvii. 75. Entry 134. 76. Entries 21 and 22. 77. Entry 79. 78. Liu, Imperial Examination Culture, 15–28. 79. Entry 60. 80. Entries 70 and 93. 81. Entry 141. 82. Entry 102, p. 35. 83. Entry 150. 84. Entry 95, p. xii. 85. Entry 178, p. 464. 86. Allen Kent and Harold Lancour, Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science (New York: Marcel Dekker Inc., 1968), 1:424. 87. Ibid., 462. 88. Ibid., 2: 407. 89. Ibid., 419. 90. Liu, Chinese Examination Culture, 459. 91. Stephen K. Stoan, “Research and Library Skills: An Analysis and Interpretation,” College & Research Libraries 45, no. 2 (1984): 99–108. 92. Huxley, Thomas Henry, Evolution and Ethics and other Essays, trans. Yan Fu (Zhengzhou: Zhongzhou Guji Press, 1998), 26. 93. Entry 111, explanatory note. 94. Kent and Lancour, Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, 1:428.
1 Publications between 605 and 1911
From the time the first jinshi examination was offered during the Sui dynasty in 605, the imperial examinations system was used as a political system to recruit government officials for 1,300 years, until it was abolished in 1905. Six years later, in 1911, the Chinese empire was overthrown. A large number of publications from and about the imperial examinations were produced during this period. They are imperial documents, official dynastic histories, private publications, literary works, gazettes, genealogies, stelae, etc. Although countless materials were lost or destroyed over time, a large number of historical archives and classics have been rediscovered, preserved, and restored. Many materials have recently been reprinted and compiled into collections in China. Chapter 1 introduces 28 publications from the period 605– 1911: 19 books and 9 articles. The seventeen written in classical Chinese, providing only a taste of the enormous collection, are the most important works of and about the imperial examinations. Reading classical Chinese without punctuations would be a tedious task for untrained readers. Chapter 1 also includes 11 English publications, a small portion of the nonChinese publications written by travelers, missionaries, scholars, diplomats, journalists, and merchants from around the world who witnessed the examination system in the nineteenth century. These English publications recorded valuable details and provocative views about the Chinese imperial examination system from firsthand experiences. 1. Du You. Tong Dian (The Encyclopedia of the State Systems). Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company, 1988. Book; 5 v.; 5,646 p.; 21 cm.; classical Chinese; ISBN: 7101002587 Du You (734–812) was a prominent historian and minister of the Tang government. He spent 30 years completing this encyclopedic work. Since he turned it over to the imperial court in 801, this book is one of the most important sources on the systems of economy, government, law, criminal justice, and defense in Chinese society from ancient times to the latter part of Emperor Xuanzong’s reign (712–755). The book includes 200 volumes in nine categories. The
system of recruiting (government officials) is listed after the economic system, which reflects Du’s political view of public administration. He considered the most important aspects of a society to be the economic system, the recruiting system, and the government political system. The recruiting system category includes six volumes (volumes 13–18). Volume 13 describes the recruiting system in the Zhou, Qin, and Han dynasties (1027 BC–AD 9). Volume 14 presents the recruiting system from the Wei to Sui dynasties (220–617). Volume 15 focuses on the Tang dynasty. The last three volumes of the recruiting system section present important comments and critiques about the recruiting system. Du’s work is the first encyclopedic work that recorded history across the dynasties, and it presents the origin and development of various systems in Chinese society. The reprint is punctuated and compiled based on eight other archive editions stored in Beijing, Korea, and Japan. The corrections, changes, and additions are documented at the end of each volume. The reprint provides easy access to this treasure for modern readers. 2. Wang Dingbao. Collected Statements. Shanghai: Shanghai Classics Publisher, 1978. Book; 184 p.; 19 cm; classical Chinese This book by Wang Dingbao (870–ca. 954), who received his jinshi title in 900, contains detailed descriptions of the Tang imperial examinations, including examination procedures, literary trends, anecdotes about the famous poets and scholars who were linked to the Tang imperial examinations, and missing lines from eminent poets’ works. This book is divided into 15 volumes. Each volume includes different headings followed by Wang’s narratives and comments. There are 105 sections in the fifteen volumes. The first three volumes describe the Tang examination system; the rest present interesting stories about these well-known figures. For example, in volume 1, Wang has three sections about the jinshi titles and title-holders. He relates that Emperor Tang Taizong (who was in power between 599 and 649) commented after seeing an array of new jinshi title-holders walking in line in the palace: “All heroes entered my bowshot,” which means that all meritocrats came to serve him (p. 3). Wang also points out that the jinshi examination curriculum was started during the period of the Sui (605–617) and developed between 627 and 655 in the Tang. High-ranking officials who did not earn the jinshi title were not considered to be as prestigious as those who had acquired jinshi titles in the examinations. The jinshi examination was the most difficult curriculum, because a 30-year-old mingjing candidate could be considered old, whereas a jinshi title-holder in his fifties was perceived as a young achiever (p. 4). This book is the earliest writing about the imperial examination system. Wang’s comments are most quoted texts by other publications thereafter. 3. Wang Yunwu, ed. The Imperial Examinations in Dynasties. Changsha: Shangwu Publisher, 1937. Book; 56 p.; 17 cm; classical Chinese This is a collection of historical publications on various subjects about the imperial examination system, which includes six essays written during the Song, Ming, and Qing dynasties. The first ten-page essay, “The Imperial Recruiting and Examination Systems from the Zhou to the Ming Dynasties,” was written by Feng Mengzhen (1546–1605), a well-known
scholar in the Ming dynasty. Feng obtained his jinshi title in 1577. In this essay Feng describes a wide range of aspects of the examination system, including the procedures, regulations, examinations subjects, and events, from the Zhou to the Ming dynasties. The second essay, “The Military Examinations in Dynasties,” was written by Tan Jicong (1623–1679), a scholar in the Qing dynasty. Tan begins his essay with a recitation of how meritorious men were recruited to serve emperors in the oldest publications, The Poetry Classics (Shijing) and The Rites (Liji) . Tan describes the development of military examinations in the Han, Tang, and all the way to the early Qing. Tan provides essential information about methods, events, and procedures of the military examinations for each dynastic period in this five-page essay. The third essay, “A Brief Introduction of the Imperial Recruiting and Examination Systems from the Zhou to the Song,” was written by Chen Pengnian (961–1017), who received his jinshi title in 985. He was an official of the imperial government and a scholar of Chinese phonetics in the Song dynasty. The four-page essay outlines important and interesting details of the imperial examinations and recruitment systems during the time prior to and during the Song dynasty. Chen describes an incident in which an examinee was punished by forcing him to drink his ink because of his bad calligraphy during an examination in the Northern Qi dynasty. The fourth essay, “Procedures and Rules of the Imperial Examinations,” written by Lu Shen (1477–1544), a well-known writer and artist in the Ming dynasty, records information on examination officials, sealed test materials, methods for locking examination facilities, and quotas for the southern and northern regions between 1368 and 1566. Lu also comments about these procedures and rules in this essay. The fifth essay, “Origins and Meanings of the Terminologies of the Imperial Examinations,” was written by Dong Qichang (1555–1636). Dong was entitled as a jinshi in 1589. He was also a famous calligrapher and artist in the Ming dynasty. In this eight-page essay, Dong collects 38 terms related to the imperial examinations, ordered by the time sequence of an examination process, with the source and explanation provided under each entry. The last essay, “The Palace Ceremony of the Imperial Examination in 1667,” is a memoir written by Miao Tong (1627–1697), who was the top winner of the imperial examination in 1667. With excitement, Miao narrates a series of activities, from his palace examinations to the ceremonies in which he received his highest honor and appointment, between February 9 and May 26, 1667 (in the Chinese lunar calendar). The central event was the palace ceremony. He vividly describes the rituals, feasts, awards, and a meeting with the emperor. This essay is full of first-person experience and interesting details. 4. Wen Qingge, ed. An Anthology of the Imperial Examinations in the Dynasties. Beijing: Yanshan Publisher, 2006. Book; 10 v.; 2,290 p.; 27 cm; classical Chinese; ISBN: 7540205350 This is a ten-volume collection of photographic prints, which contains 30 publications about the imperial examinations by eminent scholars and historians in the Tang, Song, Ming, and Qing dynasties, as well as the Republic of China. A number of these publications are imperial government documents, such as regulations, procedures, and policies about education and school systems issued by governments. Other publications are official lists of honor rolls of
successful candidates, anecdotes about the examinations, the grading notes for the palace examinations in 1849, and memoirs and diaries of private individuals. 5. Ma Duanlin. The Encyclopedia of the Dynastic Laws and Regimen from Ancient Times to the Song Dynasty. Beijing: Shangwu Press, 1935; reprint, Beijing: Zhonghua Publisher, 2006. Book; 2 v.; 2,764 p.; 21 cm; classical Chinese; ISBN: 7101008658 Ma Duanlin (1254–1323) was an eminent historian in the Yuan and Song dynasties. He spent 22 years on this encyclopedic work, which was completed in 1307. This is one of the most important reference sources for Chinese historians, because it covers laws and state systems from ancient times to the middle of the Song dynasty (1212). Ma’s work is an expansion of Du You’s Tongdian , an encyclopedic work that covers ancient times to the Tang dynasty (see entry 1). The portion of this work that is about the period after the middle of the Tang dynasty is Ma’s creation. There are 348 volumes in this book, which are divided by 24 categories, including lands, currency, households, systems of selecting and recruiting officials , bureaucratic systems, the military system, schools, religious ceremonies, etc. The systems of selecting and recruiting officials are recorded in 11 volumes, which illustrate how the candidates were selected (recommended by local officials), the civil service examination system, the military examination system, the recruiting examination system, and other recruiting systems from the Zhou to the Song dynasties. The other categories related to the examination system are presented in six volumes about “Schools” and twenty volumes on “Bureaucratic Systems.” 6. Shen Defu. Wanli Yehuo Bian . Beijing: Yanshan Publisher,1998. Book; 146 p.; 19 cm; classical Chinese; ISBN: 7540211687 Shen Defu (1578–1642) was a juren, the title given to successful candidates from the provincial examination in 1618; a writer; and a scholar of Chinese drama in the Ming dynasty. This book is a collection of Shen’s personal essays, covering a wide range of subjects, including dynastic regimes, bureaucratic systems, official rituals, customs, toys, plays, poems, geographies, etc. This reprint includes 30 volumes edited by Qian Fang, a scholar in the Qing dynasty. The four supplemental volumes were compiled by Shen Zhen, who was Shen Defu’s descendant in the Qing dynasty. Volume 14 provides descriptions of examination procedures and the examination officials. Volumes 15 and 16 record a variety of laws, procedures, events, and anecdotes about the imperial examinations. Several anecdotes are about fire and flooding that occurred during the state examinations and how the examinees fled. Because this book is a private publication, it offers rich, interesting, and detailed information about the imperial examinations not found in the official history books. 7. Su’erne et al., eds. The Book for Administrations of Education. Taibei: Wen-hai Press, 1968. Book; 2 v.; 1,626 p.; 20 cm; classical Chinese In 1773 Su’erne, prime minister of the Rite Board, and his staff followed Emperor Qianlong’s order to classify imperial edicts and revise governmental documents into a comprehensive and authoritative source for the school administration. This administration was
in charge of the local school systems and the imperial examinations in every province under the Qing dynasty. Because only students from the government schools could be qualified as candidates for taking the imperial examinations, this book is also an important source of information on the imperial examination administration. It was completed in 1774 and included 80 volumes on policies and regulations, textbooks, printing houses, administrations, procedures and rules of examinations, grading, grading officials, student stipends, student quotas, and rituals. 8. Xu Song. The Honor Roles of the Successful Candidates and the Chronology of the Imperial Examinations. Beijing: Zhonghua Publisher, 1984. Book; 3 v.; 1,231 p.; 21 cm; classical Chinese; ISBN: 7101011004 Lists of the successful candidates could be published by either imperial governments or private individuals. These lists are important primary sources for biographical information about these candidates. Prior to the middle of the Tang dynasty, such lists were mostly produced by private individuals. In preparing for this book, Xu Song (1781–1848), a scholar in the Qing dynasty, researched two biographies that existed in his time but were later lost, other voluminous local histories, and essays. Xu’s book provides the lists of successful candidates and important events in the Tang dynasty and Five Dynasties between 618 and 960. There are 30 volumes in this book. The first 24 record the lists of successful candidates in the Tang period. Volumes 25 and 26 cover the lists of successful candidates during the Five Dynasties. Volume 27 contains the biographies of graduates that had no dates. Volumes 28, 29, and 30 are supplemental volumes containing archives of the Tang dynasty. This book also includes essays and poetry written by successful candidates and Xu’s comments on important examination events. The 1984 reprint is punctuated and edited by Zhao Shouyan, who also wrote the preface to this book. 9. Zhang Siqi. The Eight Critiques of the Eight-legged Essays. Wuhan: Wuhan University Press, 2009. Book; 906 p.; 27 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 9787307070646 Zhang Siqi is a professor of comparative literature at Wuhan University. This book presents eight critiques by eminent authors in the Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties about the eight-legged essay, a standard examination of the imperial examinations in the Ming and Qing dynasties. The three critiques by Yuan authors are Chen Duozeng’s “Discourse of Writing,” Ni Shiyi’s “Writing Principles,” and Wang Chongyun’s “Explication of Sangshu .”Although the eightlegged essay was originally a 10-part essay in the Yuan dynasty, these three critiques were written strictly for the examinees to comprehend writing techniques. The two critiques from the Ming dynasty were authored by Li Zhi, a prominent Ming philosopher, and Huang Zongyi, a well-known Ming historian and writer. Li used the eight-legged essays to present his unique opinion of the imperial examinations and the classics of Confucianism. Huang’s work was an edited book that collected more than 4,300 articles by some 1,000 authors. One-quarter of these articles were about the imperial examination system and the eight-legged essay. The three critiques written during the Qing dynasty are Gu Yanwu’s notes of readings and encyclopedic work, Rizhilu ; WangFuzhi’s “Xitang Yongri Xulun ,” a discussion about the Confucian
canons and the eight-legged essay, and Liu Xizai’s An Overview of the Confucian Cannons and The Eight-legged Essay for Examinations , which explicated the fundamentals for writing the eight-legged essay. Professor Zhang’s expertise does not stop at the selection and punctuation of these eight authors’ works. His 61 pages of introduction outline social, cultural, and literary history from the Yuan to the Qing dynasties, summarize each critique, and provide a biography of each author; these are also valuable resources for readers for understanding the eight critiques. 10. Ye Bao. The Art of Poetry for Examinations. HuiduZhai, 1789; reprint, Shanghai: Shanghai Classics Publisher, 2002. Book; 63 p.; 27 cm; classical Chinese Poetry was an examination curriculum in the imperial civil service examinations during the Qing dynasty. Since this six-volume book by Ye Bao (1759–1821) employs the methods of the eight-legged essay to writing poems for examinations, it was one of the most used reference books by examinees. There are three sections in the book. The first section, six principles for writing poems, describes the fundamentals of poem rhymes. The second section, which includes 18 strategies for writing poems and the eight-legged essay, focuses on how to write the opening paragraph, develop themes, draw conclusions, and use other rhetorical expressions. The third section includes 40 poems from the imperial examinations in the Tang dynasty and 60 exemplary poems from the Qing examinations. Each poem is followed by the author’s explanation and interpretation of the poem. 11. Liang Zhangju. A Discourse of the Eight-Legged Essay. HuiduZhai, 1789; reprint, Shanghai: Shanghai Classics Publisher, 2002. Book; 258 p.; 27 cm; classical Chinese The eight-legged essay was a standard examination from the imperial examinations during the Ming and Qing dynasties. This 24-volume book is a comprehensive presentation of the 500-year history of the origin, development, reforms, the peak, and the decline of the eightlegged essay. The author, Liang, an eminent official and scholar in the Qing dynasty, delineates the different types of the eight-legged essay, the regulations and procedures, and the anecdotes in the official history books and various private publications. The last volume lists 343 names associated with the history of the eight-legged essay from the Song to the Qing dynasties. Each name is followed by the person’s degree and the title of his official position. 12. Li Diaoyuan. Danmo Lu, Stories about the Successful Candidates and the Imperial Examinations in the Qing Dynasty. Shenyang: Liaoning Education Publisher, 2001. Book; 240 p.; 19 cm; classical Chinese; ISBN: 7538259139 Li Diaoyuan (1734–1803) was a scholar of classic Chinese literature and drama in the Qing dynasty. This book provides the life stories of famous people who received their titles from the imperial examinations. Li said in his preface that he wrote this book because many talented people emerged in the three reigns of the emperors Shunzhi, Kangxi, and Yongzheng between 1644 and 1736. Li collected over a hundred biographies and documents about the imperial examinations to write this 16-volume book. Li not only tells interesting stories and anecdotes
about these juren and jinshi degree holders, but also describes the system and procedure of the Imperial Academy and regulations of the imperial examinations. For example, Li states that once Emperor Qianlong used an unusual word, “eyeglasses,” as the theme of a poetry examination for the members of the Imperial Academy. After this poetry examination, some members were promoted and some were punished. The emperor’s decisions were based on only one “eyeglasses” poem, though most of the members did not even know what “eyeglasses” were. Because Li’s book provides many interesting stories with vivid details, it has attracted many researchers interested in imperial examination culture. 13. Wu Jingzi. The Scholars. Translated by Yang Hsien-yi and Gladys Yang. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1972. Book; 692 p.; 21 cm; English translation; ISBN: 0448002639 The imperial examinations were the most prevalent subject of Chinese literature during their 1,300-year existence. The Scholars, which was completed around 1750 by Wu Jingzi (1701– 1754), is the most significant classic novel of satirical realism in Chinese literature. It portrays various characters living in the examination-dominated society and reveals the fundamental nature of the examination system. Its 55 chapters contain a series of stories following individual trajectories. An example is Fan Chin in chapter 2. When Fan Chin tried to borrow money from his father-in-law, Bucher Hu, Fan was not only refused but also was brutally humiliated and slapped on the face by Hu. Fan barely managed to borrow money from others to take the district examination. When Fan returned home, he found that his mother and wife had had no food for two days. After receiving news that he was accepted as a scholar (successful candidate) for the provincial examination, Fan was extremely happy and became insane. With this overnight success, Fan suddenly received Bucher Hu’s respect, neighbors’ generosity, and a visit from the local elite. The vivid scene about Fan is the most widely cited reference in studies of the relationship between the imperial examination and society. Growing up in a family with a history of success in the examinations, Wu Jingzi, who failed his examination career, blends “his autobiographical experience and models many of scholarly characters upon his friends and acquaintances.” Professor Hsia at Columbia University considers The Scholars “a work of sheer invention” and “one of the greatest novels in the Chinese tradition” (foreword). 14. Ingles, R. “Notices of Modern China: Literacy Examinations Considered as a Proof of Ability to Serve in the Magistracy; Manner in Which the Examinations Are Conducted.” Chinese Repository 4 (July 1835): 118–135. Article; English In this article, Ingles presents rich details and interesting stories about the imperial examinations, based on various English and Chinese newspapers and journals, the imperial edicts, and personal interviews and contacts in Canton (Guangdong) in the early nineteenth century. He tells stories about how ordinary people’s lives were driven by the examination system, how literary and military examinations were conducted, and instances of fraud that occurred during examinations. He records a number of abuses of the examination system. Referring to a case in which an interior officer of the Board of Revenue sold forged diplomas
for years, Ingles predicted that within 60 years, “the number of those who had originally obtained ranks by means of forged diplomas would probably suffice to fill most of the high offices in the empire” (p.135). 15. Sirr, Henry Charles. China and the Chinese: Their Religion, Character, Customs, and Manufacturers: The Evils Arising from the Opium Trade: With a Glance at Our Religious, Moral, Political and Commercial Intercourse with the Country. London: W.S. Orr & Co, 1849. Book; 2 v.; 890 p.; 24 cm; English This two-volume book, which contains 25 chapters in volume 1 and 16 chapters in volume 2, addresses a wide range of topics about China and the Chinese, including places such as Hong Kong, Canton, Macao, Ning Po, and Chusan; economic topics such as agriculture, tea, silk, and manufactures; social issues such as opium, gambling, and pirates; the Chinese people; Chinese clothes; dwellings; government; and religions. The author describes the imperial examination system in chapter 7, which is about literature of the Chinese. The imperial examination is depicted as a system to measure Chinese men’s writing skills and a reward for their talents and good learning. As a result of literary attainments, the examination system was “a sure passport to the highest offices of the state” (p. 82) for literary aspirants, who could be born to humble families. The author explains the examination procedures, contents, acts of frauds, provincial ceremonies for successful candidates, and the palace examination. He then introduces translations of “The Seaou-Kin,” a treaty of filial duty, followed by a Chinese novel and two tales. A part of this book was a series of papers published in the Dublin University Magazine. The author conveys the intention of his book as “an anxious desire to be useful to our follow-men, by the diffusion of simple truth, and drawing attention to the nefarious traffic in Opium” (preface). 16. Kerr, J. G. “Description of the Great Examination Hall at Canton.” Journal of the North China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 3 (1866): 63–69. Article; English Kerr was a medical missionary in China in the nineteenth century. His impression of the Great Examination Hall in Canton was that there was “nothing attractive or imposing in the way of architectural beauty or proportions,” and as he observed, “the severest simplicity prevails throughout” (p. 63). Kerr reports that the Great Examination Hall was used for the triennial provincial examination. Following his description of the size of the building, Kerr gives detailed information about the entrance, gates, and cells for examinees: “there are a total of 8,653 cells and each cell is 5 ft. 9 in. deep and 3 ft. 8 in wide” (p. 64). Most of the article is a presentation on “Apartments for officers.” Starting in the Song dynasty, the examination facilities were locked to prevent fraud. Apartments in the Great Examination Hall were the official examiners’ offices and residential facilities during examinations. Kerr describes the layout of the apartments, examination officials’ positions and duties, and how examinations were operated in a time sequence. The author presented this article before the Royal Asiatic Society on November 13, 1866.
17. Martin, William A. P. “Competitive Examinations in China.” The North American Review 111, no. 228 (July 1870): 62–77. Article; English In this article, Martin argues that the United States “should adopt the Chinese method of testing the ability of candidates, and of selecting the best men for the service of the state,” even though he predicts that such a suggestion will “provoke a smile” (p. 64). Martin recounts the history of Chinese examinations from 2200 BC to the Qing dynasty. He expresses surprise that although “the type of Chinese education is not that of our modern schools . . . it appears by no means contemptible” (p. 70). Inspired by the Chinese examination spirit, Martin believes that “if scientific subjects were made sufficiently prominent in these higher examinations, millions of aspiring students would soon become as earnest in the pursuit of modern science as they now are in the study of their ancient classics” (p. 74). After reviewing the Chinese examination system, Martin concludes, “it operates as a counterpoise to the power of an absolute monarchy. . . . [I]t gives the government a hold on the support of the educated gentry, the most influential portion of the population. . . . [I]t is the Chineseman’s ballot-box” (p. 76). Ultimately, Martin was aware that the Chinese method might not be the best fit for the government of the United States, but he felt that it should be considered because “our ‘man-darins’ are so far from being the most intellectual class of community” (p. 77). 18. Martin, W. A. P. The Chinese: Their Education, Philosophy, and Letters. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1881. Book; 319 p.; 20 cm; English This book is a collection of W. A. P. Martin’s writings originally published in various journals and presented at conferences between 1862 and 1879. These writings convey “a certain unity of their [Chinese] intellectual life” and include twelve papers on the main theme of this book and an appendix containing five papers on miscellaneous subjects, as well as his translations of two Chinese poems. Apparently, Martin’s writings originated from his curiosity, passion, and admiration of Chinese culture, because to him, “Never have a great people been more misunderstood and stigmatized as barbarians,” and “they are represented as servile imitators, though they have borrowed less than any other people . . . though the world is indebted to them for a long catalogue of the most useful discoveries” (p. 228). Two papers, “Competitive Examinations in China” and “The Hanlin Yuan, or Imperial Academy,” are directly related to the subject of the imperial examination system. In the first paper, Martin delineates the history of the examination system from 2200 BC to the Qing dynasty. Most of this paper is an introduction to the advantages of the system. He regards the examination system as “the masterpiece in that skillful mechanism” of the “genuine democracy of China” (pp. 41–42). Martin also mentions fraudulent occurrences in the system that occurred during the Qing dynasty. Nevertheless, he believes that “it [the Chinese examination system] might be expected to yield better fruits in this country [the United States] than in China” (p. 55) because of observed success in British India and Great Britain. He thinks Thomas A. Jenckes’s civil service reform bill “does not go far enough” (p. 55) and urges the representative and his committee to give their advice and consent to the reforms of the civil service examination system. The paper about the Imperial Academy introduces “one of the pivots of the Empire,
and the very centre of its literary activity” (p. 1) based on Martin’s visit to the institute. He describes his firsthand experience in the location, buildings, details of room arrangements and decorations, history, operation, library, and 24 functions of the Imperial Academy. Since he lived in China for 62 years between 1850 and 1916, Martin was the best-known missionary. He was appointed president of Tongwenguan, an educational institution in Beijing and to an administrative position at the Imperial University as a second-rank official by Emperor Guangxu. He was regarded as “a bridge between East and West, a pioneer in the difficult art of cross-cultural communication.”1 Martin’s prolific writings are valuable primary sources that record an American scholar’s observations and thoughts on various aspects of Chinese society in the late nineteenth century. 19. Oxenham, Edward Lavington. “Ages of Candidates at Chinese Examinations: Tabular Statement.” Journal of the China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, London, North-China Branch, Shanghai 23, no. 3 (1888): 286–287. Article; English Oxenham was a British consul, translator, and scholar of the Chinese language, working in China between 1866 and 1880. In this two-page article, he researches “one peculiarity of the civil examination system” (p. 286), which was that it imposed no age limit on any competitors. He also finds that “the system of civil examination had attained so complete a development as in the case in China” that “European diplomacy has not yet been a match for this strong organization”(p. 286). By tabulating the ages of 1,521 of the successful candidates at the highest level examinations in 1885, he finds that the majority of the successful candidates were between 20 and 40 years old. 20. Oxenham, Edward Lavington. “Civil Service of China.” New York Times, October 23, 1891, 9–10. Article; English This article is a follow-up report about imperial examinations held in Shanghai, China, on September 10, 1891. In addition to the main title, this article is subtitled, “the ordeal through which thousands of candidates pass at the triennial literary and official examinations.” The report begins with an introduction to events after the examinations of that month: “[T]he successful candidates (throughout the entire country) receive appointments in the civil and literary branches of the Government and thus gain for a lifetime a lucrative position.” As the journalist reports, “Each of larger cities will have an influx of from 20,000 to 40,000 bachelors” and “only about one-half of 1 per cent of these candidates can be successful.” The report describes that, in addition to traders, eggroll sellers, teapot vendors, candle merchants, mongers, servants, and friends of the candidates, “the total number of the increase in floating population caused by the examinations cannot be less than from eighty to one hundred thousand in the larger cities” (p. 9). The reporter goes on to describe the examination halls, the examination officials, and the glamour of the ceremonies. The reporter also observes that “the thousands who have been unsuccessful are then turned from the cells and, being without money or influence, become a menace to the public authority, and begin the series of robberies, murders, and other kinds of outlawry which always follow immediately after governmental
examination for literary and political honors-times in which the attacks upon foreigners are most frequent and severe” (p. 10). 21. Liang Qichao. “A Discussion of the Imperial Examinations (1896).” In A Compete Collection of Liang Qichao’s Works, 21–30. Shanghai: Zhonghua Book Company, 1936; reprint, Zhonghua Book Company, 1988. Book; 12 v.; 21 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 710100475X Liang (1873–1929) was a distinguished scholar and political reformer. This book is a complete collection of Liang’s essays, which shed light on almost every aspect of Chinese society and the world with his deep thoughts. “A Discussion of the Imperial Examinations” was written in 1896, a decade prior to the end of the imperial examination system. Liang thinks that the value of the examination system was that it replaced the hereditary system in which official positions were monopolized by the aristocrats and their descendants. The development of the imperial examination system occurred along with the rise of the school system. Later the examination system failed to produce the professionals and experts needed because of the declining school system. Liang proposes three ways to reform the imperial examination system. First, a modern school system corresponding to the examination degrees should be built across the nation. Second, the examination curriculums should be modernized with new subjects for training new types of professionals, including laws, mathematics, foreign languages, engineering, and medicine. Third, modern science and technology subjects should be added to the existing examination content. Liang believes that the first reform is the best way to effectively bring about sweeping change, and the last reform would be a survival strategy for the examination system. Although Liang’s suggestions were not implemented, they represent reformers’ attempts to change Chinese society in the late period of the Qing dynasty. 22. Liang Qichao. “A Petition to the Emperor for the Reform of the Imperial Examination (1898).” In A Compete Collection of Liang Qichao’s Works, 22–24. Shanghai: Zhonghua Book Company, 1936; reprint, Zhonghua Book Company, 1988. Book; 12 v.; 21 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 710100475X In 1895, the Qing imperial government, as a defeated country, signed the Treaty of Maguan, which included ceding to Japan in perpetuity and full sovereignty, the Pengu group, Taiwan, and the eastern portion of the Liaodong, and paying Japan 200,000,000 Kupingtaels. This unfair treaty triggered the Chinese people’s anger, and petitions flooded the imperial government demanding political reform across the nation. Liang’s article was written against this background. He and other provincial successful candidates urged the imperial government to reform the imperial examinations and remove the eight-legged essay from the examinations because of the urgent need to train professionals with modern knowledge for national defense. As Liang perceived, the imperial examination system only existed to select an extremely small group of candidates for a few government positions: “[O]nly 1% of examinees were selected from the district and provincial examinations to be qualified for taking the state examinations; 10% of them were granted the jinshi title after the state examinations; and 10% of jinshi degree-holders were finally chosen as the Hanlin [Imperial Academy] members” (p. 22). Examinees spent their lives learning to master the eight-legged essay, which was impractical
for public service. However, peasants, artisans, merchants, and women never received the education that was needed to produce professionals with updated knowledge and skills for the benefit of society. Liang and other candidates argued that the outdated examination system was the source of China’s backwardness and could only lead the country in the wrong direction. 23. Lu Xiaojun and Jiang Junwei, eds. The Five Historical Publications of the Imperial Examinations. Wuhan: Wuhan University, 2008. Book; 1,652 p.; 27 cm; classical Chinese; ISBN: 9787307070431 This book includes five important historical publications about the imperial examinations from the Ming and Qing dynasties. The first, The Imperial Recruiting and Examination System in Dynasties by Feng Mengzhen in the Ming dynasty, presents the evolved imperial recruiting and examination system from the Zhou to the Ming dynasties. The second, The Ming Imperial Examinations by Zhang Chaorui, is a nine-volume archive that includes the lists of the jinshi title-holders between 1370 and 1577. The third is a 14-volume book, The Top Three Winners by Zhang Hongdao and Zhang Ningdao from the Ming dynasty, which records biographies of the successful candidates who won the first place at the district, state, and palace examinations, and anecdotes of the top successful candidates who were from the same family and became high-ranking officials. The fourth publication is The Supplements of the Imperial Examination by Huang Conglan et al. in the Qing dynasty. This six-volume book presents notably successful candidates, examination events, examination questions, and biographies of successful candidates from the Ming and Qing dynasties (1370– 1795). The fifth publication is The Chronological Events of the Imperial Examinations by Chen Guolin and Gu Xizhong in the Qing dynasty. This three-volume book outlines the chronology of examination events through 1832. The two compilers of the five historical publications, Lu and Jiang, provide information about various editions and pinpoint errors from each publication. As Lu and Jiang indicate in the introduction of this book, behind the dull names and lists, these historical publications provide a network of political liaison over hundreds of years. 24. Ouyang Jianglin and Li Shunchen, eds. A Compilation of Historical Documents of the Irregular Imperial Examinations from the Han to Qing Dynasties. Wuhan: Wuhan University Press, 2009. Book; 895 p.; 27 cm; classical Chinese; ISBN: 9787307066632 Beginning in the Tang dynasty, the imperial examination system included two types of examinations. The first was the regular examination, which was held on a regular basis and was relatively unchanged and consistent, such as jinshi and mingjing. The second was the irregular examination, which was held under emperors’ orders with a curriculum of specialized topics, such as the special award examination, tezouming. This book is a comprehensive collection of historical documents of the irregular imperial examinations. The two editors extract the texts and paragraphs that are relevant to the irregular examinations from the original documents and arrange these texts under thematic categories. These historical documents, both official dynastic history documents and private publications, are organized in chronological order by dynasties in two sections, the main section and the supplement section.
The main section has three parts: (1) the Sui and Tang dynasties, (2) the Song and Liao dynasties, and (3) the Jin dynasty through the Qing dynasty. The supplement contains documents from the period covering the West Han and Chen reigns (206 BC–588). In the main section, each part includes six thematic categories: imperial edicts, proposals, the irregular examinations, the successful candidates, literary writings, and assortment. This valuable collection provides easy access to the texts of historical documents for studies of the imperial irregular examinations. 25. Macklin, W. E. “The Triennial Examinations in China.” The East Asia Magazine 2 (1903): 372–375. Article; English There are two components in Macklin’s article: a deep understanding of the imperial examination system and a vivid presentation of what was happening inside and outside the examination halls at that time. Macklin captures the most popular Chinese view—“All occupations are inferior, only the life of a student is elevated”—which rationalizes and honors the pursuit of success in the imperial examinations. He also attributes the Chinese view to Plato’s ideal of the rule of philosophers. Macklin provides detailed descriptions of the examination events, the examination halls, the examination officials, the examination questions, and the corruption and fraud. Macklin learned that it was possible to pay from 5,000 to 10,000 taels of silver to secure a degree. The corruption of examination officials was so bad that the students threw egg shells filled with ink to obliterate the candidates’ names immediately after the list was posted. Because of such corruption, the head of examiners and 16 of the subexaminers were all put to death. Macklin explains why “so many keep going to examinations even till old age. It was because the law compels scholars to do so. If they neglect to appear more than three times, their degrees would be taken from them.” 26. Sites, C. H. Lacey. “Chinese Civil Service Examinations.” The East of Asia Magazine (June 1904): 62–72 (special educational number). Article; English Having noticed that descriptions of examination halls and how students were taking examinations and their success in the examinations “can be found in all general books on China,” Sites decided, in this article, “to hit off two or three salient features of the scheme which may be of present interest to foreign educationists” (p. 62). In the first section of this article, Sites reports some recent developments in the imperial examination system, including his translations of the Imperial Edict decreeing the cessation of the eight-legged essay examination and other edicts sending young men abroad to study and establishing the provincial school system. In the second section, Sites uses a paper by a student in an AngloChinese college to describe examinations at different tiers under the imperial examination system. In the last section, Sites presents the top winner of Chekiang province, Mr. Wu’s, paper with English translations, because Sites considers Wu’s paper “an excellent illustration of the mingling of some knowledge of Western science with the forms of perfect devotion to Confucius” (p. 67). Mr. Wu’s photo is also included in this article.
27. Lingdong Daily Newspaper. “The Perniciousness of the Imperial Examination.” Eastern Magazine 8 (July 6, 1904): 178–180. Article; Chinese This article, which was written a year before the Qing government announced that it was ending the examination system, discusses how and why the Chinese were obsessed about the imperial examination. Although many modern schools had been established and modern schools’ graduates could have good careers, people were still zealous about the imperial examinations. The numbers of examinees who traveled over thousands of miles to take the state examination in 1904 even increased. A student in a modern university was willing to give up his opportunity to study abroad to take the imperial examination. The Qing government announced that students in modern schools were not allowed to take imperial examinations, but these students were not interested in studying modern curriculums rather than taking the imperial examination. The author comments that the pernicious obsession with pursuing fortune and fame through imperial examinations would not stop while the imperial examination exists. 28. Ferguson, John C. “The Abolition of the Competitive Examinations in China.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 27 (1906): 79–87. Article; English Ferguson reports the abolition of the Chinese system to the journal in this English-language version of The Memorial, submitted to the emperor by six people, and The Imperial Edict of September 2, 1905, which announced the abolition of the Chinese imperial examination system. Ferguson comments that the two documents demonstrate more careful thought than “the hasty ones prepared by Kang Yu Wei in June, 1898”; “the delay of seven years in the abolition of the system has been for the good of China” (p. 87). He also made an interesting observation: “One curious fact about the abolition of the examination system is that a vast literature which had grown up around the standard essay [the eight-legged essay] is rendered valueless, and hundreds of bookstores have been left with large stocks of books which can never be sold. It must be said that this literature was per se of no value, and that the philosophy, history, politics, and religion of China lose nothing by its vanishing” (p. 87).
NOTE 1. Covell, Ralph R., W.A.P. Martin, Pioneer of Progress in China (Washington, DC: Christian University Press, 1978), preface p. 2.
2 Publications between 1912 and 1949
This chapter presents 49 publications: 16 books and 33 articles written between the end of the empire and beginning of the People’s Republic of China (1911–1949), of which 11 are in English and the other 38 are in Chinese. The end of the Chinese empire in 1911 marked the beginning of modern China, a chaotic period of constant civil wars and the Japanese invasion during World War II. There was no centralized control of political ideology; with more freedom, scholars were able to publish a variety of works. For the first time, they left the ivory tower to review the imperial examination system from different perspectives than in the past. Some scholars continued to write the history of the examination system to identify its true nature and provide a reference for the new government examination system, but some scholars believed that the imperial examination system was merely a political tool for a despotic imperial power. Some of these scholars summarized the educational aspects of the examination system, while a psychologist, following modern views, portrayed the imperial examinations as an intelligence test. Several literature professors were preoccupied by the mysterious relationship between Chinese literature and the imperial examinations, while a political science professor described the imperial examination system as a Chinese-style parliament. The most cutting-edge publications were studies of social mobility in the imperial examination by Chinese and American scholars. The sociological concept of social mobility has fostered the greatest debate in imperial examination studies. International attention to the imperial examination system, from Max Weber to American sinologists and social scientists, was phenomenal. Overall, these groundbreaking studies, which were original and bold, carried out by talented scholars who were well-trained in the disciplines of history, literature, psychology, sociology, education, political science, and economics, shaped modern imperial examination studies. Thus, this period is called “a golden era.”1 29. Weber, Max. “The Chinese Literati.” In From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, translated and edited by H. H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills, 416–112. New York: Oxford University Press,
1958. Book; 490 p.; 22 cm; English This essay was published in the forty-first volume of Archiv in 1915.2 While analyzing various social structures around the world, Max Weber recognizes that the Chinese literati “have been the decisive exponents of the unity of culture” (p. 416). Based on his research on translated Chinese writings and his extraordinary intellectual abilities, Weber dissects the Chinese literati in relation to the complexity of the Chinese social structure. His analysis includes eight sections: Confucius, the development of the examination system, the typological position of Confucian education, the status-honor of the literati, the gentleman ideal, the prestige of officialdom, views on economic policy, and Sultanism and eunuchs as political opponents of the literati. In the section on the development of the examination system, Weber’s analysis grasps crucial aspects of the system, such as the history, regional conflicts, politics within the imperial administration, and recruitment to officialdom. He concludes: “The examination system facilitated a competitive struggle for prebends and offices among the candidates, which stopped them from joining together into a feudal office nobility. Admittance to the ranks of aspirants was open to everybody who was proved to be educationally qualified. The examination system thus fulfilled its purpose” (p. 426). This essay was also included in The Chinese Civil Service: Career Open to Talent? edited by Johanna M. Menzel. 30. Tian Shan. “Examinations and the Imperial Examinations.” Yongyan 2, no. 3 (1914): 12– 13. Article; Chinese This very short article, written nine years after the end of the imperial examination system, opposes the view that the new examinations, such as examinations in schools and for civil service in modern times, were equivalent to the imperial examinations. The rationale is that the imperial examination selected successful candidates based on literary writing skills, and the modern examinations did not. 31. Dai Ying. “The Eight-legged Essay.” Chinese Youth Weekly 1, no. 8 (1923): 3–6. Article; Chinese The author does not agree with the popular view that the eight-legged essay was as bad as Chinese foot binding and opium addiction. Dai thinks that people who had this view were influenced by European culture. He argues that the eight-legged essay had aesthetic value because people could use the rigid literary genre to express their opinions beautifully. He is also opposed to the view that the eight-legged essay was a useless genre. He also argues that the New Literature Movement against old tradition may not necessarily be practically useful. Dai believes that the modern curriculums of English and mathematics were “foreign eightlegged essays,” because they were useless to middle school students and would only be used by college students majoring in engineering and sciences. 32. Zhang Yaoxiang. “Regional Distributions of the Jinshi Title-holders in the Qing Dynasty.” Psychology 4, no. 1 (1926). In A Collection of Selected Papers of Studies on the Civil Service Examination in the Twentieth Century. Wuhan: Wuhan University Press, 2009, 1–10.
Article; Chinese This article was based on the notes for a speech Zhang gave at Beijing University in 1926. Following Galton’s hereditary genius theory, Zhang made four assumptions in his study. First, he believes that the imperial examination was ultimately an intelligence test for the talented, not a knowledge test. The successful candidates represented the most intelligent population. Second, the occupations of this population were homogenous. Third, they were ranked by the objective grading standards of the imperial examinations after taking into account other variables. Fourth, more than 26,000 jinshi degree-holders in this study were selected from the examinees from all 114 examinations during the Qing dynasty. Zhang collected data on 25,896 jinshi degree-holders from all jinshi stelae of the Qing dynasty in Beijing. Only 3 percent of the information on the stelae was unavailable because of their damaged state. Zhang summarizes his data in five tables, which show the provincial distributions of the jinshi degree-holders. Each table includes the actual jinshi numbers and percentages and the expected quota numbers. Among 20 provinces, those that produced more first-rank jinshi titleholders were concentrated in Jiangsu (34.8 percent) and Zhejiang (23.7 percent). In general, Zhang perceives that the problem with the imperial examination system was not its methods, but the curriculum of general subjects. Although these jinshi were not experts or scholars in special fields, they could have been experts or scholars if they had had an opportunity to receive a modern education. Zhang estimates that the top-ranked jinshi could have been equal to Galton’s illustrious men (one per million), while the second and third ranks could have been eminent men (1 in 4,000). Another article by Zhang, published in the Morning Newspaper Supplements , November 24, 1926, includes not only the majority of this article, but also the results of his investigation of the regional distribution of 162 professors in Beijing University in 1925. Zhang finds that 69 (40 percent) professors out of 162 also came from the two provinces, Zhejiang and Jiangsu. 33. Ouyang Lan. “A Discussion on the Regional Distribution of Geniuses with Mr. Zhang Yaoxiang.” Morning Newspaper Supplements 1489 (December 9, 1926): 21–22. Article; Chinese Ouyang, who was in the audience when Zhang Yaoxiang gave his speech at Beijing University in 1926, rebuts Zhang’s view about the regional distribution of geniuses (see entry 32). Ouyang does not agree with Zhang’s description of the top three ranks of winners of jinshi title-holders as geniuses, because Ouyang thinks that the imperial examination is a knowledge or education test, and knowledge is learned but not inherited. Ouyang further argues that Zhang’s statistics, drawn from the top examination winners who received rewards, conflict with Zhang’s own definition of genius. In Ouyang’s opinion, these winners were lucky “by chance” (p. 22). Ouyang believes that true geniuses often failed or avoided the imperial examinations. For example, Li Bai, one of the most talented poets in the Tang dynasty, never took the examinations. Ouyang also does not think professors at Beijing University should be considered geniuses. He describes Zhang’s conclusion about the professors at Beijing University as ridiculous and suggests that there were more professors from Zhejiang at the university because of a network of Zhejiang professors.
34. Zhang Yaoxiang. “A Discourse on Whether the Imperial Examination was an Intelligence Test.” Morning Newspaper Supplements 1493 (December 16, 1926): 37–38. Article; Chinese Zhang counters Ouyang’s argument (see entry 33) and further explains why he thinks the imperial examination was an intelligence test. As Zhang explicates, there may be no clear-cut distinction between the intelligence test, which measures ascribed abilities, and the education test, which tests learned knowledge, but there is a difference between the two. An education test asks examinees to provide answers by retrieving what they have learned, with a small creative variation such as memorizing a poem and reporting an article. In contrast, if a test requires examinees to reorganize what they have learned from various accumulated subjects through different periods to produce something systematic and interesting, such as creating a poem or a painting, it is called an intelligence test. Drawing from other psychologists’ studies and his own research, Zhang sets out three criteria for the concept of “intelligence”: 1) it is qualifiable, 2) it is quantifiable, and 3) it is understandable by other scholars. He provides his definition of intelligence: in the same environment or condition, one has an ability to compete with and win over others. This ability is called intelligence. The more people one outperforms, the higher one’s intelligence is. Zhang therefore defines the imperial examinations as intelligence tests because 1) “free competition” provides “the same environment or condition” for all examinees and 2) writing essays and poems for the imperial examinations is a reorganizing, systematic, and creative process. Providing a number of examples of intelligence tests in Western countries, which use vocabulary, grammar, and summarizing articles to test subjects’ intelligence, Zhang lists three types of intelligence tests: composition, matching words, and mathematics. Composition is the most difficult, because the texts embed one’s combined ability of imagination, memory, inference, observation, and creativity. Zhang concludes that the test result is only a signifier of intelligence. Like electricity to lightbulb or telephone, intelligence cannot be seen with the naked eye. What is visible is behavior, which is derived from intelligence. Zhang argues that although people differ in age and economic status, they can all enter a competition such as a sports game. Zhang stresses that his study is about the relationship between regions and genius, not about the relationship between genius and economic status/age. Even though there were intelligent people who failed examinations, the percentage of those was insignificant compared to the number of successful candidates, who were chosen from a large population. 35. Ouyang Lan. “The Intelligence Test vs. the Imperial Examination: A Second Discussion with Mr. Zhang Yaoxiang.” Morning Newspaper Supplements 64 (January 10, 1927): 11–12. Article; Chinese Although Ouyang accepts Zhang’s contention that the imperial examination is an intelligence test in a broad context (see entry 34), Ouyang still questions whether the imperial examination is truly equal to the intelligence test and the examination winners are true geniuses. He argues that Zhang’s assumption about “the same environment/condition” is a fallacy. If the examinees differed in ages and economic conditions, the test results measured by the same grading standards must be unfair. Examinees who inherited healthy mental genes would perform better
than those who did not. Since the imperial examination placed virtually no limits on age and other factors, the older examinees might have an advantage over young examinees from studying for more years. Ouyang provides some examples. Two children of the same age and degree of intelligence had different test results because the one from a rich family could study more, and the other, from a poor family, had to work raising cows every day. Between two top examination winners, one in his fifties and the other in his thirties, the younger one is definitely considered more intelligent because it took him less time to be successful. In addition, how should we compare a 50-year-old top examination winner to a 30-year-old top thirdranking winner ? Thus, Ouyang questions whether a person who achieved examination success in his fifties by writing essays and poems for the examination should be called a genius. He declares, “I don’t dare say every top examination winner is a genius, neither dares Zhang” (p. 12). 36. Zhang Yaoxing. “The Question about Age, Inheritance, and Conditions of Rich and Poor in Examinations.” Morning Newspaper Supplements 1505 (January 13, 1927): 17. Article; Chinese Zhang explains that Ouyang’s argument regarding the missing elements of age, inheritance, and economic status (see entry 35) is based on a misunderstanding of the unit of analysis. Zhang’s unit of analysis is “group,” not “individual.” The age concept in Zhang’s study is a “mental age,” which stops developing at age 20, according to the Binet-Simmon test. Thus, a 50-year-old man cannot be more intelligent than a 30-year-old man. Zhang considers the imperial examinations as a competition among regional groups by provinces, and the differences in examinee in ages were treated as the “law of probability.” By the same token, since the groups of examinees were selected randomly, the element of inheritance is perceived as the same for each group from every province. Money or wealth can help people gain more time to study, but would not change a mentally challenged person into a genius, and a genius can also be destroyed by money. Therefore, the influence of wealth on a group is equaled out within the group. 37. Deng Dingren, A Study on the Chinese Examination System. Shanghai: Minzhi Publisher, 1929. Book; 82 p.; 18 cm; Chinese This is the first book on the subject of the imperial civil service examination system published after its abolition. In the preface, the author explains that the purpose of this book is to review the old examination system for aspects that could help build the new one in the era of the Republic of China. The review of the examination history is divided into three chapters: origin, development, and abolition. Deng summarizes six positive and four negative aspects of the imperial examination system. On the one hand, the imperial examination system was used as a tool by the despotic imperial government. On the other hand, it fostered an independent spirit and opened opportunity to ordinary people. Deng explains in chapter 5 how the civil service examination systems functioned in Britain, France, and the United States. He acknowledges that these civil service examination systems were well designed and served their governments well, but points out that they were only used for recruiting civil service
officials at lower ranks. Chapter 6 discusses Sun Zhongshan’s ideas about the new examination system, which was one of the five independent branches to support the constitution of the Republic of China. Finally, Deng makes suggestions about the Examination Institutes in chapter 7. 38. Cressey Paul F. “The Influence of the Literary Examination System on the Development of Chinese Civilization.” The American Journal of Sociology 35, no. 2 (September 1929): 250– 262. Article; English This article captures the most important factor contributing to the longevity of Chinese civilization, which Cressey argues was the imperial examination system. The article has five sections. After reviewing geographical isolation, the family clan organization, and conservative aspects of Confucianism that constructed the stability of Chinese civilization, the author argues that the imperial examination system “occupied a central position in Chinese society” because it was the gate-way to political positions, prestige, and economic success (p. 252). In the next sections, the author presents the organization and characteristics of the examination system. In the last section, he summarizes the positive and negative aspects and influence of the imperial examination system on Chinese society. On the one hand, the examination system preserves cultural unity and political stability. On the other hand, cultural progress was sluggish. 39. Zhang Zhongru. The Qing Examination System. Shanghai: Liming Publisher, 1931. Book; 42 p.; 19 cm; Chinese This book is a lucid explanation of the complex examination system during the Qing dynasty. There are two parts in this book. The first describes the examinations at the four levels: district examination, provincial examination, state examination, and palace examinations. From his firsthand experience, the author is able to present details on the examination subjects, process, regulations, criteria, facilities, rituals, quota of successful candidates, etc. The second part of this book presents a variety of examination materials. After explaining the writing requirements, the author provides writing examples in various formats, such as standard expositions of Confucian classics, policy essays discussing current issues, history, poems, and prose. By taking advantage of his experience with and knowledge of the imperial examination, the author is able to not only elaborate on the mainstream examinations, but also delineate the military examinations, award examinations, enke (a special reward for older and repeated examinees), qualification examinations for government-sponsored schools, teacher examinations, and other special examinations. 40. “Topics of Chinese Composition and the Spirit of the Imperial Examination.” Magazine of the Middle School Students 30 (1932): 3–6. Article; Chinese In the composition tests of the civil service examination administered by the Republic of China government, the topics were derived from traditional themes such as “to rule a country, the governance must start with the economy.” Many examinees did not do well on these tests,
and critics blamed the inefficient school system for this failure. However, the author suggests that the problem is a ghost spirit of the imperial examination system that is haunting the teachers and parents who grew up during the era of the imperial examinations. The teachers and parents think that students should prepare by mastering the composition examination for entering officialdom. As in the imperial examinations, composition topics for the new civil service examinations lead students to learn only what the examiners look for, and they do not know how to express their own feelings and thoughts. The danger is in teaching students only such unpractical writing skills. The author encourages educators and parents to block the ghost spirit of the imperial examinations, which permeates the entire educational system. 41. Song Yunbin. “The Imperial Examination System and Its Functions.” Middle School Students 43 (1933): 1–12. Article; Chinese Whereas most researchers review the imperial examination system in different dynasties in chronological order, the author divides its history into three eras based on examination curricula selecting successful candidates for their writing skills; (1) poetry/verse, (2) Confucian classics, and (3) the eight-legged essay. Each era is represented by the predominant examination content. The poetry/verse era was the period between 681 and 1071. The rise of the poetry/verse examination was owing to jinshi status, which became more admired after the middle of the Tang dynasty. The author cites Wang Dingbao: “It is not perfectly admirable, if the high-ranking official does not have the jinshi title.” The poetry/verse examination was so popular that it spread into xingjuan , in which the examinees use their poems or verses to obtain recommendations from social elites. The Confucian classics era began in 1071 during the Song dynasty, when Emperor Song Shenzong adopted Minister Wang Anshi’s proposal and changed the jinshi examination to writing essays from Confucian classics. To prepare for the Confucian classics examination, examinees only needed to study and memorize these classics. As Gu Yanwu, a scholar in the Qing dynasty, remarked, Wang Anshi changed creative poets into rigid, dull scholars. The eight-legged essay era can be traced back to 1314 during the Yuan dynasty, when Emperor Yuan Ren-zong, following neo-Confucianism, decided to use the Confucian Four Books for examination questions. This examination was continued and labeled zhiyi, or the eight-legged essay, during the Ming dynasty. The eight-legged essay must be written in the tone of the ancient sages. The sentences and paragraphs must follow rigorous rhetorical rules. In 1757, Emperor Qianlong added the poetry examination as a supplement to the eight-legged essay to test the creativity of the examinees. The eight-legged essay was discontinued and reinstated several times by Emperor Guangxu and Queen Cixi between 1898 and 1901, eventually being abolished along with the examination system itself in 1906. The author argues that the imperial examination system functioned as a strategy for the imperial government to win over talented people, instead of them opposing the rulers. The eight-legged essay was the best tool for brainwashing the literati. 42. Fang Yu. The Imperial Examination System in the Tang Dynasty. Nanjing: The National Central University Press, 1933. Book; 54 p.; 24 cm; Chinese
This is one of the earliest publications on the dynastic imperial examination system in the Tang dynasty. It has five sections: the subjects and methods of examinations, appointments, grading, the administration of examinations, and criticism. This short book clearly presents the fundamental aspects of the examination system in the Tang. All references are to primary sources in historical documents and dynastic histories. Each source is noted next to the relevant paragraph. Instead of making his own comments, Fang presents a critique from a contemporaneous writer, Zhao Kuang, during the Tang dynasty. Fang identifies two influential factors of the Tang examination system that affected the examination system in later dynasties. One is that the Tang examination system unprecedentedly opened an opportunity to commoners to receive official appointments. The other is that the examinations mainly focused on literary techniques rather than practical skills. 43. Lu Qian. A Brief History of the Eight-Legged Essay. Shanghai: Shangwu Book Company, 1933. Book; 106 p.; 19 cm; Chinese Lu Qian states his motive for writing this book in the preface: “Since the eight-legged essay has a five hundred years history, it should be recognized in the Chinese literature history . . . 30 or 40 years after the eight-legged essay was abolished, the publications of the eight-legged essay have almost vanished. Therefore, this book is the first step to record the complete history of the eight-legged essay.” There are seven chapters in this book. The first tracks the origin of the eight-legged essay through its alternative names and identifies that the eight-legged essay began in the two examination curriculums: mingjing and jinshi in the Tang dynasty. It evolved along with the examination system from the Song to the Qing dynasties. The second chapter explains the structure of the eight-legged essay. The author not only describes each component but also provides examples to illustrate each component. Chapter 3 delineates the development of the eight-legged essay between 1464 and 1505. It reached its golden period during 1505–1521 in the Ming dynasty. Chapter 4 probes how the essay changed starting in 1567. In chapters 3 and 4, Lu lists the names of writers and their works about the eight-legged essay along with the development of the essay. In chapter 5, Lu presents and analyzes 132 writers and their eight-legged essays from the Qing dynasty. Chapter 6 discusses the decline and end of the eight-legged essay and provides a list of writers and their works. The last chapter provides a bibliography of historical publications about the eight-legged essays, a valuable reference for modern readers. 44. Fu Zengxiang. The Palace Examinations in the Qing Dynasty. Tianjin: Tianjin Dagong Newspaper Publisher, 1933. Book; 20 leaves; 26 cm; Chinese Fu (1872–1949) was an eminent scholar and well-known collector of Chinese antique books with a colorful resume, including a jinshi degree in 1898, a Hanlin membership, and being Education Minister in several governments. This book is a detailed presentation of the Qing palace examinations with the examination dates, examination rituals, formats of examination sheets, examination locations, examination questions, provisions to prevent fraud, and grading. This book also includes Miao Tong’s essay “The Palace Ceremony of the Imperial
Examination in 1667” (see entry 2) and a list of examination papers by 110 jinshi degreeholders in the Qing dynasty. The list includes examination papers by prominent people such as Ji Yun, Gong Zizhen, and Zeng Guofan. The book also contains photographic copies of Li Diaoyuan’s original examination papers. 45. “The Boxuehongci Examination in the Qing.” Monthly Magazine of Jingangzuan 1, no. 9 (1934): 12–13. Article; Chinese Boxuehongci was a special examination category that originated during the Tang dynasty. Unlike in the Tang regular imperial examinations, examinees who passed boxuehongci were immediately appointed to official positions. Examinees could be either successful candidates or people who never took examinations. Since boxuenhongci emphasized testing literary skills of poetry and verse and many high-ranking officials were Boxuehongci titleholders, it became the most prestigious examination. Because boxuehongci was only offered two times during the Qing dynasty, the winners were regarded as extremely honorable. This short article provides detailed information about these two Boxuehongci examinations. Examinees had to be recommended by Dufu , a high-ranking regional official. The first examination was held in 1679 by Emperor Kangxi. Fifty people passed it. The top winner was Sun Yu, who was also a jinshi title-holder. The second examination, which was offered in 1736 by Emperor Qianlong, had 15 winners. Liu Lun was the top winner, at the age of 26. The article explains that, after the examination topic was revealed, all examinees were astonished because they could not understand it. Liu Lun was the only one to write his paper, and passed with flying colors . After someone peeked at Liu’s writings and read what was written out loud, other examinees started to understand the topic. In this examination, the oldest examinee was 64 and the youngest was 21. 46. Yu Dagang. “A Discussion with a Friend about the Origin of the Imperial Examination System.” The Journal of Guanghua University 3, no. 4 (1934): 82–83. Article; Chinese Yu’s friend published research concluding that the imperial examination system originated in the Sui dynasty and was established during the Tang dynasty. This view was based on several historical publications, which show that the jinshi examination curriculum was first offered during the Sui dynasty. However, Yu disagrees with this view. Yu’s sources indicate that the jinshi curriculum in the Sui dynasty actually followed the practice of the recruiting system 3 There is no record to show that the examination was opened to chaju in the Han dynasty. everyone without official recommendations, and the Sui jinshi curriculum was even smaller and simpler than that of the Han system. Yu argues that although some historical publications mentioned that the Tang examination system adopted the Sui examination curriculums such as jinshi and mingjing, the Tang examination curriculums were totally different from those in the Sui dynasty. Yu cites Shen Jiji’s publication, which reported that local responsibilities were reassigned to the Human Resources Board of the central government, and examinees were gathered in the capital city during the Sui dynasty. Yu has a different interpretation. He claims that the purpose of this reassignment was to end local power, not the format of the chaju. The
examinees who gathered in the capital were the candidates who were recommended by district officials. 47. Chen Dongyuan. Education in the Era of the Imperial Examinations. Shanghai: Shangwu Book Company, 1934. Book; 99 p.; Chinese This book, which includes six chapters, traces the educational system during the period of the imperial examinations. After defining the timeline and explaining the imperial examination system in the first two chapters, Chen delineates how the system was delivered by three types of institutions: official schools, which were sponsored by district, prefecture, and state governments; (2) private schools, which provided education from childhood to higher education; and (3) academies , sponsored by the government and private individuals. Chen points out that the purpose of the government-sponsored schools was to provide future officials for the imperial government. However, because the examination system dominated the recruiting system, official schools became a dependency of the examination system. Students of official schools aimed at getting their credentials for taking imperial examinations. The administrations of official schools were ineffective, and the quality of education was low. The education in private schools was effective, but it was purely a training ground for students to take the imperial examinations. Chen defines academies as an institution between government education and private education. Academies emerged beginning in the Tang dynasty. Originally they opposed the examination system, but they evolved into subsidiary institutions of the imperial examination system in which examinees prepared for taking examinations. In the end, the academies became a force for reformers against the examination system. In the last chapter, Chen summarizes the culture of education in the era of the examination system. The purpose of education was to pursue wealth and social status, and this pursuit became frenzied and pervasive in Chinese society. Students spent their lives studying dreary materials and took the examinations to compete for only a few spots. The content of what they learned was impractical. Chen concludes that the modern educational system in China inherited the tradition of the imperial examination system, which was to prepare future officials for government service. The two systems are so similar that the new system seems “a new era of the imperial examinations.” Chen’s book was one of the earliest studies on the educational aspects of the imperial examinations. 48. Zhou Zuoren and Deng Guangming. The Origin of Chinese New Literature Movement. Beijing: Renwen Publisher, 1934; reprint, Hong Kong: Huiwenge Publisher, 1972. Book; 145 p.; 21 cm; Chinese Zhou Zuoren was an eminent writer, scholar, and translator. As he explains in the preface, this book was based on a speech he gave at Furen University in 1934, which was recorded by Deng Guangming. This book includes five lectures: (1) Chinese literature’s definition, scope, origin, and function; (2) changes in Chinese literature; (3) the eight-legged essay; (4) the Tongcheng literature group in relation to the New Literature Movement; and (5) the Revolutionary Literature Movement. Zhou’s essay “A Discussion of the Eight-legged Essay” is appended at the end of this book. Zhou’s views about the eight-legged essay are part of his
argument about the origins of the New Literature Movement. Zhou divides the history of Chinese literature as following two opposite routes: (1) poems that express emotion and thoughts and (2) essays that convey ideologies and philosophies . These two routes influenced each other and brought about various literature movements. Zhou’s main theory is that the eight-legged essay, as an alternative to the Ming literature movement, was the cause of the New Literature Movement. He explains the eight-legged essay in detail in his third lecture and his article appended at the end of this book. Despite criticism of the eight-legged essay, Zhou values it; his comments are frequently quoted by other scholars: The value of the eight-legged essay represents the Chinese literature, no, it ought to be the paramount of Chinese culture. No matter whether or not one admits the fact, it is an overt truth . . . the eight-legged essay is not only the combination of the finest of Chinese literary essays but also includes all nuances of language games, which are derived from the unique natures of the Chinese language (p. 119–120).
49. Fu Yiling. “The Regional Distribution of the Prime Ministers in Relation to the Jinshi System in the Tang Dynasty.” Social Science 1, no. 4 (1935). In A Collection of Selected Papers of Studies on the Civil Service Examination in the Twentieth Century. Wuhan: Wuhan University Press, 2009, 27–33. Article; Chinese The Chinese empire depended on regional power groups for economic and political support. How did imperial governments obtain centripetal force from local power groups? This article answers that question through an investigation of the regional distribution of prime ministers in relation to the jinshi system during the Tang dynasty. To maintain its ruling power for almost 300 years, the Tang government used a strategy of embracing local power groups’ participation in the central government. To win their support, the government used the imperial examination system to recruit meritocrats from local interest groups. Based on The New Dynastic History of the Tang Dynasty, the author creates a table of the regional distribution of the prime ministers. He finds that 85.7 percent of the prime ministers came from the clans who traditionally held military power in the northwest provinces and the next largest group, the nouveaux clans in the southern region who were in increasing in prosperity. As the author concludes, the Tang imperial government was established based on a combination of northern traditional military strength and rising economic power in the south. Why did the jinshi system gradually become important in the Tang dynasty? As the author explains, Chinese society was built on the clan system. Economic productivity and family fortunes were shared, inherited, and allocated by descendants. Rarely could a clan maintain its prosperity beyond five generations. Thus, the jinshi system was a rather impartial system to balance the old and new power groups. Participating in taking imperial examinations was a family affair, and the examinee represented the entire clan. Moreover, the old economic power groups were constantly being replaced by newcomers because of the cycle of wars and natural disasters. The jinshi examination system provided an opportunity to the new economic power groups, and they were enticed by the central government. The fact that a number of prime ministers served local aristocrats before entering the imperial government is an indication of this government strategy. The author describes his unfinished task, which is to develop his research on the distribution and careers of the jinshi title-holders recorded in The Old Dynastic History of the Tang
Dynasty and Xu Song’s Lists of Successful Candidates, in addition to The New Dynastic History of the Tang Dynasty. 50. Deng Siyu. A History of Chinese Examination System. Taibei: Taiwan Student Press, 1967. Book; 457 p.; Chinese This book was developed from Deng’s thesis, A History of Chinese Examination System, published in 1936. Because there was a great demand for it, this book was republished in Taiwan in 1967, with the addition of Deng’s article, “Chinese Influence on the Western Examination System.” This book contains two parts. Part 1 includes three chapters on the debate about the origins of the imperial examination system and examination methods and procedures in ancient China. Part 2 is the main body of the book and contains five chapters that provide a full presentation of the developing history of the examination system, including examinees, procedures, regulations, subjects, degree titles and appointments received by the successful candidates, how an examination system evolved, and how it differed from examinations in previous dynasties. The author made use of 243 resources, most of them primary sources. Deng selected these references from his collection of 500 sources, which he researched and accumulated single-handedly for years in the predigital era. A table of the chronological development of the examination system highlighting various events from all dynasties is appended at the end of the book. Deng’s superior research ability is evident in his argument about whether or not the imperial examination system started in the Sui dynasty. He includes various pieces of evidence that not only make his conclusion logical but also give his readers a holistic view of this debate. An English abstract on the Chinese examination system by Dr. Arthur W. Hummel, which is included at the end of this book, exhibits an enthusiasm for and acknowledgment of Deng’s works in the scholarly community beyond China. 51. Liu Linsheng, The History of Pianwen. Beijing: Shangwu Book Company, 1937; reprint, Beijing: Dongfang Press, 1996. Book; 228 p.; Chinese; ISBN: 7506007045 Pianwen was a genre of classic Chinese literature, prose. This book is a study of the history of pianwen and contains 12 chapters. It chronicles the genre’s development from the oldest book, Yijing , in ancient times to the prose in the Qing dynasty. According to Liu, two types of prose, fu and the eight-legged essay, were derived from pianwen. Liu analyzes these two examination curriculums in chapter 9. Liu argues that even though many of the writings in these two types of prose are mediocre, there are some refined works. Liu dissects these exemplary works and outlines a history of the eight-legged essay at the end of this book. The pianwen history also shows how the eight-legged essay originated in an altered examination during the Tang dynasty and how it developed, was renewed, and declined. The last chapter lists important publications about the eight-legged essay. Most were written during the Qing dynasty and the Republic of China. Liu asserts that since the eight-legged essay existed for 500 years, it should be a significant genre in Chinese literary history. Liu was at the forefront of studies of the eight-legged essay after the abolition of the examination system. As the renowned professor Zhang Dainian points out in the preface for the reprint, there were
numerous valuable scholarly publications during the time of the Republic of China by scholars who carried on a rigorous research tradition of scholarship from the Qing dynasty to modern times, and this book proves that Liu is such a refined scholar. 52. Wu Feibai. “The Origin of the Imperial Examinations and Schools in the Han Dynasty.” Chinese Public Forum 4/5 (1937): 32–37/33–38. Article; Chinese This article, which was published in two issues, tracks the origin of the imperial examination and school education in the Han dynasty. Beginning under Emperor Han Wendi, the local administrations were required to recommend meritocrats to the imperial government. The candidates, who were mostly educated literati, had to answer the emperors’ questions and address their strategies and proposals on how to deal with national issues before they were appointed to the government positions. The method for recruiting officials was called Refined Literary and later was developed into the irregular imperial examinations . Emperor Han Wudi accepted Minister Dong Zhongshu’s proposal to recruit meritocrats for government service from two sources: the candidates of Moral Excellence recommended by local officials and the students graduating from the State University . To recruit officials through Moral Excellence became the prototype of the examination curriculum of the imperial civil service examination. The number of candidates was based on the population of each district. The State University was to train students and develop their skills for serving the imperial government. The number of State University students at one point was over 30,000. By the end of the Han dynasty, because the candidates of Moral Excellence were not required to be questioned by the emperor, they were mostly descendants of officials and aristocrats, and relying on the State University was a deviation from the original design. The two sources were controlled by the privileged. Thus, the intention of the imperial examinations was to use open examinations to eliminate the man-made flaws in the political recruiting system. This article was an early publication after the abolition of the imperial examination system tracking the direct link between the imperial examinations and political recruiting practices in the Han dynasty. 53. Wittfogel, Karl August. New Light on Chinese Society: An Investigation of China’s Socioeconomic Structure. New York: International Secretariat, Institute of Pacific Relations, 1938, 11–12. Book; 41 p.; 23 cm; English Karl. A. Wittfogel, a German American social scientist, spent the years 1935–1937 in China studying Chinese society. This pamphlet was his report of some preliminary results of his research. Part of his study was an investigation of the Chinese family. His Chinese assistants searched for biographies of governmental officials in the dynastic histories from the Han to the Qing dynasties. Although Wittfogel does not provide more detail about his research method, his preliminary analysis is that “Some ‘fresh blood’ may have been absorbed from the lower strata of society by means of the examination system; but on the whole the ruling officialdom reproduced itself socially more or less from its own ranks” (p. 11). In Wittfogel’s opinion, the imperial examination did not bring about social mobility.
54. Niu Jing. “Sciences and the Imperial Examination System.” Student Friend 2, no. 4 (1941): 10–11. Article; Chinese The author begins his article with the lyrics of a song that was famous during the Japan-Sino War in World War II, which became the national anthem of the People’s Republic of China after 1949: “Use our blood and flesh to build China’s new great wall.” He considers that the lyrics implicate a tragedy in which the Chinese had to sacrifice their lives fighting Japanese aircraft, cannons, and tanks because of China’s backwardness in the sciences. The author argues that one of the reasons for China’s backwardness in the sciences was people’s obsession with entering officialdom for personal gain; the sciences were not included in this picture. As the author mentions, soon after the sciences were introduced into China in the Ming and Qing dynasties, many scientists gave up their scientific research to pursue success in the imperial examinations, because they could not achieve the same prestige and fortune in their own field as the examination’s successful candidates. After the imperial examination system ended, young people flocked to study science in modern schools or study abroad, aiming to “use science to save the country.” Nevertheless, many of these people were still driven by the traditional obsession with seeking opportunities to acquire government administrative positions for personal gain, rather than “to conduct genuine research in labs and libraries.” The author concludes that the development of the sciences would never be accelerated in China unless people overcame their obsession about becoming government officials to gain power and fortune. 55. Zhou Kuang. “The Origin of the Chinese Examination System.” Journal of Zhenzhi 4, no. 1 (1942) 41–45. Article; Chinese The author considers the true examination system to have begun during the Tang dynasty. The look-like or semi-examinations, including shangshu , duice , shece , the Nine Ranks system, and gongju , were just offshoots of the examination system. Shangshu was a written letter for self-recommendation for entering officialdom, which appeared during the Warring States Period (770–476 BC). Gongju was a method of sending meritocrats to the emperor along with tributes of goods. The emperor used duice to select persons who exhibited good ideas and abilities for public service. The author argues that the imperial examination evolved from duice because it had grading criteria, regular examination categories, and an examination institution. Shece was a semi-examination, which was used in the State University during the Han dynasty. Students who passed ceshi received official posts. The Nine Ranks System was actually a means of ranking a candidate’s or official’s performance, not an examination system. The author concludes that the imperial examination system was begun in the Sui dynasty and established in the Tang dynasty because (1) examinees no longer needed recommendations; (2) the imperial examination system focused on knowledge instead of morality; (3) the Tang examination system only qualified the candidates, it did not appoint the candidates into official positions directly; and (4) there was a separate examination for entering official positions. The author points out that the Chinese examination system was completed in the seventh century, a thousand years earlier than the English examination system.
56. Chang, Y. Z. “China and English Civil Service Reform.” The American Historical Review 47, no. 3 (April 1942): 539–544. Article; English This article presents evidence in support of Chinese influence on the civil examinations in England. Chang finds that the Chinese examination system was known in England at least as far back as 1621. His survey of six important English periodicals published between 1840 and 1888 yielded 16 articles in which “the writers indicate their awareness of the fact that the system prevailed in China” (p. 540). Chang has identified “the same linkage between the idea of the competitive examinations in China and the same partial admission of China influence and priority” from the parliamentary debates of the period (p. 541). Chang also finds further evidence that the English examinations are described as “literary,” which is clearly a trademark of Chinese examinations. In this article, Chang presents interesting details about the argument between English proponents’ and opponents’ of the Chinese examination system. 57. Liu Zhizhi. “Xiangshi, the Local Imperial Examination.” Dazong 10 (1943): 123–124. Article; Chinese This article is a personal account of experience taking xiangshi, the provincial examination, which qualified candidates for the state examination. Xiangshi, which was held August 8–15 every three years, included three rounds of examinations, and each round took two or three days. In the early morning on August 8, examinees brought their suitcases, which contained papers, pens, and food, and entered the examination hall. The first thing they did was to clean up dust in their cubicles. Each row of cubicles had a restroom for dozens of people to use. The smell was so bad that people had to bring their own fragrances. The most difficult test was the exposition of Confucian classics in the first round. Examinees were confined in the examination hall for three days. After turning in their papers, they were allowed to exit. The next day, examinees reentered the examination hall for the remaining tests. The remaining tests were easier because they were about history and were short discussion essays on current issues. 58. Shi Ziyu. “A Relationship between the Imperial Examination System and the Five-Word Poetry in the Tang Dynasty.” Eastern Magazine 40, no. 8 (1944): 37–40. Article; Chinese Two unparalleled cultural phenomena emerged during the Tang dynasty: Tang poetry, which signified the prosperity of Tang literature, and the imperial examination system. Was there a relationship between the two? Some scholars have assumed that there was a correlation between the two phenomena, whereas others have denied it. Shi agrees with the former view. As he says, it is not necessary to say that the Tang examination system developed Tang literature, but it is one crucial factor in the prosperity of Tang literature. Having noticed that both views suffer from a lack of evidence, in this article Shi presents interesting and convincing evidence along with his explanations. Shi observes that since the five-word poems were the only form of the poetry examination, there were more five-word poems than other types of poems in the Tang dynasty. Some scholars argue that the influence of the examinations was insignificant because there were over a hundred examination curriculums in the Tang
dynasty, and the poetry examination was only for the jinshi category. Shi counters that since jinshi became the most prestigious degree for entering officialdom, success in the poetry examination was the most important step. One good poem or a brilliant line could determine an examinee’s fate. Therefore, more people strived to create the five-word poems. For example, Du Fu, one of the greatest poets in the Tang dynasty, produced 610 five-word poems, almost a half of his oeuvre of more than 1,400 poems. Du took jinshi examinations between age 24 and his forties but was never successful. This is why he wrote many five-word poems, though by no means, were they all for examination exercises. As Shi explains, because Du wrote many five-word poems in his youth, it became his habit later in life. Shi also tabulates eight types of poems from The Complete Collection of Tang Poetry in four time periods of the Tang dynasty. The table reveals two opposing patterns: an increase in the number of five-word poems, from 1,999 to 4,465 and a decrease in the number of five-word classical poems (nonexamination poetry), from 1,795 to 560. The reason for the significant drop in the five-word classical poems was that the jinshi examination became more difficult, as more people competed for limited jinshi spots. By the end of the Tang dynasty, those seeking the jinshi title were taking longer, and jinshi winners in their sixties and seventies were common. Hence, a significant number of five-word poems were produced by strongly motivated jinshi candidates. 59. Zhang Muqian. “The Examination System of Taiping Kingdom.” Journal of Zhejiang Tongzhiguan 1, no. 2 (1945): 138–145. Article; Chinese Taiping Kingdom was an opposition state in southern China during the Qing dynasty, from 1851 to 1864. The opposition government even created its own examination system in its territory. As the author explains, in the beginning, the Taiping rebellions were against the imperial examinations. However, after seeing peasants, artisans, and merchants all bowing to the new government, the Taiping leaders realized that they could only win the literati’s support through the examination tradition. The first round of the Taiping examinations, which began in 1853, was not very much different from the Qing imperial examinations, including both the civil service examination and the military examination. The curriculum was writing essays to praise the rulers of the new government. Over a hundred successful candidates were selected from the examinations. The author describes the examination for women and the top female winner, Fu Shanxiang, but had a hard time finding consistent records on the top winners from various publications. The author argues that the Taiping examinations were not as well-made as the Qing imperial examinations. He mentions that when there were not many examinees, some literati were actually forced to take the Taiping examinations. The author references dozens of sources, some unofficial histories and others private memoirs. 60. Wang Yanan. A Study of Chinese Bureaucratic Politics: A Historical Analysis of Economy of Chinese Bureaucratic Politics. Shanghai: Time and Culture Publisher, 1948; reprint, Beijing: Chinese Social Sciences Publisher, 1981. Book; 200 p.; 22 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7500407890 A student of the author, Sun Yuesheng, describes how Wang began writing this book. In 1943, Professor Needham from England asked Wang about the phenomenon of Chinese
bureaucratic politics, which Needham had observed during his visit in China. In response to Needham’s questions, after five years’ research on the subject, Wang published this book, a collection of 17 papers by Wang. A groundbreaking study on the most essential aspect of Chinese society, bureaucratic politics, this book presents a history of the bureaucratic system beginning in the Qin dynasty (221 BC). These papers dissect various aspects of Chinese bureaucratic politics in two arenas: the economy and bureaucratic politics. Wang suggests that the two-tax law system and the debut of the imperial examination system in the Tang dynasty were two release levers in the development of bureaucratic politics. Wang disagrees with the theory that the imperial examination system is a symbol of social justice for Chinese society, for a number of reasons. First, the imperial examination system was the government’s tool for recruiting loyal bureaucrats. Second, governmental officials were also appointed through hereditary and purchasing systems. Third, emperors always held absolute power. Wang’s book is a groundbreaking study of Chinese economic and political systems in relation to Chinese society. A brief biography about Wang Yanan by Sun Yuesheng is appended to this reprint. Ironically, Wang, the renowned scholar of Chinese bureaucratic politics and despotism, died in 1969 after being persecuted by a new despotic power during the Cultural Revolution in China. 61. Teng Ssu-yu (Deng Siyu). “Chinese Influence on the Western Examination System.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 7, no. 4 (September 1943): 267–312. Article; English Deng’s article is a landmark study about the influence of the Chinese imperial civil service examination system on Western countries. Deng researched more than 70 English sources published between 1570 and 1870, include newspaper articles; magazines; journals; books; speeches; and memoirs by missionaries, travelers, diplomats, merchants, and scholars. Deng’s convincing evidence indicates that the civil service examination systems in Western countries were influenced by the Chinese system. Deng’s study focuses on the British civil service examination system. He especially tracks the Chinese influence on the development of the East India Company’s civil service examinations, because the British system originated from India. He notes that the collection of the East India Company’s Library, which includes some 13,000 oriental manuscripts in Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Chinese languages, is an indication of Chinese influence on the East India Company. Deng explains that he does not discuss the civil service system of the United States in detail because it mainly adopted the British and German systems. He discusses the influence on the civil service systems in France and the United States briefly in the appendix. Deng also includes a section on evidence against the Chinese influence, which completes the full presentation of his study. Educated at Harvard University and with an academic career in the United States, Deng’s superb research ability is unquestionable. He has not only collected the most significant and relevant sources for this study but has also extracted pertinent evidence and linked it together. Deng’s study is not just a compilation of his sources, but a carefully crafted masterpiece of research. 62. Chen Deyun. “The Five Types of Gong.” Chinese Public Forum 3 (1943): 91–92. Article; Chinese
Officials were selected not only from the successful candidates in the three-tier imperial examinations but also from gong , a group of successful candidates from governmentsponsored schools. There were five types of gong: you , ba , fu , sui , and en . The rank of gong was between juren and xiucai and was considered a prestigious career path. Some of the Gong students were selected from the State University; others received the title by passing highly competitive special examinations. The gong title-holders could be directly appointed to the lowest government positions, and the rest were assigned to teaching positions in local government. As the author points out, the Qing imperial examination system was intended to entice all literati to pursue officialdom. Gong was no exception. 63. Han Yu-San. “The Chinese Civil Service: Yesterday and Today.” Pacific Historical Review 15, no 2 (June 1946): 158–170. Article; English Han’s article is an introduction to the imperial examinations and the modern examination system in the Republic of China. This paper contains five sections. The first four sections are detailed descriptions of the imperial examinations, including district examinations, provincial examinations, and national examinations. Han presents information about changes in the examination contents that occurred during the Qing dynasty. The last section is about the modern examination system. The law for the new system came into effect in 1933. There were three examination categories: examinations for high school graduates, ordinary examinations for college graduates, and special examinations for professional services. According to Han’s research, there were a total of 23,959 successful candidates between 1933 and 1942. Of these, 77 percent were in professional services. Only 5,000 successful candidates received government appointments. Han thinks the problem was more far-reaching than the inadequate numbers for the new examination system and involved the high cost of education, loss of the traditional values of the old system, and the fact that the broken new system was “infringed upon by political partiality” (p. 158). Han concludes that the modern examination system has failed. 64. Fei Hsiao-tung (Fei Xiaotong). “Peasantry and Gentry: An Interpretation of Chinese Social Structure and Its Changes.” The American Journal of Sociology 52, no. 1 (July 1946): 1–17. Article; English In the last dynasty of the Chinese empire, the imperial examination system not only produced successful candidates for governmental officials, but also created a large social group of gentry. A remarkable social scientist who grew up in a family of gentry, Fei took notice of the social phenomenon, researched it, and published this article, pointing out that the “traditional China has not passed” (p. 12). Fei’s article uncovers the invisible benefits and power of the gentry class. Fei defines the gentry as a middle class between the peasants and imperial government. The gentry consists of people who were either holding/waiting for official positions or retired officials. They were an influential group with invisible political power. Their economic resources were the rent from their lands, which made them free from labor and able to enjoy educational resources and cultural privileges. Because it was difficult for the centralized imperial government to control every remote local area, local authorities, who
were gentry and officials, could gain unlimited and unchecked power. There was also a close tie between the gentry and peasants. The gentry needed to maintain their power and established status, and the peasants had to rely on their protection. Fei argues that a child from a peasant family had little chance to become an official through equitable examination. 65. Wittfogel, Karl A. “Public Office in the Liao Dynasty and the Chinese Examination System.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 10, no. 1 (June 1947): 12–40. Article; English This study is a comparative survey of two political systems, the Ch’i-tan tribal shih-hsuan and Chinese yin prerogative developed from the examination system. Through researching a large quantity of Chinese historical primary sources, Wittfogel finds that both the shih-hsuan system and the yin system have reserved inherited privilege for the top group of officials, who were exempt from the examination system, to hold political power. Of course, this system excludes social outcasts. Wittfogel discusses various degrees of how the two systems were modified and used in the Liao dynasty, compared to other imperial administrations in the Han, Tang, Song, Jin, and Ming dynasties. As Wittfogel indicates, the yin system, which is highly relevant to the Chinese examination system and implemented in the Tang, Song, and Ming dynasties, was also used as a dual political system by the conquerors in the Liao, Jin, Yuan, and Qing dynasties. 66. Pan Guangdan. The Most Prominent Families in Jiaxing Area from the Ming to Qing Dynasties. Shanghai: Shangwu Book Company, 1947. Book; 146 p.; 20 cm; Chinese Pan was an eminent Chinese sociologist. This book is his genealogical study of the Jiaxing area in Zhejian province of southern China, the “origin of achievers” (p. 1). Pan investigates a number of county archives, including 13 genealogical records and 26 biographical records of the successful candidates from archives of imperial examinations in the Ming and Qing dynasties. He tracks descendant lines and marriage relations and identifies 91 prominent families in the Jiaxing area who built a network connected by blood. Pan finds that, on average, each of these 91 families lasted eight generations, for over 210 years. Pan discusses two interesting questions: Are these prominent families an institution to produce high achievers? Why did some prominent families exist for a long time, whereas others disappeared 4 Weike , 5 quickly? Pan identifies the family members from these sources: Fushe , boxuehongci , 6 and The Biographies of Scholars in the Qing Dynasty: Qingdai Xuezhe Xiangzhuan (p. 106).7 These sources contain information about distinguished scholars, who were top successful candidates from the imperial examination system in the Ming and Qing dynasties and labeled as “high achievers” for this study. Pan finds that 59 of the Fushe members were from these prominent families. They were 42.1 percent of all members in the Jiaxing area and 2.6 percent nationwide. Fifty-eight of these family members were listed in Weike. They made up 67.5 percent of the total Weike group in the Jiaxing area and 6 percent of Weike members nationwide. Sixty-eight of these family members were successful candidates of boxuehongci. They made up 26 percent of the total successful candidates of boxuehongci in Zhejiang province and 6.5 percent of Weike title-holders nationwide. Eighteen people from
these families were listed in The Biographies of Scholars in the Qing, which is 11 percent of the 169 scholars in that book. Pan concludes that these prominent families produced a large number of high achievers. Pan’s discussion of his second question is very interesting and convincing. His interpretation is based on the validity of various assumptions. He modestly presents his three findings—migration, marriage, and longevity—along with his detailed social and biological assumptions. As he explains, migration was necessary to select a new environment for survival and help these prominent families maintain their prosperity in conditions of social turmoil. Pan tracks 560 marriages in more than 80 families. Because marriage involved natural selection in terms of physical strength and intellectual ability, Pan finds that people in these families who had the same interests were likely to select each other. Such marriage selection could cross the lines of social class, status, and geographical location. Marriage control provided the biological genes and social environment to enable these prominent families to continue to produce achievers. Although the longevity of prosperity of these families could be controlled internally by marriages and individual efforts, external factors, such as wars and natural disasters, eventually doomed these families. Pan’s research opens new dimensions, genealogy and psychology, for studies of the imperial examinations. 67. Kracke, E. A., Jr. “Family vs. Merit in Chinese Civil Service Examinations under the Empire.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 10, no. 2 (September 1947): 103–123. Article; English Kracke was a professor and sinologist at the University of Chicago. He lived in China from 1936 through 1940 and received his PhD from Harvard in 1941. He was considered “one of the world’s greatest authorities on the Sung dynasty and on Chinese governmental institutions” by his colleagues.8 Noting that the preliminary results of Wittfogel’s survey (1938) (see entry 53) announced that some “fresh blood” was absorbed by the Chinese civil service examinations, but on the whole the ruling officialdom reproduced itself from its own ranks, Kracke argued that the jinshi graduates, who had no family tradition of civil service, played a highly significant part in the civil service. Kracke’s argument is based on two lists of successful candidates from 1148 and 1256 during the Song dynasty. He traces the history of these two sources, cross-references the official dynastic histories and independent documents, and confirms the reliability and accuracy of these two lists. Both indicate that over half of the successful candidates’ forbears had no successful history in imperial examinations or family tradition in public service. Furthermore, by investigating the total number of officials, estimated number of replacements for government positions, and other supplemental methods to recruit officials, Kracke concludes that “a very large share of the higher governmental positions would be in the hands of the novi homines” (p. 122). In addition, Kracke reconciles his and Wittfogel’s arguments by indicating that Wittfogel’s source was an official dynastic history, which listed only “the top-most elite of the Chinese officialdom” and omitted men from humble families. The two lists of successful candidates record “the entire body of men passing the civil service examinations” (p. 122). In 1976, Kracke’s colleague, Herrlee G. Creel, commented on Kracke’s study: “This paper, apparently for the first time, brought detailed and careful study of extensive statistics to bear upon this problem. This was followed by a large amount of later work, both by Ed himself and by others, which has added a new dimension to
our understanding of the nature of China’s government and its relation to Chinese society.”9 68. Pan Guangdan and Fei Xiaotong. “The Imperial Examination System and Social Mobility.” Social Sciences (Qinghua University) 4, no. 1 (October 1947): 1–21. Article; Chinese In 1947, almost simultaneously, two landmark studies on social mobility in the Chinese imperial examinations were published. One was “Family vs. Merit in Chinese Civil Service Examinations under the Empire” by the American sinologist Edward Kracke (entry 67), which was published in September; the other one was “The Imperial Examination System and Social Mobility” by Chinese sociologists Pan Guangdan and Fei Xiaotong, which debuted in October. There is no evidence that the authors of the two articles were aware of each other, but these articles are both groundbreaking studies on social mobility in the Chinese imperial examinations. Though these studies were both based on the successful candidates’ family backgrounds, their sources were different. Kracke studied two honor rolls for jinshi titleholders in the Song dynasty, whereas Pan and Fei researched 915 successful candidates’ examination sheets from provincial and state examinations in the Qing dynasty. Each examination sheet records the candidate’s biographical information and family background. Pan and Fei identify social mobility from the records of these candidates’ paternal families within five generations and from the distributions of these successful candidates between cities and rural areas. Some 122 candidates (13.33 percent of the total 915) were from families in which no family member had ever been successful in the imperial examinations within five generations. This indicates that examination success was not always monopolized by families with a successful history in the examinations. Pan and Fei conclude that there was some degree, neither too large nor too small, of social mobility in the imperial examinations, even though the opportunity was not widely open to commoners. Pan and Fei also find that among 122 successful candidates of the commoner families, 41.16 percent were from rural areas. Since more affluent residents lived in cities, the opportunity was likely available to candidates who had enough wealth to support a lifelong pursuit of success in the examinations. Pan and Fei’s superior ability to interpret their data lends strength to their study. The data interpretations and discussions are supported by Pan and Fei’s rigorous assumptions and observations in the context of Chinese society and a comparison to American and Russian societies. The number of successful candidates in rural areas in Pan and Fei’s study is similar to the ratio between American scientists/eminent people and the agricultural population in Cattell and Clarke’s studies. The ratio is higher than that in Russian society in Sorokin’s analysis. Thus, with a fuller picture, Pan and Fei’s conclusion that the Chinese examination system provided a ladder for the Chinese agricultural population to move up is compelling. 69. Liu Kairong. A Study of Novels in the Tang Dynasty. Shanhai: Shangwu Book Company Publisher, 1947. Book; 220 p.; 18 cm; Chinese This splendid study by Liu Kairong, a scholar of classic Chinese literature, presents three keys to the development of novels in the Tang dynasty: the Classic Writing Movement and the legend novels , the Tang imperial examination system, and the influence of the Buddhist
religion from India. The Classic Writing Movement, led by Han Yu, was not simply a promotion of Confucianism or a use of the old writing genre to oppose the flashy current writing trend, but was a cultural and political strategy. These eminent authors of classic writings involved in the movement were also the trendsetters of literary genres, legend novel writers, and active politicians during that period. The legend novels were actually these writers’ experiments and tools for delivering their literature and political ideas. The candidates from imperial examinations often wrote their legend novels as part of examination practice, xingjuan, to promote their reputation and obtain recommendations from the social elite. After the middle of the Tang dynasty, the jinshi degree became a symbol of social status. Jinshi degree-holders were not only at center stage in the flamboyant ceremonies for the successful candidates from the imperial examinations, but also held important positions in the imperial government. Many jinshi title-holders were involved with prostitutes before and after taking their imperial examinations. Mingling with prostitutes became part of the jinshi’s lifestyle. Liu analyzes the literary phenomenon “Tang prostitute literature” in relation to jinshi. A number of stories about tragic love affairs between a young, handsome, and successful jinshi and a beautiful and talented prostitute were created and became popular. These stories usually ended in tragedy because of the huge gap in social status between jinshi and prostitutes. Yingying Zhuan and Huo Xiaoyu Zhuan are examples of such novels; they became part of classic Chinese literature. Under the influence of Buddhism, the social elites produced the genre of legend novels. They adopted the rich stories of Buddha and the popular style to transform these legend novels from ivory tower literature for a few literary elites to popular fanfare for general readers in all social groups. Liu analyzes nine publications that represent this transition. This book describes the Tang literary phenomenon, which opened the first page of the Chinese novel history in a unique social and political context, and the trendsetters of the literary movement, who were also jinshi title-holders from the imperial examinations and politicians. 70. Fei Xiaotong and Wu Han et al. Imperial Power and Gentry Power. Shanghai: Observation Press, 1948. Book; 177 p.; 19 cm; Chinese In the summer of 1948, six Chinese scholars organized a seminar to discuss the political and social structure of Chinese society from social and historical perspectives. As Fei indicates, the focus of their discussions is to analyze how imperial power and gentry power are allied and yet conflict with each other, what the characteristics of these two kinds of power are, and how these characteristics have evolved (p. 177). After the seminar, these scholars developed their discussions into several papers that were published in Weekly Observation and then as this book, which includes 16 papers. Fei’s three papers discuss the Chinese gentry in relation to the centralized imperial power, how the intellectual class was developed, and the parallel and conflicting relationships between Confucianism and imperial power. Wu’s four papers dissect imperial power and gentry power. Wu states that the fundamental nature of imperial power is despotism. Prior to the Qin dynasty (ancient times–221 BC), the dominant power came from aristocratic despotism. After the Qin dynasty (221 BC–1911), absolute power came
from imperial despotism. Four other scholars participated in the discussion, covering the apparatus, political and economic systems, examination system, ideology of the imperial ruling power, and changes in the gentry’s power after the imperial power ended. The two concepts, imperial power and the gentry’s power, not only explain traditional Chinese society but also implicate the impact of these two types of power on modern society. Fei notes at the end of this book that, “these papers are just attempts,” and “our purpose is to open questions instead of providing answers” (p. 174). Ironically, Fei, Wu, and other scholars were not able to continue the discussion, and their personal lives were destroyed by a new kind of extreme power, transformed from the imperial power during the period of China’s Cultural Revolution. However, their book continuously inspires younger generations. 71. He Yongji. “A Chinese-Styled Parliament.” Observation 4, no. 11 (1948): 5–7. Article; Chinese After the fall of the Qing imperial government, many scholars and politicians paid attention to Western government systems. The author suggests that a Western parliamentary system had actually existed in China for a long time under a different name, the imperial examination system. In the author’s opinion, in addition to being a system for recruiting government officials, the examination system functioned as a parliament. How did the examination system assume the role of political representation? First, the examination system used quotas that represented the population of each province to control the political balance. The most successful candidates from the state examination were usually from Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces. When all successful candidates were southerners, Emperor Ming Taizu suspected fraud and ordered the death penalty for the education minister. Second, because only 10 to 15 percent of successful candidates received government positions, most became local gentry, who were the leaders and spokespersons of local communities. Local gentry could discuss their local issues and send messages to the central government through their networks. Officials who were successful candidates originally from different provinces could represent their local communities to discuss the emperor’s agenda in the imperial court. The only difference between the Chinese examination system and the parliamentary system of Western countries was that the final decision was made by the emperor, not based on representatives’ votes. In Western countries, politicians discuss politics in expensive clubs, whereas Chinese gentry discussed their politics in cheap teahouses. The author thus believes that the Chinesestyle parliamentary system fit China perfectly. 72. Lin Zhichun. “The Imperial Examination System and the Selection System in relation to Chinese Democracy: A Discussion on ‘the Chinese-Styled Parliamentary System’ with Mr. HeYongji.” Observation 4, no. 13 (1948): 6–8. Article; Chinese Lin opposes He Yongji’s view of the Chinese-style parliamentary system (see entry 71). First, the imperial examination system was a political tool to select and recruit officials for the imperial government. It had nothing to do with the representation of the people as in a parliamentary system. Second, the quota method was inherited from the selection system of Moral Excellence in the Han dynasty. It was completely different from the essential
meaning of representation of the population. Third, successful candidates from the examinations became local gentry because there was an accumulated surplus of candidates. Moreover, the imperial examination was intended to recruit officials , not civil service workers at lower levels. Successful candidates preferred being local gentry rather than being civil service workers, in order to wait for an opportunity to become officials. Fourth, discussions in the imperial court were not equal to hearings and debates in the parliament. Lin suggests that even the Examination Institute of the Republic of China continues to function as the imperial examination did, to select officials for the government. 73. Wu Han. “A Discussion of a Chinese-styled Parliamentary System.” Observation 14 (1948): 5–8. Article, Chinese Wu also refutes He Yongji’s opinion that the imperial examination system was “a Chinesestyled parliament system” (see entry 72), for the following reasons. First, the imperial government was maintained by collecting heavy taxes and labor services. Officials, gentry, and their families occupied 70 percent of agricultural lands, but they were exempt from government taxes and labor services. The burden of all taxes and labor services was imposed on the peasants, who only owned 30 percent of the land. The labor service was so harsh that a farmer could be bankrupted within one or two years if the family did not produce a successful candidate from the imperial examinations. The quota system only applied to three large regions —the south, the north, and the middle—and did not represent the population in each province. The ultimate decisions about public affairs were always in the hands of the emperor and the oligarchy. Officials who were selected from the successful candidates from the imperial examinations and appointed by the emperor could only follow the emperor’s will or represent their own interests. Third, the local gentry’s service to their community was part of their income. The gentry could make suggestions or report local affairs to the central government, but mostly for their own interests. Wu concludes that although the imperial examination system was in a Chinese style, it was never a parliament. As a historian in Ming history, Wu cites a convincing figures and events to support his argument in this article. Wu’s views in this article were fully developed in Imperial Power and Gentry Power (see entry 70). 74. Chen Sen. “The Imperial Examination System in the Tang Dynasty.” World Monthly 3, no. 3 (1948): 20–23. Article; Chinese The author asserts that the origin of the civil service examination can be traced back to AD 132 in the Han dynasty. However, it was during the Tang dynasty that the examination was developed into a system for recruiting government officials. Based on the previous examinations and various examinees, there were three types of examinations: (1) local examinations, which qualified students for the national examination; (2) the xianggong examination, which qualified examinees who were not students for the national examination; and (3) the irregular examination, which was held on the emperors’ temporary orders. The first two examinations were called the regular examination. The irregular examinations supplemented them. There were 86 examination curriculums in the regular examination. The
most popular were jinshi and mingjing. Jinshi was more prestigious than mingjing, because only 20 to 30 successful jinshi candidates were selected each year, compared to over a hundred mingjing candidates. The jinshi examination included writing poetry/verse, which tested the examinees’ literary talents, and writing essays about Confucian classics and current issues. Successful candidates would only be qualified by the imperial examinations to be placed on the waiting list for officialdom. To receive official appointments, they had to pass the examination held by the Human Resources Board . The Tang examination system was an open competition for everyone based on objective grading. People from various social backgrounds could take the examinations without getting recommendations from local officials. Because the candidates, who came to the capital for the national examination every year, were selected based on quotas, the examination unified different regions politically. The author argues that the Tang examination system was a tool used by the emperors to win and control the literati so they would devote their talents and souls to the imperial government. 75. Pan Guangdan. Eugenics Theory. Shanghai: Observation Press, 1949. Book; 278 p.; 19 cm; Chinese The eight chapters in this book were completed between 1935 and 1942. In the preface, Pan states that some chapters were written while he was running from Japanese airstrikes during World War II. In chapter 4, “The Differences of Genetic Heredity,” Pan presents preliminary findings from his research, an example of intellectual inheritance. He is aware that Chinese psychologists consider the eight-legged essay an intelligence test rather than a knowledgebased examination. The imperial examinations were held 112 times over 260 years during the Qing dynasty. Pan collected data about the top five winners from each examination, a total of 506 top winners from various geographical regions. He finds that 42 percent of these winners were related by blood to one or more persons in this group. 76. Goodrich, L. Carrington. “Maternal Influence: A Note.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 12, nos. 1/2 (June 1949): 226–230. Article; English In a four-page note, Goodrich addresses the question, “What of the maternal line [of the jinshi degree-holders]?” which was raised by Kracke in his article “Family vs. Merit in Chinese Civil Service Examinations under the Empire” (see entry 67). Goodrich examines two biographies that were used by Professor Quentin Pan (Pan Guangdan) for his own research. From these biographies, Goodrich finds that two top-ranked successful candidates, Ma Duo and Li Ji, were both from the Ch’ang-lo in Foochow area and were linked to the same mother, Huang, who was the concubine of Ma’s family and entered Li’s family later. Ma’s and Li’s families’ ancestors were distinguished officials and degree holders. However, the records of the mother of “these remarkable men” were not traceable. Hence, the maternal influence on both men could have existed but could not be proved. Goodrich’s discovery indicates a complicating factor among traditional Chinese families that has to be taken into account in the research on maternal influence. 77. Hsu, Francis L. K. “Social Mobility in China.” American Sociological Review 14, no. 6
(December 1949): 764–771. Article; English Francis L. K. Hsu, a professor of sociology and anthropology at Northwestern University at that time, conducted a quantitative study on vertical social mobility in China during the last thousand years and found downward patterns between generations. His data were taken from the biographies in four Chinese district histories (District Gazetteers). Hsu extracted two groups: (1) individuals mentioned in the biographies who were classified as having achieved some degree of “prominence” through their positions in the bureaucracy (the largest percentage of the whole group), imperial examinations, moral excellence, and distinction in literature poetry, arts, etc.; and (2) those whose names were merely mentioned. By tracking down the generations of these two groups of individuals, Hsu found that there was a considerable degree of vertical social mobility in China, and that the vast majority of cases of prominence did not last more than one or two generations. Hsu noted that there is “the rather drastic difference” (p. 771) between his discovery and Wittfogel’s conclusions, in which the number of officials from privileged families is impressive. Hsu indicates that his study and Kracke’s “Family vs. Merit in Chinese Civil Service Examinations under the Empire” reach a similar conclusion.
NOTES 1. Liu Haifeng, The Imperial Examination System and the Imperial Examination Studies (Guizhou: Guizhou Publisher, 2004), 246. 2. Otto B. Van Der Sprenkel, “Max Weber on China,” History and Theory 3, no. 3 (1964): 348, note 3. 3. Chaju includes three parts: 1) each local district recommended to the central government candidates who had excellent morals, 2) these candidates took essay exams in the capital, and 3) the candidates took examinations held by the emperor before they received their official appointments. 4. Fushe was a political and literary organization established in 1633 and abolished by the Qing government. 5. Weike is a title for the top five successful candidates from the imperial examinations, including the top three winners in the first rank of the jinshi, the first place in the second rank of the jinshi, and the first place in the state examination. 6. Boxuehongci was special, the most prestigious examination curriculum in the imperial examination system. Two boxuehongci examinations were held during the Qing period. 7. The Biographies of Scholars in the Qing, written by Ye in the Qing dynasty, includes 169 biographies of scholars eminent during the Qing. 8. Herrlee G. Creel, “Edward A. Kracke, Jr., 1908–1976,” American Oriental Society 96, no. 4 (1976): 489. 9. Ibid., 490.
3 Publications between 1950 and 1976
Chapter 3 introduces 26 publications: 16 books and 10 articles. Ten publications are in Chinese and sixteen are in English. In mainland China, the era between the establishment of the People’s Republic of China and the end of China’s Cultural Revolution (1949–1976) was almost silent because of extremely centralized political control of the state ideology. Only a handful of publications appeared in mainland China, but studies in Taiwan, Hong Kong, the United States, and Japan were expanding. The debate about social mobility in the imperial examinations was heated, and landmark studies were produced by first-class researchers from the international community. Several Chinese scholars who were examination degree-holders from the imperial examinations authored books based on their firsthand experiences and memories. Imperial examination studies were diversified by new topics such as studies of the system of purchasing offices and examinees’ travel expenses, avoidance regulations, and official examiners, and an interesting class activity that replicated the imperial examination at a college in the United States. 78. Xu Daling. The System of Purchasing Offices by Contributions during the Qing Period 1644–1911. Beijing: The Harvard Yenching Institute Peking Office, 1950. Book; 170 p.; Chinese In the Qing Dynasty, official positions could also be purchased. Xu’s book is a meticulous investigation into the system of purchasing offices based on his research in the library collection of the Yenching University in Beijing in the late 1940s. The book has three parts: development, organization, and its influence. Xu finds that the system of buying offices began during the Jingtai reign (1450–1457) in the Ming dynasty. Part 1 presents the development of the system in three stages: initiatives, adoption, and evolution. Xu provides detailed information on the date when and reasons why the purchasing system was initiated, as well as the posts and titles available for purchase. Part 2 explains regular and irregular operations, types and amounts of payments, arrangements for obtaining the posts, and titles after purchases,
all presented in tables. Part 3 delineates social responses to Emperor Kangxi’s policy on purchasing offices and the problems caused by the purchasing system. The system was developed from a temporary Qing government strategy to cope with the financial problems of defense and disaster relief. The Qing government had to adjust the system to protect the recruitment system by limiting purchased positions to lower official ranks. 79. Qian Mu. “The Examination System in Chinese History.” Examination Explication Monthly 1 (1951). In A Collection of Selected Papers of Studies on the Civil Service Examination in the Twentieth Century. Wuhan: Wuhan University Press, 2009, 104–114. Article; Chinese Qian Mu (1895–1990) was a renowned historian with a distinctive view of Chinese history. In the preface to his book The Outlines of the Chinese History, which was published in 1940 and later assigned as the textbook for universities in Taiwan, he asked his readers to keep four thoughts in mind when reading his book: (1) any citizen of any country should know some history about his/her country; (2) anyone who knows some history of his/her country should have a genuine feeling of respect for the country’s history; (3) one ought not to be an extremist who totally denies one’s own country’s history, or assumes we are standing at the peak of history and condemns the past for our own faults; and (4) the more citizens there are in this country who hold such thoughts, the more hope the country will have for progress. These four thoughts embody Qian’s philosophy about learning Chinese history and are key to understanding this article. It is mainly an overview of the Chinese examinations from the Han to Qing dynasties. Three attributes distinguish this article from others. First, Qian’s overview is constructed of meticulous historical facts that define the nature of the political and examination systems of each dynasty. Second, Qian has a superb ability to describe the nature of the examination system in most precise and concise language. Third, Qian’s original thoughts about the Chinese examination system are built into the connected historical facts. Following are a few examples of his unique thoughts. (1) No system can be perfect without a pitfall. One system must be fit into other systems so that it can be effectively carried out. For example, the Nine Rank System was created for evaluating candidates and officials. However, it was later used to serve the overly powerful aristocrats. (2) The imperial examination system was used for selecting candidates , not educating candidates . Starting in the Tang dynasty, prestigious families assumed an educational role to prepare their descendants for taking the imperial examinations. (3) Beginning in the Ming dynasty, students could be educated in schools before taking imperial examinations. After the imperial examinations, the Hanlin (Imperial Academy) was the training ground for new candidates before they formally entered officialdom. (4) The neutralized official examination content reflected the development of academic freedom. For example, the poetry examination was added to the Qing examination system, which not only tested examinees’ creativity but also meant that grading would not depend entirely on the eight-legged essay. As Qian concluded, the examination system was the backbone of Chinese political society. The system was used as an objective standard to select meritocrats to participate in the government, which was the people’s right and is different from the Western countries’ “party politics.” The examination system was thus a fair competition that absorbed differences in social class and strengthened the political unification of Chinese
society. Qian suggests that Sun Zhongshan’s theory of the Five-Power Constitution unconsciously matched traditional Chinese political ideology. However, the Examination Institution of the Republic of China could not carry out Sun’s idea. 80. Kracke, Edward A. Civil Service in Early Sung China 906–1067. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1953. Book; 262 p; 25 cm; English Kracke was aware that “a general survey of the Sung civil service organization and practices . . . would have been impossible” (p. ix). However, he was motivated and strategically focused on controlled sponsorship in the Sung dynasty, which was “a principal feature of Sung civil service administration” (p. viii). Kracke finds that the controlled sponsorship was not the same as nepotism but was in fact a legitimate practice. It was used as an administrative technique and responsibility “in discovering men of superior character and outstanding talents” and “broadening the opportunity for advancement and raising the morale of the civil service” (p. 102). Kracke explicates the objectives, procedures, and policy of the controlled sponsorship in 12 chapters. Chapter 4 is an analysis of the relationship between the examination system and the civil service recruitment system. Creel, who was a sinologist and Kracke’s colleague, described this book as “a genuinely pioneering work” that “gives a scrupulously documented picture of the organization and the functioning of China’s government during the first century of the Sung dynasty.”1 Controlled sponsorship was not only unique to Chinese government practice in the Sung dynasty but it also was an inherited character of government administrations throughout the Chinese empire. This book is another timeless work that complements earlier study, “Family vs. Merit in Chinese Civil Service Examinations under the Empire” (see entry 67). 81. Chang Chung-li (Zhang Zhongli). The Chinese Gentry: Studies on Their Role in Nineteenth-Century Chinese Society. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1955. Book; 250 p.; 24 cm; English Chang earned his PhD in economics and was a professor at the University of Washington when he was working on the Modern China History Project. This book, the product of his research project, reports on four studies of the Chinese gentry in the late Qing dynasty. In the first study, Chang defines the institutional positions of the Chinese gentry and their relationship to the government. The second study is a quantitative analysis in which Chang presents the size of the entire gentry group and the size of the different small groups within the group, based on the numbers of shengyuan who were successful candidates from the local examinations and the chiensheng, who held office through purchase. Chang reveals that an increase in the total number of gentry and changes within the strata of the gentry group resulted from political transformation in the late nineteenth century. The third study depicts examinees’ lifelong engagement in the imperial examinations. Chang indicates that “the examination system had remained the basis of the institutional framework of the nineteenth century Chinese gentry” (p. xx). The gentry absorbed traditional values and official ideology through their endless preparations for imperial examinations. The last study is a quantitative analysis of 5,473 biographies of Chinese gentry, gathered from the biographical sections of the gazetteers of the
provinces, prefectures, and districts. The tables demonstrate various functions, family backgrounds, and economic conditions of the gentry. A portion of studies 3 and 4 was collected into The Chinese Civil Service: Career Open to Talent, edited by Menzel, as part of major literature on the debate of social mobility in the Chinese civil service. Chang’s position is that “[t]he examination system did indeed make possible a certain ‘equality of opportunity,’ but the advantages were heavily in favor of those who had wealth and influence” (p. 182–183). The advantages were found in the separate grading and quota systems for officials’ sons/brothers and commoners and in the corruption of the powerful or privileged. Nevertheless, in the study of what percentage of the gentry came from established gentry families and what percentage came from commoners (newcomers), Zhang’s statistical analysis finds that “for the whole nineteenth century 35 percent belong[ed] to the group of newcomers (Table 36)” (p. 214). Thus, he concludes that “[t]he data on ‘newcomers’ show a high and increasing social mobility” (p. 219). As the most powerful class in the Chinese empire, the Chinese gentry’s influence extends to modern times. As Professor Franz Michael, Chang’s advisor, commented in the preface to this book, “The tradition of an intellectual status group dominating society, limited the possibility of a democratic revolution and facilitated the success of communist bureaucracy which differs from the tradition mainly in its lack of the humanist values of the past” (p. xxi). Although Chinese society has changed over time, Chang’s contribution to the study of Chinese intellectuals, which belongs to a research branch of the imperial examination system, is still relevant to modern China. 82. Jia Jingde. Xiucai, Juren, and Jinshi (Successful Candidates from the Three-Tier Imperial Examinations). Hong Kong: Freemen Newspaper Publisher, 1956. Book; 45 p.; 19 cm; Chinese A jinshi degree-holder, Jia provides a firsthand account of the imperial examinations based on his experience and memory. He describes the three-tier Qing examination system, detailing the examination content, curriculums, eight-legged essay, dates, number of examinees, grading, rituals of celebration, clothing of top winners, examination facilities, fraud, and appointments for successful candidates. Along with a sequential order of the examination process, Jia’s seamless narrative is filled with interesting anecdotes. For example, he mentions that he spent 12 taels of silver to purchase the best ink for his palace examination, because the better the calligraphy was, the better was his chance to win. Unexpectedly, he was ranked in the third jinshi group. Three years after the end of the Qing dynasty, he saw his paper and realized that his writing was too dark, which was caused by moisture from rain on that day. Jia tells a story about his relative, Huo, who hired someone to help him prepare for the essay examination. The helper wrote the essay on a piece of roof tile with a note: “I could not write all on the small tile, you are on your own for the last two paragraphs” (p. 9). Huo not only copied everything, including the note, but also misread the word “past” as “twenty days and sky.” The grading official was at first confused by Huo’s essay, but eventually realize what had happened. He wrote comments on Huo’s paper with a sense of humor: “Huo, the sun is in the sky, and I am afraid that I cannot choose you” (p. 9). Jia also describes “the big selection” , which was a system of eight criteria used to select the successful candidates from the
provincial examinations based on their looks. The good-looking ones received official appointments; the rest could only fill teaching positions. Such vivid and interesting details make Jia’s book a valuable primary source for readers from the general public to researchers. 83. Qi Rushan. Degree Titles of the Chinese Imperial Examinations. Taibei: Chinese News Press, 1956. Book; 228 p.; Chinese Qi was an erudite scholar of classic Chinese literature and Beijing opera. He was born in the late Qing dynasty. This book is a type of dictionary that defines various degree titles that were used only for the imperial examinations. These titles are arranged from the lower to higher ranks and presented in 25 chapters in this book. Examples of such titles are xiucai , the informal title for successful candidates from the local examinations in the Qing dynasty; gongsheng , the title for the successful candidates from the state examinations, and hanlin , the title for the Imperial Academy members. Qi’s book is based primarily on his firsthand experience and memory, because he did not take any books with him when he fled to Taiwan in 1949. However, as a witness of and participant in the imperial examinations, he was able to use daily language to explain these special titles, which are no longer used. 84. Kracke, E. A. Jr. “Region, Family, and Individual in the Chinese Examination System.” In Chinese Thought and Institutions, edited by John K. Fairbank, 251–268. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957. Book; 438 p.; 25 cm; English After publishing “Family vs. Merit in the Examination System”(see entry 67), Kracke conducted a deeper investigation into how social mobility existed between the conceived ideal and the true reality of the Chinese imperial examination system. Scrupulously examining data on population concentrations and changes, regional representation of examination graduates, and regional patterns of vertical social mobility among the graduates from the Tang to the Qing dynasties, Kracke finds that “in the course of centuries of the dominant trend of Chinese opinion has continued for the most part to recognize the need for equal opportunity in the examinations. . . . Regional equality has in turn assumed the various forms of equality among administrative areas, among populations of similar size, or among similar numbers of potential candidates” (p. 268). His findings indicate that social mobility existed under the political conditions in which manipulation of political power, competition among social groups, and redistribution of resources were negotiated. Thus, the ideal of the examination system survived in reality. 85. Shang Yanliu. The Qing Imperial Examinations. Beijing: Sanlian Press, 1958. Book; 352 p.; Chinese Shang was the last tanhua , a top third place winner in the last imperial examination held in 1904. This book makes a full presentation of the Qing imperial examinations through Shang’s personal experience. The first three chapters of this book introduce the local, state, and palace examinations he participated in. Shang provides vivid details about the qualification of examinees, the examination officials, locations and facilities, regulations, and
procedures. Chapter 4 deals with the imperial military and translation examinations. Chapter 5 covers various examinations that existed after the abolition of the imperial examinations, because Shang perceives these examinations as part of the ending of the imperial examinations. Chapter 6 explains auxiliary services of the examination system: tenglu staff, who were responsible for copying examinees’ tests to conceal their handwriting; grading officers (zhongshu , xuezheng ); and xuelu examination staff, who were official teachers of Chinese or Manchu language. Chapter 7 presents examples of the eight-legged essays and other types of examination materials. Chapter 8 records several crimes that occurred during the imperial examinations. This firsthand point of view makes this book rare and valuable for today’s readers. 86. Ho Ping-ti. “Aspects of Social Mobility in China, 1368–1911.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 1, no. 4 (June 1959): 330–359. Article; English This article by Ho, who was a professor at the University of British Columbia, analyzes upward and downward vertical social mobility in the imperial examinations from sociological and social institutional perspectives. The most notable finding is Ho’s quantitative analysis of the family backgrounds of 10,463 jinshi using data drawn from nearly 70 lists of civil service examinations from the Ming and Qing periods over five and one-half centuries (1371–1904). Ho divides commoner family backgrounds into two categories, A and B. The jinshi who came from families that had had no holders of degrees or officials for the three preceding generations are category A; category B consists of jinshi title-holders whose families had produced one or more non-ruling-class degree-holders within three generations. Ho finds that category A constituted 44.9 percent of the whole jinshi group in the Ming dynasty, and the combined categories A and B account for more than one-third of the total jinshi title-holders in the Qing period. Ho argues that the degree of upward social mobility through the institutionalized channel, the imperial examination system, was very substantial. However, he does not believe that this social elevation was by and large based on individual merit, because other institutional channels (e.g., the yin system, the purchasing system for officialdom, and the imperial school system) and noninstitutional factors (e.g., friends, benefactors, and imperial policies) favored established families and promoted upward mobility in the Ming and Qing dynasties. However, there were no institutionalized means to prevent downward social mobility. Ho’s statistical analysis shows that social mobility “reached its maximum in the first two hundred years of the Ming period, and began to level off from the late sixteenth century” (p. 359). Ho’s remarkable study comes from not only his quantitative analysis but also his indepth understanding, rich presentation, and brilliant interpretations of his data in the context of Chinese society. This article was fully developed into the book The Ladder of Success in Imperial China (1962). For this milestone work and other monumental publications on Chinese society, Ho has been regarded as “a leader in this movement to broaden the scope of modern research in Chinese history” (Wilbur, foreword). 87. Sheng Jianshi. A History of Chinese Examinations. Taiwan: The Examination Institute, 1960; reprint, Taiwan: Shangwu Press, 1969.
Book; 206 p.; 18 cm; Chinese This book was published by the Examination Institute in Taiwan in 1960 as a reference tool for research on the examination system. Because most of the Institute’s books were destroyed by a flood in 1962, it was published again in 1969. It contains nine chapters. The first four chapters outline the recruiting systems prior to the Sui dynasty. Chapters 5 to 9 focus on explaining the imperial examination system in each dynasty. Compared to other similar publications, this book has several unique ways of describing the examination system. First, the presentation is evidence based, with well-documented reference notes. Second, 14 tables and charts throughout the book illustrate data and figures with concise text. Third, the school system under each dynasty is consistently described at the end of each chapter throughout this book. This arrangement exhibits not only a close connection between the schools and the examination system but also traceable information on changes in the school system in each dynasty. 88. Franke, Wolfgang. The Reform and Abolition of the Traditional Chinese Examination System. Boston, Cambridge: Center for East Asian Studies, Harvard University; distributed by Harvard University Press, 1960. Book; 100 p.; 28 cm; English This is a book-length study on the reform and abolition of the civil service examination system. After tracing historical criticism of the examination system, Franke presents and analyzes critical evidence about the reforms from the seventeenth century to the abolition of the system, based on voluminous primary sources and key secondary sources. Franke details the attempted reforms that finally led to the abolition of the examination system. One of Franke’s interesting findings is about the powerful influence of the Confucian doctrine. This had not been addressed by historical criticism but is supported by a document by Yuan Shikai and several other key officials submitted on August 31, 1905, and sanctioned by Queen Cixi on September 2, 1905. This finding adds complicity to the role that the Confucian doctrine played in the abolition of the examination system. 89. Marsh, Robert M. “Bureaucratic Constraints on Nepotism in the Ch’ing Period.” Journal of Asian Studies 19, no. 2 (February 1960): 117–132. Article; English Professor Robert M. Marsh at Cornell University joined the debate about social mobility with this study on determinants of official advancement in the Qing bureaucracy, which include both bureaucratic and extra-bureaucratic factors. The bureaucratic factors were seniority and achievement; the extra-bureaucratic factors were ethnic background and privileged family background. Based on 572 officials’ bibliographies in Eminent Chinese of the Ch’ing Period (1644–1912), edited by Arthur W. Hummel, Marsh’s statistical analysis indicates that the rule of seniority and other norms in the Qing bureaucracy “equalize the chances for advancement of officials from family backgrounds as disparate in privilege as official families and commoner families” (p. 55). Marsh argues that the commoners’ sons who entered officialdom were able to achieve about the same degree of advancement as the sons of official families.
90. Marsh, Robert M. “Formal Organization and Promotion in a Pre-Industrial Society.” American Sociological Review 26, no. 4 (August 1961): 547–556. Article; English This article is an expanded version of Marsh’s “Bureaucratic Constraints on Nepotism in the Ch’ing Period” (entry 89). In this new study, Marsh selected 1,047 officials’ biographies during the period of 1831–1879 from the Chinese government directories, T’ung Kuan Lu, and other sources. His statistical analysis confirms that there is a correlation between seniority/achievement and career advancement, in which the longer an official served or the earlier in life one obtained his jinshi title, the more likely he was to be promoted to high-rank posts. However, Marsh finds that the purchasing system enabled officials to move from lowrank posts into middle-rank posts, but not high-rank posts, except those who purchased positions with fourth- to sixth-rank posts. Marsh’s analysis also indicates that the ethnic elites of Manchu and banners had an advantage in moving to high-rank posts; whereas Chinese individuals from official or degree-holding families “did not rise higher than Chinese from commoner families” (p. 552). Marsh also compared officials who entered the bureaucracy through granted privileges to those who were recruited through the examination system. He finds that the granted privilege and age did not make any significant difference. Nevertheless, after finding that the combined predictive power of the bureaucratic variables (seniority and age of jin-shi) were weaker than the combined predictive power of five extra-bureaucratic variables, Marsh altered the conclusion in his previous study: “In the case of nineteenth century China, advancement was determined somewhat more by extra-bureaucratic than by bureaucratic factors” (p. 556). Marsh’s two extraordinary studies made important contributions to the debate on social mobility in the Chinese civil service examination. However, the combined predictive power of five extra-bureaucratic variables seems skewed, because the absolute beneficiary of the ethnic group under the Qing imperial policy weighed more. What would be the predictive power, if the study had taken ethnic background variable out of the five extra-bureaucratic factors? 91. Shang Yanliu. An Overview of the Examinations of the Taiping Kingdom. Shanghai: Zhonghua Press, 1961. Book; 93 p.; 19 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 110185002 Taiping Kingdom was an oppositional state in southern China during the Qing dynasty from 1851 to 1864. The short-lived rebel government even launched its own examination system to recruit its officials. Shang’s book is one of a few publications on the examination system of the Taiping Kingdom. According to Shang, soon after Taiping Kingdom was established in 1851, the first examination was held and continued throughout its entire 14 years. In the first four chapters, Shang introduces the Taiping Kingdom examination procedures, rules, regulations, contents, and curriculums. In chapter 5, Shang presents evidence that a popular story about the female top winner of the Taiping Kingdom examination, Fu Shanxiang, is fabricated. Chapter 6 clarifies that Huang Wan and Wang Tao were the same person, but he was not the top first candidate. Since there were few official histories that recorded the Taiping Kingdom examinations, Shang’s memoir fills in the blanks with rich details about this part of examination history. The Taiping Kingdom’s examination system very closely resembled the
Qing examinations, which shows the strong and irresistible influence of the imperial examination system. 92. Yang Liansheng. “A Discussion of the Travel Expenses for the Imperial Examinations” Qinghua University Journal 2, no. 2 (June 1961). In A Collection of Selected Papers of Studies on the Civil Service Examination in the Twentieth Century. Wuhan: Wuhan University Press, 2009, 136–146. Article; Chinese Without financial support, preparing for examinations and traveling to take the imperial examinations for a lifetime engagement could be unaffordable for most examinees. How did examinees pay for their living costs and traveling? This article attempts to answer this question. Yang’s discussion focuses on the Ming and Qing dynasties based on primary sources he collected. The sources for traveling fees came from the imperial government and private individuals. In the Ming and Qing dynasties, by law, each examinee received silver money and horses for traveling. Prior to the Ming and Qing, local governments collected taxes from peasants who rented government lands to sponsor the examinees’ travels. In the middle of the Qing dynasty, these governmental programs were taken over by local officials and the gentry and maintained by community collective funds. Starting in the Song dynasty, many genealogical records show that individual clans set up funding for their own family members or relatives. During the Ming and Qing periods, many hometown organizations provided housing to accommodate hometown examinees. Some of these facilities collected low rents. Many salttrade businessmen donated money to these organizations to sponsor examinees from their hometowns. The final source was a collective bank organized by individuals. Each member of a collective bank deposited money and could borrow money from the bank when necessary. 93. Wu Han. An Essay Collection. Beijing: Sanlian Publisher, 1962. Book; 200 p.; 21 cm; Chinese The book is a collection of 36 essays by Wu Han, a famous historian of Ming dynastic history and vice mayor of Beijing. Most of the essays were written in 1959, except for three that were published prior to 1949. In “The Imperial Examination and the Gentry Privilege,” Wu furthers the distinct view that he expressed in 1948 (see entry 70) criticizing the imperial examination system. He argues that the system blocked people’s talent and the development of the sciences and confined examinees to writing the eight-legged essay instead of learning practical skills. Wu summarizes five privileges the gentry enjoyed. First, successful candidates were exempt from taxes and labor service for the government. The burden of taxes and labor was quite heavy. According to Wu’s source, a farming family who owned 20 mu (about 30 acres) could be bankrupted if the family did not produce a successful examination candidate. The more successful candidates there were in a county, the poorer the people in the county were, because the exemption from taxes and labor services was shifted to commoners. Second, successful candidates were allowed to have servants, but not commoners. Third, successful candidates had a legal privilege. According to Ming laws, criminals who were successful candidates from the provincial and state examinations could be pardoned three times from the death penalty. The punishments for their crimes were much lighter than those for commoners.
Fourth, successful candidates were not only exempt from taxes and labors, they also received government stipends of 120 taels of silver per year. Fifth, in 1379, the first Ming emperor ordered that successful candidates must be treated differently, had to be seated separately from commoners at a feast, and did not have to respond to a nonofficial’s greet-ing. Thus, Wu disagrees with the method that counted the shengyuan, successful candidates of the district examination, in the commoner group, because these privileges totally separated them from commoners. 94. Chang Chung-li (Zhang Zhongli). The Income of the Chinese Gentry. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1962. Book; 369 p.; 24 cm; English This book, a sequel to Chang’s The Chinese Gentry: Studies on Their Role in NineteenthCentury Chinese Society (entry 81), investigates and analyzes the economic aspect of the privileged group of Chinese gentry. The greatest challenge for this study is, as Chang points out, “To find the nature and extent of people’s income without such records as income tax returns” (p. v). Chang reviewed voluminous sources written in the nineteenth century and several hundred local gazetteers and clan genealogies to unveil the income sources and expenditures of the gentry group and to reconstruct the leadership of the gentry and activities in which they were involved in their local communities. The book has two parts with six chapters. Part 1, which contains four chapters, reveals the gentry’s four primary income sources from their public service and teaching. The majority of the gentry received a large part of their income and compensation from government service, so that they could maintain a high standard of living and accumulate personal savings to contribute to local community projects and invest in their businesses. Members of the gentry also received income from their nonofficial services managing and operating local affairs. These services included being secretarial assistants to local officials. Because only members of the gentry were qualified to prepare students for the imperial examinations, the income from teaching was respectable, whereas nongentry teachers could only teach students at lower levels and received a much lower salary. Part 2 includes two chapters covering the gentry’s income from land-owning and mercantile activities. As property owners and entrepreneurs, members of the gentry received a higher income from their lands and investments than commoners because of their privileged status. In general, the imperial examination certified the Chinese gentry to monopolize government offices and leadership in local communities. Chang states, “As a RESULT of their special privileges and position, the gentry received a substantial share of the national income, even though they constituted only about 2 per cent of the population” (p. 332). Because of the gentry’s role and functions in public service, they managed major economic activities and had a huge influence on the agrarian economy of China. Their income was substantial and came from many sources. In addition to their stipulated salaries, government officials received yanglien , an extra allowance that was much higher than their salaries. For example, a district magistrate would receive an annual yang-lien allowance of between 1,000 and 1,800 taels of silver, while his stipulated salary was only 45 taels. This Chinese-style allowance system is even copied today by the Chinese government civil service system. Its groundbreaking
investigation of the gentry’s income sources and political and economic activities made this book a milestone in Chinese gentry studies. 95. Menzel, Johanna M., ed. The Chinese Civil Service: Career Open to Talent? Boston: D.C. Heath and Company, 1963. Book, 110 p.; 24 cm; English This book presents 13 works by 10 authors, categorized by three essential aspects of the civil service examination system: social mobility, recruitment, and talent measurement. This book is not only a showcase of the leading publications on social mobility in the imperial examination system, it also exhibits a variety of contrasting perspectives. In the introduction, Menzel not only deciphers the significance of these studies but also foresees that the subject of the Chinese examination system “shows promise of fruitful cooperation across disciplinary lines” (p. xii). After the introduction, “The Conflict of Opinion” summarizes the focal points of the debate. The section “Suggestions for Additional Reading” at the end of this book introduces more key publications on various facets of imperial examination studies, which shows the editor’s great expertise on the subject. This book is regarded as “the textbook of imperial examination studies.”2 96. Zhang Jinfan and Qiu Yuanyou. A History of the Imperial Civil Service Examinations. Beijing: Zhonghua Publisher, 1964. Book; 52 p.; 18 cm; Chinese This is one of only a few books about the imperial examinations published between 1950 and 1976 in mainland China. It discusses the imperial examinations from the Sui to the Qing dynasties. Although it is written for general readers, it includes major facts about the history of the examinations. The authors provide a brief summary for understanding that history. They state that the development of the examination system occurred with economic development and strengthened despotic power, but it was not a democratic system for commoners. 97. Wei Xiumei. “Official Examiners of the Provincial Examinations in the Qing Dynasty.” The Journal of the Center Research Institute of the Modern History 24 (1973 June): 171–222. Article; Chinese Because the imperial examination was one of the most important agendas of the Qing government, choosing official examiners was developed into a rigorous process. Wei’s article takes a close look at how the examiners were produced and how the process was developed over the 200 years of the Qing period, based on a number of primary sources, including archives of the Qing history, official records, private diaries, memoirs, and essays. The official examiners were local officials prior to the Ming dynasty. Starting in 1585, they were appointed by the emperor mostly from members of the Imperial Academy. Following the Ming practice, in the Qing dynasty, each provincial examination was supervised by a chief examiner and a vice examiner. Civil service officials in the capital below the second rank and members of the Imperial Academy were qualified to apply for the position of examiner. However, they had to take an examination. The candidates had to not only demonstrate sound knowledge, good writing skills, and moral excellence, but also superb calligraphy skill. The emperor made the
final decision in choosing the examiners. Most of the examiners were jinshi degree-holders (98 percent). To be an examiner could have many advantages. The examiner gained not only sources of extra income but also chances to network for political allies, in addition to opportunities for being promoted. For example, according to a Chinese tradition, “Being your teacher for one day is equal to being your father for life.” The teacher–student relationship was a major investment in their mutual political interests. During the examination periods, the examiner had to be totally isolated from his family, friends, and social connections. If fraud was detected in an examination the examiner was responsible for, he would be punished, even if the fraud was committed by his colleagues, staff, or examinees. The punishments varied from death to losing salary. There have been few studies of official examiners, and this well researched-study has filled a gap. 98. Winkelman, John H. The Imperial Library in Southern Sung China, 1127–1279: A Study of the Organization and Operation of the Scholarly Agencies of the Central Government. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1974. Book; 61 p.; 30 cm; English; ISBN: 0871696487 The Song dynasty is a defining moment in the history of the Chinese empire because of its economic prosperity; innovative printing technologies, which made voluminous publications available and affordable; new genres of literature and plays; and rising level of school education. A new scholarship was fostered, because the Southern Song government organized its scholarly agencies to promote, preserve, and stimulate scholarship for the government to make use of. The most important agency was the Imperial Library, the focus of Winkelman’s study. There are four chapters in this book. In chapter 1, the author explicates the importance of the Imperial Library (the Imperial Academy), which assumed governmental responsibility for studying, authenticating, editing, disseminating, and archiving Confucian cannons and other historical records. Chapter 2 describes the Imperial Library buildings. Drawings of the Imperial Library compound are appendices in this book. Chapter 3 introduces the administration and staff. The Imperial Library appointees were top winners of the civil service examinations. The author provides detailed information on the appointees’ hierarchical positions and tenure schedules, which corresponded with the ranks of their degrees received from the imperial examinations. The wage schedules and personnel data are also included. The last chapter presents the library collection and how this collection was processed and used. 99. Kang, H. W. “Institutional Borrowing: The Case of the Chinese Service Examination System in Early Koryo.” The Journal of Asian Studies 34, no. 1 (November 1974): 109–125. Article; English Professor Kang explores the adoption of the Chinese imperial examination in Korea by King Kwangjongin 958. The adoption was “in [a] wholesale manner . . . , adopting the system complete with its Confucian examination content as well as its Chinese system writing” (p. 109). The proposal for this institutional borrowing came from the king’s Chinese advisor, Shuang Chi. Kang reveals that Shuang was appointed because of his background in the civil service examination and experience in the civil service. Most important, Shuang was involved with a number of reforms in the later Chou, which paralleled the reforms in Koryo, including
implementing the civil service examination system and transforming the military-dominated officialdom into a civil bureaucracy. Kang details “the smooth transplantation of the Chinese civil examination system,” which resulted in “Korea’s immensely successful mastery of the Chinese Confucian scholarship” (p. 122). 100. Lui, Adam Yuen-chung. “Syllabus of the Provincial Examination (hsiang-shih) under the Early Ch’ing (1644–1795).” Modern Asian Studies 8, no. 3 (1974): 391–396. Article; English This article is a discussion of the changes in the provincial examinations in the early Qing dynasty, based on numerous English and Chinese publications on the imperial examinations. The discussion is focused on the eight-legged essay, a standard essay examination. Lui explicates several changes involving the eight-legged essay during the period between 1663 and 1787. The eight-legged essay was deleted from the examination in 1663 because it was considered “the invention of Wang An-shih,” who was viewed as “a bad official” (p. 392) during that time. It was reinstated in 1688 for the following reasons. (1) It was favored by officials in high ranks who were trained in that writing style of the eight-legged essay. (2) The government discouraged original thinking, which would deviate from the imperial government’s control. (3) It unified the grading standards for examination papers. (4) It was a superior writing form that showed true literary skills. The author addresses several minor changes, including dropping two technical compositions and adding poetry writing, between 1758 and 1787. The author argues that although these changes could make scholars illprepared for government positions, the Manchu government did not intend to play down the importance of administrative skills. As he concludes, “The government expected both integrity and efficiency from its officials, but if the two qualities were incompatible, its priority was given to the former” (p. 395). 101. Tao Jing-Shen. “Political Recruitment in the Chin Dynasty.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 94, no. 1. (March 1974): 22–34. Article; English The Chin (Jin) was a dynasty of the Chinese empire that was conquered and established by a minority, the Jurchen, between 1115 and 1234. This article reports a dualistic practice in political recruitment by the Jurchen government in the Chin. The government recruited officials through both the examination system and the hereditary system of yin privilege. This dualistic practice not only reserved Jurchen’s privilege but also maintained a balance between the Chinese and Jurchen in the bureaucracy. Tao states that the dualistic practice in the Chin dynasty was different from the political recruitment in the Liao dynasty, another minority government (916–1125). Wittfogel’s study (see entry 65) found that the Liao government emphasized the yin privilege system to ensure the control of offices by the minority nobility. Tao’s study is based on biographical data for 648 jinshi degree-holders from the Dynastic History of the Chin. Tao clarifies that due to lack of information about family background, the patterns of social mobility in the Chin are not addressed in this study. 102. Lubot, Eugene. “A Simulation of the Chinese Civil Service Examination.” Asian Studies
Professional Review 3, no. 2 (1974): 31–35. Article; English Lubot, a history professor at Wheaton College at that time, presented a class activity for learning about the imperial examination system in an introductory Chinese history class and reported it in this article. This three classroom-day activity simulated almost every feature of the Chinese imperial examination. The subject matter for the class exam was selected from the Analects and Mencius. Each student was required to write a “five-legged essay” to discuss some quotations chosen from the Analects or Mencius that would reveal a thorough understanding of the total body of Confucian principles, and to write a poem. Three finalists would be chosen to answer questions by the Board of Review of this class for the final ranking of the winners. The students dressed in Chinese clothes and sat in isolated cubicles while taking the exam. Students wrote down their names and dormitories, which represented the “provinces” of the Chinese imperial examinations, for geographic diversity. Students might attempt to bribe or influence the examiners. The class activity is reported as a success, but the author notices that students became more competitive for the one finalist spot from the same province: The students grumbled over the evasiveness of the examiners, possibly preparing the ground for justifying their own failures if they should not be one of the successful candidates. Several attempts were made to curry favor with the examiners and Emperor, through gifts or humble poems of admiration. . . . Some unsuccessful candidates [students] complained about being victimized by incompetent Examiners . . . some felt that their talents had not been recognized . . . these were potential rebels against the system. (pp. 34–35)
This article not only records a unique class activity for students to learn about the imperial examination system but also observes interesting reactions and behaviors from students. The results of the replicated examination are surprising. Regarding the natural influence of the imperial examination in this classroom, this article seems to raise more questions than answers. 103. Miyazaki, Ichisada. China’s Examination Hell: The Civil Service Examinations of Imperial China. Translated by Conrad Schirokauer. New York: Weatherhill, 1976. Book, 145 p.; 24 cm; English; ISBN: 0834801043 Miyazaki was a Japanese professor and scholar of Chinese history at Kyoto University. This book, which is translated from Japanese into English, is an interesting introduction to the Chinese examination system. Miyazaki delineates how the system worked by organizing various examinations in the Qing dynasty in a pyramided order. The introduction describes how people prepared for the examinations starting in childhood. Miyazaki then provides details on a large variety of examinations, one by one: the district (hsien-shih) examination, the prefectural (fu-shih) examination, qualifying examination (yuan-shih), provincial examination, metropolitan examination, palace examination, military examination, and special examinations. Although the book is a well-written, popular work and filled with interesting stories about the Chinese imperial examinations, there is no shortage of in-depth historical context. Miyazaki’s expertise in Chinese history is exhibited throughout the book. The last chapter, “An Evaluation of the Examination System,” presents his critical review of the examination system. The book was translated by Conrad Schirokauer, whose knowledge of the
Chinese examination system and elegant English contribute to the book remaining a popular publication for English readers.
NOTES 1. Herrlee G. Creel, “Edward A Kracke, Jr., 1908–1976,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 96, no. 4 (1976): 489–491. 2. Entry 178, p. 61.
4 Publications between 1977 and 2010
Chapter 4 includes 103 publications written between 1977 and 2010: 72 books, 28 are articles, 2 theses, and 1 dissertation. The debate on social mobility in the Chinese imperial examinations intensified and generated a variety of new studies that went in new directions by new generation scholars inside and outside of China. The imperial examination system is perceived as “the intersections between politics, society, economy, and intellectual life” and “a new cultural history.”1 After China’s Cultural Revolution, studies of the imperial examinations in mainland China thrived because of the loosened political control by the state ideology. Chinese scholars have not only continued the debates generated by previous generation scholars, but also branched out into new research territories. Most publications are developed from dissertations or research projects sponsored by the Chinese government. These publications have emphasized discovering new data, employing new methods and theories, exploring untouched territories, tracking the impact of the imperial examination system on modern Chinese society, and deriving new interpretations. Although the 80 Chinese publications and 23 English publications included here are only a fraction of the huge number issued during this period, they reflect a comprehensive scope and depth linking historical roots to contemporary Chinese society. In short, there are many reasons for the never-ending research interest in the Chinese imperial examination studies because of the permanent mark left by the imperial examination system on every aspect of Chinese society, which ultimately became the “gene” of Chinese society. 104. Lin Liyue. Guozijian (The Imperial College) Students in the Ming Dynasty. Taibei: Dongwu University Scholarly Works Award Committee, 1978. Thesis; 167 p.; Chinese Guozijian was the imperial college, which prepared students for pursuing official positions in the imperial bureaucratic system. Guozijian was closely associated with the imperial examination system, and most of its students became governmental officials who had
a huge impact on the political system during the Ming dynasty. This book investigates Guozijian students and their political, social, and scholastic roles during the Ming period. Guozijian students came from five sources: juren, successful candidates from the provincial examinations; shengyuan, graduates of local official schools; yinjian , officials’ sons and brothers; lijian , students through purchases; and others such as descendants of military officials. In the early Ming dynasty, many Guozijian students were appointed to important positions by Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang because he needed to recruit loyalists who could help him strengthen his new government. However, starting around the middle of the Ming dynasty, the opportunities to be appointed to official positions were largely reduced because of increases in the student population. This book has three chapters. The first chapter is the introduction; the second chapter presents the Guozijian’s school system, including the establishment, where the students came from, the curricula, and the regulations and procedures for being appointed to official positions. Although Guozijian was established to train officials for the imperial government, it was gradually replaced by the imperial examination system, which was the most legitimate and prestigious channel to enter officialdom. The second chapter also discusses Guozijian students in relation to politics. Although the students tried to become involved in the politics of the state, they were never a strong political group. Chapter 3 explores the social status of Guozijian students. The author argues that the Ming students’ social status was higher than that of the Qing students, because they were qualified to be appointed to official posts. However, the number of students who received appointments declined during the late Ming dynasty. The author disagrees with Ho Ping-ti’s view that most Guozijian students were likely from poor families. She believes that Guozijian students’ families must have owned a considerable amount of property and lands to be able to pay for their education. The author concludes that although Guozijian was valued as a personnel source by the imperial bureaucracy in the beginning of the Ming dynasty, it became supplemental as the imperial examinations developed. Nevertheless, Guozijian was used as an institution to implement ideological control of the educated literati (students) who would become officials in the future. This book was based on the author’s master’s thesis at the Private Dongwu University in Taiwan. 105. Hymes, Robert P. “Prominence and Power in Sung, China: The Local Elite of Fu-Chou, Chiang-Hsi.” University of Pennsylvania, 1979. Dissertation; 443 p.; 22 cm; English Hymes’s dissertation is an in-depth study of prominent families (clans) in the Fu-Chou region during the period of the Sung dynasty. The dissertation includes two parts: part I is an introduction, and part II contains three chapters with a conclusion. The three chapters cover social mobility and the exams, local elite families: continuity and change, and local activities of the Fu-Chou elites. Hymes investigated the lists of successful candidates from the imperial examinations found in local gazetteers of Fu-Chou and assembled these names and information about kinship in lists. He also searched for other sources, including genealogies; funerary inscriptions; biographies; and records of local schools, temples, bridges, and archives of government offices. Hymes discusses the longevity, stability, and prosperity of these prominent families and their shifting strategies to maintain their prestige as the local elites. He explicates
how these prominent families invested in family members’ success in the local imperial examinations, in addition to using marriage to connect with the local elite network and engaging in local defense and charity work. He concludes that all his evidence indicates that the Fu-Chou local elite’s long-lasting prosperity was not a result of upward social mobility, but rather “a horizontal expansion and internal ramification of the elite social network” (p. 189). A large portion of the dissertation challenges Kracke and others’ studies of social mobility in relation to the imperial examinations. Hymes not only denies the assumption that social mobility pertaining to the imperial examinations is measurable, but also questions Kracke’s methodology and empirical evidence. He suggests that since Kracke’s study only included three paternal generations, it may have missed the official linkages to maternal families and other connections. In his own study, Hymes finds that eight chin-shih (jinshi) degree-holders in Fu-Chou from the 1148 and 1256 lists of successful candidates, which were used in Kracke’s study, were listed as being of nonofficial family background. Based on his research in the local gazetteers and funerary inscriptions, Hymes finds that the eight chin-shih successful candidates all had hidden official connections through maternal families or other networks, such as relationships between teachers and students. This dissertation was developed into a book, Statesmen and Gentlemen: The Elite of Fu-Chou, Chiang-His, in Northern and Southern Sung (Cambridge University Press, 1986). Since the 1980s, Hymes’ study has represented a strong opposing viewpoint in the debate on social mobility in relation to the imperial examinations. 106. Cheng Qianfan. Xingjuan and Literature in the Tang Dynasty. Shanghai: Shanghai Classics Press, 1980. Book; 90 p.; 19 cm; Chinese During the Tang dynasty, the selection of successful candidates for jinshi degree-holders was based not only on the examination results but also on the recommendations of social elites. Xingjuan was part of a networking process in which the candidates sent their literary writings to eminent scholars or officials to get their recommendations, which would increase the candidates’ chances of being chosen. Professor Cheng, a prominent scholar in classic Chinese literature, states that the practice generated by the Tang examination system contributed to the prosperity of Tang literature, rather than to that of the examination system itself. Cheng provides rich details about xingjuan and analyzes its origin and the relationship between xingjuan authors and the development of Tang literature. Evidently, xingjuan brought about the development of three literary genres: poetry, classic essays, and Tang legend novels. For example, Cheng finds that the main source of Tang Hundred Poems, compiled by Wang Anshi, was xingjuan. Among 104 authors, 62 were jinshi degree-holders, and more than 89 percent of these poets took the imperial examinations. This well-written book has remained a landmark study of the relationship between the imperial examinations and Tang literature. 107. Lui, Adam Yuen-chung. The Hanlin Academy: Training Ground for the Ambitious, 1644– 1850. Hamden, Conn: Archon Books, 1981. Book; 284 p.; 24 cm; English; ISBN: 0208018336 The Hanlin Academy was the most influential institution of the imperial government, and its
membership was very exclusive. Only the top-ranking jinshi title-holders could be qualified as Hanlin members. Starting during the Ming dynasty, nine out of ten of the most important officials in the imperial government came from the Hanlin Academy.2 This book is a study of the Hanlin members during the period between the beginning and middle of the Qing dynasty, covering six reigns. It includes two parts. The first is a detailed introduction to the development of the Hanlin Academy beginning with the Tang dynasty, the Hanlin members, how they were selected, and the functions and influence of the Hanlin members. During the Ming dynasty, there were more than 200 Hanlin staff members. The majority were appointed Chinese Grand Secretaries, first-rank officials. Their influence was exercised through their role in conducting the imperial examinations, their contributions to official and private publications, their close ties to the emperors, being mentors to princes, and their imperial discussions with the emperors. Part 2 explicates the civil service system regarding appointment, promotion, transfer, dismissal, and retirement during the Qing dynasty, followed by an investigation of the career patterns of the Hanlin officials. The author tracked down the officials’ biographies and took a statistical approach to identifying the relationship between political success and bureaucratic/extra-bureaucratic factors. The extra-bureaucratic factors included province origins, family background, and ethnic difference; the bureaucratic factors were the academic ranks of the palace examinations and age. The biographies reveal a mixed effect of these personal factors on seniority. The extra-bureaucratic factors were found to have had only a marginal influence on the Hanlin officials’ advancement, if any. Bureaucratic factors, academic rank, and age helped the officials earn their seniority. 108. Hartwell, Robert M. “Demographic, Political, and Social Transformations of China, 750– 1550.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 42, no. 2 (December 1982): 365–442. Article; English This article is an in-depth study of the transformations of China in the period between the middle of the Tang dynasty and the Ming dynasty. The study includes four sections, focusing on intraregional development, the organization of the government, and the social and political behaviors of elites. “The Transformation of the Political Elite” contains the subsection “Civil Service Examination and the Rise of the Local Gentry.” Based on his own study, Hartwell thinks that beginning in the Tang dynasty, the local elite gentry families produced “a significant proportion of the men who filled the offices of the lower bureaucracy” in southern China (p. 416). During the Five Dynasties (907–960) and early Song dynasty, the local elite lineages enhanced their economic advantage and achieved upward political and social mobility through marriage alliances and control of the limited slots for the expanded civil service examination system. In this subsection, Hartwell mainly challenges Kracke and Ho’s methodology in their studies on social mobility in the imperial examinations. Hartwell considers the individual or nuclear family the wrong unit of analysis; he asserts that the role of the extended family is more fitting, because extended family would include maternal lineages and other relative lineages, which contain not only uncles or brothers but also the yin system for entering the bureaucracy. Hartwell finds that “in Su-chou, sixty-three families provided ninety percent of all the successful candidates between 960 and 1279” (p. 419). His case is that the local elite group used marriage as a strategy to maintain their success in the examinations and officialdom. His
study is based on a wide range of primary sources, cited in the notes in his book. Two appendices are attached: “Notes on Population” and “List of Place Names.” 109. Chaffee, John W. The Thorny Gates of Learning in Sung China: A Social History of Examinations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985. Book, 279 p.; 24 cm; English; ISBN: 0521302072 This book is a comprehensive study of the Song examination system and its social aspects, including the bureaucratic system of the imperial government, education, and the examination culture during the Song dynasty. As Kracke’s student, Chaffee inevitably absorbed his advisor’s knowledge and views. He acknowledges that Hartwell’s finding on elite lineages of the Song bureaucracy “demand special consideration” (p. 10). Chaffee intends to take a solid, per-suasive, and unique stand in the debate on social mobility among Kracke, Ho, Hartwell, Hymes, and others. This book is divided into three parts with eight chapters. The first two chapters of part 1 introduce the reality of the examination life in the historical context of the Song period and the central debate on social mobility. The three chapters in part 2 focus on the history of the Song examination system, which included not only the examination process and regulations but also the emperors, examinees, school education, reforms, and development of the capital city. Part 3, the last three chapters, rounds off with a presentation of the regional distribution and patterns of success in the examinations, the zealous examination culture, and conclusions. In challenging Hartwell’s argument that the examinations were “a virtual nonfactor in social mobility . . . marriage, not examinations, was the critical criterion for entrance into a socially-defined elite” (p. 11), Chaffee argues that “the examination system occupied a critical nexus in Sung society” (p. 13). As Chaffee observes, the number of participants in the examinations increased twenty-fold, whereas the opportunities to be successful in examinations and enter office shrank. Although some elite families entered the bureaucracy via the protection privileges, taking these political, academic, and marriage strategies into account, success in the examinations was used by individuals from humble backgrounds for social climbing. Furthermore, neo-Confucianism, which represents the literati’s autonomous authority, the standardization of the government-sponsored school system, the entrance examinations, the innovations of printing examination materials, the development of an examination culture, and local support for the examination system all indicate a shift in political power from the centralized government to localities. As Chaffee concludes, “The examinations were a critical factor in the changes that elite society underwent during the Sung” (p. 187). 110. Lee, Thomas H. C. Government Education and Examinations in Sung China. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 1985. Book; 327 p.; 24 cm; English; ISBN: 0312341318 Lee’s book is one of the superb studies of the imperial examinations in relation to education during the Sung dynasty. Instead of covering the entire Sung government educational system, this book, which comprises four parts with ten chapters, particularly focuses on an investigation of the inseparable relationship between the government education system and the imperial examination system. Part 1 includes the first three chapters and introduces the educational systems before and during the Sung dynasty. Lee identifies five features of
education under the Sung dynasty: the increase in the importance of the imperial civil service examination system; the unprecedented government school system; the rise of neoConfucianism, which defined Chinese educational ideals; the expansion of academies (shuyuan); and the influence of the new printing technology on mass education. Part 2, which includes the next four chapters (chapters 4–7), examines the Sung government educational system by analyzing the following important aspects: higher education, local schools, the civil service examinations, and life in the government schools. The author devotes part 3, which includes chapters 8 and 9, to a discussion of the imperial examination system in the Sung dynasty. The last chapter rounds off part 4 with a conclusion on the Sung government educational system. The educational system was initiated with the goal of training meritorious candidates for government offices and implementing a series of political reforms. Each district set out a government school, and students received government subsidies, from meals to board, in the Northern Sung. Government schools also had a high quota for graduates to take part in the state examinations. By the early twelfth century, the total had reached 200,000. During the Southern Sung, the government could not afford even one more school. The educational function of the imperial examinations was shifted to private academies, which instituted neoConfucianism as their intellectual orthodoxy. In part 3, Lee contributes a well-argued section on social mobility, with the following viewpoints: 1) “Social mobility is a modern concept and carries implications not necessarily accepted in the past” (p. 209). 2) Social justice doesn’t mean “equal opportunities.” Although studies by Lee and other researchers found a steady increase in the percentage of prominent people who came from nondistinguished families with a high rate of turnover within the examination system and officialdom, they were only “an extremely small range of people” (p. 209). The high degree of mobility in the Sung civil service examinations indicates the instability of officialdom rather than the mobility of Chinese society. 3) The quota system balanced regional development at the expense of individual free competition. Lee argues that the Sung government used the examination system as political control to “maintain an elite class by awarding its members with tremendous social honor, prestige and privilege” (p. 230), which further blocked the chances of upward mobility for commoners. 111. De Bary, William Theodore, and Haboush, Ja Hyun Kim, eds. The Rise of NeoConfucianism in Korea. New York: Columbia University, 1985. Book; 551 p.; English; ISBN: 0231060521 This book is a collection of 15 papers on neo-Confucianism in Korea, presented at a conference in 1981 in Bellagio, Italy. The 16 contributors were scholars from universities and research institutions in Korea, France, Japan, Switzerland, and the United States. NeoConfucianism, which developed during the Song dynasty in China, was introduced and established as a new way of life in Korea during the Yi dynasty (1392–1910). Eight of these papers, written by Chŏng Tojŏn, Kwŏn Kŭn, Yi T’oegye, and Yi Yugok, focus on a group of eminent Korean scholars who played important roles in developing neo-Confucianism into a ruling ideology for the Yi dynasty. The remaining papers are studies of various aspects of neoConfucianism, including education, culture, literature, and religion in the late Koryo and Yi dynasties in Korea. “The Influence of Neo-Confucianism on Education and the Civil Service
Examination System in Fourteenth and Fifteenth-Century Korea,” written by Yi Songmu, a professor of Korean history at the Academy of Korean Studies in Korea, addresses “a Chinese-style civil service recruitment examination” in 958 (p. 146). The examination system was dominated by aristocratic youths in the capital. After the Chinese imperial examinations were resumed in 1314, the Korean Koryo’s civil examination was “to serve as a kind of provincial examination (qualification examination) of the Yuan empire” (p. 147) by sending successful candidates to the metropolitan examination in the Yuan capital in China and using neo-Confucian books. In 1365, the Yuan triple-tier system, which included the provincial, metropolitan, and palace examinations, was adopted in Korea. After 1370, the Koryo system followed the Ming examination practice, and complete reformation of the examination took place during the Yi dynasty. An abundance of literary licentiate examinations and the emphasis on testing knowledge of the classical texts indicate the strong influence of neo-Confucianism on the Korean examination system. This book is far more than a study of Chinese influence. As the editors argue in their explanatory note, the influence of neo-Confucianism in Korea “underwent stages of assimilation, domestication, and independent growth.” 112. Lü, Simian. The History of Chinese Systems. Shanghai: Shanghai Education Publisher, 1985. Book; 843 p.; 21 cm; Chinese Lü completed a draft of this book in the 1920s, making it one of the earliest histories of the examinations. This book has 17 chapters. Chapter 15 (63 pages) is about the Chinese political selection system from ancient times to the Qing dynasty. Lü describes the origin of the examinations, curriculums, regulation, rituals, and official appointments, citing a large number of Chinese classics and historical documents. Lü is one of the legendary historians in the modern period of China. His evidential research style plays a big part in his writing. Evidential research, which was developed by the Qing scholars, was a method that emphasized rigorous evidence drawn from concrete facts instead of liberal interpretations. This book is not only a meticulous endeavor to deliver a true history of the imperial examination but also a valuable source that introduces a large number of key publications about the imperial examinations, which have been discovered and filtered by Lü’s trained eye, but may have been ignored by others. 113. Zhu, Ruzhen. Biographical Information of the Members of the Imperial Academy. Taibei: Mingwen Publisher, 1985. Book; 762 p.; 22 cm; classical Chinese This book by Zhu, the top second-place jinshi degree-holder in 1904, is a collection of biographical information on the members of the Imperial Academy during the Qing dynasty. Zhu points out that after the imperial examination system was established, only the top winners were selected as members of the Imperial Academy, which was the most prestigious institution of the Qing imperial government. Many members became prominent officials. The 11-volume book is arranged chronologically by reigns from 1646 to 1904. Each entry includes the name, alternative name , birthplace/hometown, and a brief resume of official positions. A name index, categorized by phonics, is provided at the end of the book.
114. Parker, Franklin. “Civil Service Examinations in China: Annotated Bibliography.” Chinese Culture (Taiwan) 27, no. 2 (June 1986): 103–110. Article; English This is the first annotated bibliography on Chinese civil service examinations written by Franklin Parker, a professor at Northern Arizona University, and published as an appendix to this issue of the journal. He collected 47 publications by American, Chinese, Japanese, British, and Indian authors. The bibliography is organized alphabetically by authors’ last names. The dates of these publications range between 1869 and 1984. 115. Fu Xuancong . Imperial Examinations and Literature in the Tang. Xian: Xian People Publisher, 1986. Book; 521 p.; Chinese Fu is a leading scholar of classic Chinese literature. This book explores a linkage between the Tang imperial examination system and Tang literature, the social conditions in which the literature was developed, and the new culture that was created by the examination system and Tang literature. Fu’s major primary sources include Xu Song’s The Lists of the Jinshi TitleHolders in the Tang and Five Dynasties , Ma Duanlin’s Encyclopedia of the Dynastic Laws and Systems from Ancient Times to the Song Dynasty , Old Book of the Dynastic History of the Tang, New Book of the Dynastic History of the Tang, other nonofficial histories, and a great deal of Tang literature. Fu provides detailed information about examination participants and their activities related to the examinations. For example, Fu describes two terms, xingjuan and najuan , for practices used by examinees to promote their reputations, get recommendations from social elites, and increase their chances of being selected as successful candidates. He indicates the subtle difference between the two terms, their legitimacy, and problems with this practice in the examination system. In contrast to previous criticism arguing that the writings for xingjuan and najuan only gave Tang literature a frivolous and superficial literary style, Fu thinks that these activities of the imperial examinations developed poetry rhymes and had a positive influence on literary style. This book is a gracious presentation based on solid and rich evidence that is well-documented in each chapter in footnotes. 116. Hayhoe, Ruth E. S. “China’s Higher Curricular Reform in Historical Perspective.” The China Quarterly no. 110 (June 1987): 196–230. Article; English The two concepts, “organization knowledge” and “structure knowledge,” are specifically defined in this article as knowledge areas and structure that are aranged by their prestigious status. Based on a number of primary documents related to Chinese higher education and previous research, this study identifies changes in curricular knowledge in Chinese higher education under the influence of traditional Chinese scholarly culture, the European tradition, the American system, and the former Soviet model between 1912 and the 1980s. The author explicates the Confucian curriculum, which was divided into “pure knowledge” and “other knowledge” (p. 200). Pure knowledge was Confucian canons concerning governmental principles and administration, whereas other knowledge included subjects in technical fields
such as engineering or medicine. Confucian scholars demonstrated their knowledge through participation in the imperial examinations. The Hanlin Academy had a prestigious membership of scholars and was the legitimate source of knowledge for the imperial system. The private academies (shuyuan) were an alternative knowledge tradition and were less orthodox. Between 1912 and 1927, under German and American influence, the Chinese universities’ curriculum was defined in three groups in hierarchical order: (1) pure arts and science, which replaced traditional Chinese pure knowledge; (2) laws and commerce; and (3) applied sciences. After 1927, under American influence, the curriculum of higher education included pure and applied sciences. However, the centralized administration reflected the Chinese tradition. The contradiction between the need for a flexible knowledge system and traditional knowledge patterns to support an authoritarian political regime was intensified. The author notes that the Communist government’s policies on the curriculum for higher education “were remarkably similar to those of the Nationalists” (p. 205), and that both governments “were unconsciously reproducing features of the Confucian imperial order that held promise for political control” (p. 213). In Communist China, political science and law were the most prestigious disciplines, which were “for entrance into influential positions in the socialist bureaucracy” (p. 209). Centralized political control of higher education was also implemented through the unification of textbooks and teachers’ pedagogies. After reviewing the curriculum changes during China’s Cultural Revolution, the author underlines the bold reforms and flourishing development after 1977, when there was some question of whether political control over knowledge patterns would be relinquished. 117. Zhong Yulong. A Memoir of the Imperial Examinations. Hangzhou: Zhejiang Classics Publisher, 1987. Book; 100 p.; 19 cm; Chinese Zhong (1880–1970) was a juren, a successful candidate for the provincial examination, in 1903. He engaged in education and studies of Chinese history, literature, and geography later in life. Based on his experience taking the imperial examinations, Zhong provides meticulous information about the district examinations ( tongshi, suishi) and the provincial examinations in the late Qing dynasty. Zhong describes the examination regulations and process, the layout of examination facilities, examination questions, examination officials, the grading and selection processes, ceremonies, and cases of fraud that occurred during the examinations. The memoir is filled with his real experience and interesting anecdotes. For example, the author vividly describes a tense moment when everyone tried to get into a good cubicle and the scenery of various strange lamps held by examinees looking for their acquaintances in the crowd. In the preface, Zhong explains his motive for writing the memoir. In the past, the imperial examinations were taken for granted because everyone was familiar with them. After five decades, almost no one knew much about them anymore. Indeed, Zhong’s memoir is one of a few valuable firsthand sources that provide interesting details from a witness to that era. 118. Li Hongqi. “Juren in the Song Dynasty.” In Proceedings of the International Conference of the Song History, 1988: A Collection of Selected Papers of Studies on the Civil Service
Examination in the Twentieth Century, 361–375. Wuhan: Wuhan University Press, 2009. Article; Chinese This paper focuses on a study of the juren group in the Song dynasty, which is usually not a focus of studies on the imperial examination system. The origin of juren can be traced back to the Han dynasty. In the Song dynasty, the juren title was used for the successful candidates from jieshi , which was the first tier examination to qualify successful candidates for the state examinations. If a juren failed a state examination, he had to retake the jieshi examination. However, if a juren passed jieshi three times, he would be exempted from jieshi forever. Then, if he failed the state examination a certain number of times, he would be granted tezouming 3 and be appointed to a lower government position. Juren could also obtain their official positions by enrolling in the state university. Gradually, the juren group developed enough political power to influence their local communities by assuming positions in local governments. If a juren violated a law, the local justice system would commute the sentence. By law, juren were exempted from imperial governmental taxes and labor services. Since the juren s’ social status was confirmed and protected by law in the Song dynasty, it was inevitable that juren was not just the official title of successful candidates from local examinations; the juren group also became a major force in local governments in the Ming and Qing dynasties. Accordingly, more than 30 percent of county governors were from juren; only 20 percent were jinshi degree-holders (p. 374). 119. Herbert, P. A. Examine the Honest, Appraise the Able: Contemporary Assessments of Civil Service Selection in Early Tang China. Canberra: Australian National University, 1988. Book; 450 p.; 25 cm; English; ISBN: 0731503783 This book is an introduction to contemporaneous critiques in response to civil service selection in the early Tang dynasty. Part I presents the institution of selection, including the structure of the Tang bureaucracy and the examinations. Part II provides critiques and responses to the selection system by contemporaries. Most of the materials in this study are taken from Du You’s ( Tongdian), an encyclopedic work that covers the state systems between ancient times and the Tang dynasty. Half of this book is made up of relevant chapters of Tongdian, which are translated into English and listed as the appendices. This book can be used as a reference for the Tang examination system for English readers. 120. Yan Wenru. The Imperial Civil Service Examination System in the Tang Dynasty. Xian: People Publisher, 1989. Book; 279 p.; 21 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7224001562 Yan’s book is a comprehensive study of the examination system in the Tang dynasty in 11 chapters. The author presents information about applicants for the civil service examinations, examination curriculums, numbers of examinees, examination questions, officials who hosted examinations, and rituals and ceremonies for successful candidates. He also discusses romantic tales about the jinshi degree-holders; the jinshi honor rolls, which were carved in stelae; and cases of fraud that occurred during the examinations. Based on The New Tang Dynastic History, the author created four tables that appear in the backmatter, including lists of successful candidates from jinshi, mingjing, and other examination curriculums and a list of
examination categories. The author was a history professor at Beijing University for more than 30 years. He has been researching and collecting his sources since 1947. After China’s Cultural Revolution, he was able to research more primary sources and published this book in 1989. This well-written book was one of the earlier works about the dynastic imperial civil service examination in mainland China published after the Cultural Revolution. 121. Jin Zheng. The Imperial Examination System and Chinese Culture. Shanghai: Shanghai People Press, 1990. Book; 239 p.; Chinese; ISBN: 7208009082 This is one of the earlier and more refined publications on the imperial examination system published after the Cultural Revolution. The author explicates the origin, establishment, development, decline, and abolition of the examination system from the Zhou to Qing dynasties in five chapters. Two things make the book stand out from similar works. First, although the language level is for general readers, the presentation includes rich historical facts from the key primary sources. The author has a superb ability to delineate key factors of the examination system and integrates them into the historical contexts in which politics, social issues, wars, and cultural trends coexisted at the same time. Second, this book is not just a general introduction, but a simplified version of an in-depth analysis. For example, the author not only describes the establishment of the examination system in the Tang dynasty, but also explains the three criteria that define the establishment: open applications, examinations held on a regular basis, and the selection of successful candidates based on their performance in the examinations. The presentation and style make this book a valuable reference for a wide range of readers and researchers. 122. Liang Gengyao. “The Examination Facilities in the Southern Song Dynasty.” Studies of Chinese History [Chinese History Association of Japan] 1 (1991). In A Collection of Selected Papers of Studies on the Civil Service Examination in the Twentieth Century, 474–452. Wuhan: Wuhan University Press, 2009. Article; Chinese As the author explains, the examination facilities were commonly found in the capital and other cities of the Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279) before they were destroyed during the Yuan dynasty (1279–1368). They were specifically used for holding the imperial examinations. As cultural symbols in cities, the architecture of these facilities was uniform and included apartments and offices for examination officials, as well as stelae for honoring jinshi degreeholders, in addition to over thousands of cubicles for examinees to take examinations in. Before the examination facilities were built in the Southern Song dynasty, the local examinations were held in local schools or Buddhist temples. Because of problems in using these temporary facilities and a dramatic increase in the number of examinees across the nation, many facilities were built during the Southern Song dynasty. However, these buildings had to be renovated constantly because of the continually increasing examination population. The imperial and local governments, communities, and local elites were the leading force and financial sources for building the facilities. The examination facilities were usually located on high and dry lands with easy access to roads. Fengshui was considered an important factor.
Local officials and elites were highly involved in these projects, which demonstrated their influence in their communities. As the author points out, these examination facilities and the organizations that were developed to sponsor examinees’ traveling and accommodations indicate a level of sophistication in the Song imperial examination system. 123. Liu Haifeng. Education and the System of the Civil Examinations and Recruitments in the Tang Dynasty. Taibei: Wenjin Publisher, 1991. Book; 212 p.; Chinese; ISBN: 9579400830 Liu argues that, compared to other dynasties, the Tang system experienced the most frequent and dynamic changes in three areas: the rise and fall of school education, the content and curriculum of the civil service examinations, and the examinations for recruitment. The uniqueness of the Tang system was that the school graduates must pass the imperial examinations to be qualified as candidates for official positions, and that the candidates had to pass the recruitment examinations to actually become office holders. This book consolidates the three components in the Tang system and dissects a hierarchical and complementary relationship among the three components. Liu discusses the key changes in the centralized and government-sponsored educational system, which later became a subsidiary of the civil service examinations, and how private education was booming along with the development of the civil service examination system. Liu traces the origin, development, and reforms of the examination subjects and the system and analyzes recruitment in the examination system. This book is based on Liu’s dissertation, which was completed in 1988. His study aims not only to present the Tang system but also to participate in the debates with a new perspective. For example, Liu not only presents different scholars’ views about the dates of the faded examination category xiucai, but also investigates a large quantity of primary sources, comes up with his own conclusion, and explains why inconsistent records appeared in different publications. This well-written book demonstrates that Liu is a forerunner among the new generation of scholars in imperial examination studies in mainland China that emerged after the Cultural Revolution. 124. Liu Haifeng. “A Discussion of a New Discipline—the Imperial Examination Studies.” Xiamen University Journal 4 (1992). In A Collection of Selected Papers of Studies on the Civil Service Examination in the Twentieth Century. Wuhan: Wuhan University Press, 2009. Article; Chinese In this article, Liu summarizes the significance of the imperial examination system and the studies of the system and proposes to develop a new discipline, “Imperial Examination Studies.” First, Liu outlines the educational, political, cultural, and social influences of the imperial examination system in Chinese society after the Sui dynasty. The examination system governed and replaced the education system for over a thousand years. The system not only produced most officials of the imperial government, but also created a social elite group, gentry, in the local communities. The Chinese imperial examination system was adopted by Asian countries starting in the seventh century. The civil service examination systems in Western countries were influenced by the Chinese examination system beginning in the twelfth century. The examination systems in modern China resemble the old system. Second, Liu
discusses the studies of the imperial examinations since the Tang dynasty. With participation and development by scholars around the world, studies of the imperial examinations have investigated the origin, development, and abolition of the examination system from new perspectives and using the methods of research in history, sociology, political science, education, and culture. These studies have developed the new discipline with an interdisciplinary approach. Liu states that as a promising discipline, imperial examination studies has connected independent disciplines and will continue to flourish. 125. He Yimin. A New Social Group in the Transitional Period: A Study of the Modern Literati in Sichuan Province in the Late Qing Dynasty. Chengdu, Sichuan: Sichuan University Press, 1992. Book; 186 p.; 21 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7561407289 The Chinese empire society was structured by four groups: literati, peasants, artisans, and merchants. The literati held the highest social status among the four groups because they were either successful candidates from the imperial examinations or government officials. This book explores how a new group of literati was developed from the traditional group, from the old society to modern Chinese society, in Sichuan province during the late Qing dynasty. There are five chapters in this book. Chapters 1 and 2 introduce the origin and constitution of the new literati group. The new literati included high-ranking officials who occupied important positions in the imperial government as a result of their success in the imperial examinations and also new members from modern schools or who had studied abroad. The new group of literati emerged when the imperial state was declining and being invaded by the Western countries after the Opium Wars. The author identifies three stages of development of the new literati between the late nineteenth century and 1911 and analyzes their knowledge structure. Chapter 3 delineates a formative process in which the new literati made their choice to participate in the social movements related to antiforeign invasion, reforms, and revolution. Chapter 4 discusses the differences between the old and new literati. New literati were no longer engaging in the imperial examinations. They were zealously patriotic about changing the traditional society. Chapter 5 traces the new literati’s footprints in social reforms in the Sichuan region. A number of prominent new literati in Sichuan became political and military leaders, scientists, and well-known educators, building new schools, publishing science books and newspapers, developing manufacturing businesses, and being actively involved in various social movements, including the revolution in 1911 that sought to overthrow the Qing government. This book is revised from the author’s master’s thesis, which was written in the 1980s. The author is one of the pioneers who paid attention to research on how traditional literati, who were rooted in the imperial examination system, changed and how the new literati emerged at the turning point for Chinese society. Although this book has not provided a fuller picture on how the traditional literati transformed themselves in the new era, it opens a discussion. 126. Wei Hsiu-mei. The Avoidant System of the Ch’ing Dynasty. Institute of Modern History. Taibei: Academia Sinica, 1992. Book; 263 p.; 21 cm; Chinese
The avoidant system was a personnel practice of avoiding appointing certain officials to some positions because of a sensitive interest they were associated with. The policies and regulations for the avoidant system were developed starting during the Han dynasty. Wei considers it worthwhile to explore the impact of the avoidant system in the Qing dynasty because the Qing government had reached its peak in size and complexity. Based on numerous Ming and Qing archives of residential records, regulations and policies, chronologies, and other publications, Wei details the Qing avoidant system in six chapters on 1) residential avoidance, 2) family and clan avoidance, 3) teacher (examiner)/student (examinee) avoidance, 4) other avoidance (avoiding the locations of the officials’ consultants and business), 5) imperial examination avoidance, and 6) criminal justice court avoidance. In each chapter, Wei explains how the regulations and policies were developed, using the tables in this book. In her conclusion, Wei underscores the differences between major practices and adjustments for the avoidant system, its negative effects and criticism of it, and its influence on modern China. The avoidant system was criticized in practice. For example, the residential avoidance policy prohibited appointing an official to his hometown because of potential favoritism. As a result, officials were often appointed to places where they were not familiar with the language and customs. They had to rely entirely on local staff in their new locations, which opened a door for corruption. Some critics thought that the examination avoidance was too restrictive, so that it became many officials’ excuse for not carrying out their examination duties. Wei mentions that since the essential nature of the avoidant system was to maintain fair practice in personnel administration, limit local power, and strengthen the centralized control of the imperial courts, the system was adopted by the government of the Republic of China for official appointments and the higher education examination system. 127. Wu Zongguo. A Study of the Tang Imperial Examination System. Shenyang: Liaoning University Press, 1992. Book; 302 p.; 21 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 756101838X Professor Wu is a historian of the Tang dynasty at Beijing University. This book is a systematic discussion of the Tang imperial examination system. After presenting the origin of the Tang examination system in his opening chapter, Wu points out that a hallmark of the examination system, gongju (tribute selection), separated the Tang examination system from its predecessors and successors (p. 11). Fourteen chapters present Wu’s detailed analysis of the Tang examination system, including the regular and irregular examinations, the recruiting system, the literary-focused examination contents, an increase in the number of the jinshi titleholders among high-ranking officials, the development of politics in xingjuan , school education in relation to the examination system, controversies about protection policies for the privileged, the fall of aristocracies and rise of examination degree-holders, and the transformed social stratification. This book represents the revitalized, sophisticated studies of the imperial examinations after China’s Cultural Revolution. 128. Yang Xuewei, Zhu Choumei, and Zhang Haipeng, eds. Selected Historical Documents of the Chinese Examination System. Hefei: Huangshan Press, 1992. Book; 923 p.; 27 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7805352933
This book was sponsored by the Examination Center of Chinese Education Ministry and several universities in 1988. Six scholars compiled historical documents and publications that reflected the development of examination systems in Chinese history. The book has two parts. The first part includes documents and publications from ancient times to the Opium Wars. The documents from prior to the Sui dynasty are laws and regulations on selecting and recruiting government officials. Documents from after the Sui dynasty are publications of the imperial examination system and the school examination system. The second part covers documents in modern times from the later Qing dynasty to 1949. These documents are related to the reforms and abolition of the imperial examination system, the examination system of the Taiping Kingdom, the school education and examination systems of the Republic of China, the education and examination system in regions under the Communist Party’s control, and examinations for studies abroad in the Qing dynasty and the Republic of China. The majority of publications are official records, such as imperial announcements, laws, and examination questions. Private publications by individual authors are included as supplements. This book is a great reference for accessing primary sources from the entire history of examinations in China from ancient times to the Republic of China. 129. Qi Gong, Zhang Zhongxing, and Jin Kemu . Discussions on the Eight-legged Essay. Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company, 1993. Book; 204 p.; 19 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7101011667 This book is a collection of three articles previously published by three renowned Chinese scholars. The first article, by Qi Gong, a professor at Beijing Normal University and also a brilliant scholar of Chinese classic literature, painter, and connoisseur, was published in Beijing Normal University Journal Social Science in 1991. The article begins with an introduction to the origins of various alternative names for the eight-legged essay. Qi comments that, “the eight-legged essay was actually a nickname . . . why not it could be a name of the formal name of a literary genre?” (p. 8) In the rest of his article, Qi explicates the eight-legged essay, dissecting the structure, techniques, grading, origins, rhymes, word games, and examination poetry. Qi’s article is the most original work based on previous publications such as Ruan Yuan’s The Eight-legged Essay, Lu Qian’s The History of the Eight-legged Essay, Shang Yanliu’s Memoir of the Examination System in the Qing dynasty, and his own wellrounded knowledge, as well as the most interesting and simplest discussion of the eight-legged essay with a sense of humor. For example, he dissects an exemplary eight-legged essay “Dog Barks” by Jiang Shizhi in the Qing dynasty, to illustrate the structure of the eight-legged essay genre. Qi’s central idea is that the eight-legged essay was gradually and naturally developed from all previous literary genres, which made it the most effective literary genre for the imperial examinations. The eight-legged essay ought not to be condemned because of its meticulous and rigid rules. As Qi explains, some people regard the rules for making poems as “dancing wearing chains.” However, the rules for the eight-legged essay were not much different from wearing ballet shoes for ballet. The second article is Zhang Zhongxing’s “The Supplement of Qi’s Discussion on the Eightlegged Essay.” Zhang was a scholar of classic Chinese philosophy and literature and a professor at Beijing University. Zhang states that, in addition to its comprehensiveness and
depth, Qi’s discussion is so interesting that it makes the antique eight-legged essay come alive and makes his readers laugh as well. Zhang also conveys his own unique view about an extraordinary nuance of the literary nature of the eight-legged essay. Responding to a popular view that the eight-legged essay destroyed the country, Zhang argues that it was not the fault of the eight-legged essay, but of the despotic imperial government. After the eight-legged essay was abolished, the look-like eight-legged essays, which flatter the dictatorship with vain content and a superficial writing style, prevailed. Zhang thinks Qi’s article is a mirror for such authors. The last article, “A New Discussion of the Eight-legged Essay” by Jin Kemu, also a scholar of Chinese literature and linguistics and a professor at Beijing University, introduces his four articles on the eight-legged essay: “A Criticism of the Eight-legged Essay,” “The Language Forms and Functions of the Eight-legged Essay,” “The Literary Style of the Eight-legged Essay,” and “Confucian Four Books in Relation to the Eight-legged Essay.” Those four articles are included in this book. In his fourth article, Jin provides a precise summary of the literary genre of the eight-legged essay: 1) it was an examination exposition with assigned topics, 2) its purpose was to speak to the emperor, 3) it was written in the tone of the sages, and 4) it had to follow rigid literary rules. These three legendary scholars have contributed interesting and valuable reviews about the eight-legged essay for the next generation of scholars. 130. Strauss, Julia C. “Symbol and Reflection of the Reconstituting State: The Examination Yuan in the 1930s.” Modern China 20, no. 2 (April 1994): 211–238. Article; English Largely based on numerous secondary publications, this article is a thorough investigation of the Examination Yuan, which was the examination institution of the Republic of China between the 1930s and 1940s. After the abolition of the imperial examination system and the end of the Chinese empire, an examination system was part of all three regimes: Yuan Shikai, Beiyang, and the Republic of China. This article includes five sections. The first introduces the Examination Yuan and its antecedents. The Examination Yuan was established on January 1, 1930, as an independent branch of the Sun Zhongshan’s Five branches government. Between 1913 and the 1920s, the Yuan Shikai and Beiyang governments took “two planks directly inherited from the later Qing: fostering an efficient civil service under strong executive control and open civil service examinations as the appropriate means by which to attract ‘men of talent’” (p. 213). Strauss observes that the Examination Yuan was not invented “out of thin air,” but “drew heavily from the immediately preceding Beiyang governments, which in turn had been strongly influenced by China’s own centuries old examination system” (p. 216). In the subsequent sections, Strauss details the structure, categories and subjects of examinations, and the Examination Yuan in relation to the Ministry of Personnel. On the one hand, the ceremony, the practice of locking the examination facilities, and the architectural style of the Examination Yuan strikingly resembled the imperial examination system in many ways. Examinations were regarded as a symbol of “a proud past” and “a progressive future.” On the other hand, although the examinations were modernized with technical and scientific curriculum subjects to satisfy the demand for technical personnel, the official appointments were actually manipulated by personal networks. According to Strauss, “the Examination Yuan never did contribute more
than perhaps one percent of the total number of civil servants in the Nationalist government” (p. 218), because “personal ties and old boy’s networks of various sorts continued to be the primary source of entry into the system” (p. 234). This interesting history of the Examination Yuan reveals how the imperial examination system continues to influence Chinese governments in the modern era. 131. Cherniack, Susan. “Book Culture and Textual Transmission in Sung China.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 54, no 1 (June 1994): 5–125. Article; English Cherniack’s article discusses the book culture and textual transmission brought about by the innovation of printing technologies, scholars, and readers in the period of the Song dynasty. She argues that the authority in texts is ambiguous because opportunities to bring up the sanctioned textual transmission were abundant. (Because this is a long article, this annotation only highlights the portion of Cherniack’s paper that is relevant to the imperial examinations.) First, Cherniack explicates the destabilization of authority in text, pointing out that many Song jinshi examination questions in 1057 required the candidates to assess the authenticity of the received texts of the classics. Second, Cherniack notes that at the beginning of the Song dynasty, the central government was responsible for printing and distributing most of the Directorate imprints to provide standard texts for the examination system. In the Hsi-ning period (1068–1677), the government relinquished its exclusive right to generate canonical texts. “From this time forward, the classics could be printed and reprinted freely by anybody, without advance government permission” (p. 28). Third, anybody could now buy cheap, commercially printed pocket books for cheating on government examinations. 132. Feng Yuan. From the Imperial Examination to the National College Entrance Examination: The Dynamics of Political Centralism in China’s Education Enterprise. Tucson, AZ, ASHE Annual Meeting Paper, 1994. Article; English This is a comparative study of the imperial civil service examination system of the Chinese empire and the National College Entrance Examination (NCEE) of the People’s Republic of China. Feng finds that the two examination systems have many similarities. Both systems serve their governments for political purposes. The imperial examination selected “loyal and bright brains to help him [emperor] to control the empire” (p. 2); the NCEE selects the best students to serve the county. Feng discusses eight similarities between these two systems: 1) the structure of the examination institutions, 2) political requirements for the candidates, 3) political discrimination against the socially unacceptable, 4) providing equal access to opportunities to majority of people, 5) the unification of state ideology, 6) quota policies for remote regions, 7) anonymous grading and selection methods, and 8) placement policies that guarantee the successful candidates’ appointment to governmental positions. Feng also discusses the differences between the two systems. The academic subjects of NCEE require more modern curricula, and its quota and placement policies result in grievances. 133. Hirata Shoji. “A Background of Northern and Southern Dialects and the Change of the
Imperial Examination System in the Tang and Song Dynasties.” Comparative Studies among Wu and Min Dialects, 134–151. Shanghai: Shanghai Education Publisher, 1995. In A Collection of Selected Papers of Studies on the Civil Service Examination in the Twentieth Century. Wuhan: Wuhan University Press, 2009, 543–561. Article; Chinese There was a transition from pianwen (verse) to guwen (classical essay) in the literary world from the Tang to Song dynasties, which also affected the imperial examinations. This change was spawned by many social and political factors. This paper probes how the disparity in linguistic phonics between the northern and southern dialects affected changes in the imperial examination system during the Tang and Song dynasties. The poetry/verse èxamination became critical in the Tang examination system in 837, and the candidates’ success depended on how well they followed phonic rules. The author argues that the wellknown article by Li Fu criticizing the official book, The Phonic Rules , in the Tang dynasty, represents the northerners’ complaints because the southern dialect phonics had an advantage in these rules. The author finds that according to the phonics of Chinese words in the Japanese language, the ending of phonics of the northern dialect were changed around the middle of the Tang period. In the beginning of the Song dynasty, more southerners were chosen as successful candidates because of their superior writing skills and the importance of the poetry/verse examination in the examination system. In order to maintain the northerners’ political power, a series of reforms of the Song examination system were made by Fan Zhongyan and Wang Anshi, the eminent Song officials. The most important proposal was to end the poetry/verse examination and raise the importance of jingyi (expositions of Confucian classics), which paved the way for the development of the imperial examinations over the next 800 years. The shift from poetry/verse to classical essay in the literary world was advocated by the leading writers of classical essays, who were mostly from northern China. 134. Clark, Hugh R. “The Fu of Minnan: A Local Clan in Late Tang and Song China (9th–13th Centuries).” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 38, no. 1 (1995): 1– 74. Article; English This study is about the Fu descent groups from two prefectures in Fujian in the later Tang and Song dynasties (618–1268). The Fu clan was a prototype of the local gentry, but “not among the great clans of the empire that stood so prominently above the crowd” for over 600 years (p. 4). In this study, Clark examines how the clan identified itself and gained further distinction, through primary cultural media, examinations, bureaucratic careers, and marriage. Clark consciously joins two debates: the debate about the inquiry into lineage applied to the anthropological studies of Chinese society and the debate begun by Robert Hymes (see entry 105), which claims that marriages were used as strategies by the Chinese elite in questioning social mobility through the imperial examinations. (This annotation only summarizes Clark’s study on the kin group in relation to the imperial examinations, bureaucratic careers, and marriage, which is directly related to the second debate that constitutes about two-thirds of Clark’s study.) Clark finds that though the Fus were moderately successful in the most competitive environment of the Fujian circuit, where more men earned examination degrees
than in any other circuit in the Southern Song dynasty, the Fus, especially the branch of the descent group jia (a single family), benefited by their success in the jinshi examinations and tezouming, a specially awarded degree for men who took the examinations repeatedly without success. Thus, these branch groups were able to accumulate wealth, use the protection of privilege for their descendants to gain official employment, maintain their prestigious status in their local communities, and distinguish themselves from the other unsuccessful clans. A striking aspect of the Fu marriages was that most wives in several branch groups were from a few local surnames through their immediate and long-standing social circle, rather than their marriages being used as political “strategy” for advancement. 135. Siu Man-Keung. “Mathematics Education in Ancient China: What Lesson Do We Learn from It?” Historia Scientiarum 4–3 (1995): 223–232. Article; English This paper by Siu, a mathematics professor at the University of Hong Kong, examines mathematics education in China from about 2000 BC to AD 1600, prior to Chinese mathematics fused with universal mathematics. As Siu outlines, the school system began in about 2000 BC in China. After the eventful period of 722–221 BC, the dual education system (state-run institutions and private academies) emerged. Mathematics was listed as the Art of Arithmetic among the six curriculums and further subdivided into nine topics in the Book of Rites and Zheng Xuan’s book. After examining the contents of the famous mathematical classic book Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Art, compiled between 100 BC and AD 100, Siu finds that the book “was intend for government official and clerks who needed the mathematics for practical matters encountered in carrying out their daily tasks” (p. 225). In the Sui-Tang period, mathematics was an examination curriculum in the imperial examination system. However, it was not highly regarded at that time because of its lower enrollment of students, fewer teachers, and lower salary and ranks than other disciplines. A mathematics professor was appointed to the lowest rank (ninth grade), and a mathematics teaching assistant had no official rank at all, whereas a classics professor received fifth rank and the position of teaching assistant was at the sixth rank. The Ten Mathematical Manuals was adopted by the Imperial College as the official textbook in 656. It took 14 years to study these 10 classics. Mathematics was removed from the imperial examination from the Song dynasty through the Ming dynasty, and the official textbook was lost. However, private mathematics education flourished during the Song-Yuan period. A Syllabus of Mathematics by Yan Hui, a mathematics master, provided a study program that took only 260 days. Siu finds two features of traditional Chinese mathematics in the mathematics classics: (1) “external stress” more than “internal stress,” which means making practical calculations instead of developing the subject internally; and (2) more induction than deduction. These two features corresponded with the traditional Chinese philosophy of self-improvement and social interaction leading to pragmatism for public service. Most Chinese mathematicians in this period were selfeducated, “as compared to tens of thousands of ‘mathocrats’ who were trained in the official system and were employed as officials or as royal astronomers” (p. 228). Among 50 Chinese famous mathematicians from the fourth century BC to the nineteenth century, only two can be labeled as educated in the official system. One was Chinese mathematician Qin Jiushao, who
solved difficult equations in 1247, six centuries before his Western counterparts. Chinese mathematics was at a standstill because its technical capability far exceeded the practical demand for it; mathematics was regarded “as a tool with its sole worth based on its practical utility” (p. 232). 136. Xiao Gongqin. “A Cultural Crash in Modern China after the Abolition of the Imperial Examination System.” Strategies and Management 4 (1996). In A Collection of Selected Papers of Studies on the Civil Service Examination in the Twentieth Century. Wuhan: Wuhan University Press, 2009, 610–618. Article; Chinese This provocative article sheds light on the impact of the abolition of the imperial examination system on Chinese society and opens up a discussion of the social integration function of the imperial examination system. As Xiao explains, the bureaucrats were the social elite group that held economic, cultural, and political power and maintained the integration of Chinese society. Bureaucratic positions could not be inherited. After several generations passed, officials’ descendants would become commoners and had to reenter the elite group through the imperial examination system. The open examination system thus created a constantly self-circulating system for social mobility between the bureaucratic group and commoners. Although there were only a few lucky winners in each examination, the process gave others hope for the next opportunity, because there was no age limit, and losers’ frustration was self-absorbed in the system. The key to obtaining scarce social resources for political power and prestige was to master the mainstream culture and literacy skills, which created a prevalent and nongovernment-sponsored education across the nation. Confucianism, which represented the mainstream culture, became the dominant ideology to unify the social value system. The examinees only needed to memorize Confucian canons, not alternatives, and creativity was forbidden. Thus, Chinese society was highly integrated for thousands of years. The social elite group, which adhered to conservative social and cultural values, was inevitably vulnerable and weak when facing the national crisis and modern challenges in the late nineteenth century. Since the Qing government chose to end the examination system without building a new system first, Chinese society collapsed along with its social and cultural value system. Because the society could not absorb a large number of unemployed literati, these former examinees became a marginal group, detached from society. The unemployed literati and a new type of young people from the modern school system became the “gravediggers” (p. 615) of the Qing dynasty. Furthermore, the economy, culture, and literacy in vast rural areas were deteriorating with the disappearance of the gentry’s leadership in local communities. Instead, bandits emerged and ultimately destroyed the cultural ecology of rural communities in China. Up to then, mutual horizontal social mobility between cities and rural areas was maintained by the imperial examination system, but it was replaced by a one-way trip in which the intellectual resource was shifted from rural areas to cities. 137. Zeng Kangmin. “Prayer, Luck, and Spiritual Strength: The Desecularization of Entrance Examination System in East Asia.” Comparative Education Review 40, no. 3 (August 1996): 264–279.
Article; English The religious practice of hosting gods and spirits to increase chances of succeeding in the imperial examinations was long-lived. This article is an ethnographic study about such a religious practice, which continues to play a significant role in today’s exam-centered modern societies in East Asia, including Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea. During several field trips in 1993 and 1994, the author visited churches and institutions associated with the examination systems in several cities of these countries and interviewed students, teachers, school administrators, priests, and pilgrims. The author describes a variety of religious practices in these countries, including the religious services, the religious objects, the number of people who engaged in these services, and the money they spent. Zeng also explains how the gods for examination, literature, and scholarship were portrayed in these religious practices. Zeng finds that the classical religious practice, which originated in the premodern era, has reached “an unprecedented scale” (p. 277) because the meritocratic system of exams for social mobility is “a high-stake and impartial screening device” (p. 279). Thus, Zeng defines his study as sociocultural rather than psychological. He identifies the differences between the cultural practices among these countries. Zheng also notes the reemerging trend of such practices in China. 138. Wang Xianming. Gentry in Modern China: The Destiny of the Social Group. Tianjin: Tianjin People Publisher, 1997. Book; 349 p.; 21 cm; Chinese; ISBN 7201022245 Traditional Chinese society was stratified into four groups: literati, peasants, artisans, and merchants. The literati, the top group, was developed into a powerful gentry group through the imperial examination system during the period between the Ming and Qing dynasties. The gentry held power and controlled the political, economic, legal, educational, and cultural resources of local communities in vast areas of China. In 10 chapters, this book explores the history of how the gentry changed in the transitional period of late imperial China. The first three chapters track the history of the gentry, dissect their social status and roles, and explicate the gentry in relation to the system of local communities. Unlike British gentry, the Chinese gentry were produced by the examination system, which was not only the source for new government officials but also an exclusive club for retired officials. Chapters 4, 5, 6, and 7 discuss the changing society and how the gentry adjusted and mobilized from their traditional pursuit of examination success to their modern engagements and participated in social movements. The last three chapters conclude with a discussion of the changed nature of the gentry, their power, and the reasons for the abolition of the imperial examination system, which led the disappearance of the gentry. Chapter 5 is devoted to a discussion of different types of social mobility among the gentry, including recycled mobility within the group through the examination system; open mobility, in which the members of the group changed their careers to merchants and other professional occupations after the Opium Wars; and multidimensional mobility, which ultimately broke the social structure of the four-tier system. The gentry penetrated into other social groups with either upward or downward mobility. The structured mobility eventually brought about the disappearance of the gentry. Most references in this book are newspapers and publications from the period between the late Qing dynasty and the early
Republic of China. This book is not only a compilation of sources but also a sweeping study of the gentry. It presents the author’s original thoughts guided by a conceptual framework of Marx’s class theory, which is a further development of gentry studies begun by Wu, Han, Fei, Xiaotong, and others in 1948. 139. Wu Ni, Hu Yan, and Wang Bingzhao. Chinese Private Schools in the Chinese Empire and Modern Periods. Jinan: Shandong Education Publisher, 1997. Book; 563 p.; 21 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7532822753 Private schools were the most common and primary venue for people to prepare for taking the imperial examinations. However, few studies have been done on private schools. This book includes two studies on private schools in 770 BC to AD 1911 and 1912–1949. (This annotation only summarizes the first study of private schools in the period 770 BC–AD 1911.) The first study is presented in three chapters. Chapter 1 introduces the origin and development of private schools in the Spring and Autumn Period (770–221 BC), when a great number of philosophies were emerging . Although the private schools were banned several times, they gradually became a legitimate system with the birth of the imperial examination system. The development of private schools rose and fell depending on imperial policies. Chapter 2 discusses teaching and administration in the private schools. Chapter 3 focuses on private schools in relation to the political recruiting system and the imperial examination system. Because of the political recruiting system and the Confucian ideology, the candidates’ education qualifications in private schools had been acknowledged since the Han dynasty. Private schools were further expanded because of the Nine Ranks political recruiting system during the Wei and Jin dynasties. After the Tang dynasty, the private schools always played a major role in preparing for the imperial examinations because of their flexibility and effectiveness. For example, private schools provided curricula from science education to elementary education, which were not taught in the official schools. There were more jinshi title-holders from rural areas, where there were more private schools than in cities. 140. Luo Zhitian. “Social Influences Brought by the Reforms of the Imperial Examination System in the Qing Dynasty.” China’s Social Science 4 (1998). In A Collection of Selected Papers of Studies on the Civil Service Examination in the Twentieth Century. Wuhan: Wuhan University Press, 2009, 642–652. Article; Chinese The Qing government enacted a series of reforms of the imperial examination system between 1898 and 1905. This article identifies the social changes that resulted from these reforms. As the author observes, the examination content had been changed from Confucian classics to modern science subjects during the late Qing dynasty. Modern subjects had been used in examination questions, reference books, and grading criteria during the reform period. For example, Wang Kangnian was chosen as the successful candidate from the provincial examination in 1889 because he used gravity to explain the solar system, which was regarded as “knowledgeable in the modern subjects” by the examiner (p. 643). However, the new subjects could only spread quickly in cities and were adopted slowly in remote rural areas. There was a shortage of grading staff because there was no standardized grading system. The
Qing government also started to build new schools to fulfill the educational function ignored by the examination system. Despite these reforms, the imperial examination system was discontinued before a new system was implemented. One of the changes after the abolition of the examination system was that the school educational system became a pure academic institution and no longer a source for government officials. As a result, the literati were marginalized. With the disappearance of the literati, which was once the pillar of traditional Chinese society, the militants, professional revolutionaries, and businessmen, who had been marginal groups during the era of the imperial examination, emerged on the center stage of politics. The changed social structure also included a large number of unemployed people who were living in desperately poor conditions and were detached from society. The new politicians and “hooligans” destroyed the traditional order and brought chaos to the society. The other consequence of the abolition of the examination system was that the gap between cities and rural areas was widened. Students who graduated from modern schools stayed in cities instead of going back to their rural hometowns. As the author concludes, the abolition of the Qing examination system was not just a political reform; it also directly and indirectly brought about widespread changes in Chinese society. 141. He Huaihong. The Imperial Selection Society and Its End: A Sociological Explanation of Chinese History from Qin-Han Dynasties to the Late Qing Dynasty. Beijing: Sanlian Publisher, 1998. Book; 438 p.; 21 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7108012162 He Huaihong began contemplating this book when he was a visiting scholar at Harvard University in 1993. He intended to find a unique way to interpret Chinese society with a historical and sociological perspective. He’s concept, “the imperial selection society,” refers to the political recruiting system, which consisted of both the recommendation system during the Qin and Han dynasties (221 BC–AD 220) and the imperial examination system of the Tang to Qing dynasties (618–1911). The imperial selection society is characterized as the centralized imperial power, a bureaucratic system, a dichotomy of social stratification—the rulers versus the ruled—and the unified social order and morality. There are three parts in this book. In part 1, He discusses how the imperial selection system affected the formation of social structure and how the system distributed social resources by relying entirely on the imperial selection system. Part 2 presents the principles and criteria of the selection system. Part 3 provides an analysis of how the selection system struggled with its persistent problems, the abolition of the system, and its impact on subsequent periods. This book is derived from He’s previous publication, The Hereditary Society and Its Collapse, which analyzed Chinese society prior to the Qin dynasty (221–207 BC). The concept of the imperial selection society brought to He’s attention posthereditary Chinese society, which was governed by absolute imperial power. Essentially, the recommendation system and imperial examination system were both parts of the imperial selection system. The imperial selection system provided limited opportunities for social mobility, and society was still ruled by oligarchy. Even though He raises more questions than answers in this book, he is one of a few contemporary researchers who highlight absolute despotic power in their studies of the Chinese imperial political system.
142. Li Weixin, ed. Examination Essays ( duice) by the Top First Place of Jinshiof Place Examinations in the Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties. Zhengzhou: Zhongshong Classics Publisher, 1998. Book; 841 p.; 21 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7534816033 The palace examination hosted by the emperor was the final competition for successful candidates. The top winner was given the highest honor, zhuangyuan , and the highest rank in official positions. The palace examination required the candidates to write their essays, answer questions, and discuss policies. This kind of essay was called duice . This book presents 97 duice essays written by the top winners of the palace examinations from the Tang to Qing dynasties over a thousand years. The table of contents is arranged chronologically by dynasty. Each author’s essay is labeled with the year of the examination. Each essay entry includes three sections: the question, the essay, and an analysis of the essay by an invited contemporary commentator. Some entries include only essays because the questions were missing. These analyses not only contain comments about the essays but also introduce background information and interesting stories about the essays and their authors, which help readers understand the essays. According to the preface, because the essay questions asked by emperors were usually related to political, economic, military, cultural, educational, and social issues of the time, these essays reflect the contemporaneous social reality and trends in literature. Thus, this book is a solid reference and primary source for interested readers ranging from college students to scholars. 143. Siu Man-Keung and Volkov, Alexei. “Official Curriculum in Traditional Chinese Mathematics: How Did Candidates Pass the Examinations?” Historia Scientiarum 9, no. 1 (1999): 85–99. Article; English This article by Siu Man-Keung and Alexei Volkov, professors at Hong Kong University, is a thorough and interesting study of the mathematics curriculum of the imperial examination system and education during the Sui and Tang dynasties (581–907). One reason this study was done is that the translation of descriptions in several Western works on the Sui and Tang mathematics examination and education are “often brief and sometimes incomplete or incorrect . . . misleading . . . and not satisfactory” (p. 86). This paper probes the mathematics examination that tested students’ computational skills and understanding of mathematical methods by reconstructing the examination procedure based on several Chinese mathematical classics and the Tang dynastic history books, which existed in the first century AD and the millennium. The authors find that the written records show that mathematics became one of the topics of the state examination and College of Mathematics Sun Xue, which had been established by the Directorate of Education (Guozijian) during the Sui dynasty. There were 80 students of mathematics and astronomy in that dynasty. That number decreased during the Tang dynasty. There is a list of nine books found in the Tang dynastic history books; students between the ages of 14 and 19 were required to study these books for seven years. They were asked to memorize 2,000 characters from the textbook for nine days and took a test on the tenth day during the studying period. The successful graduates were qualified to take the imperial state examinations. The state examination included two parts: writing an essay answering 10
questions and taking a test on the memorization of the mathematics treatises. Based on evidence, the authors observe that the task of writing an essay was not only to “provide the rationale of the algorithm found in the classics but also to construct a new algorithm” (p. 94). Following a meticulous mathematical analysis of how the new algorithms were created, the authors conclude that their reconstruction of the procedure “fits well within the principles of the logical and textual design of the extant mathematical treaties” (p. 95) and point out that the function of the state mathematics examination was to prepare candidates to perform official duties such as calculating the number of public works needed to build an irrigation dam; “[t]he examination was thus a relevant means to test the ability of the students to create valid methods of computations for applied problems” (p. 95). 144. Siu Man-Keung. “How Did Candidates Pass the State Examination in Mathematics in the Tang Dynasty (618–917)?—Myth of the ‘Confucian-Heritage-Culture’ Classroom.” In History and Epistemology in Mathematics Education: Third European Summer University Proceedings, 321–334. Montpellier: IREM de Montpellier, 1999. Article; English Confucian-Heritage-Culture (CHC) is defined as an observed culture in a teaching environment where teachers play an authoritative role; students are rewarded for “good memorization and industrious drilling,” and the CHC classroom is assumed to be “rote learning and low achievement” (pp. 322–323). However, the CHC students had significantly higher levels of achievement than Western students in the international mathematics competitions between the 1960s and the 1990s. “The Asian learner paradox” was that “CHC students report a preference for high-level, meaning-based learning strategies” (p. 323). Siu looks at the Asian learner paradox issue from a historical perspective, inquiring whether or not CHC, as an examination-oriented culture, benefits the learning process, by investigating the Chinese imperial examination in mathematics in the Tang dynasty (618–907). Siu finds that a number of official historical records, including the Old Dynastic History of the Tang Dynasty (JiuTangshu), New Dynastic History of the Tang Dynasty (Xing Tangshu), Complete Structure of Government (Tongdian), and Journal of the Examinations in the Tang dynasty (Dengke Jikao), indicate that, during the Tang dynasty, the mathematics examination coexisted with other various examination subjects, but “it was accorded a lower prestige among the various subjects, only [on] a par with calligraphy” (p. 327). Xin Tangshu recorded that there were 30 students in the Mathematics School in the early Tang. The math curriculum was offered at the state university; it included two programs, and each program lasted for seven years. Students had to study two more books, Memoir on Some Traditions of the Mathematical Art and Three Hierarchies of Numbers. Students who failed the annual school examination three times would be expelled; those who graduated from the programs would be ready to take the imperial state examinations. According to Xin Tangshu, there were two types of tasks in the imperial state examinations. The first was to write a “problem and answer” composition on an original task elucidating the structure/principle of the algorithm and construct a new algorithm. The second was to complete “fill in the blank” (p. 328) sentences from classic textbooks. Siu reconstructs an example from the primary ancient textbook Jiuzhang Suanshu (Nine Chapter on the Mathematical Art) (100 BC–AD 100), which was used during the Tang dynasty, to explain the
first type of task using four mathematical figures and a number of formulas. Siu concludes that the mathematics examination in the Tang dynasty “was not so elementary nor was it learnt by rote. It is hard to imagine that a group of young men spent seven of their golden years in simply memorizing the mathematical classics one by one without understanding at all!” (p. 332.) This paper was presented at a conference in July 1999. 145. Shen Dengmiao. “The Regional Distribution of the Jinshi Title-holders in the Different Time Periods of the Ming and Qing Dynasties.” Chinese Culture Research 26 (1999): 59–66. Article; Chinese After Zhang Yaoxiang published his 1926 study of the regional distribution of the jinshi titleholders in the Qing dynasty, only a few studies continued his research. The unique approach of Shen’s article is his comparison between 24,814 jinshi title-holders in the Ming and Qing dynasties, who were listed in The Stele Biographies of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, and 914 achievers who were born between 1870 and 1935, were significantly successful in 43 fields of sciences and humanities, and were listed in The Complete Encyclopedia of China. Instead of following previous studies that used provinces as the unit of analysis, Shen decided to use counties as his unit of analysis, because he found that the achievers were concentrated in cities. Shen categorized a county that produced 50 or more jinshi title-holders as an examination-advanced county. Shen’s results indicate that there were only 112 (8.4 percent) examination-advanced counties in the Ming dynasty, which produced 220 (65.1 percent) achievers; there were 117 (7.4 percent) examination-advanced counties in the Qing dynasty, which produced 434 (65.6 percent) achievers. Because the ratios of developed counties to the remaining counties are very high, 20:1 in the Ming dynasty and 24:1 in the Qing dynasty, it is evident that the achievers were concentrated in the examination-advanced regions. Furthermore, Shen finds that 50 percent of achievers were from Jiangsu and Zhejiang, which also produced 925 top-five winners in the palace examinations ( weike). Shen admits that some of the examination-advanced cities did not produce more achievers. His explanation is that the relationship between jinshi title-holders and achievers had developed and changed over the 500 years between the Ming and Qing dynasties. The peak of the matching relationship between achievers and jinshi title-holders was the period from mid-Ming to mid-Qing; the relationship declined in the late Qing dynasty. The achievers usually appear a hundred years after the peak of the regional education success. The center of achievers shifted along with the change in examination-advanced counties. For example, between the reigns of Emperor Kangxi and Emperor Qianlong, among 43 Chinese gurus nationwide, 19 (40 percent) were from the Taihu region, where the new examination success occurred. Shen comments that, in general, it is hard to deny the fairness of the examination system, despite its pitfalls. The jinshi degreeholders were highly intelligent, not all mediocre. Shen suggests that the educational function of the imperial examinations should be reevaluated. 146. Elman, Benjamin A. A Cultural History of Civil Examinations in Late Imperial China. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000. Book; 847 p.; 24 cm; English; ISBN: 0520215095 Benjamin A. Elman, a professor at Princeton University, is a leading scholar of studies of
the Chinese imperial examination system. Based on voluminous primary and secondary sources, this book is a showcase of his 10 years of research. It presents a kaleidoscope of cultural history of the imperial examinations in late imperial China between the Ming and Qing dynasties. It has 11 chapters. Chapters 1 and 2 trace the development of neo-Confucianism from the Song to Ming dynasties, which was replaced by evidential research (k’ao-chenghsueh ) in the Qing dynasty. Scholars of evidential research in the Qing challenged neoConfucianism by emphasizing rigorous evidence drawing from concrete facts. Chapters 3, 4, and 5 present the grand scale of the imperial examinations, which conferred social status on local elites and confirmed social stability. Millions of people were constantly mobilized and engaged in examination activities. The examination system was a “process of social, political, and cultural reproduction of the status quo” (p. xxix). Local elites monopolized cultural resources for the examination system. Elman argues that the civil examination process “was not a system designed for increased social mobility” because “the educational curriculum and its formidable linguistic requirements effectively eliminated the lower classes from the selection process” (p. xxix). Chapter 6 identifies emotional anxiety, dreams of success, and the examination life from literati writings and popular culture, describing frenzied examinees driven by the need to succeed, fanatical crowds at temples, the prison-like examination compounds, policing checkpoints, riots at examinations, cheating and fraud, etc. Chapters 7, 8, 9, and 10 focus on the examination curricula, including the eight-legged essay, other types of examination essays, natural sciences, and curricular reforms. Chapter 11 delineates the abolition of the examination system, which “lost one of its key tools of social, political, and cultural influence,” accelerated the demise of the dynasty, and “dismantled the cultural system built around the dynasty” (p. xxxv). One-quarter of this book comprises five appendixes, a bibliography of primary and secondary sources, and an index. 147. Huang Mingguang. A Study of the Imperial Examinations in the Ming. Guilin: Guangxi Normal University Press, 2000. Book; 276 p.; 21 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7563331239 This book is based on Huang’s dissertation. Huang’s advisor, who wrote the foreword, believed this to be the first systematic study of the imperial examinations in the Ming dynasty published in mainland China. There are 10 chapters in the book. In chapters 1 to 7, Huang presents and analyzes various aspects of the Ming examination system, including the emperors and ministers’ perceptions of its purpose, status, and measurements of the imperial examinations; the provincial, state, and palace examinations; the official examiners; examination questions and papers; and a summary of the characteristics of the examination system in the Ming dynasty. In chapter 8, Huang explores the recommendation system implemented between 1373 and 1382, when the imperial examination was stopped by Zhu Yuanzhang, the first emperor of the Ming dynasty. Chapter 9 considers the examination system in relation to school education in the Ming dynasty. In the last chapter, Huang briefly reviews the international influence of the Ming examination system on Asian and Western countries. Because Huang devotes his study specifically to the period of the Ming dynasty, he is able to microscopically detail aspects of the Ming examination system that are omitted by other researchers. For instance, when delineating the three-tier examination system, Huang not only
introduces how the examinations were held, but also investigates the positions and performance of the successful candidates after they were appointed to official positions. In addition to the imperial examination system, which was the primary channel for recruiting government officials, there were other supplemental methods to obtain official appointments, such as the school system, recommendation system, and hereditary system. Huang has combed a large number of primary sources for data to make qualitative and quantitative analyses, which provide a fuller picture of the Ming examination system. 148. Mao Lei. Hanlin Scholars in the Tang Dynasty. Beijing: Social Sciences Archives Publisher, 2000. Book; 210 p.; 21 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7801494180 As a visitor in Peking in1874, American scholar W. A. P. Martin viewed “the headquarters of the Hanlin Academy, [as] one of the pivots of the Empire, and the very centre of its literary activities.”4 Hanlin, which was founded in 738 during the reign of Emperor Tang Xuanzong as an imperial institute, played an important role in the political system from the Tang to Qing dynasties. This book is a thorough investigation of Hanlin in the Tang dynasty based on previous studies and new archaeological evidence. The author begins with an introduction to the architectural layout of the Hanlin building in the imperial palace. Located inside the imperial court, Hanlin served the emperor as daizhao , the title for Hanlin scholars. Chapter 2 describes the Hanlin system, which included the selection of the Hanlin scholars, their assignments, and their salaries. Hanlin scholars lived in the palace and shared office duties. Chapters 3 and 4 explore the Hanlin scholars’ responsibilities, their roles in the centralized decision-making system, and their relation to emperors and political affairs. The scholars did not participate in political discussions and making decisions. However, Hanlin scholars had an exclusive relationship with emperors. The emperors often consulted the Hanlin scholars, and they could disagree with the emperors’ decisions and suggest revisions when they drafted documents. Nevertheless, their political function came from their unique relationship to the emperors. Chapter 5 clarifies the difference between the Scholar Institute and the Hanlin Institute , though these two titles were used interchangeably. These two institutes were located in separate buildings. The members of the Scholar Institute were prestigious members of the emperor’s inner circle and played a significant role in the emperor’s decision-making process; the members of the Hanlin Institute were recruited for special tasks, such as calligraphy, painting, playing chess, and astrology. Hanlin was gradually replaced by Hanlinzhaodai, and the Scholar Institute adopted the title Hanlin scholars Hanlinxueshi. Starting with the Song dynasty, Hanlin scholars were included in the formal bureaucratic system and closely linked to the imperial examinations. 149. Liu Haifeng. “A Study of the Influence of the Chinese Imperial Examination System on the Western Countries.” Chinese Social Sciences 5 (2001): 188–202. Article; Chinese In 1943, Deng Siyu published his study of Chinese influence on the Western civil service examination system based on 70 references published between 1570 and 1870. In 2001, Liu reported his discovery of nearly 50 publications that appeared between 1669 and 1870, which
were not mentioned in Deng’s article and reconfirmed the Chinese influence. These newly discovered publications are in English or English translation by authors from England, Holland, Portugal, France, Italy, and the United States who were sinologists, missionaries, travelers, and diplomats. As Liu explains, the publications from the seventeenth century were filled with detailed descriptions of the Chinese examination system by firsthand witnesses. Europeans showed more curiosity about and admiration for the Chinese examination system in their publications during the eighteenth century. In the nineteenth century, the Chinese imperial examinations were frequently reported by some magazines, in addition to a number of books. These publications presented more detailed information about the Chinese system, including negative aspects such as fraud. Liu finds that evidently Western countries adopted the principle of the Chinese examination system, which was equal opportunity for a fair competition to select the talented, for their civil service examination systems. The Chinese imperial examination system is thus a contribution to the civilization of the world. Liu is a prolific scholar of the imperial examination system among the new generation. His argument was well made, with convincing evidence. However, he did not explain how the Western civil service examination systems were influenced by the Chinese examination system. For example, the civil service examinations were only used to fill the lower rank positions in the Western governments, which ought to be part of the debate about Chinese influence. 150. Ren Shuang and Shi Qinghuai. The Imperial Examination System and the Civil Service System: A Comparative Study of the Bureaucratic Politics between China and Western Countries. Beijing: Shangwu Press, 2001. Book; 270 p.; 21 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7100032768 This book presents a comparative study of the Chinese imperial examination system and civil service systems in England, Germany, France, and the United States. It is a step further in the debate about whether the imperial examination system influenced the civil service examination systems in Western countries. After a literature review, the authors agree that the Western civil service systems originated in the Chinese imperial examination system and were also the product of political parties. Chapter 1 outlines the different development of the systems in China and the Western countries. The imperial examination system was developed from the centralized power of the state to support the absolute power of the imperial governance, whereas in the Western modern civil service systems emerged from pluralized political and social structures. The imperial governance was fully in charge of the recruitment for its political control of the state; the Western systems separated the administrative management from the political power of decision making. Chapter 2 discusses three differences in political recruitment between the Chinese system and the Western systems: nepotism versus merit, morality versus professionalism, and generality versus specialty. Chapters 3 and 4 explain the bureaucracy of the imperial examination system and the Western civil service systems, respectively. In the last chapter, the authors present data about various subjects, from appointments to payrolls to retirements, and discussions of the differences in personnel management between the Chinese imperial system and the Western systems. 151. Volpp, Sophie. “The Literary Circulation of Actors in Seventeenth-Century China.” The
Journal of Asian Studies 61, no. 3 (August 2002): 949–984. Article; English Since actors were a social outcast group, they and their descendants were repeatedly banned from taking the imperial examinations, from the fourteenth century until the system was abolished in 1905. Volpp’s article is one of a few studies that unfold the reality about this group, although it primarily discusses the social significance of the connoisseurship of the actors and poems among the elites in seventeenth-century China. Volpp’s analysis focuses on poems in praise of the actor Xu Ziyun and a romantic relationship between Xu and the poet Chen Weisong (1626–1682), who “was one of the most famed lyricists of the Qing” (p. 950). Volpp’s discussion reveals that the circulation of actors and poems created a social network in which the elite group and the outcast actors were able to connect across the social barrier. (This annotation only summarizes the two points that were relevant to the imperial examinations.) First, Chen, who was from a privileged family and social circle, repeatedly failed the imperial examinations, and eventually passed the boxuehongci examination, a special examination sponsored by Emperor Kangxi to recruit talented Chinese literati. As “one of the most prolific writers of Song lyric during the later imperial period,” Chen’s sizable corpus of song lyrics “testified not only [to] his talent but also [to] a life spent at leisure” (p. 956). Second, the actor Xu became the subject of Chen’s poems, which were circulated among the elite literati. These poems were not merely creations of literature but were a strategy for the civil service examination candidates to present their poems to official examiners in advance of the exams, like their counterparts in the Tang dynasty. Volpp’s study reveals some interesting and untold stories about the imperial examination system behind the scenes. 152. Liu Haifeng. “The Imperial Examination System from a Multidisciplinary Perspective.” Journal of Xiamen University (Arts and Social Sciences) 6 (2002): 19–26. Article; Chinese Liu is not only a frontrunner in imperial examination studies among the new generation of scholars after China’s Cultural Revolution, but also one of the first visionaries in China to foresee the multidisciplinary nature of imperial examination system studies. In this article, he elaborates on the examination system in relation to the political system, education, literature, society, and culture in traditional Chinese society from multidisciplinary perspectives. The four sections in this article—examination politics, examination education, examination literature, and examination society—provide a convincing discussion of the inevitable development of imperial examination studies. 153. Chen Fei. A Discussion on Ce Essays of the Tang Imperial Examination. Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company, 2002. Book; 445 p.; 22 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7101033172 Ce was a type of essay examination in the imperial examination system. Chen’s study emphasizes ce in relation to other examination curriculums. Chen identifies more than 30 examination curricula, which evolved from the dynamic Tang examination system. Chen classifies them into three categories: mingjing, jinshi, and others. Each category contains more specific branches of the examination subjects. This classification comes from Chen’s concept
of “keju literature (imperial examination literature) ,” which was traditionally excluded from Chinese classical literature. In contrast to a popular view that the candidates’ success was primarily measured by their poetry and verse in the Tang examination system , Chen’s evidence shows that ce was actually the most frequently used and critical examination embraced by all three categories in the Tang dynasty. In Chen’s view, keju literature is a leap in the studies of imperial examinations in relation to literature because it defines the essential nature of the imperial examination system as a cultured political system dominated by Confucian literature. In this sense, keju literature produced talented people who possessed excellent morality by the standards of that time. 154. Wang Bingzhao and Xu Yong, eds. Studies of Chinese Imperial Examination System. Shijiazhuang: Hebei People Publisher, 2002. Book; 484 p.; 21 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7202028808 Edited by Professor Wang, who is dean of educational psychology at Beijing Normal University, and Dr. Xu at the Archive Research Institute at the same university, this book includes 10 chapters written by 10 professors and researchers from different universities in mainland China. Chapter 1 is a brief political history that follows the imperial examination system from the Han to the late South and North dynasties. Chapter 2 provides a discussion of the external and internal elements in the development of the imperial examination system. Chapter 3 discusses the relationship between the examination system and the centralized imperial power. Chapter 4 focuses on an analysis of Confucianism-centered culture in relation to the examination system from the Han to Qing dynasties. Chapter 5 presents the standardized examination content, scope, curriculums, grading criteria, and examination organization and procedure. Chapters 6 and 7 analyze the relationship between the examination system and education provided through the official and private schools. Chapter 8 explores social and cultural impacts on the examination system; social stratification, which was shaped by the examination system; and the relationship between marriage and the examination system. Chapter 9 explicates the reforms and the abolition of the examination system in the late Qing dynasty. Chapter 10 reviews the principle of fairness in the examination system, the tradition of emphasizing education, and the measurements of successful candidates. This book provides fairly in-depth studies of the key aspects of the imperial examination system from a variety of perspectives. 155. Liu Haifeng. “The Last Provincial Examination in the History of China’s Imperial Examination.” Journal of Xiamen University (Arts & Social Sciences) 159, no. 5 (2003): 21– 26. Article; Chinese After presenting a brief history about xiangshi, Liu captures an important event, the last provincial examination in 1903, describing the examination and other social events during that turbulent period. The xiangshi , which originated in the Tang examination system, was the local examination to qualify candidates for the state examinations. Beginning in the Yuan dynasty, xiangshi first became the formal examination at the provincial level, which was held every three years. In the Ming and Qing dynasties, xiangshi was developed into the most
competitive and influential examination, because a large population of examinees took the examination at the same time across the nation, successful candidates were chosen based on the quota system, and the rate of successful candidates was 1 percent. Therefore, xiangshi was the best indicator of the regional distributions of educational and cultural development. In 1901, the Qing government modernized the examinations and ended the eight-legged essay. For example, one of the topics for examination essays in the last xiangshi held in 1903 was: “In making new books and publishing newspapers and periodicals the articles should be peaceable and true. If they revile the Government’s policy there is a hindrance to keeping the country in peace. They are then truly provocative of rebellion. Suggest a law to stop this, settle the peoples’ minds, and establish the customs of the country.”5 The modernized examination content did not prevent the demise of the examination system. From officials and reformers to public opinion, there was a consen-sus that modern schools could not be developed until the imperial examination system came to the end. The xiangshi held in 1903 was the last local examination, held two years before the abolition of the entire examination system. 156. Yang Qifu. The Imperial Examination System and Modern Culture. Beijing: People Press, 2003. Book; 299 p.; 21 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7010039348 A special contribution of this book is a full investigation of the examination system toward the end of the Qing dynasty. The author discusses the process of the reforms and abolition of the examination system in the context of social transition, the Western missionary movement, a collision between modern ideas and the examination system, and the rise of modern education and the deterioration of the examination system in the late Qing dynasty. After the Opium War in 1840, the conflict between the imperial examination system and the changing society intensified. The author outlines the reforms and abolition of the examination system in four periods: Taiping Kingdom , a rebellion government (1851–1864); yangwu movement , the Qing government’s reforms between 1861 and 1891; and wuxubianfa , a movement in 1898 led by the reformer Kang Youwie, which requested the Qing government to reform its political system; and the abolition of the examination system. The author identifies three key factors that brought about the end of the system. First, the Western missionaries’ criticism about the examination and the establishment of modern schools sponsored by churches challenged the examination system and made the Chinese people start to accept a new education system. Second, in response to the experimental reforms and under the influence of modern ideas, longstanding views about the educational system, culture, and scholarship changed. Third, the rise of the modern school system, the reformed shuyuan academies , and an increased number of Chinese students who pursued their education abroad all challenged the dominant position of the examination system and speeded up its abolition. In the last chapter, the author outlines a short history of the altered examinations and several attempts at reviving the old system in the later Qing dynasty. 157. Zhang Jie. The Prominent Clans of Chinese Civil Service Examination in Qing Dynasty. Beijing: Social Sciences Academic Press, 2003. Book; 345 p.; 21 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7801900111
Dai Yi, a renowned professor, argues in his foreword to this book that once the clan organization system emerged as a fundamental social unit in ancient Chinese society, political ruling power was always intertwined with the clan system. The establishment of the imperial examination system in the Sui and Tang dynasties broke the dominant political control by the powerful clans. Successful candidates from the imperial examinations were the major source for imperial officials. The clan organization system adapted the examination system by exploiting resources to help family members engaged in the examinations. A number of prominent clans produced successful candidates generation after generation in the period from the Song to the Qing dynasties. This phenomenon is defined as “keju clans (the imperial examination clans),” which connotes the evolved nature of the clan system in the Qing dynasty. The prominent clans possessed wealth, power, knowledge, and prestige, and they became a new power group owing to their dual identities: imperial officials in the central government and gentry in the local communities. Zhang’s book is a systematic examination of “keju clans” in the Qing dynasty with a sociological and historical approach. He uses The Collection of Examination Papers (zhujuan ) in the Qing Dynasty, which contains 420 volumes and over 8,000 sets of examination papers. This is the first time that the primary source was used for studying the imperial examination since Pan and Fei’s study of social mobility in 1940s. Zhang’s book is organized into seven chapters. Chapter 1 constructs the concept “keju clans” in three conditions. First, the clan members lived together and utilized resources to support the members’ examination activities. Second, a considerable number of members were engaged in the examinations over generations of this clan. Third, the titles of successful candidates that the clan produced must be juren (the middle rank) or above. Chapters 2, 3, and 4 investigate the financial resources, the cultural tradition and environment, and daily lives of the prominent clans. Chapter 5 devotes a research to social mobility. Zhang’s research shows that every three years, the imperial examination mobilized 6,720,000 people, which was horizontal and temporary social mobility. Most examinees were unsuccessful candidates, and they could not change their social status. Nevertheless, Zhang argues that such mobility is significant to some extent because it hastens social mobility between cities and rural areas and provides an opportunity for people to experience new worlds and receive new ideas. Zhang focuses on how many years the prominent clans took to produce vertical social mobility. He finds that it took about 5.6 generations (20 years for a generation), 112 years, to complete vertical social mobility for a clan. Chapter 6 discusses changes in political power and the banner clans, as well as the clans who immigrated to Sichuan province. Chapter 7 explores clan influences through a case study of three prominent clans. This book is derived from Zhang’s dissertation, which took 10 years to produce. 158. Huang Yunhe. “Begging While Traveling: A Lifestyle of the Examinees of the Tang Imperial Examinations.” Journal of Ancient Classics Research 1, no. 1 (January 2004): 31– 34. Article; Chinese The newly developed examination system in the Tang dynasty produced a very active social group of intellectuals who spent most their lives engaging in examination activities. In this interesting article, Huang captures a phenomenal lifestyle that prevailed among the group,
begging while traveling , when they were away from home. This phenomenon was largely recorded in the book Taiping Guangji.6 The examinees’ begging behavior was common at that time because it was an important financial source for them. Such behavior was different from that of homeless people because examinees particularly sought a large amount of money/wealth from high-ranking officials and social elites. For example, some examinees could get hundreds of thousands of the Tang currency, which could buy enough grain for five years of consumption, or even buy servants and lug-gage for the next year’s travel. Many examinees were not really poor. Since the imperial examination was held every year, examinees had to constantly travel away from home. They also needed networking to promote their literary works and seek officials’ or elites’ recommendations. Examinees’ begging behavior was accepted and tolerated by Tang society. Because these examinees could be future officials, most high-ranking officials and elites sponsored examinees for their own long-term benefit. With easy access to wealth, examinees developed arrogant attitudes. They forced local officials to sponsor them. Otherwise, they would revenge on the local officials after they became officials in the central government. In such a social environment, some examinees became unable to live independently. Instead, they made their living by begging. 159. Liu Haifeng. “The Last Jinshi Title-holders in the History of the Imperial Examination in China.” Journal of Xiamen University (Arts & Social Sciences) 164, no. 4 (2004): 68–73. Article; Chinese In this article, which has three sections, Liu first introduces the Qing government’s reforms for the imperial examination system in the changing Chinese society. In 1901, Queen Cixi issued an order to end the eight-legged essay and modernize the essay questions for the xiangshi and state examinations. The Qing government approved the proposals by the reformers to gradually reduce the xiangshi quotas of successful candidates, move the quotas to modern schools, and eventually end the imperial examinations to make schools the only way to enter government officialdom. In other words, the Qing government decided to end the imperial examination system at the beginning of 1904. In the second section, Liu analyzes the examination questions and the successful candidates’ papers from the last state and palace examinations. For example, the examinees were asked to write essays on current issues in politics, education, agriculture, economy, government budgets, diplomatic affairs, Chinese immigrants in the United States affected by the Chinese Exclusion Act signed in 1882, etc. The grading system was changed to emphasize the examinees’ thinking and ideas. The examinees needed to demonstrate not only their familiarity with these issues but also their critical thinking, which indicates that the ancient examination system was transforming into the modern civil service examination system. In the last section, Liu follows the careers of the last jinshi title-holders. Immediately after the palace ceremony, this group was admitted into the Jinshi Institute for continuing education, so that they could update their knowledge to adapt to the urgent needs of the Qing government in dealing with political, diplomatic, and economic affairs. However, the Jinshi Institute had to be ended after one year because of the abolition of the imperial examination system. Some of these jinshi title-holders were sent to Japan to study at Tokyo Law University. Others studied in modern domestic universities. After their graduation, they took examinations and were appointed to positions for new governments. Most
of these jinshi title-holders either held important positions or became eminent scholars. Three of them published four studies on the imperial examinations based on their firsthand experiences (see entries 82, 85, 91, and 113). 160. Struve, Lynn A. “Ruling from Sedan Chair: Wei Yijie (1616–1686) and the Examination Reform of the ‘Oboi’ Regency.” Late Imperial China 25, no. 2 (December 2004): 1–32. Article; English Though Struve’s article intends to make an argument based on a Manchu-versus-Han interpretive paradigm, its main focus is to highlight Wei Yijie’s influence on examination policy during the period of the Oboi regency. As a minister of the Qing government and notable Confucian scholar, Wei Yijie (1616–1686) made several proposals on examination issues during his long official career. He advocated raising the profile of the military examination, bringing the selection methods more into line with those of the civil examinations, and banning nongovernment publication of examination essays. The examination policy on quotas indicates Wei’s influence on the principle that set percentages of selectees in accordance with educational demographics and political expedience. Wei’s proposed examination format was announced by the Ministry of Rites. Wei instigated the abolition of the eight-legged essay and revamped the reform of the imperial examination system. As Struve indicates, “under the ultimate authority of the Manchu regents, it appears that Wei Yijie not only pushed the civil examinations for Han-Chinese candidates in a direction that had been widely advocated for decades by Chinese intellectuals but also pushes the training of bannermen in a direction that converged with that of Han-Chinese civil and military officials” (p. 18). As Struve summarizes, “Wei, like any savvy politician, kept a figurative deck of policy cards in his sleeve and ‘played’ them selectively when he thought the time was right” (p. 23). 161. Liu Haifeng and Li Bing. The History of the Chinese Civil Service Examinations. 2nd ed. Shanghai: East Publisher, 2004. Book; 499 p.; 21 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 9787801861931 This book outlines the history of the Chinese civil service examination system in chronological order from the Han to the Qing dynasties. In six chapters, the authors present the evolving history of and changes in the various aspects of the examination system, such as the establishment of curriculum, the examination content, the quota for successful candidates, the school system, and the reform and abolition of the examination system. The book also provides nine lists of gongju and jinshi from the Tang through the Qing dynasties, a chronological table of the significant events in the civil service examinations, and a list of over 200 references. 162. Wang Zhaopeng. A Study of Rhymes of the Poems and Verses in the Tang Imperial Examinations. Jinan: Qilu Publisher, 2004. Book; 247 p.; 21 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7533314778 From the middle of the Tang dynasty, writing poems and verses was the most critical examination curriculum of the state examinations. Rhymes faced rigorous grading criteria. This book is a study of rhymes of poems and verses in the Tang imperial examinations, researching 189 poems and 139 verses from the Tang imperial examinations, which were recorded in two
publications: Wenyuan Yinghua , an analogy compiled in the Song dynasty, which contains about 20,000 poems and verses by 2,200 authors from the period between 502 and 960; and Xu Song’s The Lists of Successful Candidates between 618 and 960 . After introducing the examination genre in the first chapter, in chapter 2 the author uses Guangyun , the official rhyme system in the Song, and the two books of rhyme charts— Rhyme Mirror (Yunjing) and Seven Phonics ( Qiyinlue)—to analyze rhymes in each poem or verse and present data in the chronological order of the examinations. In chapter 3, the author tracks the “shared usage,” which means a rhyme system could be shared with other rhyme systems, and “exclusive usage,” which means a rhyme could only be used exclusively. The author finds that 99.17 percent of the shared usage and exclusive usage in these writings was matched with Guangyun, which indicates that the shared usage and exclusive usage was started after 717. Wang makes a convincing argument for the debate in Chinese linguistic history. In the last chapter, Wang points out that the Tang official rhyme system unified various dialects. The two books of rhyme charts served as a reference for examinees to quickly locate the rhymes for their poems/verses during examinations and the standards for official examiners to catch errors that violated the rhyme rules. Wang’s data show that 81.93 percent of the words in the topics of examination verses were identifiable in the two books of the rhyme charts and , which indicates an increased use of rhymes as clues from the examination topics after 761. This book is not only a contribution to Chinese linguistics and literature, but also a unique approach to detailed information on how the writing examinations were developed during the Tang dynasty. 163. Duoluoken. A Study of the Jinshi Degree-holders in Zhejiang Circuits in the Min Dynasty. Shanghai: Shanghai Guji Publisher, 2004. Book; 437 p.; 21 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7532537897 Since southern China was historically more prosperous than northern China, more men from Zhejiang region earned jinshi degrees and changed their lives through the imperial examinations than other circuits in the Ming dynasty, even though the imperial quota policy limited equal opportunity to talented men in Zhejiang. This book is a study of the jinshi degreeholders in Zhejiang in relation to the social conditions of regional economic growth, school education, and cultural development. There are four chapters in this book. Chapter 1 traces the tradition of the historical culture of Zhejiang circuits prior to the Ming dynasty. Chapters 2 and 3 present the economic prosperity, the invention of printing technologies, the development of literature and dramas, and emerging scholars and writers. In chapter 4, the author explicates the characteristics of Zhejiang jinshi: there were more young and talented jinshi degreeholders in Zhejiang; most jinshi degree-holders in this region came from the prominent clans that had a record of success in the imperial examinations and officials’ jobs; and the imperial examination system fostered more scholars and writers in Zhejiang. This study is based on 84 lists of the successful candidates in the Ming dynasty, which the author consolidated from a number of libraries in China. By comparing these lists and referencing local gazettes and other historical documents, the author is able to identify their inconsistencies and omissions in compiling the biographies of the Zhejiang jinshi and the name index of Zhejiang jinshi. 164. Man-Cheong, Iona D. The Class of 1761: Examinations, State, and Elites in Eighteenth-
Century China. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2004. Book; 298 p.; 25 cm; English; ISBN:0804741468 While most researchers have studied the whole or a dynastic history of the imperial examination system, Man-Cheong chooses to probe the complex examination system from a totally different angle, focusing on a cohort of 217 jinshi degree holders who all passed the state examination in 1761. This unique approach allows Man-Cheong to capture the life journey of the 217 candidates in the path of the imperial examination system and to dissect their family and educational backgrounds, their writings for the examination, their social connections, and their careers in officialdom in relation to the imperial state, governmental agencies, laws, and policies in the dynamic political and social conditions of the Qing dynasty. As Man-Cheong indicates, “the Chinese examination system was crucial to the process that helped produced and reproduce a unitary, centralized state. . . . [I]t also shaped candidates through the necessary disciplinary training as servants of the state” (p. 2). Her study is “[c] ontrary to earlier studies of Chinese social mobility” (p. 24), because the social elites needed the throne to legitimate their political leadership and the state needed trained bureaucratic professionals. Therefore, the examination system was a process through which successful candidates naturally became a national network and shared the political power of the state. By scrupulously mapping the class of 1761 from historical primary documents and tracking their course from pursuing jinshi, the highest degree, to their careers and retirement, Man-Cheong’s study is able to discern this jinshi group’s personal ambitions, the nuances of their individual ideological and political positions, and a complex of political and social liaisons behind the scenes, and ultimately to reveal the essential nature of the imperial examination system. 165. Qian Maowei. The State, the Imperial Examination System, and the Society: An Investigation Focused on the Ming Dynasty. Beijing: Beijing Library Publisher, 2004. Book; 342 p.; 21 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7501326126 This study resulted from Qian’s postdoctoral research project. Qian uses a theoretical model of political science, “state-society,” as a new perspective to study the imperial examination system, particularly during the Ming dynasty. His premise is that the Ming examination system became the most pivotal political machinery of the Ming imperial government and penetrated into the Ming society. Qian clarifies that his goal is not just to inspect the examination system itself, but to investigate the examination-dominated state and society. This book is divided into two parts with 10 chapters. In the first part, which includes eight chapters, Qian argues that political control for the stability of the Ming imperial government depended on the imperial examination system, which produced the bureaucrats of the civil service using neoConfucianism, which was legitimated as the state ideology. However, political control could only be maintained with limited official posts and scarce resources. To ease the conflict between the surplus of successful candidates and limited government positions, the Ming government kept the number of posts under 20,000–24,000 and required that new jinshi be interns for a period of time before being appointed into official positions. In chapter 5, the author specifically discusses social mobility. He argues that vertical social mobility only occurred within the literati . The examination system provided an opportunity for literati to change their social status from commoners to gentry. As gentry, the literati could be chosen to
serve in the local and state governments. This kind of social mobility would not threaten the stability of the social structure, but rather maintain the established social stratification and the stability of Chinese society. The author spent about 10 years working on the archives of the Ming examinations. In chapter 9, the author introduces his collection archives of the imperial examinations from the Song to the Qing dynasties. In the last chapter, using these archives of the Ming examinations, the author corrects errors in a number of reference books on Ming history, such as The Biographical Index of the Ming Dynasty, The Biographies of the Famous People in the Ming Dynasty, and The Dictionary of the Ming History. 166. Moore, Oliver J. Rituals of Recruitment in Tang China: Reading an Annual Programme in the Collected Statements by Wang Dingbao (870–940). Leiden: Brill, 2004. Book; 407 p.; 25 cm; English; ISBN: 9004139370 The Collected Statements, which was written by Wang Dingbao (870–ca. 954) during the Tang dynasty, is one of the most important and frequently cited primary sources in imperial examination studies. There was no systematic treatment of Wang’s book until Moore’s study. Moore extracts rituals from the annual program documented in Wang’s book, explains the cultural meanings of these rituals, and analyzes the profound and exclusive transition of the imperial examination system during the Tang dynasty. Moore breaks down the content of The Collected Statements into the headings, which are ordered by sequential numbers as an appendix, and strategically includes the numbers in his text as he analyzes the content of Wang’s book. In addition, Moore consulted voluminous primary and secondary sources in Chinese, Japanese, and English languages. Moore’s book includes seven chapters. Chapter 1 serves as an introduction to the historical background of Tang examinations. Chapter 2 examines Wang’s life and the sources of The Collected Statements. Chapter 3 explains the tribute scholars and reforms of the Tang examination system. In chapters 4 to 7, Moore identifies various rituals along with the process of the examinations, from governmentsponsored ceremonies to private celebrations. 167. Xu Maoming. The Gentry and Society in the Jiangnan Region in the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368–1911). Beijing: Shangwu Press, 2004. Book; 356 p.; 21 cm; Chinese; ISBN 7100042968 Since the 1940s, studies of Chinese gentry have grown into a research branch in imperial examination studies. This book, which was revised from Xu’s dissertation, is an addition to the studies of Chinese gentry from a cultural perspective. The Jiangnan region included seven districts in the Qing dynasty: Suzhou, Xongjiang, Changzhou, Hangzhou, Jiaxing, Huzhou, and Taicang in southern China. Historically, this was a vigorous business area and a highly competitive region for the imperial examinations, with a consistently higher rate of successful candidates than other regions. As a result, the examination system produced a large social group, the gentry, in Jiangnan region. On the one hand, gentry were the nonofficial elites representing the political and cultural ideology of the state in local communities. On the other hand, there was a conflict between the gentry and imperial government because of their own political interests. In five chapters, Xu outlines how the gentry used their advantages to develop local control through their cultural power; their relation to the local official, semi-
official, and unofficial organizations; and their transformation in the dynamic social conditions in the later Qing dynasty. In chapter 4, Xu takes the Pan clan, which was the most prominent clan residing in Suzhou Dabu, as a case to illustrate how the gentry developed their cultural power. Xu describes how the Pan clan immigrated to the Suzhou and assimilated into Suzhou culture, switched from their inherited business careers to engage in the imperial examinations and pursue officialdom for generations, and transformed themselves from a traditional culture to the new culture of gentry in the Jiangnan region. Xu’s book also includes a comprehensive review of the studies of Chinese gentry by Japanese, American, Chinese, Hong Kong, and Taiwanese scholars since the 1940s. This review presents the development of and debates in the studies of Chinese gentry and provides a rationale to support why he defines the “gentry” as “politically and economically privileged literati who were either degree-holders of the imperial examinations or former officials” (p. 23). Furthermore, Xu’s theory of cultural power explains the relationship between the Chinese gentry and the examination system. Xu provides an analysis of how the Chinese gentry adjusted to social changes during the abolition of the examination system at the end of the Qing dynasty, which illustrates that Xu’s study not only continues the ongoing development in gentry studies, but also takes the research to a whole new level. 168. Wang Hongpeng. The Biographies of the Top Winners Examinations. Beijing: Army Press, 2004. Book; 577 p.; 21 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7506545454
of the Chinese Civil Service
169. Wang Hongpeng, Wang Kaixian, and ZhangYintang. The Biographies of the Second-Place of the Chinese Civil Service Examinations. Beijing: Army Press, 2004. Book; 459 p.; 21 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7506545462 653 170. Wang Hongpeng, Wang Kaixian, and Zhang Yintang. The Biographies of the Third-Place of the Chinese Civil Service Examinations. Beijing: Army Press, 2004. Book; 403 p.; 21 cm; Chinese: ISBN: 7506545446 These three books provide biographies of the 653 top winners, the 366 second-place winners, and the 331 third-place winners of the imperial examinations from the Tang to the Qing dynasties. These three groups were rewarded with influential positions and subsequently had a great impact on the imperial government. The authors draw from over a hundred archives and historical publications to deliver interesting biographies in these three books. Each entry begins with the name of the top winner, followed by a précis of the year the winner obtained his title and his official career. The short biography usually contains interesting anecdotes. The authors note that there are more publications and research available on the first-place winners than on the other two groups. Each book contains about seven appendixes: 1) a chronology of important events from the Tang to Qing dynasties; 2) lists of the numbers of the first-, second-, or third-place jinsh i from the Tang to the Qing; 3) records of “firsts” about each group; 4) a list of the names of those who twice won the first place in the two-tier examinations (the state and palace examinations); 5) a list of names of those who were top winners in the three-tier examinations (the provincial, state, and palace examinations) in the same year; 6) a list of the
top winners from the same families; and 7) a list of the top winners who served in high-ranking official posts in the imperial cabinets. 171. Zhu Kaiyu. Examination Society, Regional Order and the Development of the Organization Lineages: Huizhou in the Period between the Sung and Ming Dynasties, 1100– 1644. Taibei: National Taiwan University, 2004. Book; 420 p.; 22 cm; Chinese The clan system in the Huizhou region, which developed between 1100 and 1644 during the Southern Song and Ming dynasties, was a strong organization in dealing with environmental and social challenges, including overpopulation, a lack of agricultural lands and natural resources, and instability of the social order generated by heavy taxes and a gap between the rich and poor. This book provides detailed information and several case studies on how the prominent clans used imperial examinations to strengthen the clan system. A number of members of the clans in the Huizhou region obtained official positions and became social elites. They not only brought benefits to their own families, but they also helped their local communities develop education and culture and survive the social disturbance in the middle and late Ming dynasty. The concept of “keju society (the imperial examination society)” in this book signifies the social integration function of the examination system. The studies of the prominent clans in various regions in China by American, Japanese, Dutch, and Chinese researchers have gradually developed a research branch with an anthropological approach to the imperial examination system studies. This book is part of this branch. 172. Guan Xiaohong. “The Abolition of the Imperial Examinations and the Rural Gentry in Early Modern China: A Comparative Observation Based on the Diaries of Liu, Dapeng and Zhu, Zhisan.” Historical Research no. 5 (2005): 84–99. Article; Chinese This article discusses how the rural gentry were impacted by the abolition of the imperial examination system in early modern China. The author analyzes two diaries written by individuals who lived in two different areas but both participated in the imperial examinations and experienced the imperial government’s reforms and the abolition of the examination system in the dynamic period of the last dynasty of the Chinese empire. One of the diaries’ authors, Liu (1857–1942), was a successful candidate from the district examination and later became a teacher at a private school; the other, Zhu (1886–1967), was 29 years younger and a student of the imperial examinations at that time. Both diaries reveal the decline of the imperial examination system in the latter part of the Qing dynasty, detailing a sharp decrease in the number of examinees, too many candidates vying for a few official positions, and the rise of modern schools. Guan observes Liu and Zhu’s different reactions to the reforms and abolition of the imperial examinations. Interestingly, Zhu’s diary showed that he heard about the imminent abolition of the imperial examination one month before the news was officially announced. In contrast, Liu, who lived in a remote rural area of northern China, got the news a month later, after the official announcement. As a younger man, Zhu adapted to the change immediately and enrolled in a modern school for his teaching career; Liu was disappointed about the abolition and worried about his future. After the abolition, the Qing governments
enacted new policies to help this group of middle-aged gentry adjust to the transition. For example, the government accepted more successful candidates in yiu , ba , and gong examinations (examinations of the imperial university) and created more official posts to appoint more successful candidates. A large number of gentry enrolled in modern normal schools in districts and provinces to become teachers in modern schools. After graduation, Zhu taught at a modern school and later became editor of a newspaper. Many educated gentry filled the new positions in the local governments. Liu was once a senator in the bureau of Shanxi province. Guan concludes that the abolition of the imperial examination system provided more career opportunities to the gentry. Even though Liu and Zhu responded to the abolition differently, the gentry retained their elite status in their local communities. The biggest loser was the Qing government, whose reforms failed to save the empire. The reforms and the abolition triggered anger among the middle-aged gentry, produced a large number of radical young revolutionaries, and brought the empire to its end. The author believes that a true history should be a combination of trivial details and giant events and a unification of gradual changes and sudden transformation. This study of the two diaries exhibits this approach. 173. Chen Baoliang. A Study of Shengyuan in Relation to Schools, the Imperial Examinations System, and the Society in the Ming Dynasty. Beijing: China’s Social Sciences Publisher, 2005. Book; 568 p.; 21 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7500450060 In the Ming dynasty, to be a qualified applicant for the provincial examinations, one had to pass examinations to enroll in local schools and become shengyuan (a student). The author indicates that shengyuan not only was the first step in pursuing success in the imperial examinations, but also identified the literati as having prestigious social status. Whereas most studies of the imperial examination system concentrate on the highest title-holders, jinshi, this book pays close attention to the lowest title-receivers. Chen’s book, which has two parts, focuses on studying shengyuan during the Ming dynasty. Part 1 includes five chapters that examine shengyuan in relation to various school systems and the imperial examinations. Chapters 1 and 2 present various types of schools in the official and private school systems that produced shengyuan. Chapters 3, 4, and 5 investigate the quota system, curriculums, school administrations, and career paths for becoming officials. In general, there were two groups of shengyuan: the 8–16 percent who would ultimately be successful in the imperial examinations, and the rest, who had to choose alternative careers instead of becoming officials through examinations. Both groups enjoyed their prestigious status and were exempt from the state taxes and labor services. Part 2 analyzes the living and social conditions of shengyuan. Most had to change their careers to other professions such as teaching, business, medicine, or local legal clerical work, or became hermits. Some shengyuan became prominent figures and were actively involved in local communities. Part 2 also describes the shengyuan’s social life and their scholastic activities, declining morality, values, and economic status. The book’s introduction provides an excellent review of relevant studies, a systematic summary of a wide range of key discussions on the study of the gentry, social mobility, theories and methods, and research trends. This book is revised from the author’s dissertation.
174. Huang Qiang. A Discussion on the Eight-legged Essay and the Literature in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Shanghai: Classics Press, 2005. Book; 542 p.; 21 cm; Chinese; ISBN 7532540197 Huang is a professor and scholar of Chinese classic literature of the Ming and Qing dynasties. This book is the result of a national research project begun in 1993. Huang’s previously published journal articles are also part of this book. Instead of judging the eightlegged essay as either “bad or good,” Huang takes a unique look at its origin, development, and impact in the literature of the Ming and Qing dynasties. The first nine chapters focus on the origin and development of the eight-legged essay and its social and political functions. The first three chapters focus on analyzing its form; chapter 4 presents the content, Confucian classics, and eminent scholars who were activists of neo-Confucianism. Chapter 5 identifies the essay’s function in recruiting officials for the imperial government. In chapter 6, Huang develops two prototypes to categorize the eight-legged essay: “spirit-focused eight-legged essay” and “examination-focused eight-legged essay,” discussing criteria for these categories and presenting exemplary eight-legged essays. Chapters 7 through 9 explain a dilemma in practice between the two types of eight-legged essay, a decline in “spirit-focused eight-legged essays,” and the elimination of the eight-legged essay. The last six chapters analyze the literary aspects of the eight-legged essay. Chapter 10 explores the rhetorical expressions and techniques used in the essay. In chapters 11 to 14, Huang delineates the relationship between the eight-legged essay and other literary genres, such as plays, novels, classic essays, policy essays, and poetry. The last chapter probes why calligraphy was overrated in the imperial examinations in the Qing dynasty. Huang is a leading scholar in eight-legged essay studies and the imperial examination in mainland China. This book has altered the significance of the extinct examination genre, the eight-legged essay. 175. Takatsu Takashi. The Imperial Examinations and Art of Poetry: The Literature and Literati in the Song. Translated by Pan Shisheng. Shanghai: Guji Press, 2005. Book; 215 p.; 21 cm; Chinese; ISBN 7532541908 Takatsu Takashi is a prestigious Japanese sinologist in classic Chinese literature and history. This book, translated from Japanese into Chinese by Pan, is a collection of 12 papers published between 1989 and 2005. This elegant book researches the relationship between literary society and the imperial examinations in the Song dynasty and covers a range of topics, including xinjuan , a part of examination practice in which examinees obtained prominent officials’ recommendations in the early period of the Song dynasty; literary development and taixueti , a popular literary genre in the Northern Song dynasty; establishment of the eight schools of classical Chinese essays in the Tang and Song dynasties; Su Shi’s critiques; the imperial examinations and cultural diversity in the Song dynasty; Chinese mountain/water poetry and its poets; the scholarship of Su Shi (a prominent official and author in the Song dynasty) and the imperial examination in the Ming dynasty; anjian , the poetry curriculum of the civil service examinations held in the Ryukyu Islands in Japan; and Chinese history and literary works. Takatsu Takashi’s strength is his ability to identify a significant literary phenomenon, then discover rich details in its developmental path, and finally present a history ranging from literary activities to the literati. Takatsu Takashi underlines a linkage between
literary phenomena and the imperial examinations. For example, in “The Establishment of the Eight-schools of the Chinese Classic Essays,” he discsuses how the eight schools were developed and authorized by prominent scholars who were also high-ranking officials in the imperial government. As Takatsu Takashi points out, the eight-school essay was not just a literary trend, but a scholastic movement in the context of the examination-driven society during the Song dynasty. In “The Poetry Curriculum of the Civil Service Examination in Ryukyu Islands,” Takatsu Takashi introduces an examination reference book that contains poems written by four students from the Ryukyu Islands in the Qing dynasty, then presents the poetry examination curriculum from the Tang and Qing dynasties. He concludes that the reference book once used in Ryukyu Islands was evidence proving the literary influence of the Qing examinations on East Asia. 176. Wang Xiaoyang and Kong Qingmao. Writing Genres of the Imperial Examinations. Tianjin: Tianjin Classics Publisher, 2005. Book; 231 p.; 21 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7805049734 Various materials, such as essays, poetry, and technical writings, were specifically developed for the imperial examinations. This book, which has 11 chapters, is a study of these examination genres. In the introduction, the authors outline six genres of examinations: ce , policy essays; lun , essays that express individual views about themes in Confucian classics and current issues; shi poetry; fu verse; jingyi , essays interpreting Confucian classics; and technical writings, including zhen , gao , biao , zan , etc. In chapter 1, the authors track the origin of the examination genres in the Han dynasty (165 BC) prior to the establishment of the imperial examination system. Jingyi and ce, which were developed during the Han dynasty, were the major influence on the examination genres in later dynasties. In chapters 2 to 6, the authors elaborate the development of various examination genres in the Tang and Song dynasties. In the Tang dynasty, ce became the standardized examination and the most important measure for selecting successful candidates. Shi and fu were also examination genres. Indeed, because many poets and writers took part in the imperial examinations, the examination genres themselves impacted the Tang literary movement. The authors explain the similarities and differences between jingyi and lun and how Wang Anshi, the imperial minister, reformed these two examination genres during the Song dynasty. Chapters 7, 8, and 9 analyze the origin of the eight-legged essay, its style of “speaking as the Confucian sages,” and the relationship between the eight-legged essay and Chinese literature. Chapter 10 discusses the revitalized poetry examinations during the Qing dynasty. The last chapter summarizes the fundamental influence of the examination essay during the Han dynasty on the imperial examination system, the prominence of Tang poetry, and a unique style of Song poetry, all of which were brought together by the examination genres. This book is not only a focused study of the examination genres but also an analysis of the relationship between the examination genres and Chinese literature history. A chronology of the examination genres from the Han, 165 BC, to 1901 is included. 177. Li Shiyu. The Glimpse of Imperial Examination Life in Dynasties of China. Shenyang Shi: Shenyang Publisher, 2005.
Book; 327 p.; 21 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7544127648 Li is a prolific scholar of Qing history from the first generation after the Cultural Revolution. Part of a series on Chinese history, this book reconstructs various aspects of social history through 38 topics covering the development of the imperial examination system, examinationdriven social collective behaviors, the bittersweet pursuit of examination success, the ceremonies for successful candidates, fraud in the examinations, religious rituals, etc. Rather than following chronological order, this book highlights each aspect of examination history in a different section. The author uses simple language to describe the complex system clearly without sacrificing precision and accuracy. The sources of the details are all indicated, which shows the author’s expertise and professional training. This is an excellent book for both researchers and general readers. 178. Liu Haifeng. An Introduction to the Imperial Examination Studies. Wuhan: Huazhong Normal University Press, 2005. Book; 465 p.; 24 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7562231850 Since 1992, when Liu proposed the discipline “imperial examination studies,” he has published a series of papers about it. After 13 years, he developed his proposals into this book, which is a full presentation of the concept of interdisciplinary studies of the imperial examinations. The book has 18 chapters, in addition to the introduction, conclusion, and three appendixes. Each chapter summarizes and elaborates on an aspect of imperial examination studies. The first two chapters explicate the definition, nature, characteristics, scope, and content of the field. Chapters 3 to 7 outline the history, origin, and progressive stages of the imperial examination system; the reasons for its existence and abolition; and the four groups of successful candidates in the three-tier examinations. Chapters 8 to 14 present the multiple disciplines of imperial examination studies, with their political, educational, literary, social, cultural, legal, and geographical (regional) perspectives. Chapters 15 and 16 address the terminologies and archives that were developed and generated by the imperial examinations. The last two chapters discuss Chinese influence on East Asia and Western countries. Appendix 1 is a list of 101 historical archives of imperial examination studies. Appendix 2 lists 354 publications on imperial examination studies between 1926 and 2005. Of these, 289 are in Chinese; the rest are in Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, English, French, Italian, and German. Appendix 3 is a list of 43 dissertations, 66 theses, and 5 postdoctoral papers. This book is a comprehensive and groundbreaking approach to validating the mature discipline of imperial examination studies. As Liu states, this discipline has been “a natural progress, not an artificially manufactured product” (p. 464) owing to its long history and the research attention, it has garnered around the world. 179. Zhang Yaqun. The Reform and Abolition of the Imperial Examination and the Transformation of Higher Education in Modern China. Wuhan: Huazhong Normal University Press, 2005. Book; 290 p.; 24 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7562232229 This book explores how the traditional higher education system of the Chinese empire was transformed into a modern education system after the abolition of the imperial examination
system. It has eight chapters. In the first five chapters, the author discusses the traditional higher education system in China, which included the imperial examination system, government-sponsored schools, and private and semiprivate academies. The imperial examination system was the center of the traditional system, and all school systems served and were driven by the imperial examination system. The reforms and abolition of the traditional higher education system, which took place in the later Qing dynasty, spawned the modern higher education system. The author discusses the development of the modern higher education system from the impact of the reforms of higher education in the late Qing dynasty, the influence of the Western educational model, the establishment of modern universities, and a large number of students who received college educations in Western countries and Japan. Chapter 6 discusses the higher education laws in the later Qing dynasty and early modern China. In chapters 7 and 8, the author summarizes the basic patterns of the transformation of the modern higher education system and identifies a feature of the large-scale examination system found in both the traditional and modern systems: equal opportunity for fair competition for every male. 180. Ji Yingying. “The Social Integration Function of the Chinese Imperial Examination System in the Ming and Qing Dynasties: A Perspective of Social Mobility.” Society 26, no. 6 (June 2006): 190–208. Article; Chinese This article by an undergraduate student in sociology at Beijing University takes a new view of social mobility and the imperial examination system based on published research in this field. Ji finds that although there is a debate about whether or not the imperial examination contributed to social mobility in Chinese society, most researchers agree that only a small percentage of successful candidates from the imperial examinations (less than 1 percent), out of the enormous population in the Ming and Qing dynasties, actually achieved upward social mobility. This article raises and explores an interesting question: To what extent did the examination system influence society? Instead of discussing the nature of fairness and openness in the examination system, Ji uses existing data from others’ studies to reveal that in the familycentered traditional Chinese society, a large number of people were actually involved in the examination system because of their family members’ lifelong participation in the imperial examinations. Therefore, even an insignificant degree of social mobility could give people a sense of purpose and value in their lives; control their everyday lives; and generate passion, enthusiasm, and faith for the examination system. The examination system created a four-group social stratification that stabilized Chinese traditional society. The small group of gentry was legitimized by the examination system as the center above the other three groups: peasants, artisans, and merchants. As an amplified opportunity for social mobility, the imperial examination system produced and maintained social integration. Ji’s social integration perspective not only provides a new explanation of social mobility, but also adds a new dimension to the existing theories in this field of study. 181. Guo Peigui. A Study of the Examinations and Recruitments. Volumes 69–71 of The Ming Dynastic History . Beijing: ZhonghuaShuju, 2006. Book; 445 p.; 23 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7101045219
Created and revised three times by three officials and their teams during the Qing dynasty, The Ming Dynastic History was completed in 1739 and has 332 volumes. Volumes 69 to 71 are about the Ming school education system, the Ming imperial examination system, and the systems of recruitment and promotion for government officials. These three volumes are important primary sources for researchers. However, omissions and errors in them may be misleading. Guo’s book, a full development of his previous studies, examines the entire texts of the three volumes, pinpoints inaccuracies and tracks their origins, adds the missing items, explains the development of these systems, and provides comments. For example, referencing other primary sources, Guo points out that the sentence, “the imperial examinees must be from schools” (p. 8) is incorrect because there were candidates who were not from schools, although the main body of participants were from schools. Guo found more than 80 errors in the texts. As his advisor, Nan Bingwen, states in the preface, the best feature of this study is that, “in researching every detail and event in the chapter of Examinations and Recruitments, Guo’s study not only describes ‘what it is’ but also “why it is” (p. 7). This book is not only a source for Ming historians, but also a refined reference that helps readers understand the terminology and history of the Ming imperial examination system. 182. He Zhongli. The Imperial Examination System and Society of the Song Dynasty. Beijing: Shangwu Press, 2006. Book; 648 p.; 21 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7100044944 He Zhongli has published over a hundred papers on the history of the Song dynasty in his more than 20-year academic career as a Song historian. This book is a collection of He’s three papers on various aspects of the imperial examinations, including politics, the military, economics, philosophies, the archives, etc. The first paper is a discussion of the origin of the imperial examination system based on three indicators. He argues that the examination system started during the Tang dynasty, not the Sui dynasty: examinees no longer needed recommendations, and they could apply to take the examination by themselves ; the successful candidates were selected mainly based on test results; the jinshi curriculum became the most important examination; and the imperial examinations were held regularly and consistently. The other papers are about the state and palace examinations; culture; scholarship; the huge increase in jinshi degree-holders and the overloaded bureaucracy in the Northern Song dynasty; official recruitment and promotion systems in the Song, comparing the recommendation system with the examination system; the mingjing examination curriculum; the origin of the titles of the top three jinshi degrees; an investigation on the first rank of jinshi; and the errors in the biographies in The Song Dynastic History. In these studies, He consciously participates in the dialogues on the continued research and key aspects of the Song examination system. He pays particular attention to cross-references, identifying disparities, addressing neglected evidence, and deriving unique interpretations. For example, most studies compare the examination system to the recommendation system in different dynasties. However, He investigates the two systems by comparing the Song’s examination system to the short-lived recommendation program in the same dynasty. These recommendation programs, such as “Ten Categories of Selecting Officials ” and “Eight Behaviors of Official Candidate ,” have rarely been discussed in other studies. This book is a showcase of He’s
keen research ability. 183. Shen Dengmiao. “A Discussion of the Rate of Social Mobility in the Earlier Ming Dynasty: Rethinking Ho Ping-ti’s Conclusion.” Tribune of Social Science 9 (2006): 83–95. Article; Chinese This is an exploratory study querying the high rate of social mobility in the early Ming dynasty, which was addressed by Ho Ping-ti in a book published in 1962 (see entry 86). Based on Ho’s data about the jinshi’s family backgrounds within three generations, measured by degrees of the imperial examinations and officialdom, Shen finds that the rates (60–84 percent) for group A of jinshi (no family member within three generations had ever received examination degrees or been an official) were extremely high, whereas group B (one or more family members had examination degrees or had been an official) was absent between 1371 and 1496, almost half of the Ming dynasty. After presenting his convincing evidence on the method of family registration, the examination quotas, and government policies, and his analysis of the probability of the influence of the first generation on their descendants in the Yuan dynasty prior to the Ming dynasty, Shen argues that the high rate of social mobility in the early Ming dynasty does not represent normal upward mobility, because it resulted from the Yuan government’s discrimination against the majority ethnic group of Chinese. Shen’s study not only presents new evidence and interpretations about the high rate of jinshi who were from commoner families in the early Ming dynasty, it also opens a new window for research into the social mobility aspect of the imperial examination system. 184. Zheng Xiaoxia. A Study of Keju Poems (the Examination Poems) in the Tang Dynasty. Shanghai: Fudan University Press, 2006. Book; 412 p.; 23 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7309052455 In one sense, keju poems (the examination poems) are produced from the poetry examination curriculum of the Tang imperial examination system. However, keju poems in this book also include those created on other occasions outside of the examinations, including xingjuan, in which the candidates sent their literary writings to social elites to get their recommendations, and poems for celebrating one’s success in the imperial examinations. This book takes a close look at keju poems from a literary perspective in three sections. In the first section, Zheng traces the changes in the poetry curriculum in the imperial examinations during different periods of the Tang dynasty. Zheng explains how the poetry examination curriculum evolved and its relationship to politics and culture in the Tang dynasty. Zheng argues that shengshishi , the poems produced as part of the examinations, included poems from both the state and local examinations. Zheng believes that writing poems in examinations actually began in an experimental period before the curriculum was formally instituted in 681. The second section focuses on analyzing the main theme, rhetorical expressions, and the authentic approach of keju poems. Zheng finds that the main theme of these poems was the examinees’ lives. On the one hand, the poets portrayed their struggles to meet basic needs like clothing, food, and shelter. On the other hand, they described their high spirits and ambition to succeed in the examinations and their careers. These poems also revealed their disappointment when they failed examinations, longing to escape from reality, and passion to master the art of poetry. The
poems’ aesthetic styles embodied the poets’ creative consciousness, unique images, and language techniques. In the third section, Zheng introduces prominent poets who had a major influence on the imperial examinations and discusses the quantity and quality of these poets’ works. This book also includes Zheng’s index of the keju poems in the Tang dynasty, compiled from The Complete Collection of Poems in the Tang.7 This is the first index of keju poems and includes about 2,500 poems by more than 600 poets. 185. Zhai Guozhang, ed. Dictionary of the Imperial Examinations. Nanchang: Jiangxi Education Publisher, 2006. Book; 1347 p.; 22 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7539241187 This dictionary has 1,700 entries on the examination system; 700 entries on the jinshi biographies from the Tang to Qing dynasties; and appendixes, including a chronology of important events in the history of the examination system, name lists of the graduates of the imperial examinations from the Tang to Yuan dynasties, a table of the successful candidates in the Ming and Qing dynasties, and timelines of Chinese history. Professor Zhai, a well-known historian of the Qing dynasty, is the chief editor. He began designing the project and organizing a team of experts to work on the dictionary in 1999. Over 400 references, publications from the Tang to Qing dynasties and the modern eras, were consulted. Because these terms, which originated and developed in the imperial examination system over 1,300 years, are not part of the modern Chinese language, this dictionary provides an invaluable reference tool for contemporary readers and researchers. 186. Yang Xuewei. A Dictionary of Chinese Examinations. Shanghai: Shanghai Dictionaries Publisher, 2006. Book; 506 p.; 27 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7532620220 This dictionary of Chinese examination systems collects and explains over 6,000 terms related to examinations, organizations, officials, regulations, applications, examination dates, questions, grading, events, schools, publications about examination systems and treaties, prominent people who influenced the examination history, and modern examination theories, statistics, and methods. Although a portion is on the modern examination system, the dictionary mostly covers essential content about the imperial examinations. All word entries are organized by the number of strokes in the word. This is the first dictionary on Chinese examinations published during the period of the People’s Republic of China. 187. Gao Feng. Gentleness and Sadness: The Imperial Examinations and Women. Changchun: Shidai Wenji Publisher, 2007. Book; 213 p.; 23 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7538720987 Gao’s book is a unique look at women characters in classic Chinese literature, such as mothers, wives, and prostitutes of the literati. The literati spent their lives pursuing their imperial examination careers. Gao’s research method appears to be a combination of Feud’s psychoanalysis and the social value system held by examination-centered Chinese society. In chapter 1, Gao discusses the play Mother and Sons of Chen’s Family by Guan Hanqing (ca. 1220–1300), a legendary playwright in the Yuan dynasty. According to Gao, in the
examination-dominated society, mothers’ highest expectation was their sons’ success in the examinations. Mothers’ social status would be validated through their sons’ officialdom. For example, in the Song dynasty, the successful candidates’ grandmothers, mothers, and wives were granted honored titles. Meeting a mother’s expectation to succeed in the examinations and officialdom was a form of filial piety, which in Gao’s view was related to the Oedipus complex. Gao also applies psychoanalysis to a literary work, Afterlife , in the last chapter. Afterlife contained lyrics of Tanci , a genre of traditional Chinese singing lyrics, written by a female author, Chen Duansheng (1751–ca. 1796) during the Qing dynasty. Gao argues that Afterlife was a product of its author’s homosexual imagination, because the heroine in Afterlife and the author, Chen Duansheng, had similar life experiences. They were both born into prestigious families with a highly successful record in imperial examinations and officialdom, and both had disappointing husbands who experienced difficulties in their examinations. In the remaining chapters, Gao discusses how these women, including prostitutes and wives in these literary works, were dominated by the examination system and the social values it generated, how they participated in the literati’s pursuit of examination success, and how they were honored and victimized. Gao’s book is the only work totally devoted to the subject of the women who were excluded from the imperial examinations. In the examination-centered society, women were driven by the tangible rewards of the examination system and an intangible value system. They assumed the responsibility of supporting and devoting themselves to their husbands’ and sons’ lifelong pursuits. Gao argues that fictional literature reflects people’s desires and wishes through an imaginary world; the literati’s “spiritual world” is a connection between their conscious literary writings and the reality of rational history. However, Gao’s psychoanalysis of the “spiritual world” seems a weak explanation compared to his sociological approach in this book. 188. Weerdt, Hilde De. Competition over Content: Negotiating Standards for the Civil Service Examinations in Imperial China (1127–1279). Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2007. Book; 495 p.; 23 cm; English; ISBN: 9780674025882 As part of the ongoing debate about social mobility in the imperial examination system that began in the 1940s, Weerdt notes a transition from state power to local elite activism. Elman’s monumental book A Cultural History of Civil Examinations in Late Imperial China presented a full picture of such a transition in the Ming and Qing dynasties. Weerdt’s book traces the transition back to the Song dynasty in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Derived from Bourdieu’s sociological concept, Weerdt uses the idea of an “examination field” to conceptualize the imperial examinations as a cultural space, which included “students, teachers, emperors, examiners, court and local officials, literati intellectuals, editors, and printer/publishers” (p. 16). Weerdt is able to investigate evidence of the transition that occurred in the examination field. This book has seven chapters, divided into four parts. Part I provides background information on the two branches of neo-Confucianism—the Learning of the Way (Daoxue) and Yongjia—which formed the scholarly movement associated with neoConfucianism, and on examination expositions and policy essays. Part II, which includes chapters 3 and 4, demonstrates how the Yongjia teachers shaped examination standards and
their successful curriculum programs in the last decade of the twelfth century. Part III, chapter 5, delineates a shifting role of the imperial government in policymaking regarding examination standards. Part IV, which includes the last two chapters, discusses the development of the Learning of the Way in the examination field. By reconstructing the history of the examination field, Weerdt is able to demonstrate that “examination field” was changed by the increasing numbers of students who were preparing for and participating in the examinations; disseminating examination materials to localities by the teachers, editors, and publishers; the local elites, who redefined the meaning of the “examination field”; and the intellectual movement of neo-Confucianism, which changed the authority of the field. Starting in the Ming dynasty, the success of the imperial examination became the status quo of the local gentry. Weerdt’s complex study has identified the omens of the transition, which occurred at least 200 years before the Ming period. 189. Zheng Ruoling. A Study on the Relationship between the Imperial Examination and the National College Entrance Examination in Chinese Society. Wuhan: Huazhong Normal University Press, 2007. Book; 352 p.; 24 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 756223597X The National College Entrance Examination (NCEE) has been the nationwide examination system in mainland China since 1950. Because the NCEE resembles the imperial examination system in many ways, this book, which is derived from Zheng’s dissertation, compares the two systems and their relationship to Chinese society. There are seven chapters in this book. The first four highlight the educational, cultural, political, and economic functions of the imperial examination system in traditional Chinese society. The last three present the development and problems of the NCEE system. The author’s position is that although the problems have intensified and become a social issue in modern China, the NCEE system ought not to be abandoned, because it maintains the principle of fairness and openness of examination competitions. The most significant and interesting part of this book is Zheng’s study of social mobility in both examination systems. Joining the debate on social mobility, Zheng investigates the successful candidates’ family backgrounds from 7,791 examination papers in the publication A Collection of Examination Papers in the Qing Dynasty. She calculates the numbers of three successful candidate groups (jinshi, juren degree-holders, and gongsheng, who were chosen as students of the State University from the best of the shengyuan degreeholders) whose paternal families had successful records in examinations within one, three, and five generations, and compares her results with previous studies by Pan Guanda and Fei Xiaotong and Ho Ping-ti. Zheng’s research reveals that 12.69 percent of these successful candidates came from families who had no record of success in examinations and officialdom within three generations. By accounting for one generation and including shengyuan (the lowest degree of the examination system) in the commoner group, Zheng finds that 46.40 percent of these candidates were from this group. Zheng’s results yield an indication of social mobility similar to that shown in Pan and Fei’s and Ho’s studies. Zheng also researched wives and maternal family backgrounds and finds that about 70 percent of these successful candidates’ fathers-in-law and grandfathers (on the maternal side) were commoners. Zheng concludes that her results prove that successful candidates who were from commoner families
did not rely on their wives and maternal families’ help but instead relied on their own efforts for their success. Zheng reaffirms that the imperial examination system was an opportunity for social mobility. In chapter 5, Zheng’s case study of enrollment in Xiamen University between 1950 and 1980 also demonstrates social mobility. More students from working-class families were enrolled in the university through the NCEE system during that period in modern China. 190. Xiao Zhencai. The Examination Hall in Nanjing. Beijing: Contemporary China Publishing House, 2007. Book; 248 p.; 23 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 9787801706522 The Examination Hall in Nanjing has existed for over a thousand years and has become a museum. Xiao’s book presents the architecture and history of the examination hall. There are seven chapters, on the building’s origin, the layout of the buildings, the examination arena, the eight-legged essay, stories about crimes and punishment in the imperial examinations, legends of unsuccessful candidates, and the abolition of the old system. Each chapter includes historical stories from a number of local gazetteers and archives and over a hundred photographs. The author references a number of publications and consulted many historians. This is a popular work for general readers. 191. Li Guorong. Top Ten Scandals of the Imperial Examinations in the Qing Dynasty. Beijing: People Publisher, 2007. Book, 280 p; 24 cm; Chinese; ISBN 9787010059426 Li, chief editor and researcher at the Historical Archive Research Institute of China, points out that since the birth of the imperial examination system, crime and punishment in the system, like twins, were never separated. The more restrictive preventions and severe punishments were implemented, the more sophisticated techniques for committing fraud were invented. For example, the two methods invented during the Song dynasty— huming , a method to conceal the examinees’ names, and tenglu , which involved disguising the examinees’ handwriting—were broken by a new technique, guanjie , a secret coding method to help grading officials recognize certain examinees from their papers to select them as successful candidates. The battle between fraud and anti-fraud efforts was greatest during the Qing dynasty, after the examination system had been around for more than a thousand years. This book discusses the top 10 scandals based on more than 1,000 archives of the Qing imperial courts. The author presents the political and social battleground on which examinees, examiners, families, friends, emperors, officials, secret agents, and servants converged and provides his research findings on and interpretations of the dynamics of these scandals. Approximately 200 photos and drawings illustrate examination halls, stelae, various reference materials that were custom-made for examinees to use, sentencing tools for fraud, etc. This interesting book is for a wide readership, from general readers to researchers. 192. Chen Changwen. A Study of the Archives of the Ming Imperial Examinations. Jinan: Shandong University Press, 2008. Book; 299 p.; 24 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 9787560735580 This book is based on Chen’s dissertation, “A Study of the Ming Official Lists of Jinshi
Degree Holders,” and articles that were previously published in a number of journals. Chen proposes a new branch for studies of the imperial examinations, “keju archive studies (examination archive studies)” and classifies these archives into three layers. The publications at the first layer are the primary sources, the original records of and about the examination system, process, contents, results, and relevant people and events. These include the imperial edicts, examination papers, and honor rolls of the successful civil service and military candidates at the local, state, and palace examinations, which were listed in government documents, stelae, yearbooks, and private publications on biographies and examination papers of the successful candidates. The second layer contains the other archives, compiled publications derived from the primary sources, such as The Ming Imperial Lists of Jinshi and The Ming Imperial Examination , study guides of examination essays, reference books, and publications providing information about the imperial examinations. The third layer comprises supplemental publications about daily routines and real stories related to the examinations, biographies of examinees, records about the examinations in the official history and administration publications, information about successful candidates in gazetteers, fiction, poetry, plays, and private diaries about the examination system and prominent figures. This book has three parts. Part 1 is a study of the honor rolls of jinshi title-holders in the Ming dynasty. Chen discusses the originality, authority, circulation, storage, values, limits, and social influences of the honor roll lists. Part 2 covers Chen’s research in other archives, such as local histories, biographies in The Ming Dynastic History, and lists of jinshi stelae. Part 3 presents Chen’s research on special topics, including the dates of tezouming (a special reward title for older examinees who had failed their exams 15 times), names and marriages of the jinshi titleholders, and the reasons the dates of palace examinations were changed. This book exhibits Chen’s research using observed data and evidence, a groundbreaking contribution to the study of archives of the Ming imperial examinations. Chen’s “keju archive studies ” concept performs a fundamental task for imperial examination system studies. 193. Chen Xingde. The Transformed Keju View in the Twentieth Century. Wuhan: Huazhong Normal University Press, 2008. Book; 376 p.; 24 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 9787562237563 The concept “keju view” refers to people’s opinions about, recognition of, and critiques of the functionalities of the imperial examination system based on their value choices, reflecting a fundamental relationship between the development of human society and the examination system (p. 25). This book discusses how the keju view changed after the imperial examination system was abolished. Chen investigates previous publications on the history of the imperial examination system, political history, and educational and social history. The book includes five chapters. The first introduces the concepts “keju era,” “keju society,” and “keju view” and explicates how the imperial examination system impacted traditional Chinese society and how different social groups benefited from the imperial examination system. Chapter 2 describes how the keju view changed between the Opium War of 1840 and the abolition of the examination system, and the responses of the gentry and intellectuals who were educated in countries outside of China after the abolition of the imperial examination system. The last three chapters outline the keju view during the Republic of China era (1912–1949), the period
between the establishment of the People’s Republic of China and the end of the Cultural Revolution (1949–1977), and the period after the Cultural Revolution. Chen analyzes how the keju view has continued, changed, and been redefined, and its role in the social practices of the national examination systems. He then summarizes and analyzes key publications about the keju view in each time period. This book is revised from Chen’s dissertation. 194. Gao Yan and Liu Zhimin. The Chinese Imperial Examination System Illustrated. Beijing: Tuanjie Publisher, 2008. Book; 164 p.; 23 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 9787802144019 This book uses pictures to present the origin, development, peak, decline, and abolition of the imperial examination system from the Shang to Qing dynasties. There are nine chapters. In each chapter, the authors tell stories to describe the examination system and use black-andwhite pictures in the text to illustrate these stories’ characters and events. , This book is part of a series by the Beijing Confucian Temple and the National College Guozijian for general readers. 195. Wu Zhengqiang. The Imperial Examination System Penetrated by Neo-Confucianism: The Integration between the Imperial Governance and Its People in the Song through Ming Dynasties. Shanghai: Cishu Publisher, 2008. Book; 319 p.; 21 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 9787532624690 China was unified as a country beginning in the Qin dynasty in 221 BC. How the imperial government controlled such a large country for thousands of years was always a major question in studies about Chinese society. Beginning in the Song dynasty, a new group, the gentry, emerged between the imperial government and commoners and changed the relationship between the rulers and the ruled. This book captures a key factor in that change, the imperial examination system, which was dominated by neo-Confucianism beginning in the Song dynasty, and provides a new interpretation of the phenomenal change in Chinese society. Chapters 1 and 2 review the relationship between the imperial government and its people prior to the Song dynasty. Social integration was achieved through two types of political control: the imperial bureaucratic institution and the local clan system. The author also discusses the parallel and conflicting relationships between the imperial bureaucratic institution, which was created by the nomadic militants, and the local rural communities. Chapter 3 analyzes how the imperial examination system during the Song dynasty separated the imperial power from the local rural communities. Chapter 4 discusses the school system, which was a reform and part of the recruiting system for the Song imperial government. Chapter 5 explicates how the society was integrated by the imperial examination system, and the examination system was penetrated by Confucianism, during the Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279). Neo-Confucianism interpreted the core values of Confucianism as universal law for governing individuals, families, and the world. The local elites in rural communities used neo-Confucianism to legitimize their political status by advocating the ideal social order it defined. The imperial government adopted neo-Confucianism during the Yuan dynasty. For example, Zhuxi’s neo-Confucian book was used as an official reference book for the imperial examinations. The Yuan imperial government also created ruhu , a type of family identification that indicating families
whose members were successful candidates from the imperial examinations. However, the political identification of local elites was not validated until the Ming dynasty. School graduates or successful candidates who passed district examinations would receive a status equal to the ninth-rank official (the lowest rank) for life, even though they were never appointed as formal officials, and they were exempted from governmental taxes and labor services. Neo-Confucianism became the subject of school education and the imperial examinations. The changed imperial examination system produced local gentry elites and legitimized their political and economic power as a pivotal connection between the imperial governance and its people. In this sense, the examination system, penetrated by neoConfucianism, completed the integration of society. At the end of the book, the author raises an interesting point. After the People’s Republic of China was established, all social resources were taken by the government, and the government had direct control of individuals. However, after the economic reform, a new social group, independent of the government, emerged. Since the integration of traditional Chinese society was established through a validated political identification, whether or not the tradition is a success or failure in the People’s Republic of China is still in question. 196. Xiao Qiqing. The Ethnic Culture and the Imperial Examinations in the Yuan Dynasty. Taibei: Lianjing Publisher Inc., 2008. Book; 444 p.; 24 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 9789570832280 A scholar of Yuan history, the author has studied the imperial examination system in the Yuan dynasty for more than 20 years. However, Xiao explains that in this book he does not intend to analyze the examination system itself, but rather to explore social, cultural, and political issues in the Yuan dynasty through an investigation of the jinshi degree-holders’ backgrounds, distributions, and political decisions during the period under the first minority government of Mongol rulers. Four of nine chapters in this book introduce the political, social, and cultural transition and assimilations in the broad context of the Yuan society and social networks. Chapter 5 analyzes the Yuan jinshi degree-holders’ backgrounds, such as their official positions, ethnicities, and marriages, based on Xiao’s reconfigured Yuan jinshi honor lists. About 80 percent of the jinshi degree-holders of the minority groups were from official families; the other roughly 20 percent of the same group was from commoner families. Chapter 6 focuses on the jinshi degree-holders from the prominent southern clans. In contrast to the view that the traditional success in the imperial examinations among the prominent southern families ceased during the Yuan dynasty, the author discovers that more jinshi degree-holders were southern Chinese commoners and their ancestors were officials in the Song dynasty prior to the Yuan dynasty. Thus, the author thinks that the elite families during the Song dynasty were revitalized by the Yuan examination system, and the Yuan system was a bridge between the Song and Ming dynasties. Chapter 7 discusses the regional distribution of the jinshi degreeholders. Xiao finds that the dual quota policy of the imperial examinations to shield the ethnic groups and groups in the remote regions was started in the Yuan dynasty. The policy benefited the minority and northern Chinese, but suppressed southern Chinese. Chapter 8 explores the jinshi’s choices of political stands. From the jinshi lists around the transition period between the Yuan and Ming dynasties, Xiao finds that of 144 jinshi degree-holders, only 31.3 percent
became officials in the Ming government; more than 68 percent remained faithful to the Yuan. This finding implies that the jinshi degree-holders’ political choices were based on “loyalty of officials to Emperor ,” not “the ethnic difference between minorities and Chinese ” (p. 269). Chapter 9 discusses the military distribution and shared power between the military administration and the civil service system. 197. Zhu Shangshu. The Imperial Examinations and Literature in the Song Dynasty. Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company, 2008. Book; 576 p.; 24 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 9787101063899 Professor Zhu is a scholar of classic Chinese literature and the history of the Song dynasty. He published more than 20 papers about the imperial examinations during the Song dynasty between 1999 and 2006, when a collection of these papers was published. Zhu makes clear that the present book includes part of that paper, as well as new content and revisions reflecting the final results of his research. In 19 chapters, this book reports on a huge study with an ambitious research agenda. Chapters 1 to 8 provide a comprehensive treatment of the Song imperial examination system. Zhu provides a detailed account of how the Song examination system continued the Tang system and evolved into a standardized system with innovations. In chapters 9, 10, and 11, Zhu discusses his research agenda for the examination genres and describes the examination genres of poetry, verses, and essays. Chapter 12 presents the crimes and delin-quencies of the examinees and examiners during the examinations, as well as the government’s punishments. Chapter 13 covers the ceremonies for jinshi title-holders in the government and private individuals, and the jinshi’s official appointments. Chapter 14 introduces the publications examination reference books. In chapters 15 and 16, Zhu discusses neo-Confucianism, which changed the imperial examination system during the Song dynasty. In the last three chapters, Zhu summarizes a social and psychological phenomenon, characterized by the prevailing view that success in the examinations was predetermined by one’s fate . Zhu also analyzes the positive and negative influences of the imperial examinations on the development of literature in the Song dynasty. 198. Wong Wei-Han. “Huangchao Dashiji and the Imperial Examination of the Southern Song Dynasty.” Master of philosophy thesis, University of Hong Kong, 2008. Thesis; Chinese The civil service examinations in the Song dynasty experienced significant transformation. Therefore, the Song imperial examination system has been a focal point of study for many Chinese and international researchers around the world. The various aspects of the Song’s examination system have been scrutinized by these professionals. Wong’s thesis is a unique addition to these flourishing studies; it is an in-depth analysis of a reference text for the candidates of imperial examinations in the Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279), The Compilation of Important Events in the Song History by Lü Zhong. What makes Lü’s publication stand out from the other reference books used in the imperial examinations is that the compilation of important events and governmental domestic and foreign policies of 13 reigns in the Song history was mainly designed for examinees to prepare for ceshi , a type of examination composition that discussed current issues and policies. Although Lü Zhong was
not an official historian, his solid knowledge of Song history and his insightful comments matched official ideology, and The Compilation of Important Events in the Song History was adopted as an official reference book by local schools and the candidates. In his intensive analysis of The Compilation of Important Events in the Song History, with 619 references and 1,252 footnotes, Wong discusses an untouched aspect of the Song imperial examination, the relationship between the reference texts that emerged along with the development of printing houses and the revitalized imperial examinations in the Song dynasty. As Wong indicates at the end of the thesis, the point of her research was to reveal the complementary relationship between the functionality of the reference texts, which helped candidates increase their chances of passing the imperial examinations, and the official ideology, which was embedded in the reference texts. 199. Chen Wenxin, He Kunweng, and Zhao Botao, eds. The Chronology of the Imperial Examinations and Literature in the Ming Dynasty. Wuhan: Wuhan University Press, 2009. Book; 3, 384 p.; 27 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 9787307070974 This three-volume book is part of a series, The Collection of the Archives and Studies of the Imperial Examinations. It presents the development of the imperial examinations and literature in the Ming dynasty from 1368 to 1644 by years and months. The editors collected imperial edicts, events, lists of successful candidates, publications about the school system, examination papers, archives, literary works, etc., related to the imperial examinations from over a thousand historical publications. Each entry begins with a phrase in boldface type, followed by relevant texts from these publications. The authors, titles, and volume numbers of the references are indicated in parentheses, followed by the texts. These references are also listed alphabetically by title at the end of this book. Most of the references were published during the Ming dynasty and reprinted between the 1990s and the 2000s. For example, the list of 303 jinshi degree-holders from March 1559 is provided, with the emperor’s question and the essay answer written by the top successful candidate. An index of terms of the imperial examination is provided at the end of the book. This excellent reference book provides easy access to a comprehensive collection of the primary sources for the Ming imperial examinations and literature. 200. Ye Chuyan. The Ming Imperial Examinations and Popular Novels between the Time Period of the Mid-Ming and Early Qing Dynasties. Nanchang: Baihua Wenyi Publisher, 2009. Book; 561 p.; 22 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 9787807426110 Literature is a reflection of social reality. This book studies the imperial examinations in the Ming dynasty from a unique angle, the popular novels written between the middle Ming dynasty and the early Qing dynasty (1537–1683). Because of its far-reaching influence, the examination system became a hot subject in most popular novels, written by authors who had experienced the examinations. There are five chapters in this book. In chapter 1, Ye identifies the weakest link in studies of the Ming examination system, the district examination , which qualified the candidates for the state examination. The vivid stories in the novels uncover a social reality in which the largest group of educated literati, who were also a marginal group in Chinese society, struggled with the first difficult step to success. Chapter 2 probes the
identity and social roles of a special group, jiansheng , who were students of the state universities, from the characters in these popular novels. Because some jiansheng titles could be purchased during the Ming dynasty, the prestige of the jiansheng social status declined. Most jiansheng in these novels were portrayed as greedy. Chapter 3 discusses the influence of the Ming examination system on the plots and structure of these novels. The meticulous examination system was so powerful that writers could use the system conveniently as a structure for story plots. However, the structure also limited the story development, because most plots had to follow a rigid and uniform path, starting from taking examinations to the ending with examination success. Chapter 4 analyzes the idealized imperial examinations in these novels, the descriptions in the novels of the belief in predetermined success in the examinations, and the dual identities of these authors: writers and unsuccessful examiners. The stories they created were their perceptions and emotions about the examination system with their delusions. The last chapter presents the literati’s daily lives as depicted in the novels. Ye also discusses women in the novel and their relation to the examination system. Although women were excluded from the examinations, they were part of the examination system through their marriage and family duties. Ye uses the concept “keju novels” to define this unique literary phenomenon. He uses the Ming examination system as a cultural form to reflect the social reality of the Ming dynasty. As a cultural form, the examination system was absorbed into the literary creation of these novels and became stories, plots, structures, and characters. This peculiar research angle avoids using these novels as supplemental sources for researching the Ming examination system itself, so Ye is able to maintain his literary roots and explore a literary truth about the Ming examination system as portrayed in these novels. The literary truth may not be identical to reality, but it corresponds with the reality encompassing the Ming examination system. Ye is aware of strong criticism of the imperial examination system, which may have been a literary effect of these novels, so he justifies the criticism in his analysis. The quality of this book demonstrates Ye’s superb scholarship and contribution to this field. 201. Li Weizhong. Keju Clans in Guangxi Gaoshan Village and Their Transitions. Guilin: Guangxi Normal University Press, 2009. Book; 167 p.; 23 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 9787563390731 Gaoshan village in Guangxi province was a residential community established by Han immigrants in the Ming dynasty. This community produced 4 jinshi, 19 juren (successful candidates from province examinations), and more than 200 xiucai (successful candidates from district examinations). The clans who produced more successful candidates are defined as “keju clans” in this book. Li’s research shows that these clans organized economic resources and social networks to support examinees engaging in imperial examinations. These economic resources included land and properties, which were contributed by the clan members. The social networks included cultural influences and marriages in family and social circles. Li particularly discusses women of keju clans. Marriages were usually limited within the social circle of keju clans, because women assumed responsibility for their children’s education and pursuit of success in examinations. When a man married several women it was to have enough male descendants to support the prosperity of the clan rather than a lifestyle choice. Widows in keju clans usually chose not to marry again because they could retain political and economic
protection and benefits for their children, rather than because of a moral commitment to their dead husbands. In the late Qing dynasty, traditional keju clans were challenged by the changing society. Seventeen years after the abolition of the imperial examinations, the first modern school was built. The keju clans continued to be involved in the development of the community while maintaining the tradition of education within the clans. According to Li’s investigation, these keju clans continued to produce more graduates from modern schools than other clans. Because of their education, these graduates pursued new careers in new professions. 202. Fu Xuancong, Gong Yanming, and Zu Hui, ed. The Imperial Examination System and the Successful Candidates in the Song Dynasty. Nanjing: Jiangsu Education Publisher, 2009. Book; 1,933 p.; 21 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 9787534369407 This book contains a chronology of the important events of the Song examination system and information about the successful candidates from the palace examinations. The chronological events are emperors’ orders, regulations, policies, and information about the official examiners and administrations of the Song imperial examinations, arranged by the reign, year, month, and date. Information about the successful candidates is the main focus of this book. The successful candidates are listed by examination curriculums and years. The curriculums are classified into three categories: the regular curriculums, such as military examinations, jinshi, and mingjing examinations; the irregular curriculums, such as cike and tongzike ; and special curriculums ordered by emperors. This book is the outcome of a research project by the two editors, Gong and Zu, both renowned history professors at Zhejiang University. This book covers 118 imperial examinations and about 100,000 successful candidates in the Song dynasty. The two complete jinshi lists of 1148 and 1256,8 which survived wars during the Song period, only record 1 percent of the successful candidates in the Song. Besides examining and punctuating the original texts, Gong and Zu spent 10 years collecting other primary sources, including the lists of the successful candidates in The Song Dynastic Histories, biographies of prominent figures in the Song dynasty, local histories, memoirs by writers from the Song dynasty, stele records, and archaeological findings. The original sources that contained the events and names of successful candidates are indicated along with the items. As a result, this book documents over 40,000 records on successful candidates in the Song dynasty. This is the most comprehensive source for researchers of the successful candidates during the Song. A name index is also provided. Gong and Zu’s 41-page overview is an excellent source of information on the curriculums, procedures and contents, administration, and official examiners of the Song imperial examinations. 203. Chang Dezeng and Liu Xuejun. The Imperial Examinations and Academies. Jinan: Shandong Education Publisher, 2009. Book; 120 p.; 23 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 9787532862269 The academies were an institution of higher education that coexisted with the imperial examination system in China. This book discusses the development of the imperial examination system and the academies. Because the book is targeted at general readers, it uses plain language to describe major events and key figures. However, the book was reviewed by scholars, and the interesting details presented in this book are accurate and solid, based on
scholarship. A number of photos and pictures illustrate the textual descriptions, which makes the book stand out from other popular publications. An English version would benefit international readers. 204. Liu Haifeng. A Collection of Selected Papers of Studies on the Imperial Examination in the Twentieth Century. Wuhan: Wuhan University Press, 2009. Book; 681 p.; 27 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 9787307069541 This is part of the Series of Organizing and Research of Documents and Literature on the Civil Service Examination. This monograph selects 42 full-text papers published in the twentieth century by 39 Chinese, American, Japanese, and Korean authors. As the editors state, the collection is selected from hundreds of significant and high-quality works in various research branches of imperial examination system studies. These papers are arranged by publication dates. All foreign languages are translated into Chinese. 205. Jiang Chuansong. A Study of Jiangxi Provincial Examinations in the Qing Dynasty. Wuhan: Huazhong Normal University, 2010. Book; 376 p.; 24 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 9787562241898 Jiang was a doctoral student of Liu Haifeng who is a distinguished scholar of the new generation in imperial examination studies. This book is derived from Jiang’s dissertation. The provincial examination was the most competitive examination because a large population of examinees competed for limited spots in the fixed quota. After Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces, Jiangxi province was the top third province to produce large numbers of successful candidates starting in the Ming dynasty. Based on a large number of primary and secondary sources and with rich details, the five chapters of this book present various aspects of Jiangxi’s provincial examinations and reveal the unique features of those examinations. Chapters 1 and 2 discuss the procedure, quotas, and official examiners of the Jiangxi provincial examinations. Chapter 3 delineates one of the major national scandals during the Qing period, which occurred in Jiangxi province in 1726. Chapter 4 analyzes the distribution of successful provincial candidates in Jiangxi. Jiang finds that the distribution of successful candidates was related to population size in the economically developed regions that had sufficient educational resources. The last chapter rounds off the presentation with a discussion of the examination halls and the ritual of the provincial examinations, Luminyan , exploring the cultural meanings of the architectural style of the examination halls and the examination rituals. Seven appendixes provide information about the official examiners, examination questions and papers, tabulations of the distribution of the successful candidates, and a list of the successful Jiangxi provincial candidates. 206. Liu Liqin. Lives of Examinees of the Imperial Examinations in the Tang Dynasty. Beijing: Social Sciences Archives Publisher, 2010. Book; 376 p.; 23 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 9787509715734 Dr. Liu, a historian at the Chinese Social Science History Institution, states that because examinees spent their lives engaging in the imperial examinations, they became a social group. The members were accepted by society as part of a distinguished and legitimated group. In this
book, Liu re-creates the examinees’ lives during the Tang dynasty through her meticulous research using more than 250 references, primarily archives of memoirs, stele materials, anthologies and poems written by Tang authors, and historical archives of and localities. Liu’s book includes five chapters. Presenting the economic aspects of the Tang examinees’ lives, chapter 1 describes clothing that examinees needed for taking examinations and family financial and cultural resources to sponsor examinees. The examinees also relied on gifts from relatives and friends, government rewards, local organizations, their own earnings, and begging. Chapter 2 details the examinees’ traveling, transportations, and accommodations. Because of the tough travel conditions, many examinees became sick or died. The author describes common reasons for their deaths and how they were buried. In contrast to a view that begging was a lifestyle (see entry 158), Liu argues that begging was rather a way to survive. Chapter 3 probes the examinees’ social lives, including networking social elites and sponsors for recommendations and financial resources. Chapter 4 discusses examinees’ family lives, focusing on their relationships with parents, siblings, wives, and servants. The examinees’ families and marriages suffered because examinees were away all the time and valued the examination process more than their families. In the last chapter, Liu delineates the examinees’ spiritual lives. Influenced by social trends, the Tang examinees believed in various religions. Confucianism, which focused on paying attention to reality; Buddhism, which pursued transformation in the afterlife; Dao, which sought immortality; and folk superstitions, which were practical techniques to solve problems, shaped examinees’ views of life. Liu’s book is filled with interesting details from her research materials. For example, one of the most common expenses that examinees had was liquor, because they needed it for social networking, celebrations, and bidding farewell to friends. This book represents a shift from studying the successful candidates, who were a small percentage, to studying the majority of examinees.
NOTES 1. Entry 146, p. xxiii. 2. Liang Qichao, A Proposal about Reforms of the Imperial Examinations (May 1898), ed. Xingcheng Shu (Beijing: People Education Publisher 1985), 39. 3. Tezouming was a special award for candidates who failed examinations more than 15 times. 4. W. A. P. Martin, The Chinese: Their Education, Philosophy, and Letters (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1881), 1. 5. Liu cited the question from Macklin’s article, “The Triennial Examinations in China,” The East of Asia Magazine 2 (1903): 375. 6. Taiping Guangji , a book complied by 12 authors in the Song dynasty, includes 500 volumes. The contents of the book mostly came from novels and nonofficial histories between the Han dynasty and the beginning of the Song dynasty. 7. Peng Dingqiu, ed., The Complete Collection of Poems in the Tang Dynasty (reprint, Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company, 1999). 8. The two lists were used by Kracke in his study, “Family vs. Merit in Chinese Civil
Service Examinations under the Empire.” See entry 67.
5 Publications about the Imperial Military Examination System
In its 1,200-year history, the military examination system was much less significant than the civil service examination system (the imperial examinations) because they performed different political functions for the imperial government. On the one hand, the government used the imperial examination system to recruit loyal military officials. On the other hand, a military force was always a threat to the imperial court, because it could overthrow an emperor. Furthermore, the civil service examination system generated a literary examination-centered culture and society, which overshadowed the military examination system during the entire period of the imperial examination system. Thus, there are far fewer publications on the military examinations than on the civil service examinations. Chapter 5 annotates eight Chinese publications: seven books and one thesis. These publications present a fairly complete picture of twelve centuries of the interesting history of the Chinese military examination system. 207. Huang Guangliang. A Study of the Chinese Military Examination System. Taibei: Huang Guangliang, 1977. Book; 83 p.; 22 cm; Chinese There are seven chapters in this book. The first and last chapters are a short introduction and conclusion about the military examination history. Chapters 2, 3, 4, and 5 cover the military examination system chronologically over four dynasties, the Tang, Song, Ming, and Qing. Chapter 6 outlines the reforms and termination of the military examination system. Information presented in each chapter includes facts about the military examinations such as dates, examination institutions, applicants’ qualifications, examination curriculums, contents, criteria, candidates’ appointments, etc. The book also discusses the military school system and its relation to the military examination system in the Song, Ming, and Qing dynasties. Most references in this book are official dynastic histories or books written by individual scholars during the Qing dynasty. Chapter 5, about the military examination system in the Qing, is more detailed than other chapters because of the author’s expertise on the Qing imperial examination
system. Huang published his dissertation on the Qing imperial examination system the year before this book was published. Although it seems to lack a fuller presentation about the imperial military examinations in the Tang, Song, and Ming dynasties, this book delineates the developing history of the military examination system. The author argues that the greatest flaw in the military system was its excessive emphasis on military skills over the military discipline itself. 208. Chen Gaochun, ed. The Dictionary of Military Culture in the Chinese Empire from Ancient Times to the Qing Dynasty. Beijing: Changzheng Publisher, 1992. Book; 1,230 p.; 21 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7800151964 This dictionary contains about 4,000 entries on words related to Chinese military culture, from names of artifacts to the art of war from ancient times to the Qing dynasty (1700 BC–AD 1911). This book is divided into 13 sections on the military service system, weapons, military strategies, military communications, significant wars, titles of military officials and examinations, famous military figures, classic military books, military geography, services for military supplies, uniforms, military rites, and military literature. The entries are arranged chronologically to present an evolving history of military culture. The words are also grouped together logically. For example, the section on weapons lists cold weapons followed by firearms. Long weapons and short weapons are grouped together; gunpowder and guns are listed together. Each entry introduces the origin and development of the military culture. The same artifact under different names or different artifacts under the same names are accessed by cross-references. The index is arranged by the number of strokes in a character. In addition to the chief editors, there are 13 editorial board members and 24 contributors, who are professors from universities in China. This book is an important tool for students and researchers to understand the Chinese imperial military examinations and military system. If this had illustrations, it would be more valuable. 209. Xu Yougen. A History of the Military Examination System. Suzhou: Suzhou University Press, 1997. Book; 178 p.; 21 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7810373153 After the Cultural Revolution, research on the military examination system emerged later than studies on the civil service examinations. Xu is in the forefront of research on the imperial military examination system. Starting in 1985, Xu spent 10 years collecting sources for this book. There are eight chapters. Chapter 1 is an introduction. Chapters 2, 3, and 4 provide information on creation, content, methods, military schools, and reforms from the Tang to Qing dynasties. Chapter 5 focuses on an analysis of the causes for the abolition of the military examination system in the Qing dynasty. Chapter 6 provides short biographies of eight eminent military leaders, selected from the imperial military examinations, and seven interesting anecdotes related to the military examinations. Chapter 7 provides descriptions of five weapons used in the military examinations. In chapter 8, the author presents the military examination system, which selected a considerable number of men for military service in 1,200 years, as the second largest examination system after the civil service examination system. Seven appendixes are included: an example of examination questions, a student’ s
examination paper from the Qing dynasty, a list of successful candidates from the military palace examinations in the Qing, a list of the top three winners of the military palace examinations, an inventory of the expenses for the district and state military examinations in 1589 and 1590, a table of important events in the history of the military examination system, and images of weapons used in the military examinations from the Tang to Qing dynasties. 210. Zhao Dongmei. A Baffled Journey: The History of the Imperial Military Examination and Schools. Beijing: Army Publisher, 1999. Book; 196 p.; 19 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7506537346 Dr. Zhao is a history professor at Beijing University. This book, which is revised from her master’s thesis, “A Study of the Song Military System,” is one of the earliest studies on the military examination system in mainland China. Instead of following a chronological order to delineate the history, the six chapters of this book take a thematic approach to the essential aspects of the military examination system. After chapter 1, an introduction to the military examination, chapters 2 and 3 present interesting details on the content of the military examinations and the successful candidates’ careers during the Tang, Song, Ming, and Qing dynasties. Chapter 4 recounts the interruptions to and revivals of the military examinations. Chapter 5 is an analysis of a difficult patch in the development of the military schools and their relation to the military examination system. Although part of the conclusion in chapter 6 appeared in previous chapters, this chapter presents Zhao’s brilliant and unarguable analysis. She points out the specific reasons why the military examinations and schools were insignificant and always failed in political, bureaucratic, cultural, and social contexts, compared to the civil service examination system. Because this book was written for general readers, the author not only uses plain language to explain the complicated dynastic systems of the military examinations and bureaucracy, but also offers a fresh and interesting view of studies of the imperial military examination system. 211. Dai Weiqian. An Exploration on Chinese Imperial Military Examinations and Martial Arts. Taibei: Shida Suyuan, 2006. Book, 427 p.; 23 cm,; Chinese; ISBN: 957496499X This book is an exploratory study of the relationship between the imperial military examinations and martial arts. It contains five chapters. After chapter 1, an introduction, the author outlines the history of the military examinations in relation to the civil service examination and the origin and development of the martial arts associated with military history in chapters 2 and 3 respectively. According to the author, the military examination system was originally developed from the Six Techniques —moral education, music, archery, horsemanship and rein, writing, and math—for aristocrats in official schools, dating back to the Shang and Zhou dynasties (1700–771 BC). In addition to Chinese martial arts, which were developed from wars, the development of the military examination system was inseparable from the civil service examination system, because shortly after the civil service system was established, the military examination system was created in 702. The increasing manufacture of military weapons and proliferation of publications on military theories and tactics also contributed to the development of the military examination system. Chapter 3 provides an
analysis of diffusion between the military examination system and martial arts, which were both influenced by Confucian doctrine, morality, values, and norms. The author extracts four Confucian doctrines and norms that were practiced by military officers who entered their military careers through the military examination system. The last chapter summarizes the influence of the military examination system and martial arts on modern sports. Comparing rules of the military examinations and sports competitions, the book provides accounts of the mutual influences between the military examination system and martial arts, a subject not well covered in other publications. With well-documented references and notes, tables, and graphics, the book is revised from the author’s dissertation reflecting 10 years of endeavor. 212. Wang Hongpeng, Wang Kaixian, Xiao Zuogang, and Zhang Yintang. The Top Title-Holders of the Imperial Military Examinations from the Tang to Qing (702–1901). Beijing: Chinese Army Publisher, 2002. Book; 495 p.; 21 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 7506542072 More than 10,000 military jinshi passed the imperial examinations at all levels between 702 and 1901. Among the military jinshi, only 2 or 3 percent of the title-holders won the highest honor. The four authors of this book, who were staff members at the Beijing Dongcheng Library, track 278 title-holders from the imperial military examinations: 38 in the Tang, 78 in the Song, 1 in the Jin, 52 in the Ming, and 109 in the Qing. This book, which contains entries for the names of the top jinshi title-holder with their biographical information, is not only a collection of biographies, but also includes a 31-page overview of the history of and brief background information on the military examinations, in addition to a list of references. Most of the references are official dynastic history books; some references are from local history archives. The appendixes include: 1) a table of the title-holders, 2) a chronology of important events, 3) a table of first facts, 4) a table of the title-holders from examinations at three levels, 5) a list of the title-holders who received appointments at the highest ranks in each dynasty, and 6) a table of 21 title-holders who were siblings. This book presents numerous interesting stories about the title-holders. For example, Zhu Hucheng was the youngest title-holder, at age nine, because he hit the target nine out of twelve times in an archery examination and was able to discuss Sunzi’s art of war fluently in his essay during the palace examination in 1128. This is a valuable reference book for general readers, students, and researchers as well. 213. Ho Fong-lei. “A Study of the Imperial Military Examination System during the Reign of the Empress Wu, 690–704.” Master of arts thesis, University of Hong Kong, 2009. Thesis; 89 p.; Chinese While most studies of the military examinations focus on its entire history, this study chooses a critical period between 690 and 704, when Empress Wu launched the military examination system. First, it reviews the recruitment of the military officers prior to the reign of Empress Wu. From ancient times to the beginning of the Tang dynasty, the recruitment of military officials was mainly through inheritance, merit in military service, and repositioning of civil service officials. The distinction between the civil service officials and military officers was not clear. In 702, Empress Wu created the Tang military examination system, modeled on the civil
service examination system. The military examination system was opened to both military professionals and commoners. The military examination system had two tiers. The local examinations were hosted by local military administrations to qualify candidates for the state examination, which was held by the Military Board of the imperial government. These examinations included testing examinees’ military skills in archery, using weapons on horseback, weight lifting, etc., in addition to verbal communication skills, physique (height above 177 centimeters), and age (under 40 years). The successful candidates from the state examination were qualified to be appointed by the Military Board. The position ranks were granted based on the candidates’ backgrounds. The candidates who had experience in military service were appointed directly to higher-ranked positions, while commoner candidates had to begin as interns. Ho explains that Empress Wu established the military examination system because when she took power, she was eager to recruit a large number of new officials to serve and support her new government, which lacked support from aristocrats and was facing domestic turmoil, foreign invasions, and a deteriorating military system. In addition, the establishment of the civil service examination system, which had opened opportunity to commoners, provided a model for the military examination system. The author also credits Empress Wu with creativity and bold reforms during her political career. The author suggests that the military examination system created by Empress Wu completed the imperial examination system as an entire bureaucratic institution for constraining the aristocrats’ power. However, the military examination system was not as influential as its counterpart, the civil service examination system. Imperial governments mainly relied on the civil service bureaucrats, because an overly powerful military force could be a threat to emperors, except during war. According to the author, fewer records about the military examinations were documented in the official histories. In contrast to the widespread popularity of the civil service examination, the military examination system fell into disrepute. The author concludes that to some extent, the military examination system brought about social mobility with its minor influence on Chinese society. 214. Zhao Dongmei. The Martial Envoys between the Civil Service Officials and Military Officials in the Northern Song Dynasty. Beijing: Beijing University Press, 2010. Book; 402 p.; 23 cm; Chinese; ISBN: 9787301170205 Essentially, the imperial examination system was created for the imperial government to recruit candidates for its bureaucracy. The Chinese empire developed a sophisticated, complicated, and gigantic bureaucratic system over thousands of years. The bureaucratic system in each dynasty differed from those of other dynasties. This book is a comprehensive study of a unique bureaucratic group, the military envoys, in the Northern Song dynasty (960– 1127). An imperial government usually had two bureaucratic groups, the civil service officials and military leaders. However, a third bureaucratic group, the martial envoys, developed during the Northern Song dynasty to separate and balance the political interests of the civil service and military leadership. Conversely, the martial envoy group was restrained by the other two groups. The number of candidates for martial envoys grew to more than 23,000 in 1113. Although the martial envoys came from various backgrounds, for example, descendants
of military officials, professional military personnel, successful candidates from the military examinations, and civil service officials, they all had a close tie with the emperor. The emperor could exercise his power by ignoring the central bureaucracy and making use of these martial envoys, who were appointed directly by his cabinet. There are two parts in this book. Part 1, which includes three chapters, introduces the evolution of the third bureaucratic system from various positions inside the imperial court to the martial envoys, who were involved in military affairs for national security on the country’s borders, and describes how the positions of martial envoys were ranked and differentiated from the other two bureaucratic groups. The five chapters in part 2 discuss how the martial envoy system functioned as the state apparatus of the Song dynasty. The author identifies group characteristics of the military envoys from four individuals and delineates three functions of the military envoys: border defense, local security, and key services to the emperor in the imperial palace court. Chapter 8 discusses how political power to appoint the martial envoys was trans-ferred from emperors to the institutional system and describes the career paths of the martial envoys as “amateur military officials.” The author argues that the martial envoy system was a direct cause of the failure of the military examination system in the Song dynasty, and that the imperial examination system was never an isolated phenomenon. This book, which was developed from the author’s dissertation and crafted for 13 years, is an important source for studies of the imperial examinations in the unique political context of the Northern Song dynasty.
Timeline of Chinese Dynastic History*
ca. 2100–1600 BC ca. 1600–1000 BC ca. 1000–256 BC 221–206 BC 206 BC–AD 220 220–280 265–420 420–589 581–618 618–907 907–960 960–1279 916–1125 1115–1234 1279–1368 1368–1644 1644–1911
Xia Shang Zhou Qin Han Three Kingdoms Jin Southern and Northern Dynasties Sui Tang Five Dynasties Song Liao Jin Yuan Ming Qing
*The table is based on The Modern Chinese Dictionary, rev. ed. (Beijing: Shangwu Publisher, 1996), 1692–1707.
baguwen: eight-legged essay, the standard essay of the imperial civil service examinations baijiazhengming: a great number of schools of philosophies that emerged during the period 770–221 BC bangyan: the title of the second place winner of the palace examination boxuehongci: a special examination curriculum; the most prestigious examination curriculum chaju: the government recruiting system in the Han dynasty changke: the regular examinations Danmolu: a book title daoxue: a branch of neo-Confucianism Dengkejikao: The Honor Roles of the Successful Candidates and the Chronology of the Imperial Examinations: a book title dianshi: the last examination held by the emperor duice: an examination used in the Han dynasty fu, verse: a genre of classic Chinese literature that is a combination of prose and poetry Fushe: a political and literary organization in the Ming dynasty gongsheng: the title for students at the State University in the Ming and Qing dynasties gongyuan: examination facilities Guozijian: the imperial government-sponsored state university Hanlin: the Imperial Academy, Imperial Library huishi: the state/metropolitan examinations huming: a method to conceal examinees’ names Huo Xiaoyu Zhuan: title of a novel in the Tang dynasty jiansheng: students at the State University jieshi: the local examination to qualify local candidates for the state examination in the Tang dynasty jingyi: one of the examination curriculums; focusing on Confucian classics jinshi: the title for the successful candidates from the state and palace examinations
jinxue: the study of the Confucian classics jiupinzhongzhengzhi: the government recruiting system between 220 and 589 juren: the title for the successful candidates from the provincial examinations kaozhengxue: evidential research in the Qing dynasty emphasizing rigorous evidence drawn from concrete facts keju: the imperial examinations Libu: a division of the imperial government Libu: the Human Resources Board, a division of the imperial government Liji: the title of the oldest Chinese history book lixue: another name for daoxue, a branch of neo-Confucianism lumingyan: a feast served as a ritual of celebration for new successful candidates beginning in the Tang dynasty mingjing: one of the examination curriculums; focusing on testing knowledge of Confucian classics nifeng: a method to conceal examinees’ information to prevent fraud pianwen: a genre of classic Chinese literature: prose qieyun: The Phonic Rules, a book title qiren: banner, an ethnic minority in the Qing dynasty quanshi: the examination to recruit officials from the successful candidates in the Tang dynasty Rizhilu: a book title Shangshu: a book title shen: gentry shengshi: the state examination in the Tang dynasty shengyuan: the title for successful candidates from the local examinations in the Ming and Qing dynasties shi: poetry, poems shi: a social class: literati shiduanwen: a type of essay Shijing The Book of Poetry: a book title sikuquanshu: The Four Classifications Catalog, a book title sishuwujing: Confucian classics shuyuan: academies suanxue: College of Mathematics, a book title Su’erne: an official of the Qing government suishi: a type of local examination suoyuan: a method to lock down the examination facilities Taiping Tianguo: Taiping Kingdom, an oppositional state during the Qing dynasty Tang chuanqixiaoshuo: a genre of Chinese literature in the Tang tanhua: the title for the third place winner of the palace examination Tangzhiyan Collected Statements: a book title tenglu: a method of recording examinees’ papers to prevent examiners identifying their names
tezouming: a special award of the jinshi degree for older examinees who failed the state examinations 15 times, invented during the Song dynasty tongbang: a practice used by the Tang official examiners to reference social elites’ recommendations while making a decision about the candidates Tongdian: the title of an encyclopedic work by Dou You tongsheng: the title for people who prepared for the local examinations in the Ming and Qing dynasties tongshi: the local/district examinations Wangli Yehuo Bian: a book by Shen Defu weike: the top five successful candidates from the palace examination wenguan: civil service officials wuguan: military officials wuju: the imperial military examinations wuxübianfa: a political reform movement in 1898 xianliangwenxue: an examination curriculum to select officials in the Han dynasty xiangshi: the provincial examinations xiaolian: Moral Excellence, a criterion used to select officials in the Han dynasty Xintangshu: New Book of the Tang History, the title of the official dynastic history xingjuan: a networking process for examinees to get recommendations from social elites xiucai: one of the Tang examination curricula, later a nickname for successful candidates from the local examinations xuelu: the title for an official teaching position xuezheng: the title for the education minister yangwuyundong: a reform movement between 1861 and 1894 yinjian: students enrolled in the State University by their official families yijing: The I Ching, a book title Yingying Zhuan: the title of a novel in the Tang dynasty zhike: the irregular examinations zhongshu: a position for an official in charge of the provincial examinations zhuangyuan: the title for the top winner of the palace examination zhumojuan: examinees’ papers that contain the original papers and the copies of those papers zhuxi: the lead scholar of neo-Confucianism
About the Author
Rui Wang is social sciences librarian and associate professor at Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant. She earned her master’s degree in Library and Information Science at the University of South Florida in 1997 and master’s degree in Sociology at the University of Arkansas in 1996. As a member of “the class of 1977”, the first class that enrolled colleges through open examinations after China’s Cultural Revolution, she received her bachelor’s degree in Chinese Language and Literature at the Northeast Normal University in China in 1982. Her recent publications include a book chapter, “The Evolving Role of the Official Representatives of the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research” and the journal article “The Lasting Impact of a Library Credit Course.”