*This article was prepared as part of the Ministry of Education Special Project on Critical Subjects in Philosophy and Social Science Research, entitled “Comprehensive Editing and Research on Qin Dynasty Bamboo Slip Manuscripts” [Qin jiandu de zonghe zhengli yu yanjiu 秦简牍的综合整理与研究] (08JZD0036).
Songchang Chen recently published several articles from the Statutes on Corvée Labor [Yaolü徭律] found among the Qin Dynasty bamboo slip manuscripts in the Yuelu Academy collection, which provide new data for research on the corvée system during the Qin and Han periods. For the sake of convenience, let me first provide my own transcription and punctuation of the text in question, to serve as a reference in the discussion to follow. [Bamboo slip numbers are added by the author in parentheses after each slip’s text. – Trans.]:
繇（徭）律曰：岁兴繇（徭）徒，人为三尺券一，书其厚焉。节（即）发繇（徭），乡啬夫必身与，典以券行之。田时先行富 (1241) 有贤人，以闲时行贫者，皆月券书其行月及所为日数，而署其都发及县请。其当行而病及不存 (1242) ……
[Translation: The Statutes on Corvée Labor states: Levy corvée workers annually. For every person, make one contract three chi in length [one chi in the Qin Dynasty was equivalent to 23.1 centimeters – Trans.], and record his property on it. When deploying corvée workers, Township Husbanders [Sefu 啬夫] are required to personally participate, and Hamlet or Fields Chiefs carry out the deployment in accordance with the contracts. During the growing season, first conduct a levy among wealthy individuals (1241), and only during the off season conduct a levy among poor individuals. For each person’s monthly contract, record the lunar month in which the person under contract was deployed and the number of days he served; also sign off on large-scale deployments or deployments by metropolitan offices, and on special county requests for levying workers. If [the worker] is sick and not present when he is supposed to be deployed (1242)…
…dispatch him to return and conduct a funeral. Report to the county offices and, on the county’s order, a date will be given. If a corvée worker is deployed, and his parent, grandparent, wife or child dies, then dispatch him to return and conduct a funeral. Once the funeral is finished, then extend his work schedule so he will complete his corvée service in full. (1238)]
LEVYING CORVÉE WORKERS
After the prefatory phrase “The Statutes on Corvée Labor states,” Bamboo Slips 1241 and 1242 begin by stipulating how to levy corvée workers. Songchang Chen transcribes the first two sentences here as “岁兴繇（徭），徒人为三尺券一,” which he punctuates slightly differently from my version above, taking the characters “徒人” as a single term and arguing that “the phrase ‘徒人’ must refer to ‘corvée workers(徒役之人).’ ” Two lines of evidence, however, may be raised in favor of my revised reading. First, among the Shuihudi Qin Dynasty bamboo slip manuscripts, there is the manuscript Eighteen Varieties of Qin Statutes [Qinlü shiba zhong 秦律十八种], which includes articles from the Statutes on Corvée Labor. Bamboo Slips 115-124 read:
“[I]n levying corvée workers to work on building a settlement, order that the walls be guaranteed until the end of the year. If before the year’s end the walls fall to ruin, then the Minister of Works [Sikong 司空] leading the work and the Lord in charge of the walls are to be penalized; order their corvée workers to rebuild it, but do not count this as doing their regular corvée service. For a county maintaining imperial parks or state-run public parks for horses and cattle, levy corvée workers to dig moats, build walls and form hedges, and also mend and repair those in place, then submit to the park functionaries for inspection, who will conduct a tour to inspect the work. If before the year’s end some areas fall to ruin and break apart, order the county to again levy corvée workers to rebuild these broken sections, but do not count this as doing their regular corvée service. … When estimating the work to be conducted, you must order the Minister of Works to make an estimate with the artisans; do not only order the artisans to do this. If a proper investigation is not conducted for this estimate, sentence the estimator in accordance with the statutes, and take what the actual estimate should be and make this the calculation for the corvée labor required.” [English translation quoted from Law, State, and Society in Early Imperial China: A Study With Critical Edition and Translation of the Legal Texts from Zhangjiashan Tomb No. 247 (Sinica Leidensia), edited by Anthony Barbieri-Low and Robin D. S. Yates, 2015, Brill Academic Publishers. – Trans.]
Here the text repeatedly employs the phrases “兴徒” (levy corvée) and “为徭” (perform corvée service), which together closely resemble the sequence “兴徭徒” (to levy corvée workers) found in the Yuelu Academy bamboo slip manuscripts. Moreover, the Shuihudi text later explicitly identifies these workers using the phrase “徭徒,” which precisely matches the phrase used in the Yuelu Academy edition, if we follow my new punctuation that does not separate these two characters.
For my second line of evidence, consider how the character 人 is used in the following statute articles. Bamboo Slip 1252 in the Yuelu Academy collection of Qin Dynasty bamboo slip manuscripts reads: “For black-haired commoners who serve as On-Call Militia, make a five cun tally [one cun in the Qin Dynasty was equivalent to 2.31 cm – Trans.], one for each person.” Bamboo Slips 80-81, which contain the section “Statutes on Currency”[Jin bu lü 金布律] from Eighteen Varieties of Qin Statutes read: “When county and metropolitan offices are subjected to an audit due to misconduct, calculate who owes restitution payments. Once sentence is pronounced, the Husbander then divides the value in cash owed among the senior officials and common functionaries. For each person, make a contract in three divisions, to present to the Chamberlain for the Palace Revenues, who collects the payment.” Bamboo Slips 1411, 1399 and 1403 in the Yuelu Academy collection of Qin Dynasty bamboo slip manuscripts read: “The ‘Statutes on Currency’state: When the government storehouses or state-run shops trade goods and receive cash, or when they receive restitution for public property damage, taxes, market transaction fees and like income, in each case a money box is made by the office overseeing the transaction. Be careful when making the slot in the money box: It must not be too large and must allow the cash to come out once inserted. Impress the money box with the seal of either the Director or the Assistant, and for each payer make a contract in three divisions. Then, insert the cash into the money box, and order the payer to witness that the cash has been submitted.” Bamboo Slip 429, which contains the section “Statutes on Currency” from Statutes and Ordinances of the Second Year [Ernian lüling – Jinbu lü 二年律令·金布律], states: “When government offices or state-run shops trade goods, or when receiving taxes and market transaction fees, in each case a money box is made; impress it with the seals of the Director and Assistant, and for each person make a contract in three divisions. Then, insert the cash into the money box, and present the receipt on the contract’s middle division to the local court.” In the excerpts above, the character人 in phrases such as “人一（符）” [one (tally) for each person] or “人与参（叁）辨券” [for each person make a contract in three divisions] is used in the same way as in the following sequence from the Yuelu Academy Statutes on Corvée Labor:“人为三尺券一” [for every person make one contract three chi in length]. That is, the character人refers to “every person” or “each person.”
The phrase “三尺券” [a contract three chi in length] stipulates the format for the official document. Later the text gives the instruction “For each person’s monthly contract, record the month he was deployed and the number of days he served.” In other words, on a monthly basis the number of days engaged in corvée labor should be recorded in writing on the contract. This is likely the reason that such contracts needed to be made at least three chi in length. Songchang Chen suspects that “三尺券” here is in fact a mistake for the phrase “叁辨券” [a contract in three divisions] – as found, for instance, in the citations from the “Statutes on Currency”above – but this is not necessarily the case.
The Statutes on Corvée Labor next states that one records [an item denoted by the character] 厚 on this contract. Songchang Chen uses the same character in the phrase “ruin the wealth [厚]of the state” in the chapter “Having Standards” from Hanfeizi [Hanfeizi – Youdu 韩非子·有度], and in the phrase “they lack rich emoluments [厚]” from the “Biography of Chao Cuo” in History of the Former Han [Han shu – Chao Cuo zhuan 汉书·晁错传].” This is evidence that the character 厚 in this context should be understood to refer to one’s “amount of property.” This is likely the correct reading.
Following the phrase “即发繇 (徭)” [when deploying corvée workers], Songchang Chen again offers different punctuation for the next two sentences: “乡啬夫必身与典，以券行之.” He thus has the character 典 concluding the first sentence, and takes it to mean “to supervise or preside over.” Songchang Chen therefore reads this section as follows: “Township Bailiffs must personally supervise this deployment, employing them according to their contract.” However, during the Qin and Han periods, we know that the Hamlet Chief [Lidian里典] and Fields Chief [Tiandian田典] were responsible for maintaining the name register recording the denizens of their local hamlet, as well as levying workers for corvée labor. For instance, Bamboo Slips 32-33 from the Shuihudi Qin Dynasty manuscripts, which contain “Statutes on Registration,” a part of Miscellaneous Excerpts from Qin Statutes [Qinlü zachao – Fulü 秦律杂抄·傅律], read as follows: “If an adolescent is concealed from the household register, or an illness is reported that excuses one from work without proper investigation, then the Hamlet or Fields Chief and Neighborhood Elder are sentenced to have their heads shaved as punishment. When common folk among the mass, who have not reached the age for exempted elderly status, do not use their actual age when the state receives claims for exempted elderly status, anyone who dares to deceive the state in this way shall be fined two suits of armor; if the Hamlet or Fields Chief and Neighborhood Elder did not report this, then they are each fined one suit of armor; each household in the neighborhood is fined one shield, and all are banished.” Bamboo Slip 164 from the Shuihudi manuscripts, which records part of Answers to Questions on the Legal Statutes [Falü dawen法律答问], reads: “What do the terms ‘逋事’ [evade service] and ‘乏繇 (徭)’ [fail corvée] mean? As is mentioned in the statutes, when someone is scheduled for corvée service, and the functionaries and Hamlet or Fields Chief have already ordered their deployment, yet they immediately abscond and do not gather to report for duty, this is to ‘evade service’; if they have already assembled for deployment, or boarded the corvée workers’ transport and eaten provisions, or have arrived at the site for their corvée labor, and only after that abscond, these cases are all to ‘fail corvée.’ ” Bamboo Slips 328-330 from the Zhangjiashan Han manuscripts, which record part of the “Statutes on Households” [Hulü 户律] in Statutes and Ordinances of the Second Year, state: “As part of routine duty, on the eighth moon, order the Township Husbander, together with the functionaries and clerks, to check all the household registers. A copy is made and stored in the local court. If a resident has relocated, then transfer the household register, as well as the details about his age, hometown and rank, to the place he has since moved, and together stamp these forms with the official seals. If these documents remain in the original archive and are not transferred to the new location, or they are transferred but the officials did not all stamp the forms with their seals, or if within ten days the household register data have not actually been transferred, then in each case penalize the officials four liang in gold [one liang in the Qin Dynasty was equivalent to 16.14 grams – Trans.]; if the Hamlet Head or Fields Chief where the household members live did not report them, they are to be charged with the same offense. If the Township Husbander, the functionaries in charge, or the clerks checking the household registers did not make note of this, they are each penalized one liang in gold.” Bamboo Slip 164 cited abovementions: “When someone is scheduled for corvée service, and the functionaries and Hamlet or Fields Chiefs have already ordered their deployment…”; this explicitly confirms that the Hamlet Chiefs or Fields Chief was directly in charge of levying personnel for corvée. Thus, for this passage in the Yuelu Academy bamboo slip manuscripts of Statutes on Corvée Labor, the character 典 should be read as a class of low-level official called the Hamlet Chief or Fields Chief. It begins the second sentence, and together these lines explain that when corvée workers are levied, Township Husbanders are required to personally participate, while Hamlet Chiefs and Fields Chiefs carry out the deployment according to their contracts.
As Songchang Chen points out, the phrase “田时” refers to the season when farm work is at its busiest, and the phrase “贤人” refers to wealthy individuals. When the text gives the instruction: “During the growing season, first conduct a levy of wealthy individuals,” this is in order to ensure that sufficient manpower is left behind to carry out farm work locally. On all these points, we may follow Songchang Chen’s interpretation. Among the Liye Town Qin Dynasty bamboo slip manuscripts, Bamboo Slip 16-5 cites an ordinance quoted by Governor Li of Dongting Commandery “in the twenty-seventh year [of the reign period of Emperor Shihuangdi of the Qin Dynasty (220 BCE)], on the Geng Yin day of the second moon, which began on the Bing Zi day.” Governor Li addressed the County Husbander, Clerk Jia, Acting Clerk Gu and Subsidiary Clerk Wei as follows: “The ordinance states ‘When transporting goods, you must first use all available wall-building and grain-pounding convicts, male and female bond servants, and debtors. For urgent matters that cannot be postponed, only then levy corvée workers.’ Now arms from Dongting Commandery are to be transported to the Chamberlain for the Capital, and armor and arms from Ba, Nan and Cangwu Commanderies are also to be transported; thus, many people will be needed to ship them. When they are shipped off, we must first use all available local cavalry personnel, male and female bond servants, wall-building and grain-pounding convicts, firewood-gathering and rice-sifting convicts, debtors, theft convicts, disfigured servants of the hidden office, and hired corvée substitutes from the county. As it is the growing season, I do not want to levy any of the black-haired commoners.” This official document, along with the ordinance it cites, emphasizes how during the growing season, when farm work is at its busiest, one should refrain if possible from levying commoners for corvée service. On this point, the Yuelu Academy Statutes on Corvée Labor are in agreement.
“都发” AS LARGE-SCALE OR METROPOLITAN DEPLOYMENTS AND “县请” AS COUNTY REQUESTS
The phrases “都发” and “县请” are rather difficult to understand. Songchang Chen reads the character 请 in the latter phrase as 情 instead, meaning “circumstance” (reflected below as “it is the case that…”). He then interprets this sentence, together with the line before it, as follows: “The content recorded includes the moons and days when he conducts corvée labor, while it is the case that the metropolitan office or county where he was deployed for conscript service must also sign off.”
Note, however, that in the Shuihudi manuscripts of Statutes on Corvée Labor, the articles recorded on Bamboo Slips 121-123 state the following: “The county ought not dare to demolish or modify state-run public buildings, government storehouses or the local court without authorization. If the county wants to demolish or modify such buildings, they must request permission from higher authorities to do so. Should the county want to use wall-building and grain-pounding convicts to expand the state-run public buildings or government storehouses, or to mend and repair them, then do so and do not request permission from higher authorities. If the county conducts ordinary operations or requests permission to do special construction, functionaries will assess the amount of work necessary. If there is a surplus or deficit in workers amounting to more than two days’ worth of labor, regard this as a case of faulty analysis in assessing the work.” The editing team responsible for initially arranging the Shuihudi manuscripts interprets the character in this passage as 谳, which according to the commentary given in the “Biography of Shentu Pan” fromthe Book of Later Han [Hou Han shu – Shentu Pan 后汉书·申屠蟠传] means “请, or a request for instruction from higher authorities, such as for a verdict on a case.” In light of the stipulations presented above from the articles in the Shuihudi manuscripts of “Statutes on Corvée Labor,” we may thus speculate that when the Yuelu Academy manuscripts state “县请” here, the phrase instead refers to a few limited special occasions when a county sends a request to higher authorities, and then levies corvée laborers.
Among the newly excavated Qin Dynasty bamboo slip manuscripts, metropolitan offices [Duguan 都官] and county offices [Xianguan 县官] are often mentioned together as a pair. For example, recall that in the aforementioned Bamboo Slips 80-81 from the “Statutes on Currency”, the following is stated: “When county and metropolitan offices [Xianduguan 县都官] are subjected to an audit due to misconduct, calculate who owes payment for restitution. After sentence is imposed, the Bailiff divides the value in cash owed among the senior officials and common functionaries. Give each person a contract in three divisions, to present to the Chamberlain for the Palace Revenues, who collects the payment.” Similarly, the “Statutes on Granaries” [Canglü 仓律] from the Eighteen Varieties of Qin Statutes states on Bamboo Slip 37: “Counties submit their registers of those who consumed provisions and other expenses to the Imperial Granary, together with the annual fiscal report; when the metropolitan offices settle the accounts, they then check against the registers of those who consumed provisions.” Thus, it is possible that in this line from the Yuelu Academy statute text, the character 都 does in fact refer to the metropolitan offices, as Songchang Chen prefers to read these sentences. The phrase “都发” would likewise refer to the levying and deployment conducted by the metropolitan offices.
There is no other evidence, however, among the received corpus or excavated manuscripts, that corvée laborers were levied by metropolitan offices. In addition, consider how the following commentaries gloss the character 都 in other contexts. In the“Biography of Zheng Ji” in the Book of Han [Han shu – Zheng Ji zhuan 汉书·郑吉传]: “As Zheng Ji had defeated the Jushi, and subdued King Rizhu of the Xiongnu, he overawed the Western Regions with his mighty authority. Thereupon he secured both the Jushi region and the northwest route. He was thus given the title of Protector General [Duhu 都护].” Yan Shigu comments: “Since he protected both the southern and northern routes, this was therefore referred to as 都, which is similar to大 [grand] or 总 [overall, general].” In “Annals of Emperor Guangwu (Part II)” [Guangwu di ji xia 光武帝纪下] fromthe Book of Later Han: “[A representative of the Xiongnu, Jushi and other northwest peoples] submitted a request for a Protector General.” This was commented upon by Li Xian [Tang Dynasty]: “The character 都 here means ‘overall, general.’ ”In “Letter from Cao Pi to Wu Zhi” from Selections of Refined Literature [Wenxuan – Cao Pi yu Wu zhi shu文选·曹丕〈与吴质书〉]: “I gathered them all together to make one compiled volume.” Li Shan [Tang Dynasty] comments: “The character 都 here means ‘all’ (凡).” If we take the character 都 in this sense, then the phrase “都发” would refer to a universal or large-scale deployment.
“聂徭” AS SUPPLEMENTING SERVICE
In his initial publication, Songchang Chen places Bamboo Slip 1238 immediately after Bamboo Slips 1241 and 1242; however, he also suggests that “we cannot yet confirm beyond a doubt that this third bamboo slip connects to the second one, and I feel that there is perhaps material missing here between them, but the content for each does still pertain to levying corvée laborers.” In my opinion, after looking over the passage, it appears that Bamboo Slip 1238 should not be read together with Bamboo Slip 1242. Whether or not these are sections from the same statute article, or even if Bamboo Slip 1238 belongs to the Statutes on Corvée Labor in the first place, is too difficult to judge at present.
As for how to read the term 聂 when applied to corvée administration, note that this character also appeared before in “Statutes on Corvée Labor” in the Statutes and Ordinances of the Second Year [Ernian ling –Yao lü 二年律令·徭律], contained in the Zhangjiashan Han bamboo slip manuscripts. Bamboo Slip 407 states: “If a conscript for military service is ill for more than a full year or is detained, do not take him into custody.” The editing team that arranged the Zhangjiashan Han bamboo slip manuscripts reads 聂 in this context as 摄, and argues that it means “to take a person into custody, as when the commentary for the ‘Sayings of Wu’from Discourses of the States [Guoyu – Wuyu 国语·吴语]offers a gloss of 执 as ‘to hold or arrest.’ ” The reading group chaired by Tomiya Itaru, however, does not believe that there is sufficient evidence to support interpreting 聂 as “to take into custody.” Instead, they prefer to understand it as “to modify” or “substitute,” though this again is on the basis of replacing the original character with 摄. When Songchang Chen transcribed the Yuelu Academy manuscripts, he chose to follow the opinion of the Zhangjiashan editors. If we take into account similar phrases from the Han bamboo slip manuscripts in the Zhangjiashan cache, and also consider this particular passage’s broader context, it is likely that the character 勿, meaning “do not,” was mistakenly omitted from the text. The verb 平, which follows in the next line, can mean “to pardon” or “to exempt” from service. In the chapter “Enriching the State”from Xunzi [Xunzi – Fuguo 荀子·富国], there is the line “lighten taxes on farmland, moderate levies collected at the passes and markets, lessen the number of merchants,” on which Yang Liang [Tang Dynasty] comments: “the character 平 means something like除 [‘to remove’].” Under this interpretation, this sentence should then be read [in the following sense]: After returning to bury kin, do not take them into custody again, but rather, on account of their having returned for a funeral, exempt them from further corvée service.
Actually, in my opinion, the evidence from this article in the Yuelu Academy manuscripts instead demands that we seek out a new explanation for the use of聂 in the Zhangjiashan bamboo slip manuscripts cited above. Or, to put it differently, when coming up with the most appropriate readings for these articles, we need to take into account the contexts for both the Qin and Han dynasties’ statutes, in equal measure. With this in mind, I believe that 聂 is best understood as 蹑 (which has an original meaning of “to step on, follow”). In Selections of Refined Literature, “Pan Yue’s Rhapsody on the Sacred Field” [Pan Yue Jitian fu 潘岳〈籍田赋〉], there is the line “蹑踵侧肩” [stepping on each other’s heels, brushing against one another’s shoulders], on which Li Shan (Tang Dynasty) comments that “according to Explaining and Analyzing Characters [Shouwen jiezi 说文解字],the character 蹑 means追 [‘to follow’]. To step on someone’s heels is how you follow after them.” For the articles written on these bamboo slip manuscripts, the meaning would then be “to add on to or supplement.” Therefore, the article in Zhangjiashan’s Statutes and Ordinances of the Second Year states that when a person is serving as a conscript for military service, if he falls ill for a period of more than one year or is detained, there is no need to investigate the amount of corvée service that he has missed. Likewise, in the Yuelu Academy Qin Dynasty bamboo slip manuscripts, the article suggests that when doing corvée labor, if a kinsman passes away and the worker returns home for the funeral, he must make up the service he has missed after his affairs have been settled.
- Chen, Songchang. 2012. “Yuelu Qin jian zhong de ‘Yao lü’ li shuo” 岳麓秦简中的〈徭律〉例说 (Comments on Examples from the “Statutes on Corvée Labor” in the Yuelu Academy Qin Dynasty Bamboo Slip Manuscripts). Chutu Wenxian Yanjiu 出土文献研究 (Research on Unearthed Literature) No. 11. Zhongxi Book Company, Shanghai.
- Chen, Songchang. 2009. “Yuelu Shuyuan suo cang Qin jian zongshu” 岳麓书院所藏秦简综述 (Overview of the Qin Dynasty Bamboo Slip Manuscripts in the Yuelu Academy Collection). Wenwu 文物 (Cultural Relics) No. 3.
For the author’s own reading, please refer to:
Chen, Wei. 2009. “Yuelu Shuyuan Qin jian kaojiao” 岳麓书院秦简考校 (Collation Notes on the Yuelu Academy Qin Dynasty Bamboo Slip Manuscripts). Wenwu 文物 (Cultural Relics) No. 10.
- Chen, Songchang. 2010. “Shuihudi Qin jian ‘Guan shi lü’ bianzheng” 睡虎地秦简“关市律”辨正 (Corrections to the “Statutes on Customs and Markets” from the Shuihudi Qin Dynasty Bamboo Slip Manuscripts). Shixue jikan 史学集刊 (Collected Papers of History Studies) No. 4.
For the author’s own reading, please refer to:
Chen, Wei. 2012. “Guanyu Qin yu Han chu ‘ru qian xiang zhong’ lü de jige wenti” 关于秦与汉初 “入钱缿中” 律的几个问题 (A Few Issues Regarding the Qin and Early Han Dynasties Statutes on “Entering Cash into the Money-Box”). Kaogu 考古 (Archaeology) No. 8.
- [Japan] Tomiya, Itaru (editor). 2006. Jiangling Zhangjiashan ersiqi hao mu chutu han lüling yanjiu (yizhupian) 江陵张家山二四七号墓出土汉律令研究 (译注篇） (Research on the Han Dynasty Statutes and Ordinances Unearthed from Tomb M247 at Zhangjiashan, Jiangling City [Interpretation and Commentaries]), pp. 272-73. Hōyū Shoten, Tokyo. The editor transcribes the character 人 in the line “人与参辨券之” [give each person a contract in three divisions] initially as 入 instead, meaning “enter into.”
- Chen, Songchang. 2012. “Shuihudi Qin jian zhong de ‘jiang yang’ xiao kao” 睡虎地秦简中的 “将阳” 小考 (A Brief Examination of the Phrase “Wander Off” in the Shuihudi Qin Dynasty Bamboo Slip Manuscripts). Hunan daxue xuebao (shehui kexue ban) 湖南大学学报（社会科学版） (Journal of Hunan University, Social Sciences Edition) No. 5.
See also Bamboo Slip 1305 from the Yuelu Academy Qin Dynasty manuscripts, which records part of the Statutes on Corvée Labor as well, and bears content relevant to this point. It reads: “Conscripts for military service after … days complete their contracts and sign off [for this] on an official die-document.” If we consider this in connection with the phrase “annually levy corvée workers” at the beginning of the statute text, then it appears that this type of contract is issued once a year, with the record-keeping divided into months.
- Hunan Provincial Archaeological Institute et al. 2003. “Hunan Liye Qindai jiandu xuanshi” 湖南里耶秦代简牍选释 (Selected Interpretations and Annotations of Qin Dynasty Bamboo Slip Manuscripts from Liye Town, Hunan Province). Zhongguo lishi wenwu 中国历史文物 (Journal of the National Museum of Chinese History) No. 1.
For the author’s own reading, please refer to:
Chen, Wei. 2003. “Qin Cangwu, Dongting erjun chulun” 秦苍梧、洞庭二郡刍论 (Study on Cangwu and Dongting Commanderies during the Qin Dynasty). Lishi yanjiu 历史研究 (History Studies) No. 5.
- See , p. 259.
- Hao, Yixing (Qing Dynasty). 1982 (facsimile). Erya yishu 尔雅义疏 (Subcommentary on Meanings in “Approaching What Is Correct, Proper, Refined”), Vol. 2, p. 23. China Bookstore Press, Beijing.
According to Part II of“Explaining the Old Words”in Approaching What Is Correct, Proper, Refined [Erya –shigu 尔雅·释诂]: “The character 平 means成 [‘to complete’].” Hao Yixing argues in the aforementioned Subcommentary:“The character 平 means 正 [‘to rectify’], or定 [‘to settle’]. Both of these glosses together mean to make complete.”
Ban, Gu (Eastern Han Dynasty). 1962 (reprint). “Gouxu zhi” 沟洫志 (Treatise on Waterways). In Han shu 汉书 (The Book of Han), p. 1685. Zhonghua Book Company, Beijing.
The final line to the Yuelu Academy statutes cited at the beginning of this article is thus best read as “平其徭” [to complete their corvée service]. Note that in the aforementioned “Treatise on Waterways,” the following is stated: “Have the functionaries and commoners exert themselves in agricultural work, garner in full what the land might offer, employ corvée workers to level the land and make waterways: we must not let the season go to waste.” Yan Shigu (Tang Dynasty) comments: “The phrase ‘平繇’ here means to employ corvée workers to level the land in building canals and dams. The line is saying that we ought to completely benefit from the waterways. The character 繇 here should be read as 徭 [‘corvée service’] instead.”
Wenwu (Cultural Relics) Editor: Ran Wu
Translated by Christopher J. Foster, Ph.D. Candidate, East Asian Languages and Civilizations Department, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
This article originally appeared in Wenwu (Cultural Relics) No. 9, 2014, pp. 82-84.