Tian Tian

“Clothing strips” refers to those sections of tomb inventories written on bamboo and wooden slips from the early and middle Western Han that record clothing items. The distinctive characteristics of the writing, check markings, and placement in the tomb of these clothing strips reflect funerary burial conventions of that period. “Clothing lists” from the latter part of the Western Han period are directly related to these clothing strips. Differences in format between these two types of documents are the result of changes in funerary ritual during the Western Han period.

Cheng Shaoxuan and Liu Gang

This paper introduces several newly unearthed wooden figures from tombs in Yangzhou that date to the Five Dynasties period, and provides complete transcriptions and preliminary studies of the inscriptions on them. By comparing these figures to similar materials discovered elsewhere, this paper argues that the function of putting these kinds of wooden figurines in tombs was to avoid misfortune. The last portion of the paper briefly examines the origin of this custom and beliefs behind it.

Liu Gang

The words “Xie hou” in the poem “Chou mou” 綢繆 from the “Airs of Tang” in the Shi jing are written as “Xing hou” in the Anhui University Warring States Bamboo Manuscript Shi jing. This might reflect the original orthographic form of the poem. The order of the poem in the manuscript version is different from the received Mao edition and reverses the second and third stanzas. These differences are determined by a different understanding of the people referred to by liangren, canzhe (pointing to a “Grandee”), and Xing hou.

Ethan Harkness

By considering the Kongjiapo gaodishu (“notice to the underworld”) document of 142 B.C.E. in conjunction with the rishu (“daybook”) manuscript from the same tomb and other examples of gaodishu, this article highlights the function gaodishu served to aid the deceased with meeting important figures in a bureaucratized conception of the underworld. Questions are raised about Han burial practices and contemporaneous social institutions such as chattel slavery.

Jiang Wen

The Eastern Han period tomb-quelling text of Zhang Shujing 張叔敬, which dates to 173 CE, confirms that living people believed the dead could use soybeans and melon seeds (huangdou guazi 黃豆瓜子) to pay taxes in the underworld. The knowledge of this only came to light with the discovery of the tablet Taiyuan Has a Dead Man (*Taiyuan you sizhe 泰原有死者), which reveals a previously unknown Qin-Han belief that the dead regarded soybeans as gold. I suggest a direct association between the above two beliefs: soybeans and melon seeds were used as substitutes for small natural gold nuggets to pay taxes in the underworld because of their resemblance in shape and color. Furthermore, a huge quantity of painted clay balls shaped like large soybeans (dashu 大菽) are recorded in the Mawangdui 馬王堆 tomb inventories (qiance 遣策), which indirectly supports this interpretation.

Alexander C. McCormick


As higher education attainment has become increasingly essential for both individual socioeconomic outcomes and the economic competitiveness of nation-states, and as the cost of financing the higher education enterprise continues to rise, university quality has become an urgent concern for students, families, and policy makers around the globe. The widespread interest in assessing university quality manifests itself in the rise of global rankings (Hazelkorn, 2015) and the increasing use of so-called performance indicators by government agencies. This paper focuses on the latter phenomenon. The first part of the paper examines the benefits and limitations of higher education performance indicators as conventionally implemented, and the second part advances a set of suggestions to address these shortcomings by adapting performance systems to represent and incentivize evidence-informed improvement efforts.

Brendan Cantwell


This paper reviews a set of considerations for evaluating academic units in complex universities and higher education systems. Methods of evaluation should match evaluative goals. Assessment should be sensitive to context and recognize the realities of contemporary higher education. Because a one-size-fits-all evaluative regime may be inappropriate, a capabilities-based approach is advanced. The capabilities-based approach focuses on meeting an overall goal of designing higher education systems that meet social demands.

Dirk Van Damme


Globally, higher education is expanding at an unprecedented pace. But two competing forces seem to be at work. The first is globalization: higher education systems are globalizing, especially through international research networks and global rankings which fuel competition on a global scale. Internationally comparable qualification frameworks, credit transfer, internationalization policies and quality assurance and accreditation arrangements work towards globally exchangeable qualifications. But the second force, driving institutions to deliver skills which are relevant for the national and regional economies, works against convergence. The skills equivalents of national qualifications remain very different across countries. The skills agendas, driven by countries’ position in global value chains, drive unequal outcomes. The consequence is that the global higher education system will remain characterized by huge inequalities, which are perceived as quality differences. Higher education policies need to find a balance between integration in the global higher education order and serving the domestic skills needs.

Hamish Coates, Lu Liu and Jinghuan Shi


In this article we introduce the five papers published in this issue of the International Journal of Chinese Education (IJCE). We begin by discussing complexities shaping the analysis of education, then turn to each paper’s nature and contributions. The article concludes by introducing revised IJCE editorial arrangements.