This essay, the first chapter in the author’s Xifang Hanxue chutu wenxian yanjiu gaiyao 西方漢學出土文獻研究概要 (Essentials of Western Sinology’s Research on Unearthed Documents), provides a survey of Western Sinology’s research on Chinese paleography from the time of the first such study (1881) through 2015. The survey includes especially the following topics: general discussions of Chinese paleography and/or unearthed documents, the origins of Chinese writing and its social functions, the nature of Chinese writing, methodological studies, and reference works, but does not cover studies of ancient Chinese grammar or phonology.
Volume 6 of Qinghua daxue cang Zhanguo zhujian, published in 2016, includes two copies of a text entitled by the editors *Zheng Wen Gong wen Tai Bo 鄭文公問太伯 (Duke Wen of Zheng Asks Tai Bo). The two copies of this single text are extremely similar, both in terms of content and in terms of calligraphy, but also display certain occasional differences and one systematic difference in the positioning of the “city” (yi 邑) signific (bushou 部首) within characters. This leads the editors to argue that they “were copied by a single scribe on the basis of two separate source texts.” This is the first time we have seen such evidence of scribal practice, and it is crucial for the question of manuscript production in early China. In the present study, I first present a codicological description of these two manuscript versions of *Zheng Wen Gong wen Tai Bo, followed by a full translation of their text. Then I consider their implications for the question of manuscript production in ancient China.
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Bamboo and Silk is a peer-reviewed academic journal sponsored by the Center of Bamboo and Silk Manuscripts of Wuhan University. Based on unearthed Chinese bamboo and silk manuscripts from the Warring States period (476–221 BC) and Qin (221–206BC), Han (206BC–220 AD), Wei (220–265 AD) and Jin (265–420 AD) Dynasties, this journal focuses on studies of character identification and textual reconstitution, and studies of the social, political, economic and legal systems as well as ideology, culture, language, customs and other aspects reflected by these manuscripts. The journal includes research articles on bamboo and silk manuscripts and book reviews. All articles are peer reviewed by anonymous outside experts as well as by the editorial board, and reflect the current state of international academic research issues on Chinese bamboo and silk manuscripts.
Bamboo and Silk is primarily based on
Jian Bo 簡帛, a Chinese journal that was initially published in 2006 by Shanghai Chinese Classics Publishing House Co., Ltd., with some articles chosen from
Jian Bo 簡帛 and translated into English. The journal accepts submissions in English as well.
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David Shepherd Nivison (1923-2014) devoted the last three and a half decades of his life to an attempt to reconstruct the original text of the Bamboo Annals and to use that text to reconstruct the absolute chronology of ancient China. Nivison’s attempt to reconstruct that chronology involved astronomy; textual criticism, especially—though not exclusively—of the Bamboo Annals; and a considerable amount of historiographical conjecture concerning both the period of the Xia dynasty and of the Warring States period, during which, Nivison argues, the Bamboo Annals was undergoing multiple revisions. This attempt was also based on three major theses: (1) the Xia kings were named for the tiangan 天干 of the first day of the first year of their reign; (2) irregular gaps of zero, one, two, three, four, and even forty years recorded in the Bamboo Annals between the reigns of Xia kings should invariably have been two years; and (3) the final Xia king, Jie 桀, is completely mythical.
In this article, I first present Nivison’s arguments and then present a critique of those arguments, based on my own study of the Bamboo Annals. My own study of the Bamboo Annals in turn has shown three points that are important for understanding its annals of Xia: that at least some of the manuscript was damaged or lost when it was taken from the tomb, that the Western Jin editors made some mistakes in their editing of the text, and that they added commentary to the text. Based on this discussion, I conclude that Nivison’s hypothesis concerning the chronology of the Xia dynasty remains just that: a hypothesis.