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  • Author or Editor: Sihao Wang x
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The various rhapsodies or poetic expositions of the Han dynasty known as Han fu are replete with passages from the classic Chinese poetry collection the Shijing, or Book of Poetry. The reverse is also true: Shijing scholarship has likewise cited Han fu in many of its exegetical works. As a result, the various editions of the Han fu are important sources in the study of the Confucian classics, a discipline commonly known in Chinese as jingxue. The classical citations of the Shijing throughout the Han fu can be placed into one of two categories: “language citation” and “meaning citation”, while the “ironic citation” of Han fu in exegeses of the Shijing that is prevalent in the interpretative system of the Confucian classics can be further broken down into three types: “meaning and principle”, “verification and justification” and “language and exposition”. In the meaning-based citations of the Shijing by the Han fu – especially those of “persuasive remonstrance” and “hymns and eulogies” – the conveyed messages were ironically cited by later generations of interpreters of Confucian classics, which helped form new meanings and principles. The main themes, subject matter, emotional expression and language style of Han fu are lifted heavily from the Shijing. Later generations of Confucian scholars then cited text from the Han fu, thereby constructing new forms of language and exposition. The unique characteristics of fu to “describe things and express themselves clearly” and reference a wide range of “names and things” were used by later Confucian scholars who sought to better understand a whole host of signifiers referred to in the classic texts, from herbs, trees and birds, to beasts, insects and fish. Meanwhile, the perception of fu as knowledge-laden texts inspired Confucian scholars to carry out textual research on them. Scholarly comparisons in premodern China between the Shijing as a Confucian classic, the Shijing as a literary corpus, and Han fu developed during a process of ordinary citation and ironic citation. This resulted in the practice of “complementary citations” of meaning and principle, verification and justification, and language and exposition. A scholarship cycle was thus formed in which the classics were used to revere the fu, then the classics were used to enrich the fu, and interpretations of the fu started to be used to transmit canonical messages. It was a cycle that was imbued with a cross-permeation of neo-Confucian, historical and literary dimensions, eventually resulting in the construction of a new interpretative system for premodern Chinese scholarship of classic texts.

Open Access
In: Journal of Chinese Humanities