The Analects

Tags: National Palace Museum | rare books | Yuan dynasty


Yüan Dynasty (1279-1368)
24.5 x 16 cm (print: 20 x 13 cm) 
Collected exegeses by Ho Yen (190-249), Wei dynasty
Yüan dynasty (1279-1368) reprint from Hsü-chun after Liao’s Sung dynasty Shih-ts’ai Hall edition

Though entitled “Lun-yü (The Analects)”, this volume in fact represents “Lun-yü chi-chieh (The Collected Exegeses of the Analects)”. As for its authorship, scholars in the past mentioned only Ho Yen as a form of shorthand. In fact, according to the preface, four other scholars (Sun Yung, Cheng Ch’ung, Ts’ao Hsi, and Hsün I) also worked on and submitted this work. The editors of “Ssu-k’u ch’uan-shu-mu (Contents of the Complete Library of the Four Treasuries)” and “Cheng-t’ang t’u-shu-chi” both only mention Ho’s name in recognition of his stewardship over the project.

In historical records, there are differences in the name and number of chapters (chüan) for “Lun-yü chi-chieh”. In the annals section on Classics in the “Sui shu (Book of Sui)”, it is recorded as “Chi-chieh Lun-yü”. The “I-wen chih (Annals of Arts and Letters)” section of the “Chiu T’ang-shu (Old Book of the T’ang)” and “Sung shih (History of the Sung Dynasty)” record it simply as “Lun-yü”, whereas the “I-wen chih” section of “Hsin T’ang-shu (New Book of the T’ang)” refers to it as “Ho Yen chi-chieh”. In pre-Sung records, it is said to have comprised 10 chapters. Later, the edition annotated by Chu Hsi in the Sung dynasty (960-1279) also consisted of 10 chapters, and the Hsing Ping commentary edition had 20 chapters. Today, both 10- and 20-chapter editions survive.

“Lun-yü chi-chieh” consists of the main text and a preface. The preface briefly introduces the history of “Lun-yü” and exegeses by several scholars. It concludes with an explanation of Ho Yen’s purpose, namely to “Collect the names and fine works of philosophers.” The main text consists of annotated sections from “Lun-yü”. Ho and the other contributors collected various editions of “Lun-yü” from the Western Han period onward, as well as renowned explanations by Kung An-kuo, Pao Hsien, Ma Jung, Cheng Hsüan, Ch’en Chün, Wang Su, and Chou Sheng-lieh. They brought them together and examined their merits and shortcomings, providing them with new interpretations. “Lun-yü chi-chieh” is thus an edited selection of Han and Wei commentaries to “Lun-yü”. Since these commentaries have all been lost, “Lun-yü chi-chieh” remains as the oldest extant annotated edition of “Lun-yü”.

In the Yüan dynasty, Hsü-chün (also known as Hsü-chiang) was located in Chien-ch’ang, Kiangsi province. Hence, this edition was printed at the time in the Chien-ch’ang Circuit. Liao Ying-shih’s Shih-ts’ai-t’ang reprints of the Classics in the Sung dynasty were admired and many reprintings in the Yüan dynasty were based on it and provided with further readings. An example is the reprint of the Classics by Mr. Yüeh of Hsiang-t’ai in the early Yüan. The reprint here, while not as exquisite as the original, is nonetheless in beautiful print and carefully collated and edited, thereby clearly remaining true to its source.

Text and images are provided by National Palace Museum