Classics category (jingbu经部)


The section of Confucian Classics (jingbu 经部) is the first of the four traditional categories (sibu 四部) into which Chinese literature was divided. The term jing 经 “warp” designates a book with canonical claim, often written by representants of philosophical traditions or religious groups, like the Mojing 墨经 “Mohist canon”, Daodejing 道德经 “Classic of the way and the virtue”. Some other books with the title “classic” were called so in order to underline its importance and to attract a wider readership, like theShanhaijing 山海经, or the Chajing 茶经.

A small group of books already obtained the status of a common classic during the late Western Zhou period 西周 (11th cent.- 770 BCE; Shangshu尚书, Shijing 诗经, Yijing 易经). The Confucians as experts on history and rituals “occupied” these classics and compiled a canon of Six Classics(liujing 六经: Yi 易 “Changes”, i.e. divination, Shu 书 “Documents”, Shi 诗 “Songs”, Li 礼 “Rituals”, Yue 乐 “Music”, and Chunqiu 春秋 “Historiography”), each representing a style of literature and a field of ritual activity. Later on, other Confucian writings were included in this canon, resulting in the corpus of 13 Classics (shisanjing 十三经) from the Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279) on.

The Daoists also called their important writings jing, and the Buddhistsused the word jing to translate the Sanskrit word sūtra “teaching” (literally: chain, thread [of sermons]). In Chinese literature the word jing is contrasted with the word wei 纬 “weft”, which designates a writing of less paramount status but useable as an explanation to the classics or an alternative interpretation of ideas.

Except the Five Classics (wujing 武经) Yijing, Shangshu, Shijing, Liji andChunqiu the section of Confucian Classics includes the “Confucian Analects” Lunyu 论语, a collection of sayings by Confucius, the classic on filial piety Xiaojing 孝经, three books on rituals and etiquette (Liji 礼记, Yili仪礼, Zhouli 周礼), three canonized commentaries to the Chunqiu(Zuozhuan 左传, Gongyangzhuan 公羊传, Guliangzhuan 谷梁传), and the book Mengzi 孟子. The canonized gloss book Erya 尔雅 is included in thesection on lexicography. The books Lunyu, Mengzi, Zhongyong and Daxuehave been assembled to the corpus of the “Four Books” (sishu 四书). The section of the ritual books includes six parts, one for each of the three books, books commenting all three of them (sanli zongyi 三礼总义), books on all kinds of rituals (tongli 通礼) and miscellaneous books on rites (za lishu 杂礼书). The sequence of the classics has practically never changed over time.

Because there was probably never a physical classic on music, books on music were, apart from a few exceptions, from the Song period on distributed into other categories. The compilers of the imperialcollectaneum Siku quanshu 四库全书 added a vast amount of commentaries and interpretations to the classics in this sections, as well as four sub-classics, the Shangshu dazhuan 尚书大传, Hanshi waizhuan 韩诗外传, Da Dai liji 大戴礼记 and Chunqiu fanlu 春秋繁露. The Yijing section includes 169 books, the Shangshu section 57, the Shijing section 62, the whole section on ritual books 83 books, the section on the Chunqiu 114 books, that on the Xiaojing 11 books, books commenting all the Five Classics 32, and those on the Four Books 62. The category of the Confucian Classics also includes the books of the so-called “minor learning” (xiaoxue 小学) which mainly includes lexicographic books and dictionaries.

The Five Classics 五經 
The Nine Classics 九經 

The Thirteen Classics 十三經 
書名 Title Author(s)
易經 (周易) ▲△○ Yijing (Zhouyi)
尚書 (書經) ▲△○ Shangshu (Shujing)
尚書大傳 Shangshu dazhuan (Han) 伏勝 Fu Sheng
詩經 (毛詩) ▲△○ Shijing (Maoshi)
韓詩外傳 Hanshi waizhuan (Han) 韓嬰 Han Ying
禮記 ▲△○ Liji (Han) 戴聖 Dai Sheng
周禮 △○ Zhouli
儀禮 △○ Yili
大戴禮記 Da Dai Liji (Han) 戴德 Dai De
春秋左傳 ▲△○
(Zhou) 左丘明 Zuo Qiuming
公羊傳 △○ Gongyangzhuan (Zhou) 公羊高 Gongyang Gao
穀梁傳 △○ Guliangzhuan (Zhou) 穀梁淑 Guliang Shu
春秋繁露 Chunqiu fanlu (Han) 董仲舒 Dong Zhongshu
孝經 ○ Xiaojing
爾雅 ○ Erya
The Four Books 四書
孟子 ○ Mengzi (Zhou) 孟軻 Meng Ke
論語 ○ Lunyu
中庸 Zhongyong (part of the Liji) (Zhou) 孔伋 Kong Ji
大學 Daxue (part of theLiji)
Yue Books on Music
小學 Xiaoxue Lexicography
蒙學 * Mengxue Elementary learning
Comprehensive Commentaries
經典釋文 Jingdian shiwen (Tang) 陸德明 Lu Deming (comp.)
十三經注疏 Shisanjing zhushu (Qing) 阮元 Ruan Yuan (comp.)
Previous articleSong Ci: Plucking mulberry leafs欧阳修:采桑子
Next articleTOP 10 novels about Modern China


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here