Bamboo Slips and Silk Documents and the Historical Inheritance of Chinese Civilization

  Author: Yao Xiaoou (distinguished professor, College of Literature, Liaocheng University)

  From the "school of ancient history discrimination" and "examination of ancient history" in the 1920s, to the end of last century and the beginning of this century, Mr. Li Xueqin advocated "getting out of the age of doubting ancient history", and the research on China’s ancient history was getting deeper and deeper, among which the re-establishment of the concept of China’s 5,000-year-old civilization history was the key. Tracing the origin and historical inheritance of Chinese civilization has become a cultural event of concern to the whole society, and the discovery and research of bamboo and silk documents is an important link in the study of historical inheritance of Chinese civilization.

  Characteristics and advantages of bamboo and silk documents and China’s ancient historical records

  Archaeologists pointed out: "Over the past 20 years, the Chinese civilization tracing project has gradually unveiled the mystery of the origin of Chinese civilization through the investigation and excavation of many urban sites such as Liangzhu in Zhejiang, Shijiahe in Hubei, Taosi in Shanxi, Shimao in Shaanxi and Erlitou in Henan. The Chinese civilization tracing project has basically clarified the origin and early development of Chinese civilization. " (Chen Xingcan: Promoting the Spread of Chinese Excellent Traditional Culture, People’s Daily, 20th Edition, August 18th, 2022) As a general rule, the study of world history judges the historical age through archaeological achievements, all of which are combined with literature. The richness and inheritance of China’s historical documents are obvious to all.

  Mr. Qian Cunxun, a famous expert on books and documents and a Chinese-American scholar, has a detailed exposition on the characteristics and advantages of China’s historical documents in his famous book "Books on Bamboo and Silk —— Ancient Written Records of China". He said: "most of the history of mankind depends on the spread of written records, so it has been preserved to this day." China people’s recording methods and techniques of thoughts and activities have their own special position in the history of world cultural development. " Mr. Qian pointed out: "A major feature of China’s written records is its unique persistence and continuity. This feature enables a creative ancient culture in the world to continue to this day. In addition to the common sounds and meanings of ordinary characters, China characters also have their own special forms. This kind of characters with special forms transcends the changes in time and the limitations in space, unites the Chinese nation and creates one of the greatest cultures in the world. "

  In the preface to the book, Mr. Li Xueqin quoted the above comments and said, "I believe that anyone who has read the book on bamboo and silk will be moved by this significant conclusion." Mr. Li’s "significant judgment" includes its significance in clarifying the origin of Chinese civilization. "Book on Bamboo and Silk" gives a comprehensive account of the origin of China’s books, from inscriptions on Oracle bones, inscriptions on inscriptions and inscriptions on tablets to bamboo slips and silk books. Generally speaking, from the perspective of document inheritance, bamboo slips and silk books, especially the bamboo slips that record books, are particularly valuable for discussion.

  The carrier of bamboo slips is bamboo slips, which are all kinds of writing materials made of bamboo and wood, including bamboo slips, bamboo slips, bamboo slips and bamboo slips. Because Jane is a large number, the above written materials are often collectively referred to as "Jane". A book made up of simplified editions is the most common form of ancient books.

  Literatures written in simplified books were used very early. "Shangshu Toz": "Hey! Tell Doss, … only I know, but the ancestors of Yin have books and codes, and Yin died in the summer. " The words quoted in Todos are from the mouth of the Duke of Zhou, and the object of teaching is the adherents of Shang Dynasty. From this, we can see that the existence and content of the documents in the Shang Dynasty were well known at that time. Its credibility is beyond doubt. In Oracle Bone Inscriptions, there are also many records of "books" and their use. Academic circles have a positive conclusion about the fact that simplified books have been used in Yin and Shang Dynasties. According to this, we can know that the existing Shang Shu Pan Geng and the source of Shang Song in the Book of Songs have cultural and institutional roots.

  In addition, because of the material properties of organic materials, the document carrier of bamboo and silk is difficult to be preserved under normal conditions, which makes the number of ancient bamboo and silk buried in walls, underground and other places rediscovered by later generations small, so it should be especially cherished.

  Discovery of bamboo and silk documents in past dynasties and its significance

  Qin Shihuang burned books to bury Confucianism, which blocked the inheritance of China literature to a great extent. In the Han Dynasty, all kinds of pre-Qin classics appeared one after another, except for the book-carrying law in four years. During the period of Emperor Wu, ancient books of the pre-Qin period were unearthed in the walls of Confucius’ old house and other places. At that time, there were people who gave away the old books in the pre-Qin period. Ancient pre-Qin books discovered in the Han Dynasty mainly include the following three aspects.

  First, Confucius’ book in the wall. Historical Records Biography of the Scholars: "Kong’s family has an ancient book" Shangshu ",while Anguo read it in this text, because it started his family. I have won more than ten articles from the Book, and I have covered the Book of History. " Han Shu Yi Wen Zhi said: "The author of The History of Ancient Chinese Literature is out of the wall of Confucius. At the end of Emperor Wu’s reign, the King of the Communist Party of Lu ruined Confucius’ residence and wanted to enlarge his palace, but he got dozens of articles, such as The History of Ancient Chinese Literature, The Book of Rites, The Analects of Confucius and The Book of Filial Piety, all of which were ancient characters. " Liu Xin’s Book of Dr. Taichang: "When King Lu Gong destroyed Confucius’ residence, he got ancient prose in a bad wall. There are thirty-nine Yi Li, sixteen Books, … and the Spring and Autumn Annals, all of which were written by Zuo Qiuming, and more than twenty books were hidden in the secret mansion, but they were not published."

  Second, other unearthed documents and books in the Han Dynasty, including Li, Shangshu and Xiaojing. History of Han Art and Literature: "Li Gu Jing was written by Lu Yanzhong and Confucius, which is similar to seventeen articles, with thirty-nine articles more." Kong Yingda’s Justice of Shangshu quoted Liu Xiang’s Bielu: "At the end of Emperor Wu, if the people had the Thai Oath in the wall, they would give it." Kong also quoted Fang Hong, assistant minister of Huangmen in the 14th year of Jian ‘an in Xian Di, as saying: "In the first year of Taihe in Xuan Di, women in Hanoi had a bad old house and got three articles of Thai Oath." Xu Chong’s "On the Table of Explaining Words": "The author of the Classic of Ancient Chinese Filial Piety was presented by the three old people of Lu when he was filial to Emperor Zhao."

  Third, Zuo Zhuan presented by Zhang Cang and the ancient books presented by Hejian to the king. Xu Shen’s Pre-narration of Shuowen Jiezi said: "Beiping Hou Zhang Cang presented Zuo’s Biography in the Spring and Autumn Period". Its writing is "self-similar" to the book in Confucius’ wall and the Ding Yi inscription unearthed. "Han Shu He Jian Xian Wang Chuan": "He Jian Xian Wang De was established two years ago with filial piety, studying the past well and seeking truth from facts. If you get a good book from the people, you must write it well, keep it true, and add gold and silk to it. Because the people of the Quartet Taoism are not far away, or there are old books from ancestors, which are often presented to the king, so there are many books. And the Han Dynasty, etc … The books presented to the king are all ancient books before the Qin Dynasty, and the titles of Zhou Guan, Shang Shu, Li Ji, Mencius and Lao Zi are all recorded by legends and discussed by the people of seventy. "

  All kinds of classics we use today have been handed down by scholars in the Han Dynasty. All kinds of ancient pre-Qin books appeared in the Han Dynasty are of great significance to the establishment of the learning system in the Han Dynasty, and their influence has continued until now.

  After the Han Dynasty, the famous event of finding ancient simplified books in tombs was the discovery of "Jizhong Bamboo Book". Wang Guowei made an incisive judgment on the significance of the discovery of bamboo slips and silks, including "Jizhong Bamboo Slips", in the study of China’s ancient history. He said, "There was a book in the wall of Confucius, and then there was the study of ancient writers since the Han Dynasty. There are ancient artifacts unearthed in Zhao and Song Dynasties, and then there are ancient artifacts and ancient characters since Song Dynasty. After the bamboo book of Jizhong was unearthed in the Jin Dynasty, the result was not significant because of the chaos in Yongjia. However, Du Yuzhi’s Zuo Zhuan and Guo Pu’s Shan Hai Jing all quoted his theory, and the deeds of Yu, Yi and Yi Yin recorded in Bamboo Annals have become a major issue in China’s literature. However, the knowledge in China’s books depends on the discoverer of the underground, and it is not from today. " (Wang Guowei: "China’s newly discovered knowledge in the past two or three decades")

  It is said in the Annals of Bamboo Books that "those who share common interests do things of the emperor, not two-phase republic", which is different from that described in Records of the Historian Zhou Benji, but it is supported by Tsinghua bamboo slips. In a word, the discovery of bamboo slips and silks unearthed in the Han Dynasty is of great significance and far-reaching influence on the narrative of China’s ancient history and the inheritance of Chinese civilization.

  The Discovery of Bamboo and Silk Documents since the 20th Century and Its Significance

  Unearthed documents have played a key role in many important advances in academic research in the twentieth century. At the beginning of the 20th century, Wang Guowei used the newly discovered Oracle bone inscriptions at that time to write papers such as "Examination of the First Duke and the First King Seen in Yin Oracle Inscriptions" and "Continued Examination of the First Duke and the First King Seen in Yin Oracle Inscriptions", which proved that the history of Shang Dynasty described in Historical Records was basically correct, and thus inferred "the authenticity of Xia Houshi lineage". This assertion has extended the recorded history of China for more than 1000 years.

  From the end of the 20th century to the beginning of the 21st century, many discoveries and researches on bamboo and silk documents were greatly promoted. From the carrier, besides bamboo slips and silks, there are also Oracle Bone Inscriptions, bronze inscriptions, Wen Tao and inscriptions. Bamboo slips and slips mainly include two categories, one is documents, and the other is books. Documents include common tomb dispatches, ancient files, official documents, decrees and bookkeeping, as well as calendars, calendars, Japanese books and miscellaneous medical prescriptions. These types of documents are first-hand materials for studying the social system at that time and the living conditions of ancient people, which are naturally valuable. However, from the perspective of the historical inheritance of Chinese civilization, handed down classics and books similar to handed down classics are of greater significance. Bamboo Slips of Chu Tomb in Guodian, Bamboo Slips of Warring States Collected in Shanghai Museum, Bamboo Slips of Warring States Collected in Tsinghua University and Bamboo Slips of Warring States Collected in Anhui University contain many classics. For example, there are three kinds of Lao Zi and Yi Yi in Guodian bamboo slips, The Book of Songs and various Confucian documents in Shanghai bamboo slips, The Book of Songs and Shangshu in Tsinghua bamboo slips, The Book of Songs, National Style and The Analects of Confucius in Anda bamboo slips. In addition, the bamboo slips and Qin slips of the Western Han Dynasty collected by Peking University, and the Western Han bamboo slips of the tomb of Hai faint Hou, etc., also have important historical document value.

  There are two aspects worthy of special attention in the historical significance of the classic simplified literature. The first is the study of thinkers represented by Confucius in the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period, including their ideological origin, the formation of unified ideas and their transmission in later generations. The second is the exploration of the ancient history of China, including the dating and historical orientation of the ancient history of Xia, Shang and Zhou Dynasties and before.

  On the first aspect, the first breakthrough was made because of the publication of Bamboo Slips of Guodian Chu. On November 7th, 1999, the third edition of China Youth Daily published a series of articles written by Pang Pu, a famous philosopher and intellectual historian, with the title "How Bamboo Slips from Guodian Chu Tomb Rewrite the History of China Thought". The center of this group of articles is to discuss the inheritance of Guodian bamboo slips from Confucius to Mencius. The simplified version of Laozi has another meaning. The organizer of Guodian Bamboo Slips pointed out: "A and C of the simplified version of Laozi are the earliest copied versions of Laozi so far. Most of its sentences are similar or the same as this edition of Laozi. " This is strong evidence for affirming Lao Zi and his books recorded in historical documents. The study of the relationship between Laozi and Confucius can also be further deepened. Documents such as "Yi Yi" and "Five Elements" suggest that the Simeng School was widely spread in Chu at that time. New Confucian literature, such as "Self-assertion of Sex", "Poverty Reaches Time" and "The Way of Tang Yu", is also of great significance to the history of China’s thoughts. These show the inseparable relationship between Chu culture and the culture of the Central Plains during the Warring States period, and even for a number of periods. This is an excellent illustration of the pluralistic unity of Chinese culture.

  As far as the history of China’s "three generations" is concerned, the existence of the Xia Dynasty was questioned by the school of ancient history differentiation, and as mentioned earlier, Wang Guowei once inferred the "authenticity of Xia Houshi’s lineage" contained in Historical Records based on the Oracle bones in the Yin ruins. According to "Guoyu Luyu", after being defeated by Tang, "Jie ran to the south nest". Rong Chengshi, a bamboo slip on Shanghai Bo, gives a more detailed account of this important historical event: "Jie is the Lishan family who fled, and Tang attacked it from this, and fell from the slogan to cut Kaminokado high." Jie is the south nest family who fled, and Tang attacked it. I fled to the wilderness of Sangwu. " Comparing the two, the main contents of Xia Jie’s ending in handed down literature and unearthed literature are consistent. The latter also mentioned that Jie’s final destination was "the wilderness of Cangwu". This is intriguing. In history, "the wilderness of Cangwu" is related to Shun. In the neighboring areas of this area, some unearthed bronzes are classified as "early Shang period", which is very beautiful and its cultural source is worth studying. Unearthed documents such as Tsinghua bamboo slips "Thick Father" and "Shenbuwei" also provide new materials for the study of Xia history.

  Among the ancient civilizations in the world, the connotation and inheritance of Chinese civilization have their own characteristics. As far as the inheritance of civilization is concerned, the three generations of history and culture summarized by Confucius are represented by the chapters "Zai Yu Wen Wu Di De", "Emperor’s Family Name" and "Book of Rites and Liyun" in The Book of Rites, which have been passed down from generation to generation. Since the 20th century, the unearthed bamboo and silk documents have played an important role in the inheritance of contemporary Chinese civilization, which is worth our further study.

  Guangming Daily (11th edition, March 16th, 2024)