[Ch.]: San he li zhi ji yao [or] Sanhe lizhi jiyao; [Manchu]: Ilan hacin-i gisun kamcibuha hafan-i dasan-i oyonggo be isabuha bithe; [Mongolian]: Yurban jüyil-un üge qadamal tüsimel-ün jasay-un ciqula-yi qoriyaysan bicig [Essentials of Administrative Discipline]. E. GAO.
[Ch.]: San he li zhi ji yao [or] Sanhe lizhi jiyao; [Manchu]: Ilan hacin-i gisun kamcibuha hafan-i dasan-i oyonggo be isabuha bithe; [Mongolian]: Yurban jüyil-un üge qadamal tüsimel-ün jasay-un ciqula-yi qoriyaysan bicig [Essentials of Administrative Discipline].

“A Manifesto”

[Ch.]: San he li zhi ji yao [or] Sanhe lizhi jiyao; [Manchu]: Ilan hacin-i gisun kamcibuha hafan-i dasan-i oyonggo be isabuha bithe; [Mongolian]: Yurban jüyil-un üge qadamal tüsimel-ün jasay-un ciqula-yi qoriyaysan bicig [Essentials of Administrative Discipline].

Chinese, Manchu, & Mongolian in parallel columns. 97 folding leaves. Two parts in one vol. 8vo, orig. wrappers (a little frayed, some browning due to the paper quality), new stitching. [China]: 1857 [Preface dated 1822].

First trilingual edition, with parallel columns of Manchu, Mongolian, and Chinese text, of the Lizhi jiyao (Essentials of Administrative Discipline). This book was written by Gao E (1758-after 1814), sometime between 1795 and his death. It was first published by Sanhuai Tang in a bilingual, Manchu-Chinese edition in 1822 (the date of the preface) or 1823. The same publisher reissued it in 1844. Our trilingual edition of 1857 is one of two block-printed editions that contain the text in Mongolian in addition to Manchu and Chinese, and the only one that is dated.

Pierre-Étienne Will, the leading expert on handbooks for officials in Qing China, characterizes Gao’s text as a “manifesto,” which in places reads “like a pamphlet on the condition of officialdom in its time,” emphasizing “the policies of the state and denounc[ing] in precise and very harsh terms the abuses of bad and indifferent officials.” Will further notes that a sizable part of the essay is devoted to the way the higher officials in a province should carefully evaluate local officials before either recommending or censoring them, and honestly report to the throne rather than try to “sell their reputation” and protect their subordinates. Indeed, the middle and high officials in the provincial bureaucracy seem to be among the main targets of Gao E’s admonitions, disguised as a memorial. Its several editions, spanning one century, suggest that Gao’s words were taken seriously.

The text also discusses the governance of ethnic minority districts and related political policies.

Gao was a Qing official and writer of the second half of the 18th century. He had a career in both the central government and the provincial administration, serving as a secretary of the Grand Secretariat (at rank 7b, a relatively low rank) and, at some point, as censor of the Jiangnan circuit (rank 5b). It appears that Gao was a bond servant in one of the upper three Banners, which were controlled directly by the emperor.

Gao is best known as the editor and possible co-writer of the first published version of the novel known in English as The Dream of the Red Chamber (or The Story of the Stone), written by Cao Xueqin (1715-1763). Cao’s novel about upper-class life in early 18th-century Beijing is one of the great classics of Chinese literature.

Gao’s involvement with The Dream of the Red Chamber has been a matter of much debate ever since Cao’s authorship was established in the early 1920s. Gao was accused of having written the novel’s last 40 chapters himself; however, the exact nature of his intervention into Cao Xueqin’s text has not been established. The debate regarding Gao’s role in the history of China’s most famous novel sparked considerable interest in his person in the 20th century, with Chinese writer Xiao Sai in the 1980s dedicating a play and a novel to Gao’s life.

Gao’s text of the present work was originally written in Chinese. The Manchu translator was Tongšui, apparently a student attached to the Imperial Household Department. He was assisted by Ming sioi (or Mingxu, fl. 1798-1822), a Manchu official who served in both Beijing and in Inner Asia.

Meng boo (d. after 1867), Gao’s Mongolian translator, belonged to the Mongolian Eight Banners. Meng boo had a position in the Board of Government of the Outer Regions (Lifan Yuan), the Beijing agency that handled Mongolian affairs. He also produced or revised several Manchu translations.

Very good copy, preserved in a modern chitsu.

❧ Our description is based almost entirely on the research of Marten Soderblom Saarela of the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica, Taiwan, who prepared a report (available for inspection) on our edition. Will, Handbooks and Anthologies for Officials in Imperial China: A Descriptive Bibliography (Leiden: Brill, 2020), 176.

Price: $5,000.00

Item ID: 7672

See all items by