English

2012 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226

Institution of Monthly Ordinances in the Former Han Dynasty as Seen in the Written Tablet No.1 of Yin-wan

I-tien Hsing

Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica

The local record of “establishing new households according to the Spring Ordinance” in the written tablet no.1 unearthed at Yin-wan, Chiang-shu sheds light on our understanding of the origin and development of the institution of monthly ordinances in the Former Han dynasty.

This paper attempts to examine related texts on bamboo, wooden, and silk documents unearthed recently, and to trace the origin and development of the institution of monthly ordinances of the Former Han government.

The idea of “matching males and females in spring” can be traced back to the classics of Hsia Hsiao-cheng and the chapters Shih-ling and Hsiuan-kung of Kuan-tse. Yet it is not echoed in any institution until the reign of Emperor Yuan or Ch’eng in the first century B. C. As this paper suggests, the institution of “establishing new households according to the Spring Ordinance” is a realization of this idea. It should be taken as a part of the so-called “Contemporary(or Han) Monthly Ordinances.”

The monthly ordinances of the Han government are changed from time to time. They are influenced by Confucian classics and pre-Han traditional practices. Some of them are rather out of contemporary needs, which makes the Han Monthly Ordinances in essence a hybrid, as reflected in the institution of “establishing new households according to the Spring Ordinance.”

 

Key Words: monthly ordinances, political history of former Han, Yin-wan written tablets