9:00 am – 10:45 am
- Organised by Ulrich Lau
- Ulrich Lau, Chair
- Alexander Herzog, “A Systematic Comparison of the Statutes on Agriculture (tianlü 田律) from the Qin and Early Han Periods”
- Ernest Caldwell, “Locating the Law: Evidence of Legislative Cross-Referencing in Qin and Han Excavated Legal Statutes”
- Xiaomeng He, “The Organisation of Legal Knowledge: Aspects of the Filing System from Qin and Han Local Archives”
- Chun Fung Tong, “The Reconfiguration of Social Activities and the Construction of Social Order in the Qin Dynasty: Evidence from New Qin Ordinances in the Collection of the Yuelu Academy”
- Enno Giele, Discussant
The number of legal manuscripts from Qin and early Han times excavated by archaeologists or looted by grave robbers has been constantly increasing.
The panel aims to discuss new insights into the legislation at the beginning of the Chinese empire gained from the analysis of recently discovered legal manuscripts. Four young researchers will present the results of their studies on various aspects of legislation. Two papers deal with legal statutes (lü) from Qin (Shuihudi 11, Yuelu shuyuan edition) and early Han times (Zhangjiashan 247). The first one compares statutes on agriculture from different provenance in order to determine the extent to which the respective Qin statutes have been adopted by the following Han dynasty. The second paper examines the practice of cross-referencing in Qin and Han statutes. The study comes to the conclusion that this practice reflects the development of a corpus-based approach to legislative drafting.
The next papers evaluate ordinances (ling) from Qin times (Yuelu shuyuan edition). The third paper reconstructs the filing system of the authorities at different levels and attempts to identify several stages of the transformation of individual administrative documents into written law. The last paper interprets Qin ordinances stipulating that members of a family or a community shall be rewarded for applying social norms in their mutual relations or are subjected to penal sanctions in case of violating such moral principles. It is the purpose of the interpretation to assess the actual effects of this legislation on the local society.
Alexander Herzog, “A Systematic Comparison of the Statutes on Agriculture (tianlü 田律) from the Qin and Early Han periods”
The Statutes on Agriculture have the oldest documented history of any statute collection in early imperial Chinese law. Besides, they were of special and great interest for the early empire as they laid the economic basis of the state by defining the standard size of agricultural fields and setting the amount of taxes based on those holdings. Although research on bamboo texts has vitally developed during the past years, there are hardly any studies which systematically compare the tianlü fragments found so far. Therefore, this presentation provides such a systematic comparison of tianlü findings from Shuihudi No. 11 睡虎地11号, Qingchuan No. 50 青川秦墓50号, Zhangjiashan No. 247 張家山247号 and the Yuelu-Academy-Texts 嶽麓律令.
The different statutes and articles of these collections will be examined from a legal and linguistic perspective in terms of their language and structure. This comparison shows, that there are some major congruencies between them, as well as numerous congruencies regarding the content of certain statutes and articles. For this reason, it becomes apparent that during the early Han period the tianlü were almost exactly copied from the Qin predecessor, with only minor modifications with regards to penalties and fines. Moreover, the Han tianlü are much more comprehensive and detailed. Therefore, such comparison greatly enhances and transforms our knowledge of Qin and Han statutes.
Ernest Caldwell, “Locating the Law: Evidence of Legislative Cross-Referencing in Qin and Han Excavated Legal Statutes”
How were laws known to those individuals tasked with interpreting and enforcing them? This paper engages one facet of this question by building on previous scholarship related to the practice of cross-referencing in early imperial Chinese legal manuscripts. Legislative cross-referencing is a linguistic practice wherein a law will cite another law either with a direct reference to its title or by specifically quoting segments of the law. Such a practice demonstrates the interconnectedness of separate laws and the development of a corpus-based approach to legislative drafting. That is to say, individual laws were drafted with a consciousness of how the contents of one law should relate to the contents of other existing laws. Furthermore, the use of cross-referencing serves as useful signposts for those individuals required to assess a particular legal situation and to locate and apply the correct legal statute. With the continual discovery of legal manuscripts dated to early imperial China, we now have the means to undertake a comprehensive and diachronic analysis of the development of cross-referencing in early imperial Chinese legal manuscripts. This paper analyses evidence of cross-referencing within excavated legal statutes from the Shuihudi corpus, Yuelu shuyuan Qin manuscript collection, and the Han Zhangjiashan corpus.
Xiaomeng He, “The Organisation of Legal Knowledge: Aspects of the Filing System from Qin and Han Local Archives”
The record-keeping and storing of administrative documents has a long tradition in China. However, only little is known about concrete archiving practices on the lower administrative levels in Qin and Han times. At the same time, this knowledge is of utmost importance in order to understand the operating principles of a government that was confronted with a constantly growing number of administrative tasks. Based on findings in legal manuscripts of the Yuelu collection and further archaeological sources, this paper focusses on certain aspects of the processes of filing, copying and (re-)organising written law as well as the purposes behind them. For that reason, the chosen approach combines different methods: a textual comparison of several (nearly) identical legal stipulations in combination with a paleographical analysis allows to identify different transformative stages of copies; an analysis of numerical systems (like the Heavenly Stems and numerical order), as well as different types of titles for legal stipulations, enables to draw conclusions concerning the filing system; and additional archaeological sources (like specific containers and labels) provide further information about the keeping and storing of administrative documents. Finally, this paper argues that the above-mentioned processes played a critical role in the transformation of administrative documents into written law.
Chun Fung Tong, “The Reconfiguration of Social Activities and the Construction of Social Order in the Qin Dynasty: Evidence from New Qin Ordinances in the Collection of the Yuelu Academy”
This paper delves into the efforts made by the Qin rulers to construct a new social order in their new empire on the basis of new evidence provided by newly published legal ordinances. It argues that although the Qin rulers acknowledged the value of morality in forging social stability, the ways which they incorporated these cultural elements to their utopia were under the social engineering framework of Shang Yang and Han Fei, both of whom advocate policy reforms through punishments and reward rather than education or indoctrination. New evidence datable to the imperial Qin period reveals that the Qin rulers exerted an aggressive plan to disseminate sanctioned social values (benevolence, uprightness, filial piety, etc.) to the populace. Specifically, these designed reforms would result in direct interventions on social activities, thereby building the utopia that the Qin rulers envisaged. From this perspective, the Qin empire, unlike the pre-imperial era, mirrored the political system of those modern totalitarian regimes.
Under these new policies, the lives of people were now under the active and direct intervention of government apparatus. While the policies might aim at disseminating positive social values, the strong “Legalist” mentality might offset the effect of lenient policies and, in turn, became a nightmare of the people. In the end, instead of building a utopian society, the First Emperor’s scheme might result in a horrific dystopia that was administered by terror rather than the benevolence, reverence, or righteousness that the Qin rulers envisioned.
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