Chinese Canon - Based on Si Ku - "Classics"

Regarding Chinese classics, one good way to start generating a list is go to Si Ku Collected Works Anotated Catalogue (四库全书总目提要) (Si Ku means the Four Collections) compiled during Qian Long era (18th century) and start picking out key works. Because it was compiled in 18th century, I think its selection from 17th century onwards are not most representative (canonization not yet completed then! e.g. re: contribution of someone like Wang Fuzhi 王夫之). As a state compilation, it also didn't include enough popular genres like novels.


Roughly speaking, for the East Asian list, it probably would be on the same order as the South Asian list - probably East Asian has slightly more people (~25% more average historically based on McEvedy, in 2005 almost the same number of people, future South Asian probably would have more people than East Asia), probably more textualized societies. At most the total East Asian list would have some 48 works. Japan + Korea probably should be at least 10% of the list. Si Ku is really a Confucian canons (though it includes some Daoist / Buddhist works, not many), and the fact that some popular / Qing works would be from outside the Si Ku list, the max. selection from Si Ku catalogues is probably something like 36 texts. And classified by the 4 categories, knowing that there usually is more philosophical / literature texts, I try to pick out the key works from the "Classics" portion - altogether seven texts selected as a strawman.


Must include:

1. Wang Bi's Commentaries to Zhou Yi 周易注/周易略例

2. Mao Shi Zhu Shu 毛詩注疏

3. Zhu Xi's Commentaries on the Four Books 四書章句集注

(The above included in the World Canonical Text List lready.)

4. Shang Shu Zhu Shu 尚書注疏

5. Chun Qiu Zuo Zhuan Zhu Shu 春秋左傳注疏


Potential to Include:

6. Li Ji Zhu Shu 禮記注疏

7. Dong Zhongshu's Chun Qiu Fan Lu 春秋繁露


The full catalogue has many more books, but we can distinguish several layers of centrality. The core is the 5 Classics canonized in early Tang, which includes the most canonical commentaries at that point. There are then lots of commentaries in Song, with the central point of focus based on Zhu Xi's somewhat "iconoclastic" understanding of the 5 classics, which Zhu Xi's try to replace with the Four Books that his commentaries served to canonized. In parallel, there were the extension of the 5 Classics into the 13 Classics. Then there are a whole bunch of dictionary / philology-type work that tries to get down to the real meaning of words used in the Classics.


In our list, we wouldn't be considering dictionary-style works. That takes one (爾雅) out of the 13 Classics. The remaining 7 (=13-1-5) includes two others Rites works, two others Commentaries to Chun QiuThe Analects and Mengzi re-canonized as the Four Books, plus the Classics of Filial Piety, which was mostly used as a early childhood text.  


The reason I put Li Ji Zhu Shu 禮記注疏 as optional is that two of its chapters have been canonized as two of the Four Books. Dong Zhongshu's work is included, not only because he was the most important thinker for the Han dynasty, but also because his views were afiliated one of the two "other" Commentaries of Chun Qiu (Gong Yang) which is also fairly similar in thrust as the third Commentaries of Chun Qiu


Lastly, I put Wang Bi's Commentaries instead of Zhou Yi Zhu Shu (the version canonized in Tang Dynasty) because 1) this Zhu Shu was considered one of the worst by modern scholars and 2) Wang Bi's work could be combined with his Commentaries on Laozi, as we have done in the World Canonical Text list.


As I was going through the list by Si Ku, the following works were also marked out as somewhat important (other than the rest of the 13 Classics), but most likely would not make it into our East Asian list:


- 周易集解 [唐]李鼎祚(撰)- summarized and quoted a lot of other early Commentaries on Zhou Yi

- 周易乾凿度 [汉]郑玄(注)- an example of the proliferation of Wei (roughly, Jing / Classics means straight line [later used to name longitutdes], while Wei means horizontal lines [later used to name latitudes]) during the Han dynasty. Zheng Xuan is the canonical commentator in Eastern Han, whose commentaries on The Mao Odes were canonized.

- 韩诗外传 [汉]韩婴(撰) - Commentary parallel to the Mao Odes

- 大戴礼记 [汉]戴德(撰)- Bigger collection of Rites writings by an elder cousin of the author of Li Ji.

- 春秋释例 [晋]杜预(撰)- Another work of Du Yu whose Commentaries on the Zuo Interpretation of Spring and Autumn Annals was canonized. Similar in a way to the fact that Wang Bi has his 周易略例 beyond his canonized Commentaries


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