ChinaKnowledge.de -
An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Huqianjing 虎鈐經

Nov 19, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Huqianjing 虎鈐經 "The classic of the tiger seal" is a military treatise written during the Northern Song period 北宋 (960-1126) by Xu Dong 許洞 xxx. The book was finished in 1004. It has a length of 20 juan and includes 210 chapters, each of which deals with a distinct topic.

The Huqianjing included the concept that in war three realms played an important part, firstly, the realm of man who planned war and battles, second the earth which provided formidable territory to wage war on, and third the realm of Heaven which is involved into war in the shape of the weather, as well as by the influence of stars and deities. Divination thus plays an certain part in warfare, according to the Huqianjing.

A general must be able to observe the enemy and to use the own troops in a way that the enemy was not able to find out what the own troops were planning to do. In a metaphysical way, Xu Dong explains that a general must always be able to identify chances (ji 吉 "luck") in dangers (xiong 凶 "inauspicious situations") and to see when danger was hidden in apparently advantageous situations. The movements of the troops had to be adapted to such changes in luck. A very important foundation for victory was the supply of sufficient food and excellent weapons, in other words, a functioning logistics system.

Xu Dong lists the most important points in a series of conditions: The precondition of a establishing an army was a content population; the precondition of all tactics was caring for sufficient food; the precondition of deploying an army was to make us of advantageous territory; the precondition for victory was to harmonize the troops; the precondition of successful defence was a sufficient stock of supplies; and the precondition of a strong army was the justified application of reward and punishment. A wise general seized all opportunities (duoshi 奪恃), like weather, geographical obstacles, or the army's mood of fighting. He had to feign cowardice to lure the enemy into attack (xi xu 襲虛). And he had to use the own strengths after a victorious battle to pursue the enemy, to trap him, and to annihilate him. It was not always good, warns Xu Dong, to apply traditional methods, but a general had to be flexible and had to adapt his tactics to the actual conditions.

The oldest surviving print dates from the Ming period 明 (1368-1644). It was the source for the edition in the imperial series Siku quanshu 四庫全書.

Sources:
Feng Dongli 馮東禮 (1989). "Huqianjing 虎鈐經", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, part Junshi 軍事 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 1, 386.
Guan Qiyun 关棨匀 (2019). "Huqianjing banben jiaokan ji qi neirong suo fanying jiu zhi shi shiji junshi jishu fazhan zhi qingkuang 《虎钤经》版本校勘及其内容所反映9至10世纪军事技术发展之情况", Lishi jiaoxue (xiabanyue kan) 历史教学(下半月刊), 2019 (12): 65-70.
Huang Shuihua 黃水華 (1997). "Huqianjing 虎鈐經"", in Men Kui 門巋, Zhang Yanjin 張燕瑾, ed. Zhonghua guocui da cidian 中華國粹大辭典 (Xianggang: Guoji wenhua chuban gongsi), 150.
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文郁, ed. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1619.
Pei Qing 裴青 (1993). "Huqianjing 虎鈐經", in Ru Xin 汝信, ed. Shijie baike zhuzuo cidian 世界百科著作辭典 (Beijing: Zhongguo gongren chubanshe), 203.
Wan Fang 万方 (2016). "Zhonghua bingshu baodian: Huqianjing 中华兵书宝典——《虎钤经》", Shuwu 书屋, 2016 (5): 1.
Xie Xianghao 谢祥皓 (2018). "Huqianjing 虎钤经", Sunzi yanjiu 孙子研究, 2018 (5): 130.
Xu Shuang 徐双,Yan Shiyun 严世芸,Chen Liyun 陈丽云 (2019). "Huqianjing sheyi neirong chutan 《虎钤经》涉医内容初探", Nanjing Zhongyiyao Daxue xuebao (Shehui kexue ban) 南京中医药大学学报(社会科学版), 2019 (1): 16-19.
Yang Qingwang 楊慶旺, Ha Hua 哈鏵, ed. (1987). Zhongguo junshi zhishi cidian 中國軍事知識辭典 (Beijing: Huaxia chubanshe), 524.
Zeng Yaolin 曾瑶林, Wang Pengde 王鹏德 (2019). "Huqianjing de bingxue zhihui 《虎钤经》的兵学智慧", Hanzi wenhua 汉字文化, 2019 (22): 70-71.