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Sanshiliuji 三十六計

Jul 18, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Sanshiliuji 三十六計 "Thirty-six stratagems" is a military primer of obscure origin xxx. The whole book is divided into six parts, each part including six stratagems. Each stratagem is designated with a four-character headline (those of the last part only three characters), giving it the character of a proverb. This fact contributed to the popularity of the Sanshiliu ji, in spite of its quasi non-canonical status. The stratagems are formulated in a very concise and oversimplified way and seem to be compiled on the base of daily used proverbs with universal validity, mixed with cryptic statements. A lot of examples are derived from statements in the divinatory classic Yijing 易經, others quote examples from history.

There are no traditional prints included in any scholarly collection of writings. There is a print by the Jiefangjun Zhengzhi Xueyuan Tushu Ziliao Guan 解放軍政治學院圖書資料館 from 1962 with the title Sanshiliu ji xinbian 三十六計新編. In 1981, the Zhanshi Press 戰士出版社 published another edition with the same title. Like the Sunzi, the "rules" of the Sanshiliuji are applied to many fields of human activities, and science.

Table 1. Contents Sanshiliuji 三十六計
1. 勝戰計 Shengzhanji Stratagems of battles won
2. 敵戰計 Dizhanji Stratagems of indecisive battles
3. 攻戰計 Gongzhanji Stratagems of offensive battles
4. 混戰計 Hunzhanji Stratagems of multiple party battles
5. 並戰計 Bingzhanji Stratagems of unification and annexation battles
6. 敗戰計 Baizhanji Stratagems of battles lost
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