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Tianxia junguo libing shu 天下郡國利病書

Aug 22, 2010© Ulrich Theobald

Tianxia junguo libing shu 天下郡國利病書 "On benefit and faults of the empire's local administration" is a comprehensive history of local administration from the Ming period 明 (1368-1644). Its author, Gu Yanwu 顧炎武 (1613-1682), collected materials from various local gazetteers from the whole empire, the official dynastic histores, the veritable records of the Ming dynasty (Mingshilu 明實錄), memorials to the thone, and private writings to evaluate the effects of good and bad government in order to have a compendium at hand how to benefit (li 利) the people and the state and how to avoid malfunction (bing 病). This was especially important in a time when corruption and bad government were rampant and would eventually lead to the end of the dynasty.

The book begins with a geographic overview of the empire, proceeds to the two capitals of the Ming dynasty, Nanjing and Beijing, and then goes on to the thirteen provinces, the Western Regions and tribute states as Annam, and many other foreign countries. Gu Yanwu describes in detail the local conditions and politics in field distribution, taxation, hydraulic works, mining, hydrology, military, border defence and many more topics.

The book is available in two different versions. The original draft version by Gu is to be found in the series Siku quanshu 四庫全書 and the third part of the Sibu congkan 四部叢刊, another version in 120 juan was printed in Chengdu 成都, Sichuan. The second version contains many errors, all the more as the book was not really finished during Gu Yanwu's lifetime.

Table 1. Contents of the Tianxia junguo libing shu 天下郡國利病書
1-3 Bei Zhili 北直隸
4-5 Su 蘇
6 Susong 蘇松
7 Changzhen 常鎭
8 Jiangning Lu'an 江寧廬安
9 Fengning-Hui (Anhui) 鳳寧徽
10 Huai'an 淮安
11 Huai-Xu 淮徐
12 Yangzhou 揚州
13 Henan 河南
14 (missing 原闕)
15-16 Shandong 山東
17 Shanxi 山西
18-19 Shaanxi 陜西
19-20 Sichuan 四川
21-22 Zhejiang 浙江
23 Jiangxi 江西
24-25 Huguang 湖廣
28 Fujian 福建
27-29 Guangdong 廣東
30 Guangxi 廣西
31-32 Yunnan 雲貴
32-33 Jiaozhi (Annam) 交阯
33 Barbarian tribes of the Southwest 西南夷
39 The four barbarian types of the nine border regions 九邊四夷
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