An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

jian 牋, address

Sep 7, 2022 © Ulrich Theobald

Jian 牋 was an address to a person of a very high rank (up to empresses and crown princes) less formal than a memorial (zou 奏, biao 表). Formally, jian addresses resembled memorials (biao).

The character was originally used for writings slips made of wood (not bamboo, for which the word jian 簡 was used). It is interchangeable with the character jian 箋 (but not, if this word means "commentary" on a text). Other words for such addresses are jianbiao 牋表, jiandu 牋牘, jianji 牋記, jianjian 牋簡, jianqi 牋啓, jianxi 牋檄, jianzha 牋札/牋劄 or jianzou 牋奏.

Another meaning of the word jian was "private letter" (in the expression jianshu 牋書), and the third meaning, high-quality paper used for private letters. The expressions jianshu 牋疏 and zoujian 奏牋 were used to designate reports submitted to superior persons in the local and regional administration.

Luo Zhufeng 羅竹風, ed. (1990). Hanyu da cidian 漢語大詞典 (Beijing: Hanyu da cidian chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1535; Vol. 6, 1044.