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The Story Of A Chapter: Changing Views Of The “Artificer’s Record” (“Kaogong ji” 考工記) And The Zhouli

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Chapter Summary

In 1577, on the eve of the Jesuit arrival in Ming China, the metropolitan examiners in Beijing prepared a policy question asking candidates for the highest degree in the civil service to discuss the textual controversies surrounding the Zhouli. For the question on the Zhouli, the examiners first asked the roughly three thousand candidates to clarify the provenance of the "Artificer's Record" chapter currently at the end of the Zhouli. Several important works on the "Artificer's Record" were prepared during the Wanli reign. Ming China's wealth in economic and human resources attracted both trading-minded and religiously minded Europeans. Applying mathematics and using ancient relics to decipher ancient texts, Dai Zhen and Qian Daxin paved the way for a cumulative field of inquiry that foreshadowed nineteenth- and twentieth-century breakthroughs in the application of epigraphy and archaeology to research on the oracle bones.

Keywords: Artificer's Record; Dai Zhen; Qian Daxin; Zhouli



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