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Evaluative standard for the eight-legged essay in the imperial examinations of the Qing Dynasty

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image of Frontiers of Literary Studies in China

The eight-legged essay was the dominant portion of the imperial examinations in the Qing Dynasty (Qing Chao 清朝 CE 1644–1911). However, the study on the evaluative standards for the eight-legged essay is often neglected and insufficiently discussed. Based on an investigation of A Complete Collection of Vermillion Examination Essays in the Qing Dynasty, the author of this paper proposes that the four aspects of “purity, truthfulness, refinement and appropriateness” constitute the overall requirements of the examination essay and the four elements of “principle, rules, diction and qi” form the operating standards of the examiners in grading the ranks and quality of the eight-legged essay.


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