The Dayi juemi lu 大義覺迷錄
and the Lost Yongzheng Philosophy of Identity

Pamela Kyle Crossley

When I was a graduate student one of the enigmas of Qing history was the decision of the Qianlong 乾隆 Emperor to destroy his father’s published propaganda work, Dayi juemi lu 大義覺迷錄,1 in 1736. As in many other matters, we tended to rely upon the suggestion of the in com parable Fang Chao-ying, who stated,

disliking the freedom with which his father had exposed the affairs of the Imperial House, ordered all copies of the book […] returned to Peking and destroyed.2

Later one wondered how Fang knew this, since the Qianlong Emperor (r. 1735–1976) did not write down such a sentiment, and seems not to have been overheard conveying it to others. In time I believed that my researches into other aspects of the evolving Qing ideology, and particularly the strong themes established in Qianlong-era prolegomena of commissioned works on history and philosophy, raised more immediate and perhaps more convincing possibilities for explaining this extraordinary event. It may have turned on a very specific disagreement between the Yong zheng 雍正 (r. 1722–1735) and Qianlong Emperors on the source and substance of being civilized.

The Qing court would probably have remained ignorant of Lü Liu liang 呂留良 (1629–1683) had it not been for Zeng Jing 曾靜 (1679–1735). The misadventures of Zeng and his ally Zhang Xi 張熙, leading to their arrest by Yue Zhongqi 岳鍾琪 (1668–1754) and subsequent interrogation by the Yong zheng Emperor, are well-known and need not be reviewed here.3 What is more interesting was the reaction of the Yongzheng Emperor to Zeng Jing himself and to the prospect of a treasonous rebellion. The emperor seems to have comprehended from the first that there was no significant threat posed by the rather unstable and unprepossessing Zeng Jing, and that on the contrary an opportunity for some public suasion had arisen. Zeng Jing and Zhang Xi were described by the emperor as half-educated, easily-misled commoners who had attempted rebellion only because of the deviousness of the well-educated, well-fed, well-cared for descendants of Lü Liuliang. He assumed the public posture of educator and sponsor of Zeng and Zhang, both of whom were released and given employment.

Rebellious sentiments had of course to be punished, and for this punishment the emperor singled out the dead Lü Liuliang, on whom he time and time again heaped colorful invective; in the preamble to Dayi juemi lu alone, Lü is

[…] the treacherous thief Lü Liuliang, with his ferocious stupidity and ungovernable hatred, his love of chaos and delight in suffering, pretending to have normal connections [to us] while privately writing his stories, absurdly claiming “After morality is protected [i. e. after the Qing are overthrown], there will be a great change in Heaven and Earth, not seen since ancient times, and only reappearing then.”4

The price for the intent to rebel was to be paid by Lü Liuliang and his dead son Lü Baozhong 呂葆中, whose corpses were exposed and dismem bered; Lü’s son Yizhong 呂毅中 (d. 1733) who had met with Zhang Xi and evidently helped to work the rebellious delusion in the minds of Zeng and Zhang, who was sentenced to death by decapitation; and Lü’s surviving grandsons over the age of sixteen, all of whom were sentenced to lifelong enslavement at Ninguta, in the Northeast. The harshness of the punishments visited upon the Lü lineage was shielded by a two-year period of consultation, after publication of Dayi juemi lu and concluding in 1733, in which the emperor invited literati to suggest just punishment for the family. A few interesting ideas surfaced, but in general the throne’s correspondents concurred that Lü Liuliang was in fact an ingrate, a liar, a strange and unsociable person, and that two of his sons had actively worked to spread Lü’s seditious thoughts to Zeng and Zhang (who appeared to be the sole participants in the planned “rebellion”).5 It was suggested that the Lü family had been the source of sedition in Zhejiang, their home, for years, and that they had probably been in some way responsible for earlier literary crimes by Wang Jingqi 汪景祺 (1672–1726) and Zha Siting 查嗣庭 (1664–1727).6 In accord with basic principles of collective guilt in the law, and as a reminder to the literati of their special status and responsibility in the empire, heavy penalties were demanded from the family – namely desecration of ancestor’s corpses, decapitation of living seniors, and lifelong abasement of juniors.

The careful distinctions of class and obligation that the emperor limned in the judicial aspects of the handling of the case are an interesting corollary of the literary inquisitions that took place in limited form during the Yongzheng years and on a greater scale during the Qianlong era.7 The two-year round of solicited recommendations on the fate of the Lü family – certainly peers and in some cases acquaintances of the respondents – was in itself a veiled literary inquisition.8 To assess Lü Liuliang’s guilt, several writers found it necessary to invoke other writers who might also be viewed in a treasonous light; Yan Hongda 嚴鴻逵 (?–1732), specifically condemned by the emperor in the preface to Dayi juemi lu, was uncovered in such a process. Good works and bad works were cited, and vows of loyalty to the throne were implicitly invited. The theme of education and responsibility paralleled the content of the emperor’s commissioned work, Dayi juemi lu. Indeed it was directed precisely at the very class being pressured in the two years of consultation and the resulting destruction of the Lü lineage. It was to become required reading of all aspiring to the licenciate (perhaps not coincidentally, the highest formal academic status Lü had achieved in his lifetime), the lowest and most inclusive level of aspiring degree candidates. This would have guaranteed its reach to every corner of the Qing literate world. Its message of personal identity and transformation would have been embedded in early-modern philosophical and political discourse in China, and perhaps in other quarters of the Qing empire.

Dayi juemi lu comprised the ostensible interrogation of Zeng Jing – which in its published form appeared more like a classroom exchange than a product of torture, terror and deprivation – together with a prolegomenon apparently written by the emperor himself.9 In this preamble, the emperor points out that it has been eighty years since Lü Liuliang wrote down his vicious slanders, implying that only the Lü lineage and collaborating literati could have preserved the message for the gullible Zeng Jing to happen upon after such a lapse of time. In both this short introduction and in his lecturing of Zeng Jing in the subsequent volumes of Dayi juemi lu, the emperor strikes an interesting poise between the naturalism of traditional Northeastern political thought and conventional Chinese teachings on ethics, with Northeastern ideology and culture dominating the preamble itself.

There is an insistence on specific, material indications of Heaven’s favor of the Qing. In the struggle against the Ming, it was after all the Qing who had been victorious. I read this as an appeal to the concept of urušembi – to support one side in a fight – as a decisive demonstration of Heaven’s favor. This idea was deeply embedded in Northeastern and Inner Asian political thought. It was the basis of Joseph Fletcher’s theory of “tanistry” among the Mongols, Manchus and Ottoman Turks,10 and was tied to the notion of sechen – the natural intelligence of a leader, the quality that guides his arrow to its mark. Closely connected to it is the emperor’s proclamation that since the Qing had taken control of China and cleaned up some of the chaos lingering from the Ming, the country had been free of devastating natural disasters. And the emperor manages to make his case for the rectitude of Qing pacification of China without employing a Confucian convention such as ren 仁 as a virtue of the ruler or of the government (the emperor uses ren as a quality of universalized sympathy among all humans, which I take to be the meaning of Zeng’s written confession, Guiren shuo 歸仁說, “Why I have Returned to the Humane.”) The closest he gets is en 恩, which in most Qing translations was Manchu kesi, which is perhaps best rendered as the blessings that flow (material and emotional) from a superior to a dependent. Such ideas of being materially supported by Heaven and receiving a gift of communicated intelligence from Heaven are strongly present in Manchu historical and political writing. The number of references in the Dayi juemi lu to “holy virtue” (shengde 聖德) is a case in point. It is an evident calque for Manchu enduringge erdemu (e.g. mujilen i meni han be kunduleme, enduringge erdemu be algimbume)11 and Geli ejen oho niyalma i enduringge erdemu in genggiyen be inu elden sembi.12 The clear implication is that the emperor has innate and probably supernatural virtue, perhaps shamanically imbued.13

Equally suggestive of a Northeastern political framework is the emperor’s repeated use of the terms “lord, ruler” (zhu 主 and jun 君) to describe himself and the dynasty. This very strongly evokes of the Mongolian and Manchu concept of ejen, meaning not only a dynastic ruler and lord of an empire, but a keeper of slaves and owner of livestock. In Dayi juemi lu, zhu’s connotations rarely resemble the Chinese meanings of “host”, the very meaning played upon (unknown to the emperor) by Huang Zongxi 黃宗羲 (1610–1695);14 and jun rarely has the connotation here of the auditor and sponsor of scholars. Slavery in Northeastern political discourse is not chattel slavery, but the dominance implied in Latin famulus, a servant, from which is derived familia as a word meaning the dependents of a household, whether servants or kin. In Manchu aha as a word for slave was more explicit than familia, since it excludes kin. But over the course of the Qing it took on similar connotations to Chinese chen 臣, which originally meant servant but in imperial times meant an official. In the political rhetoric of the earlier Qing empire, the ejen/aha relationship was one defined by the obligation of the ejen to nurture (ujimbi)15 his children, slaves and livestock.16 When the emperor says, in the preamble to Dayi juemi lu, that Lü Liuliang and his ilk “do not know the great righteousness between lord and servant”17 – he is speaking at least as much in the Northeastern frame as in the Chinese frame.

The greatest protection offered dependents in the traditional system was peace; it was the basis of the original claims to rulership of Nurgaci, echoed in the Kaiguo fanglue 開國方略 / Fukjin doro neihe bodogon-bithe,18 where the bandits are described as infesting the countryside “like bees” in the early Qing records, and visitors to Nurgaci’s compound were reminded that he had made roads safe for travel.19 The first line of the emperor’s prolegomenon introduces this theme of late Ming chaos and Qing peace, in the closest possible association with the theme of dominance and dependence:

It being the case that our dynasty succeeded to the Mandate of Heaven, and became the lord of ministers and common people in China and without, then how can it be that those who would inculcate peace and love nurturance (yu 育) can still claim a distinction between the Hua and the Yi?20

Political unity and social coherence are first-order extensions of this peace:

From the first seaside village to see the sun each day to the furthest inland reaches of the realm, every single person knows that unification is due to our dynasty.21

The preamble concludes with a similar point, which we can take as the primary argument of the work:

Moreover you could use all the energy of Heaven and Earth repeating this: Ming times from the Jiajing [1522–1567] period on saw a loss of morality among the lords and ministers, thieves came from all sides causing misery among the people and constant violations of the serenity of the borders – who would not say that was intolerable?
From the time that our dynasty set the vessels upright, we swept out hordes of bandits and put the whole world at peace; teaching has been rectified, learning (xiu 修) has been revived, civility (wenming 文明) is burgeoning by the day, virtually all the people are prosperous, China and the outer regions are contented and healthy; from a yellow-haired infant to a white-haired oldster, a whole life passes without experiencing war or tumult. Today Heaven and Earth have pure peace, the people bask in our grace. The ways in which we surpass the Ming [are so obvious] even a child not a yard tall can get it, yet there are those who would call this “darkness”?22

In the interrogatory volumes of the Dayi juemi lu, the emperor elaborates a bit on his idea of the proper form of the state and the proper relationships between people and ruler. The ruler ensures peace. The absence of war leads to the flourishing of civilization and prosperity. The state as an agency of the emperor is hierarchical. The ruler speaks to the ministers (chen 臣), who speak to the people (min 民). Peace and the state as the medium through which the ruler maintains it are the attributes of the Yongzheng Emperor’s civilization, and it is universal. The origins or even the culture of the rulers is immaterial, since only rulers are able to assure peace which will gain the favor of Heaven.

In the preamble the emperor is able to introduce his idea of what one might call civilized identity, something he elaborates upon in the following books. He repeatedly invokes the dichotomy of Hua 華 and Yi 夷, which he may have been told was a favorite oppositional pair in the writings of Lü Liuliang, who clearly used the two terms to mean “Chinese” and “barbarian”.23 But in the Dayi juemi lu the emperor construes these terms in the way they most likely were meant in the early classics, as the names for two separate peoples, one called Hua and one called Yi. Near the beginning of the essay he writes,

[…] the ministers and people of China and outer regions have accepted and acknowledged our dynasty as their lord, and by this have returned to sincerity and emulation of discipline, fulfilling the moral obligations (dao 道) of minister and subject. Obviously it is impossible to have a difference of mind between Hua and Yi.24

And as a specific example of this transcendent virtue (sheng de 聖德 / endu ringge erdemu), he points to the passage in the Mencius describing Shun 舜 as a “man of the Eastern Yi” by origin, and Zhou Wenwang 文王 as a “man of the Western Yi” by origin.25

Referring to Mencius’s comment on Shun and Wenwang, “they were virtuous before [they migrated] and after”,26 the emperor concluded with the question, “What detriment [were their origins] to their holy virtue?”.27 The difference in phrasing between Mencius and the emperor is significant. Unlike Mencius, the emperor attributes the moral perfection of Shun and Wenwang to their migration, both physical and moral – their naturalization in the zone of civilization. He says, before his reference to them, “Our dynasty considers itself Manchu, yet China is our place of residence.”28

This apparent description of “China” as a place accommodating a va ri ety of level cultural identities may be misleading. There has been a good deal of speculation on the use of the term zhongguo中國 / dulimba-i gurun in Qing documents to suggest that the Qing considered their empire to be somehow Chinese.29 The court used the term in Manchu as an occasional way of referring to the empire, particularly in communications with Russia during the treaty negotiations of the early eighteenth century. But it is probably unwise to leap to a conclusion that this can be globally glossed as “China”. Zhao Gang is certainly right in stating that Manchus like all their Northeastern predecessors perceived the culture and location of “China” – however designated – to be real. That they accepted the “concept of China” is unproblematic, so far as I can see. This does not mean that describing China as contained within the empire equates China to the empire, or that the empire was ever equated with any single culture or space in normal Qing usage.

Whether dulimba-i gurun always meant the “China” that the Manchus accepted as a historical, cultural and geographical reality – both before and after its incorporation into their empire – is not simple. It is first of all unclear whether Chinese zhongguo is a unilinear source of Manchu dulimba-i gurun. Earlier Northeastern empires not in China, not Chinese, and often in some rivalry with a state based in China used “Central” as part of their state designation, and “central country” as a reference to themselves.30 Both Aisin Gioro Ulhicun and Daniel Kane find that the Jurchens and the Kitans most likely in several contexts referred to their empires as “central” (corresponding to Chinese zhong yang 中央). The exact meaning is unclear. It could be used in rivalry or in parallel with the Song expressions zhongguo for China, but is equally likely to mean “middle” in the sense of a high point of an arc of time – more akin to modern Chinese zhong 仲 than to zhong 中. Such empires were often spatially segmented, with multiple capitals, and controlled by an imperial lineage repeatedly fending off challenges from other lineages. In such circumstances, “central” as an expression of relative political weight, or “central” as designating the high point in a dynastic cycle, had specific value. The source of Manchu dulimba is self-evidently Jurchen dulin (and dulinni/dulingi gurun is attested in Jin-period monuments) together with Manchu ba, designating a position (as contrasted to a time). The position need not be physical, as is evident from the Manchu title for the Zhongyong 中庸, An dulimba. These complexities of dulimba are, in this question, combined with the ambiguities of Manchu gurun, which – like Chinese guo 國 – may mean a people, a state, a dynasty or an empire. Even if, as I think likely, Manchu use of dulimba in dulimba-i gurun was primarily inspired by zhongguo, it is hard to see how the traditional connotations of dulinni gurun in Jurchen could have disappeared from Qing use of the Manchu term dulimba-i gurun.

Beyond that, use of dulimba-i gurun by the Qing is clearly heavily dependent on context. Before the conquest of Shenyang, Manchu documents show a normal use of Ming-i gurun or Nikan gurun for the “concept” of China; dulimba-i gurun became more common after Qing occupation of China, which suggests again the traditional Northeastern use of “central” country to mean the place where power is seated. The argument for identification of the Qing empire and “China” rests heavily upon the Treaty of Nerchinsk. The treaty was negotiated and ratified only in Latin (the first language), Russian and Manchu. Jesuits acting on behalf of the Qing designated the Qing as Sinarum Imperatoris, with “China” in the genitive case and “emperor” in dative case – “Emperor of/over/in China”. In the Russian text, the Qing empire is referred to as Chinskogo gosudartsvo Хинского государство (nominative), in Russian convention using “Qing” as the modifier for “state” as paired with the Russian state Rossi’iskogo gosudartsvo Российского государствo (nominative). And the Manchu text is exactly parallel: Dulimba-i gurun enduringge hūwangdi – even to reproduction of the genitive case. But these are formal terms used to designate the entities engaging in the treaty. Territorial discussions much later in the treaty use “Sinico” and case variants, since the logical framework of the negotiations only required distinction between Russian territory on the one hand and Qing on the other and precision in proper names was of no value.

But in the treaty the occurrences of Sinico are infrequent in comparison to the instances of Хинского in relation to territory –“of the Qing”. Translations into Chinese, which did not occur for perhaps two centuries, and were never ratified or reviewed by any state, are not important evidence of the Manchu use here of dulimba-i gurun and cannot precisely reproduce the sense of dulimbai-i gurun i because modern Chinese does not easily translate this use of the genitive case. The Yongzheng Emperor, however, was referring to a similar framework of meaning when he wrote, “Our dynasty considers itself Manchu, yet China is our place of residence.” And case issues are again at work in Zhao Gang’s assertion that “Tulisen often uses meni Dulimbai gurun, Manchu for ‘our China […]’.”31 Even in English genitive case “my” and “our” can have several meanings. They might specify a state of identification: “my country”. Or, they might specify a state of ownership: “my car”. Overall finding that Tulišen 圖麗琛 (1667–1740) “often” used musei (the inclusive “we”) rather than meni (the exclusive “we”) might have given Zhao’s assertion here some support, but even then Tulišen’s true meaning would be ambiguous to a modern reader.32

One source Zhao might have considered in refining his sense of this would have been the Manchu text of the Huang Qing zhigongtu 皇清職貢圖, in which frequent references are made to specific empires based in China in the past, and other references are clearly to the “concept” of China that Zhao reasonably concludes the Manchus recognized. Repeatedly, the text uses dulimba-i gurun to mean the continuing space, culture and history of China, but specifies empires (or, as Kane commented in reference to the Northeast tradition of “centrality” in regime names, time periods) by name – Han i gurun, Tang i gurun, Ming i gurun, and so on.33 While the concept of China is very definitely affirmed by such a text, the relationship of the Manchus and the Aisin Gioro lineage to it is not. Uses of the genitive case in Manchu to objectify China and place it in a dependent position to a subject do not aid in a conclusion that the Qing emperors at any time considered their empire to be China, or vice versa. The evidence suggests that the Qing took the meanings of both dulimba-i gurun and zhongguo literally – the location of their capital, the place from which they looked out to their borders and the countries beyond, the high point in the dynastic cycle and civilized development. Contextual consideration of the term suggests that the regime considered itself to be based in a historical China that was central to its empire, but not that the empire itself was Chinese. The emperor’s statement that zhongguo was now the place of residence of the Manchus meant, in this case, that they belonged there, were there legitimately, and like Shun and Wenwang were being morally perfected by the process of transfer. He lays the foundation for his theory of transformational identity, which is elaborated in the following books of the Dayi juemi lu.

The emperor specifically points to some phrases evidently used by Lü Liuliang to praise ancient war leaders of Xia who claimed that making war against the Di 狄 was always justified and always virtuous, admitting no possibility that by doing so they could be making war on other civilized people.34 Confucius, the emperor said, had distanced himself from such sentiments and even refused employment by King Zhao of Chu 楚昭王 because of disagreement with the policy.35 But obstinate prejudice against outsiders had come, the emperor suggested, at a heavy cost:

So despite this subsequent theory of the Hua and the Yi, from the [Eastern] Jin and [Liu] Song and during the periods of disunion (bian an zhi shi 偏安之時) the good and the bad was just about the same, none actually excelled the others. In fact the northerners were belittling the southerners as “island barbarians” (daoyi 島夷) and the southerners were pointing at the northerners as “roped slaves” (suolu索虜), and the people of the time never worked at cultivating morality or behaving with humanity. Instead they just looked for occasions to argue with each other. It was a phenomenon of the crudest, meanest kind.

Now that all is united under Heaven and the Hua and Yi are one family, these treacherous thieves with their crazy condemnations in China and in the outer territories, fallaciously stirring up anger and violence, how can it be that they betray Heaven and repudiate reason, [recognizing] neither father nor lord, how are they any different from swarms of ants?36

The idea that there could be any enduring distinction between Hua and Yi in the new Qing world of political unity and orthodox teaching was one that the emperor and his amanuenses continued through Dayi juemi lu to reject as impossible.

In your seditious book […] you have said that “the world is one family, and all things have a single origin,” so where does this “distinction between the Chinese and the barbarians” come from?37

Pointing repeatedly to Qing success in conquering and now ruling China, the Yongzheng Emperor claimed that the characterizations by Lü Liuliang and Zeng Jing of “barbarians” as nothing more than livestock meant that China was now ruled by livestock, and demanded that Zeng explain how this could be.38 Fortunately for China, the emperor intoned, the Qing rulers had the power to make distinctions in this world, and they had determined that people were distinct from beasts, not from other people.39

The Yongzheng vision of a universal civilization, improving all who inhabited it and protected by a strong, pacifying state, suffuses the Dayi juemi lu. It weaves in and out of commentary heaping invective upon Lü Liuliang, his family and associates, and some rambling historical commentary highlighting the lawlessness of previous regimes and the civilized accomplishments of empires – foremost Tang – with origins on the margins of the civilizational zone. Overall it conformed to standard Confucian teachings on the power of education to produce a civilized identity. The emperor intended that Dayi juemi lu would become preparatory materials for examination candidates, and a fundament of Qing state ideology.

To return to Fang Chao-ying’s explanation for the decision of the Qianlong Emperor to suppress this work, we should note that the swiftness with which the new emperor acted is only hazily suggested by the entry in Hummel’s Eminent Chinese of the Ch’ing Period.

In 1735, however, the succeeding Emperor Kao-tsung, after he ascended the throne, commanded that Tsêng and Chang Hsi be arrested and brought to Peking.40

Technically, the Qianlong Emperor had not actually ascended the throne, which he would not be able to do until the lunar new year of 1736. But he had evidently determined very firmly in his mind, perhaps years before, that Zeng Jing and Zhang Xi would both be arrested and killed by lingchi 遲 (“death by slow slicing“ or “death by cutting“) – which happened in February of 1736 – and that Dayi juemi lu would be suppressed. Copies of the book were ordered to be collected and burned.

Fang had suggested that the reason the Yongzheng Emperor had commissioned Dayi juemi lu in the first place was that he felt defensive (in Fang’s term, “guilty”) about the deadly conflicts that had accompanied his accession to the throne. Since the emperor supposed that all around him secretly condemned him and considered his rule illegitimate, Dayi juemi lu was an opportunity to justify himself with lengthy references to earlier regimes who had legitimated themselves by enforcing peace, even if harshly. As a corollary, Fang explains the Qianlong Emperor’s rush to destroy the book as motivated by embarrassment over his father’s now institutionalized references to the internecine struggle as well as his father’s excessive protests of righteousness, which only emphasized the late Emperor’s guilt. There is indeed material in Dayi juemi lu that alludes to accusations that the Yongzheng Emperor illegitimately murdered his way into office, and the references are not fleeting.41 Nevertheless they do not constitute anything like the bulk of the composition, and they do not account for the special essay commissioned from Zhu Shi refuting the cosmology and historical narratives of Lü Liuliang. Moreover, the sort of information and commentary that Fang sees as provoking the Qianlong Emperor to destroy Dayi juemi lu was not exclusive to that compilation; similar material was also included in Jianmo bianyi lu 揀魔辨異錄 (1733), which the emperor had also commissioned and at least partly authored as a refutation of the Hanyue fazang (also Sanfeng) sect of Chan Buddhism.42 If the Yong zheng Emperor truly wanted to induce forgetfulness of the controversial nature of his accession in his court or among the empire’s literati, he would clearly have done better to have never had Dayi juemi lu written, and should have executed Zeng Jing and Zhang Xi for their temerity. In Fang’s view, this was the exact thought of the Qianlong Emperor, who rushed to undo the whole affair by administering the ultimate punishment to Zeng and Zhang and making Dayi juemu lu disappear. But things cannot be undone, and the fact was that the emperor risked making Dayi juemi lu even more alluring to curious minds than if he had merely expunged it from the preparatory reading for the examinations.

At the end of his entry on Zeng Jing, Fang suggests another factor that is, in context, more convincing. There he writes:

There are numerous discrepancies between the official records of the life and sayings of Emperor Shih-tsung (compiled in Emperor Kao-tsung’s reign) and the edicts printed during his life-time. Particularly in the Ta-i chüeh-mi lu, there are documents which have been omitted in other official compilations and which stand as proof of Emperor Shih-tsung’s guilty conscience.43

Guilty conscience aside, the degree to which Dayi juemi lu reveals Qianlong editing of the Yongzheng era is important. Indeed I suggested in A Translucent Mirror that the Qianlong court had edited the entire earlier history of the dynasty to an extent that could make that history inaccessible without a sustained and conscious effort to discern, read around, and otherwise neutralize the overwhelming historical authority of the Qianlong court. That authority did not consist solely in emending or eradicating unwanted documents, it also consisted in generating new, large historical works and piling them atop the earlier record.

Between the philosophy of identity articulated in Dayi juemi lu and that which would be built strongly and consistently in the Qianlong era collections was a profound disagreement on the source and character of civilization, and the degree to which personal identity was relative to it. The underlying argument of Dayi juemi lu was that the Aisin Gioro lineage and by implication the Manchus generally had been culturally and morally transformed and that this was the primary reason they were fit to rule China. As in the cases of Shun and Wenwang alluded to in Dayi juemi lu, the Manchus had left their ancestral home and migrated to China, where they had been “educated/cultivated/repaired” (xiu 修), and this had preserved or enhanced their “holy virtue” (enduringge erdemu). It is certainly possible that the Yongzheng Emperor felt that this explanation organically ameliorated his own questioned legitimacy, since he himself hoped to undergo education/cultivation/repair by emulating the virtues of a sage-king and a bodhisattva. But a reference to the same Mencius passage on Shun and Wenwang appeared in the Qianlong Emperor’s preface to “Research on Manchu Origins” (Manzhou yuanliu kao 满洲源流考), published in 1783. There the emperor argued that Mencius cites the origins of Shun and Wenwang without hesitation or embarrassment because there was no reason to hesitate to name them as foreigners. The allusion precedes a discussion of the distinct origins of a civilization in the Northeast, culminating in the Manchus in the years before their conquest of China. That civilization, the emperor implied, had equal standing with that of China, and its inheritors had no reason to take on the civilization of others. Their identities, in other words, were absolute in themselves, and not relative to a universal civilization.44 That essentialist refutation of Yongzheng transformationalist ideology, in the context of the long trail of Qianlong-era revisions of and commissioning of historical narratives, became the lasting foundation of Qing identity ideology.


Crossley, Pamela Kyle, 1999. A Translucent Mirror: History and Identity in Qing Imperial Ideology. Berkeley: University of California.

———. “The Historical Writing of Qing Imperial Expansion”, in Rabasa 2012, 43-59.

Dayi juemi lu 大義覺迷錄, by Qing Emperor Yongzheng 雍正 (1677–1735, r. 1723–1735), in Jindai Zhongguo shiliao congkan; 351-352. Taibei: Wenhai, 1969 [Reprint of the original blockprint edition].

de Bary, William T. 1993. Waiting for the Dawn: A Plan for the Prince. Huang Tsung-hsi’s Ming-i Tai-fang lu. New York: Columbia University, 1993.

Elverskog, Johan. 2006. Our Great Qing: The Mongols, Buddhism and the State in Late Imperial China. Honolulu: University of Hawaii.

Fisher, Thomas Stephen. 1976–1978. “Accommodation and Loyalism: The Life of Lü Liu-liang”, Papers on Far Eastern History, 15 (1976), 97-104 (part 1); 16 (1977), 107-145 (part 2); 18 (1978), 1-42 (part 3).

———. 1984. “Loyalist Alternatives in the Early Ch’ing”, HJAS 44.1, 116-118.

Fletcher, Joseph F., Jr. 1979–1980. “Turco-Mongolian Tradition in the Ottoman Empire”, Harvard Ukrainian Studies 3-4, 236-251.

Han-i araha Manju gisun-i buleku bithe / Yuzhi Qing wen chien 御製清文鑑. Siku quanshu edition.

Hansen, Valerie, and François Louis (eds.). Forthcoming. Perspectives on the Liao: A Special Issue of Song-Yuan Studies.

Hummel, Arthur W. (ed.). 1943. Eminent Chinese of the Ch’ing Period. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Kane, Daniel. Forthcoming. “The Great Central Liao Kitan State”, in Hansen and Louis (forthcoming).

Li, Gertraude Roth. 2000. Manchu: A Textbook for Reading Documents. Honolulu: University of Hawaii.

Mambun rōtō / Manwen laodang 滿文老檔, ed. by Kanda Nobuo 神田信夫. Tōkyō: Tōyō Bunko, 1955-1963.

Meng Sen 孟森 (1868–1937, ed.). Qingchu san da yi’an kao 清初三大疑案考實. Beiping: Guoli Beijing daxue, 1934 [Reprint in: Jindai Zhongguo shiliao congkan; 352. Taibei: Wenhai, 1969].

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Spence, Jonathan D. 2002. Treason by the Book. New York: Penguin.

Tulišen 圖麗琛 (1667–1740). Lakcaha jecen de takūraha babe ejehe bithei / Yiyu lu 異域錄. See Zhuang Jifa 1983.

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1 Various translations of this title have been used, all of them suitable but none perfect. I used “Great Righteousness Resolving Confusion” (“resolving” as in the ending of a dream or an illness) in A Translucent Mirror (Crossley 1999), Jonathan Spence used “Awakening from Delusion” in Treason by the Book (2002), which is also good but seems to leave off the first part of the title in Chinese. Today I would probably prefer “Great Righteousness Dispelling Confusion”, but it is in any case an arbitrary matter. For this paper I will stick to Dayi juemi lu. I have used the facsimile reproduction published in Jindai Zhongguo shiliao congkan (pages cited from original juan, with additional pages from the reprint in brackets). 

2 Hummel 1943, 749.

3 See Hummel 1943, 747-748, 957-959; Fisher 1976–1978; Crossley 1999; Spence 2002.

4 Dayi juemi lu 1.2ab (3-4): 乃逆賊呂留良༌凶頑悖惡༌好亂樂禍༌攏彝倫༌私為著述༌妄謂「德祐以后༌天地大變༌亙古未經༌於今復見」。

5 On the latter point see Spence 2002, 54-56.

6 See also Crossley 1999, 255-259.

7 See also the comments in Wu 2008, 181-183, comparing the Yongzheng Emperor’s tactics in combatting the influence of the school of Hanyue fazang 漢月法藏 (jap. Kangetsu Hōzō, 1573–1635, also Sanfeng heshang 三峰藏和尚) of Chan Buddhism with his refutation Jianmo bianyi lu 揀魔辨異錄 to those of combatting the influence of race-based sedition in Dayi juemi lu. The Hanyue lineage were critics of Huineng慧能 (638–713) and, in their own time, Miyun Yuanwu密雲圓悟 (1566–1642). The emperor’s specific political concerns are somewhat elusive, but he certainly sought to rebut – rather than outright ban – the mystical and supernatural arguments of the Hanyue school. He was particularly concerned that the school was gaining traction among the literati – especially the literati of Zhejiang, whom he also cited as a concern of Dayi juemi lu. His denunciation of Hanyue was made required reading among Chan monks from its publication in 1733 to the abolishment of the government system of control over ordination in 1754, well after the emperor’s death.

8 On this point see Crossley 1999, 254.

9 The original publication of Dayi juemi lu was bound together with Zeng Jing’s confession, “Why I have Returned to the Humane” (Guiren shuo 歸仁說, in 4.32b-45b, 482-509) and published in tandem with Zhu Shi’s 朱軾 commissioned essay, “A Refutation of Lü Liu liang’s Interpretation of the Four Books” (Bo Lü Liu liang sishu jiangyi bo 駁呂留良四書講義). See also Fisher 1984, 95-96; Crossley 1999, 255.

10 See particularly Fletcher 1979–1980.

11 Mambun rōtō 2:2:15.

12 Han i araha manju gisun i buleku bithe, ujui debtelin.

13 There is probably a strong connection on this point to the ideological premise of the Qing emperors as imbued with the consciousness of Chinggis and Khubilai, an idea that Qing apologists in Mongolia such as Lomi seem to have embraced. See Rawski 1998, 251-258; Crossley 1999, 240-242, 323; Elverskog 2006, 63-85.

14 On Huang Zongxi’s Mingyi daifang lu 明夷待訪錄, see de Bary 1993.

15 Norman (1978, 292) gives ujire hafan (literally “nurturing official”) as the Manchu translation of mufu 牧夫, a general word for a herdsman but in Zhou times a term for a warder of royal property.

16 Usually translated into Chinese as yu 育. It might be significant that Zeng chose the literary name of “lordless vagrant of the South” (南海無主游民), probably an accidental irony, since Zeng is usually depicted as poorly educated and even more poorly informed.

17 Dayi juemi lu 1.3a (5): 不知君臣之大義。

18 On this and other works providing a self-narrative of Qing conquest, see Crossley 2012.

19 Crossley 1999, 149.

20 Dayi juemi lu 1.2a (3).

21 Dayi juemi lu 1.2a (3).

22 Dayi juemi lu 1.3b-4a (6-7).

23 Fisher 1976–1978; Crossley 1999, 249-253.

24 Dayi juemi lu 1.2a (3).

25 Dayi juemi lu 1.2b-3a (4-5): 舜為東夷之人༌文王為西夷之人。

26 The emperor was citing Mencius 4B.1 (“Li Lou xia” 離婁下): 先聖後聖༌其揆一也。The translation here is given from the viewpoint of Dayi juemi lu, and differs substantially from the more standard translations of Legge, Lau and others in which xian and hou are taken to refer to Shun and Wenwang respectively.

27 Dayi juemi lu 1.3a (5): 曾何損於聖德乎༟

28 Dayi juemi lu 1.2b (4):〔…〕本朝之為滿洲༌猶中國之有籍貫。

29 For a good overview of Chinese scholarship asserting a direct equivalence between zhongguo and dulimba-i gurun see Zhao 2006, esp. 6-10.

30 For a discussion of the ambiguities and complexities of this relating both to the Jurchen Jin and Kitan Liao states, see Daniel Kane (forthcoming).

31 Zhao 2006, 9. This is a reference to Tulišen’s Lakcaha jecen-de takūraha babe ejehe bithe, written and published around 1712.

32 Li (2000, 351) indicates that meni is genitive case of be, “we” (exclusive of the listerner) and musei is genitive case of muse, “we” (inclusive of the listener), and this certainly covers a great many instances. Since Tulišen was in this case speaking to Mongols resident in the Russian empire, his “we” would have to be exclusive, but the rest of his implication is impossible to recover with precision.

33 See Walravens 2006.

34 The proximate source for the emperor’s quote was probably Mencius 3A.4 (滕文公上): 《魯頌》曰༚『戎狄是膺༌荊舒是懲。』周公方且膺之༌子是之學༌亦為不善變矣。」The citation is referring to Shijing, Ode 300 (Bigong閟宮, the last of the praise-odes of Lu).

35 Dayi juemi lu 1.3a (5): 若以戎狄而言༌則孔子周游༌不當至楚應昭王之聘。

36 Dayi juemi lu 1.3a-b (5-6).

37 Crossley 1999, 256, from Dayi juemi lu 2.13b (178).

38 Crossley 1999, 256, from Dayi juemi lu 1.4b-5a (9-10).

39 Crossley 1999, 256-257 from Dayi juemi lu 1.11a-13b (22-26).

40 Hummel 1943, 748.

41 Dayi juemi lu 1.14-38a (27-75) and 3.30a-49b (343-382).

42 Wu 2008, 177-182.

43 Hummel 1943, 748.

44 Crossley 1999, 259-262.

Crossroads 5 (April 2012)