The Analects of Confucius

"The Analects of Confucius", the classical work of Confucian. It records the words and deeds of Confucius and his disciples. It is the most basic school materials in ancient China. "The Analects of Confucius” noted by Zheng is a book written by Zheng Xuan, a master of study of Confucian classics in Eastern Han Dynasty in China. This book gives a full annotation to the content of "The Analects of Confucius", which makes it easier for later generations to learn.

"The Analects of Confucius" noted by Zheng is handwritten paper copy of Tang Dynasty, and some of the bottom is lost. The long volume is written neatly, but the handwriting is a little bit immature, even with some obvious wrongly written characters.

The transcriber of "The Analects of Confucius" noted by Zheng is a 12-year-old child. His name is Bu Tianshou. The time he finished it was the fourth year of Jinglong period of Tang Dynasty. Jinglong is reign title of Li Xian's Emperor Zhongzong of Tang Dynasty. According to this information, experts name this handwritten copy as handwritten "The Analects of Confucius" noted by Zheng of the fourth year of Jinglong period of Tang Dynasty.

According to historical data, in Tang Dynasty of Cina, schools similar to those in central plain area had already been set up in Turpan Prefecture, Xinjiang for school-age children to go to school. Confucian  Classics such as "The Analects of Confucius" had become the schoolbooks of these schools. Bu Tianshou, the transcriber of handwritten "The Analects of Confucius" noted by Zheng of the fourth year of Jinglong period of Tang Dynasty, was a student of the school.

At that time, the teacher asked the students to copy out and recite "The Analects of Confucius" noted by Zheng. The only 12-year-old Bu Tianshou also conveniently wrote a few doggerels when he was copying it. In the long volume of handwritten copy passed down, we can still see his works.

The teacher of Bu Tianshou had preserved original manuscripts of copying the book of his student still he passed away. For his death, people buried his collected books and the original manuscripts of copying the book of his student’s under the round as a kind of grave-good. In this way, the original manuscript of Bu Tianshou, "The Analects of Confucius" noted by Zheng was luckily preserved after period over a thousand years. However, to people's surprise, this handwritten long volume unexpectedly contains the contents of "The Analects of Confucius" noted by Zheng which have been lost in very early time.

"The Analects of Confucius" is one of the classics of Chinese Confucian School. It is compiled by disciples of Confucius and his later disciples. Its main form are quotations and dialogues, with the record of words and deeds of Confucius and his disciples. It reflects Confucius's political proposals, ethics ideas, moral beliefs and educational principles. The handing down of "The Analects of Confucius" was not always going smoothly. After going through the warfare of the Warring States Period, till Qin Dynasty, it suffered from of fate of being buried and burned. In 134 B.C., Emperor Wu of Han Dynasty accepted the proposal of Dong Zhoushu, a scholar that was ousting hundreds of thoughts and giving dominant priority to Confucianism. "The Analects of Confucius" obtained the great attention of the court of Western Han Dynasty. Till the end of Eastern Han Dynasty, Zheng Xuan, an expert in studying Confucian classics, carried out full annotations toward the contents of "The Analects of Confucius" and compiled the "The Analects of Confucius" noted by Zheng. This book made it easier for people to learn and understand "The Analects of Confucius".

Zheng Xuan was from Gaomi, Shandong Province. His ancestor Zheng Guo was a disciple of Confucius. Zheng Xuan loved reading since his childhood and was very diligent in study. In his youth, Zheng Xuan had been possessed with profound foundations of study of Confucian classics. In the tear of his 33, Zheng Xuan came to the central Shanxi Plain from a great distance to learn from Kong Rong, the most famous master of Confucian classics across the nation for further development. After finishing learning and returning hometown, he had been a master of study of Confucian classics well know far and near. There were many people coming to follow him, worship him as teacher and listen to his lectures. The annotations of Zheng Xuan were classical, with incorporating things with diverse natures and taking in the annotations from many experts’ studing Confucian classics. "The Analects of Confucius" noted by Zheng was finished in this period. Zheng Xuan took 14 years to finish his annotations toward the classics of Confucian. He mingled the study of Confucian classics into integrated one, creating a new school, School of Zheng.

Since Song Dynasty, people could not see the full view of this book. When the "The Analects of Confucius" noted by Zheng copied by Bu Tianshou, a student of Tang Dynasty came into light again, the shock on academic field brought by it was self-evident.

Sinkiang has been China's territory since antiquity. As early as in 59 B.C., Han Dynasty began to establish Western Regions Frontier Command here. The classics of Confucian were thus widely spread among this region. Apart from ""The Analects of Confucius" noted by Zheng transcribed by Bu Tianshou, there are a lot of handwritten copies of ""The Analects of Confucius" unearthed in Xinjiang Area. The shape of these handwritten copies preserved is quite special.

Why the ancient people cut the paper with content of "The Analects of Confucius" into shoe pattern? Some experts believe this is because the school children often used copying as a means to learn Confucian classics. But copying the book needs a large quantity of paper. The paper was not cheap then, so some people would reuse the paper already with words and cui them into shoe patterns. Some other scholars believe that "The Analects of Confucius" is a holy ancient book. Pasting the paper with copying content of "The Analects of Confucius" into chose can secure people to be safe.

 

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