School of International Letters and Cultures
Chinese 500: Genre and Method
Some Aids for Translating Chinese Official Titles
(Based on Benjamin Elman's Website)
(let "v" stand for "umlaut-u" in pinyin)
- Charles O. Hucker, A Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1985.
- Lidai zhiguan biao 歷 代 職 官 表 (see note at end of this section)
- Lv Zongli 呂宗力, Lidai zhiguan da cidian 歷 代 職 官 大辭典 (Beijing: Beijing chubanshe, 1994).
- A very good all purpose dictionary, to be used in concert with Hucker.
(2) Qin 秦 and Han 漢
- Herrlee G. Creel, The Origins of Statecraft in China, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970.
- Rafe De Crespigny. Official Titles of the Former Han Dynasty. Canberra: Australia National University Press, 1967.
- Edouard Chavannes, Les memoires historiques de Se-ma Ts'ien, Vol. II, Appendice I, pp. 513-33. This appendix describes governmental organization in Ch'in and Han times, but it is rather sketchy and often fails to translate the titles mentioned.
- Homer H. Dubs, History of the Former Han Dynasty. This work represents the most comprehensive treatment of Han official titles, but, unfortunately, only three of the projected five volumes have been published. Therefore the index is still missing. However, an index to the titles mentioned in the first three voulmes has been prepared by
- Rafe De Crespigny, Official Titles of the Former Han Dynasty (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1967).
- Another key is to consult the Harvard-Yenching Sinological Index Series, No. 36 漢書及補注綜合引得 and compare its entries with Dub's translation.
- Wang Yu-ch'uan, "An Outline of the Central Government of the Former Han Dynasty," Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, XII (1949), pp. 134-187. Discusses function as well as organization.
- There are a number of specialized works such as Nancy Lee Swann, Food and Money in Ancient China and A. F. P. Hulsewe, Remnants of Han Law , which are very useful in that they frequently include the translation and discussion of titles not mentioned in Dub's works.
(3) Period of Disunity (AD 220-917)
There is no general aid which provides translations of titles for this period, but they more or less followed those of the Han and in turn served as a basis for those of the T'ang. There are a number of translations (See Hans H. Frankel, Catalog of Translations from the Chinese Dynastic Histories for the period 220-960. ) including the following, which are of some assistance:
- Achilles Fang, The Chronicle of the Three Kingdoms (220-265). Not much help.
- Woodbridge Bingham, The Founding of the T'ang Dynasty: The Fall of Sui and Rise of T'ang, a Preliminary Survey. See especially Appendix C, "Outline of Sui Government, 607-618," pp. 127-129.
- Etienne Balazs, Le traite juridique du "Souei-Chou," and Le traite economique du "Souei-Chou. "
- R. J. Cutter and William Crowell, Empresses and consorts : selections from Chen Shou's Records of the Three States with Pei Songzhi's commentary. University of Hawaii Press, 1999.
(4) T'ang 唐
- Robert des Rotours, Traite des fonctionnaires et traite de l'armee. 2 vols. Leyden: E. J. Brill, 1947. Thoroughly annotated translation of treatises from the Hsin T'ang shu on the civil government and military establishment.
- Robert des Rotours, Le traite des examens. Contains further discussions of the offices outlined in the above.
- Paul Kroll, "Basic Data on Reign Dates and Local Government," in T'ang Studies 5 1987, 95-104.
- There are also many special works such as Bernard S. Solomon's translation of the Veritable Record of the T'ang Emperor Shun-tsung, Edwin G. Pulleyblank's The Background of the Rebellion of An Lu-shan, and Denis Twitchett's Financial Administration under the T'ang Dynasty which are also of considerable help.
(5) Five Dynasties 五 代 (907-960) and Liao 遼 (907-1126)
The Five Dynasties generally continued the system of the T'ang so the work of Robert des Rotours is largely valid for this period. Additional help can be obtained from such works as the following:
- Edward Schafer: The Empire of Min
- ---------- "The History of the Empire of Southern Han," Silver Jubilee Volume of the Zinbun-Kagaku-kenkyuujoo Kyoto University, pp. 339-269
- Wang Gunwu's The Structure of Power during the Five Dynasties.
The Liao is covered by Karl A. Wittfogel and Feng Chia-hsiang in their History of Chinese Society: Liao (907-1125).
(6) Song 宋
- Chang Fu-jui, Les fonctionnaires des Song, index des titres. Paris: Mouton et Compagnie, 1962. This is a comprehensive study.
- Edward A. Kracke Jr., Civil Service in Early Sung China.
- This work serves as a valuable supplement to that of Chang. Titles have been published separately.
- Edward A. Kracke Jr. , Translation of Sung Civil Service Titles. Paris: 1957.
- Edward A. Kracke Jr. , Translation of Sung Civil Service Titles, Classification Terms, and Governmental Organ Names. San Francisco: Chinese Materials Center, 1978.
- Gong Yanming 龔延明 Songdai guanzhi cidian 宋代官制辭典 Beijing:Zhonghua shuju, 1997.
- This is a model dictionary of official titles. It provides:
- A general overview of the Song administration
- A classified list of official titles, including the imperial bureaucracy, the civil bureaucracy, the ranking system, and honorary titles of enfeoffment.
- A vocabulary of technical terms associated with bureaucracy and allusions that covers
- generic writing types of orders and commissions
- entry into the bureacracy, including terms for the examination system
- evaluation and assignment of officials
- reduction in rank, avoidance, and dismissal
- administration and administrative precedent
- salary and sumptuary terms
- designations, euphemisms, anachronisms, etc.
(7) Jin 金 and Yuan 元
Again there are no works which generally treat the titles of these periods. This is unfortunate because there tends to be a greater degree of variation than is usual for succeeding periods.
For the Jin some comparison with Wittfogel and Feng is helpful, as is comparison with Song titles..
- See also Hoyt Tillman and Stephen West, China under Jurchen rule : essays on Chin intellectual and cultural history. Albany: SUNY Press, 1995
For the Yuan consult:
- Herbert F. Schurmann, Economic Structure of the Yuan Dynasty.
- Paul Ratchnevsky, Un code des Yuan. 4 vols. Paris, 1972-85.
- Charles O. Hucker, "The Yüan Contribution to Censorial History," Bulletin of the Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica, extra vol. no. 4 (1960), 219-227.
- Paul Heng-chao Ch'en. Chinese Legal Tradition Under the Mongols. Princeton University Press, 1979.
(8) Ming 明
- Charles O. Hucker, "Governmental Organization of the Ming Dynasty," Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, XXI (1958), 1-66.
- Charles O. Hucker, "An Index of Terms and Titles in 'Governmental Organization of the Ming Dynasty,'" Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, XXIII (1960-61), 127-151.
(9) Qing 清
- F. Mayers, The Chinese Government. This is a very convenient aid. The first edition was published in 1877, the last in 1897. Therefore it reflects the situation existing before the changes introduced after the failure of the Boxers. It is not as complete as the next item.
- S. Brunnert and V. V. Hagelstrom, Present Day Political Organization of China. First edition 1910; revised 1911. This is the most comprehensive aid for the Ch'ing, but it is more difficult to use than the above.
Note: All of these aids should be used in conjunction with the primary Chinese aid, Lidai zhiguan biao 歷代職官表 in 72 chuan compiled under imperial auspices by Chi Yun 紀昀 and others. The work, ordered in 1780, consists of a comprehensive set of tables of Chinese of official titles from the ancient Sandai period through the Ming arranged under the different boards, bureaux, and departments of the Ch'ing government of the time of compilation. There is one table for each department of government. The title of the highest official in the department appears first followed by the titles of other officials connected with it in order to rank. After each table material is presented on changes in rank and title in that particular branch of government during the different periods as well as material concerning changes in fuction. Unfortunately, the work is marred by some mistakes and omissions. It has been reprinted in both the Sibu beiyao 四 部 備 要 and Guoxue jiben congshu 國 學 基 本 叢 書 . There is also an abridgd version in 6 chuan which bears the same title but contains only the bare tables. In 1965 the Zhonghua shuju 中 華 書 局 in Shanghai published a Lidai zhiguan biao based on this work. In addition to reproducing the tables, however, it also provides an extensive introduction to the traditional official system, a separate section on the history and function of the various offices arranged according to number of strokes, and four-coner index. The index also has attached to it a total stroke and pinyin romanization key.
(10) Buddhist Titles
- Zanning 贊 寧, Ta Sung-seng shih-lveh 大 宋 僧 史 略 (The Essential History of Great-Sung Monks).
- Kenneth Ch'en, Buddhism in China, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1964.
- Kenneth Ch'en, The Chinese Transformation of Buddhism, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973.
- Foxue dacidian 佛 學 大 辭 典 . Comp. by Ding Fubao 丁 福 保 . Shanghai: Shanghai yixue shuju, 1921.