The Formation and Circulation of Early Yanzi Lore, Fourth Century B.C. - Third Century A.D.
Abstract The Formation and Circulation of Early Yanzi Lore, Fourth Century B.C. - Third Century A.D. Li Yang Chair of the Supervisory Committee: Professor William G. Boltz Department of Asian Languages and Literature In this project I provide a textual study of two bodies of manuscripts related to Yanzi (d. 500 B.C.), from the fourth century B.C. to the second century A.D. with particular attention to the nature of textual variation among the manuscripts and the matching texts in the received literature. Both manuscripts, the Yinqueshan Western Han bamboo strips and the three texts from the Shanghai museum collection of Warring States period Chu strips, together with other Han discoveries pertaining to Yanzi reveal that before the official version of the most important transmitted literature on Yanzi, the Yaniz chunqiu, was fixed by Liu Xiang (77-6 B.C.) Yanzi lore had been in wide circulation: the Yingqueshan manuscripts correspond to about eight percent of the received Yanzi chunqiu and are fairly close to the received texts at the level of individual anecdotes; the three Chu manuscripts, “Jing gong nüe” (Commonlord Jing suffered from malaria) “Lu bang da han” (The great drought on the State of Lu) and “Zhao wang hui shi” (King Zhao demolished his palace) reflect an earlier stage in the process of shaping some of the Yanzi tales as we have them transmitted to us today. The formation and circulation of early Chinese texts tend to be composite and irresolute in contrast to the Western textual world in which a single authorship and a relatively resolute tradition can often be identified. Basic principles of textual criticism are used as guidelines but with reservations in analyzing textual variation due to this difference in the contexts and nature of text formation and circulation between the Western classical world and the early Chinese periods. The analysis of textual variation between the manuscripts and the received Yanzi chunqiu suggests that all the Yingqueshan accounts discussed in this study were most likely composed before the received counterparts; and the textual study of the three Warring States period manuscripts reveals that besides text passages, literary motifs can be composite and can be adapted into different textual settings as well.