Shujishi

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Xu Xianqing, then a Shujishi, studying in the Hanlin acedemy

Shujishi (Chinese: 庶吉士; pinyin: shù jí shì; Manchu: ᡤᡝᡵᡝᠨ
ᡤᡳᠯᡨᡠᠰᡳ
geren giltusi) which means "All good men of virtue" is a scholastic title during the Ming and Qing dynasty of China. It can be used to denote a group of people who hold this title as well as individuals who possess the title.

Etymology[edit]

The name of this title traces its origin back to the Book of Documents (also known as the Shû King through the translation of James Legge) which is written in old Chinese language. In the chapter "The establishment of government"(立政), the phrase "All good men of constant virtue (庶常吉士[1])" which is pronounced as "Shuchangjishi" appeared during a conversation between Zhougong, a moral model of Confucianism, and King Cheng of Zhou,[2] the ruler of China in the early 11th century BC. Zhougong asks his nephew King of China to appoint officials with great care and prudence. He elaborated on the subject of the selection of officials and its significance in relation to the well-being of the government. All good men of constant virtue, according to Zhougong, are the ones that are to be trusted and assigned with important tasks.[2]

Official use[edit]

In Ming China and Qing China, The title Shujishi is granted solely to the Jinshi rank. The Jinshi are a group of intellectuals that has passed the imperial exams.

The Shujishi was installed in the year of 1385 by the decree of Emperor Taizu of Ming, it was the 18th year of his rule when Shujishi first appeared in the records of history.[3] Novices of the Jinshi rank undergo a process of selection and some of them are bestowed the title Shujishi. Once became Shujishi, they work as apprentice in the Hanlin Academy with the purpose of perfecting their skills of administration. During the reign of emperor Yinzong of Ming, the definition of Shujishi was narrowed down. Jinshi from the second place(二甲) or the third place(三甲) who are outstanding in terms of virtue are selected to be Shujishi in the Hanlin Academy. These elite Jinshi are called "Academy's selection"(館選). The Jinshi who obtained top place in the imperial exams received more privileged titles such as Xiuzhuan(修撰) and Bianxiu(編修). However, Xiuzhuan and Bianxiu are distinct titles that are different from Shujishi.

A stricter standard was applied during the reign of emperor Shizong of Qing. All Shujishi hold the title for a term of three years before been officially examined. During the three year long period, they study with experienced scholars in the Hanlin Academy. These Shujishi who had not received an official examination were called Sanguan(散館). Once Sanguan's knowledge were examined, those who were able to achieve success in their study will be formally accepted as a scholar of the Hanlin academy while those who were inferior to their peer Shujishi will be allotted to other departments of government.

References[edit]

  1. ^ 尚書·立政:大都、小伯、藝人、表臣、百司、太史、尹伯、庶常吉士,司徒、司馬、司空、亞旅、夷、微、盧、烝、三亳、阪、尹。文王惟克厥宅心,乃克立茲常事司牧人,以克俊有德。
  2. ^ a b James Legge, Translation of The Shu King.1879
  3. ^ 《明太祖實錄》卷一七二(洪武十八年三月)丙子條:以第一甲賜進士及第丁顯等為翰林院修撰,第二甲賜進士出身馬京等為編修、吳文為檢討、李震為承敕郎、陳廣為中書舍人;第三甲賜同進士出身危瓛為衛府紀善、李鴻綱為譚府奉祠正、楊靖為吏科庶吉士、黃耕為承敕郎、蹇瑢為中書舍人、鄒仲寶為國子監助教。瑢後賜名義。其諸進士,上以其未更事俗,優待之,俾之親政於諸司,給以所出身祿米,俟其諳練政體,然後擢任之。其在翰林院承敕監等近傍衙門者,采《書經》「庶常吉士」之義,俱稱為庶吉士。其在六部及諸司者,仍稱進士。