Reading and (Re-)​Classifying Canonical Instructions of the Past: Commentaries on ‘The Nine Chapters on Mathematical Procedures’ from the 3rd to the 13th Centuries

The earliest extant Chinese mathematical writings include two types of components of particular interest for our discussion on manuals and handbooks. On the one hand, there are mathematical problems that often evoke tasks carried out by officials working in the imperial bureaucracy. On the other hand, there are mathematical “procedures,” or “algorithms” in today’s parlance, … Continue reading Reading and (Re-)​Classifying Canonical Instructions of the Past: Commentaries on ‘The Nine Chapters on Mathematical Procedures’ from the 3rd to the 13th Centuries

Popular and Specialist Artisanal Knowledge in China, Mid-Thirteenth to Early Twentieth Centuries

In premodern China, the population was roughly divided according to professions into four groups: literati, farmers, artisans, and merchants. During this period, artisanal knowledge was mainly transmitted in person. Most Chinese artisans were not as literate as their European counterparts, if literate at all, and written texts played a minor role in the transmission of … Continue reading Popular and Specialist Artisanal Knowledge in China, Mid-Thirteenth to Early Twentieth Centuries

Knowing My Jurisdiction: Compendiums and Frontier Administration in Early Modern China

In the summer of 1809, the imperial kinsman Jincang (?–1828) was appointed the general of Ili (Yili jiangjun) to supervise the entire Xinjiang.[1] Jinchang had mixed feelings about the promotion. Only distantly related to the ruling house, it was a great honor to assume such an important position, but he felt overwhelmed by the onerous … Continue reading Knowing My Jurisdiction: Compendiums and Frontier Administration in Early Modern China