Zhang Yongquan 張湧泉
Gansu: Gansu Education Publishing House, 2013
Reviewed by Yang Yang (PhD candidate, Department of Chinese Language and Literature, Kyoto University; Visiting Fellow 2014-2015)
In the early twentieth century, a large amount of precious literature including manuscripts mainly written in Tang and Five Dynasties and a number of printing pieces found in Tunhuang caves shocked the world. Since then, Heishuicheng literature and Turfan documents have been made known to the public. In a period of more than one hundred years, studies on those precious manuscripts have largely changed academic perspectives on Chinese history and culture. Scholars of Tunhuangology have accumulated distinct experience and knowledge in dealing with the extremely complicated Tunhuang manuscripts, but they have also made abundant mistakes in their reading, collating and annotating works. Furthermore, owing to the overwhelming status of printing culture since Song Dynasty, the reading habit derived from printing books influenced the methodologies used in the research of Tunhuang and other medieval Chinese manuscripts. Thus, a textual criticism of Tunhuang manuscripts is not only indispensable to Tunhuangology but also vital to the study of medieval Chinese manuscripts.
Professor Zhang Yongquan (Zhejiang University) has been devoted to Tunhuangology studies for more than 20 years, and has contributed a large number of significant works e.g. Dunhuang Suzi Yanjiu 漢語俗字研究 (Hunan: Yuelu Publishing House, 1995; Revised edition, Bejing: The Commercial Press, 2010). Textual Criticism of Tunhuang Manuscripts is the first book to systematically discuss the textual criticism of Tunhuang’s Chinese manuscripts. The book consists of four parts:
II. Characters and Words
III. Principles in Transcribing Process
IV. Methods of Collation and Emendation
In Part I, the author overviews the value and features of Tunhuang and other ancient Chinese manuscripts, suggesting that in the field of Chinese literature studies, textual criticism is a sub-discipline to be more fully established. Part II is a discussion of the basic elements of manuscripts. The author summarizes the evolution of calligraphy from ancient to medieval China, and analyzes the distinguishing features, colloquialisms and informal characters in Tunhuang manuscripts. Part III enumerates the types of errors occurred in the process of transcribing, and the symbols and specific methods of adjusting formats used by scribes. In the last part, the author discusses the principles of joining up, naming, dating, distinguishing and collating Tunhuang manuscripts.
As the author puts in the postscript, “reading books by principles” 以例讀書 is an important method developed by Qing scholars. This book also discovers valuable principles in Tunhuang manuscripts and demonstrates how systematic studies of the evolution of Chinese characters, languages and writing habits are demanded in Tunhuang-related research and perhaps all kinds of medieval Chinese manuscripts. Illustrated with ample examples, Textual Criticism of Tunhuang Manuscripts is both informative to professional researchers and understandable to amateurs of Tunhuangology.
Finally, I would like to raise a question about the methods of collation and emendation of medieval Chinese manuscripts. The author regards Chen Yuan’s 陳垣 four methods (Duijiao對校, Benjiao本校, Tajiao他校, Lijiao理校) as a unique way to collate Tunhuang manuscripts. Chen Yuan’s methods were derived from his collating experience on Yuan Dianzhang 元典章 and takes Duijiao (collating with different editions) as the basic principle. However, genealogies of some Tunhuang and other medieval Chinese manuscripts are far more complicated than Yuan Dianzhang. In some manuscripts there exists the emendation made by medieval scribes, which indicates different versions were combined in the process of transcribing. This situation (contamination of text) will complicate the work of setting up genealogies, and in some extreme cases will paralyze Duijiao. Thus, if we set “original” rather than “correct” as the goal of collation, do we need to develop a more delicate method to deal with the complicated genealogies of medieval manuscripts?