Yuan Dynasty Documents 101
Intro and Readings
Special Lecture by Wonhee Cho.
Background Readings (Selections from Birge, Bettine. Marriage and the Law in the Age of Khubilai Khan: Cases from the Yuan Dianzhang. Harvard University Press, 2017.)
Download here (read pp. 58-77 for our class, but feel free to read more.)
Yuanshi vs Yuandianzhang
Yuanshi, 5: 95: 至元元年春正月... 癸卯, 儒,釋,道,也里可溫,達失蠻等戶, 舊免租稅, 今並徵之.
On the first month of the first year of the Zhiyuan period, guimao, the households of the Confucians, Buddhists, Christians, and Muslims who had previously been exempt from taxation (or, land tax and commercial tax?) will now be subject to taxation.
Yuandianzhang, 24: 1a, 中統五年正月, 中書省奏: 已前成吉思皇帝時, 不以是何諸色人等, 但種田者, 依例出納地稅外, 據僧,道,也里可溫,荅失蠻, 種田出納地稅, 買賣出納商稅, 其餘差役蠲免有來. 在後, 合罕皇帝聖旨裏, 也教這般行來. 自貴由皇帝至今, 僧,道,也里可溫,荅失蠻, 地稅,商稅不曾出納, 合無.依臼徵納事.｣ 准奏 今仰中書省, 照依成吉思皇帝聖旨体例, 僧,道,也里可溫,荅失蠻,儒人種田者出納地稅, 白地每畝三升, 水地每畝五升, 買賣出納商稅”
On the first month of the fifth year of the Zhongtong period, [the officials of] the Central Secretariat submitted the following memorial. “In the time of Chinggis Khan, if anyone cultivated land they had to pay the land tax. In addition, Buddhist monks, Daoist clergy, Christian priests, and Muslim clergy had to pay land tax if they cultivated land and to pay commercial tax if they were involved in commercial activities, they were still exempted from all labor services. This policy was well enforced during the times of Ögedei Khan. However, since the times of Güyüg Khan till now, Buddhist monks, Daoist clergy, Christian priests, and Muslim clergy have not paid land and commercial taxes. Why is is so? In accordance with the past precedences, we must collect tax from them. The memorial was received, and [the Emperor ordered] the Central Secretariat [to do the following] "Reviewing the regulations based on the past edicts of Chinggis Khan and Ögedei Khan, if the Buddhist monks, Daoist clergy, Christian priests, Muslim clergy, and Confucian scholars cultivate land they must pay land tax, and if they are involved in commercial activities, they must pay commercial tax...”
Link to Translation on Damba. For our text, focus on pp. 167-168
Link to the YDZ resources (originally from the YDZ Jerusalem reading group, 2014-2015)
Text 1. Yuandianzhang 元典章 no.1
Selection from Compendium of Statutes and Sub Statutes of the Yuan (Da Yuan shengzheng guochao dianzhang 大元聖政國朝典章) or the Institutions of the Yuan (Yuandianzhang 元典章). Private publication from the Jiangnan area.
Translating these documents without prior knowledge can be challenging. Translate as much as you can, but if not (believe me, it will be challenging) be prepared to answer the following questions.
- The characters marked in bold mostly indicate grammatical markers. Can you guess what functions they serve?
- What is the nature of this document? Use the punctuation provided to make an educated guess, if necessary.
- When is this document issued?
- Who are these individuals? What is significant?
- Translate the following phrase.
- The following words might no show up in your average Chinese-English dictionary. What reference works did you use to find the meaning of these words?
Text 2. Fozu lidai tongzai 佛祖歷代通載
Selection from Comprehensive Registry of the Successive Ages of the Buddhas and the Patriarchs (Fozu lidai tongzai 佛祖歷代通載) vol 22. Selection from the Biography of a Tibetan Monk Danba 膽巴
甲午四月成宗皇帝踐祚. 遣使召師, 師至慶賀畢, 奏曰: 昔成吉思皇帝有國之日, 疆土未廣, 尚不徵僧道稅糧. 今日四海混同萬邦入貢. 豈因微利而棄成規? 倘蠲其賦則身安志專, 庶可勤修報國. 上曰: 師與丞相完澤商議. 奏曰: 此謀出於中書省官, 自非聖裁他議何益. 上良久曰: 明日月旦就大安閣釋迦舍利像前修設好事, 師宜早至. 翌日師登內閣, 次帝師坐. 令必闍赤朗宣勅旨, 顧問師曰: 今已免和稅糧, 心歡喜否? 師起謝曰: 天下僧人咸沾聖澤.
This text is more or less follows the classical Chinese structure. We may or may not translate this text in class. The following keys might help you translate the text.
- 成宗皇帝: Temür Oljeitü Qa’an (r. 1294-1307)
- “師”: “the Master,” here referring to the Tibetan Monk Danba 膽巴. According to his biography in the Comprehensive Registry, he was known for being a “miracle worker.”
- 完澤: Chancellor Üljei, one of the many non-Han high ranking individuals that worked for the Yuan.
- 大安閣: The Pavilion of Great Peace was the main hall of the Yuan summer capital Shangdu (the Xanadu in Marco Polo and ultimately Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem, modern Inner Mongolia). It was first built in 1266, and in 1294 Chengzong’s coronation ceremony was held there.
- 必闍赤: “scribe” from the Mongolian word Bičeči. Words ending with the suffix či / 赤 indicate an actor of the stem.
- What is Danba's main argument/request in this text?
- What is his argument based on, and how did he accomplish this?
Text 3. Dayuan tongzhi tiaoge 大元通制條格
Selection from Comprehensive Regulations and Statutes of the Yuan, (Dayuan tongzhi tiaoge 大元通制條格, abbreviated as the Comprehensive Regulations). Official government publication, served as the reference for all legal issues. Vol. 29, “Buddhists and Daoists” (Sengdao 僧道), Commercial tax and Land tax (dishui shangshui 地稅商稅) (emphasis added)
皇慶元年四月十七日, 中書省奏: 爲僧,道,也里可溫,荅失蠻納稅糧的上頭, 在先省官與宣政院官互相聞奏不一的上頭, 完澤篤皇帝時分羊兒年裏, 完澤丞相等省官, 荅失蠻等宣政院官, 吃剌思八斡卽兒帝師根底商量呵,除亡宋時分舊有常住並奉世祖皇帝聖旨做常住與來的地土外, 其餘歸附之後諸人捨施, 或典買來的, 一切影占的, 依舊納稅糧者,麽道奏過定體了來 ...
The following keys might help with your translation.
- 完澤篤皇帝時分羊兒年: The year of the Sheep during the Chengzong era (1295)
- 省官: Officials of the Central Secretariat 中書省
- 宣政院: Bureau of Tibetan and Buddhist Affairs (why is it translated like this?)
- 的上頭: [postposition]: because. (in Korean, ~ 때문에, in Japanse ~ だから, in Manchu, ~ dahame)
- 完澤篤皇帝: Temür Uljeitu [Wanzetu 完澤篤] Qa’an (1294-1307)
- 裏: [postposition] “at”
- 荅失蠻: Proper noun (cf. not the "荅失蠻” from the phrase "僧,道,也里可溫,荅失蠻” above).
- 吃剌思八斡卽兒: Proper Noun. Gragspa-‘Odzer, the “Imperial Preceptor”
- 根底: [postposition] “with” “to”
- 呵: [postposition] … then, if, when etc. (“As” in English)
Reference: the whole sub-section of "Land tax and Commerical Tax" (bold marks the part we translated together)
己丑年十一月, 欽奉條畫內一款: 僧道年五十以上者任便修行, 五十以下戒行淸高者並依例試經受戒, 許爲僧道. 其餘詐冒出家之人, 依例應當科差. 僧人合居佛寺, 道士不得居住, 不得爭奪；道士合居宮觀, 僧人亦不得居住爭奪. 其餘寺觀、文宣王、武成王等廟尊像廟貌舍宇, 並禁折毁. 已上如有違犯者, 並斷按荅奚罪戾. 除僧人道士之外, 其餘詐冒出家之人, 仰一槪依例應當科差. 其僧道種田作營運者, 依例出納地稅商稅, 其餘雜泛科差並行免放.
中統五年正月, 中書省奏准節該: 已前成吉思皇帝時, 不以是何諸色人等, 但種田者俱各出納地稅外, 據僧、道、也里可溫、荅失蠻, 種田出納地稅, 買賣出納商稅, 其餘差役蠲免有來. 在後哈罕皇帝聖旨裏也敎這般行來. 自谷由皇帝至今, 僧、道、也里可溫、達失蠻地稅商稅不曾出納, 合無依舊徵納事. 准奏. 仰中書省照依成吉思皇帝、哈罕皇帝聖旨體例, 僧、道、也里可溫、達失蠻、儒人種田者, 依例出納地稅, 自田每畝參升, 水田每畝伍升. 買賣者出納商稅. 據不該納丁稅蒙古、回回、河西、漢兒、並人匠、及不以是何投下諸色人等、官豪勢要之家, 但種田者依上徵納地稅外[二], 仰行下領中書省左右部兼諸路都轉運司、隨路宣慰司一體施行.
至元二十九年十二月十八日, 中書省奏: 杭州省官人每與將文書來, 「如今阿老瓦丁也說有, 他每那省管的地面裏, 亡宋時分驗着地畝納稅來的有氣力的富家每並百姓每等, 或見兄弟孩兒每裏頭敎一個做了和尙先生呵, 做屬和尙先生每的田地這般不納稅有. 又占種着係官田地也不納租子有. 敎這的每依在先體例裏納租稅呵, 怎生？」說將來有. 俺共管和尙的官人每、荅失蠻等商量來, 如今那裏的省官人每與管和尙官人每一處分揀了是實呵, 依在先納來的體例裏敎納租稅. 他每別有緣故呵, 敎說將來者. 這般商量來. 奏呵, 雖是呵, 您的言語不明白, 敎他說將緣故來呵, 那的每必定說將緣故來. 成吉思皇帝聖旨裏, 但種田呵, 便合納稅, 不須那般道. 若是實呵, 依在先體例裏便敎納者. 聖旨了也. 欽此.
元貞元年七月二十三日, 中書省奏: 「也里可溫馬昔思乞思, 皇帝的御名薛禪皇帝、裕宗皇帝、太后的名字裏, 江南自己氣力裏蓋寺來, 係官地內要了合納的租子, 並買來的田地的稅不納官, 寺裏做香燭. 」麽道敎愛薛那的每奏呵, 敎俺商量了奏者, 麽道聖旨有來. 俺商量來, 爲和尙、先生每、也里可溫、荅失蠻每的商稅地稅, 久遠定體行的上頭, 皇帝根底奏了, 一槪遍行聖旨來. 若免了他的呵, 比那遍行的聖旨相違者有, 別箇人每指例去也. 依體例敎納糧者. 若他的氣力不敷呵, 別對付着, 奏也者. 奏呵, 是也, 那般者. 聖旨了也. 欽此.
大德八年四月初五日, 中書省奏: 在前中統五年中書省官人每世祖皇帝根底奏, 「成吉思皇帝聖旨, 僧、道、也里可溫、荅失蠻種田呵, 納地稅, 做買賣呵, 納商稅, 其餘差發免了者, 麽道聖旨有來. 在後哈罕皇帝時分, 依着那體例行來. 自谷由皇帝到今, 僧、道、也里可溫、荅失蠻種田呵, 不納地稅, 做買賣不納商稅. 依在前體例敎納呵, 怎生？」麽道. 奏呵, 敎納來. 至元三十年省官人每奏, 「僧、道、也里可溫、荅失蠻依買賣百姓體例納稅呵, 怎生？」奏呵, 奉聖旨: 「這言語不曾了來, 那甚麽擬定. 那般者. 」聖旨了也. 當年六月又奏, 「海荅兒等管課程的說, 做買賣的是和尙、也里可溫每, 却不納稅呵, 哏損着課程多有, 執把着聖旨不肯納稅, 降御寶聖旨呵, 怎生？」奏呵, 「與者. 在前已了的勾當, 不是咱每的言語, 是成吉思皇帝聖旨有. 」麽道聖旨有來. 又大德四年省官人每, 河南省、江浙省、陝西省官人每奏將來, 「僧、道、也里可溫、荅失蠻將着大錢本開張店鋪做買賣, 却不納稅, 他每其間夾帶着別箇做買賣的人呵, 難分間, 多虧兌課程有. 」麽道說將來呵, 省官人每商量着, 「僧、道、也里可溫、荅失蠻自己穿的、食的、所用的買要呵, 並寺院裏出産的物貨賣呵, 不納呵, 他每也勾也者. 將着大錢本開張店鋪做大買賣不納稅呵, 不宜因而夾帶着不干礙的人也者. 似這般的每依例交納稅呵, 怎生？」奏過, 交納稅, 行了文書來. 大德五年宣政院奏: 「省官人每奏過, 敎僧、道、也里可溫、荅失蠻依例納稅者, 麽道, 俺根底與文書來. 俺與剌馬商量得, 也里可溫、荅失蠻將着珠荅納等寶貨做買賣有, 寺家的壹兩箇店鋪做些小買賣, 修理寺院, 與上位祝壽僧人的齋糧裏用有. 僧、道依在前的聖旨體例裏不敎納稅, 也里可溫、荅失蠻依着省官人每奏來的敎納稅呵, 怎生？」麽道奏了來. 俺商量來, 國家費用的錢糧浩大, 近年以來所入數少, 不敷支用. 合依在前成吉思皇帝聖旨、哈罕皇帝聖旨、蒙哥皇帝聖旨、世祖皇帝聖旨、皇帝聖旨已了的, 僧、道、也里可溫、荅失蠻做買賣呵, 敎納商稅呵, 怎生？奏呵, 奉聖旨: 那般者.
皇慶元年四月十七日, 中書省奏: 爲僧、道、也里可溫、荅失蠻納稅糧的上頭, 在先省官與宣政院官互相聞奏不一的上頭, 完澤篤皇帝時分羊兒年裏, 完澤丞相等省官、荅失蠻等宣政院官, 吃剌思八斡卽兒帝師根底商量呵, 除亡宋時分舊有常住並奉世祖皇帝聖旨做常住與來的地土外, 其餘歸附之後諸人捨施、或典買來的、一切影占的, 依舊納稅糧者, 麽道奏過定體了來. 後頭宣政院官, 曲律皇帝時分休敎納稅者, 麽道奏了的上頭, 省官人每依着羊兒年裏定擬了的體例交納者, 麽道又奏過敎行了來. 去年也奏來. 如今江浙省官人每俺根底說將來, 僧人每休敎納稅者, 麽道宣政院官奏了, 與了執把聖旨懿旨有, 怎生呵是, 麽道說將來有. 俺商量來, 種田納地稅, 做買賣納商稅, 的是成吉思皇帝聖旨有. 如今依着羊兒年省官宣政院官帝師根底商量着行來的體例裏敎行, 與了的執把聖旨懿旨敎拘收了. 必闍赤官人每根底說了, 今後與聖旨懿旨呵, 除亡宋時分有的並奉世祖皇帝聖旨做常住與來的外, 其餘的依體例敎納稅糧, 明白敎寫與呵, 怎生？奏呵, 那般者. 依先例敎行者. 麽道聖旨了也. 欽此.
Text 4. Yuandianzhang 元典章 no.2
Compendium of Statutes and Sub Statutes of the Yuan (Da Yuan shengzheng guochao dianzhang 大元聖政國朝典章) or the Institutions of the Yuan (Yuandianzhang 元典章). Private publication from the Jiangnan area. Vol. 24. “Regulations concerning taxes of the Buddhists and Daoists”(Sengdao zushui tili 僧道租稅體例)
元貞元年閏四月 日, 欽奉聖旨: 諭中書省,樞密院,御史臺,宣政院,行中書省,行御史臺,司農司,宣慰司,管民官,應管公事大小官吏,諸色人等. 據中書省宣政院奏: 和尚,也里可溫,先生,荅失蠻等, 地糧商稅所辦錢物, 若不再行明諭, 恐在下官府合徵納者, 妄作免除, 不應徵納者, 卻行追收, 致使僧道人等生受. 乞降聖旨事. 准奏. 所有條畫開列于後
[一] 西番,漢兒,畏兀兒,雲南田地裏, 和尚,也里可溫,先生, 荅失蠻, 擬自元貞元年正月已前應有已未納稅地土, 盡行除免稅石. 今後續置或影占地土, 依例隨地徵稅.
[一] 江南, 和尚,也里可溫,先生,荅失蠻田土,除亡宋時舊有常住, 并節次續奉先皇帝聖旨撥賜常住地土, 不納租稅外, 歸附之後, 諸人捨施, 或典賣一切影占地畝, 依舊例徵納稅糧. 隱匿者, 嚴行治罪.
[一] 和尚,也里可溫,先生,荅失蠻, 買賣不須納稅, 卻不得將合納稅之人等物貨, 妄作已物夾帶影蔽違者, 取問是實, 犯人斷罪, 物貨沒官. 其店肆,塌房,客旅,停塌,物貨, 依例銷報納稅.
Christopher P. Atwood, “Buddhists as Natives: Changing Positions in the Religious Ecology of the Mongol Yuan Dynasty,” in The Middle Kingdom and the Dharma Wheel: aspects of the relationship between the Buddhist Saṃgha and the state in Chinese history, ed. Thomas Jülch (Leiden: Brill, 2016), 278–321;
Christopher P. Atwood, “Validation by Holiness or Sovereignty: Religious Toleration as Political Theology in the Mongol World Empire of the Thirteenth Century,” The International History Review 26, no. 2 (June 1, 2004): 237–56.
Wonhee Cho, “Negotiated Privilege: Strategic Tax Exemptions Policies for Religious Groups and the Mongol-Yuan Dynasty in 13th Century China,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, (Forthcoming, 2020)
Translation of Text 1, 2, 3, 4
Translation of Text 1
Regulations Regarding the Prohibition of Collecting Taxes from the Buddhists and Daoists.
On the thirty first year of the Zhiyuan era, fifth month, sixteenth day, the Central Secretariat received the following imperial edict. In summary [it reads]
In the imperial edicts of Chinggis Khan, Ögödei Qa'an and the former Qa’an, [it has been said that] Buddhists, Christian Clergy, Daoists, regardless of the taxes, will not be subjected, and will pray to the heaven for the longevity [of the Qa’an]. From now, in accordance with the regulations stipulated by the imperial edicts, [subject missing] regardless of the taxes will not be subject to, and will pray to heaven for the longevity [of the Qa’an].
Translation of Text 2 (based on Herbert Franke, “Tan-Pa, a Tibetan Lama at the Court of the Great Khan,” Orientalia Venetiana 1 (1984): 157–80. With minor corrections)
In the fourth month of the year Jiawu (1294), Temür Khan succeeded to the throne and sent messengers to summon the teacher [i.e., Danba]. The teacher came and when the congratulation ceremony had ended he memorialized the throne, “Formerly in the days when Emperor Chinggis Khan ruled the state, the territory of the state was not yet large. The state did not collect tax (shuiliang 稅量) from Buddhist monks and Daoists. Today everything within the Four Seas is unified and ten thousand states offer tribute. Why should one discard established rules because of a small profit? If the taxation is remitted, the individuals will have rest and their minds can concentrate so that they can devote themselves diligently to show their gratitude to the state.” The emperor said, “You should deliberate about this with the Chancellor Wanze (Öljei).” [Danba] answered: “This plot [to tax monks] comes from the officials in the Central Secretariat. Unless Your Majesty decides in person, what is the use of discussing it with others?” After a long while the emperor said, “Tomorrow is the first day of the month. A religious ceremony shall be held before the statue with the Buddha relics in The Pavilion of Great Peace (Da’ange 大安閣). You should come early.” On the following day, the teacher entered the palace pavilion and took his seat next to the Imperial Preceptor. The Emperor ordered the scribe to proclaim distinctly the imperial command. Then he looked at the teacher and asked, “From now on the monks will be exempt from paying tax. Is your mind now pleased or not?” The teacher rose, gave thanks, and said, “All the monks in the empire are moved by your holy kindness.”
 The two Chinese characters shui 稅 and liang 糧 are hard to interpret. Shui itself can broadly mean “tax” as a generic term, but is also can narrowly mean commercial tax. Liang primarily means “grain” or “food” but can also simply refer to grain tax. But as a compound, the word shuiliang specifically can indicate the collection of grain tax.  Öljei (1249-1303) was Senior Chancellor from 1291-1303 and has a short biography in Yuanshi, 130: 3173-3174. He is also the Chancellor Öljei recorded in Persian sources.  The Pavilion of Great Peace was the main hall of the Yuan summer capital Shangdu (the Xanadu in Marco Polo and ultimately Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem, modern Inner Mongolia). It was first built in 1266, and in 1294 Chengzong’s coronation ceremony was held there. Marco Polo mentions that there was a palace full of gold when he met the Khubilai at Xanadu, a description that fits with the record in Yuanshi, stating that the entrance was covered with gold. See Yuanshi, 6:113.
Translation of Text 3.
On the first year of the Huangqing era, tenth month, seventeenth day, the Central Secretariat memorialized [the following]. Because of the payment of taxation of the Buddhists, Daoists, Christian Clergy and Muslim scholars, in the past, because of the difference between the officials of the Central Secretariat and the officials of the Bureau of Tibetan and Buddhist Affairs, on the year of the sheep during the times of Üljeitu emperor, the officials of the Central Secretariat [represented by] Üljei, the officials of the Bureau of Tibetan and Buddhist Affairs [represented by] Dashmand, discussed the issue with Imperial Preceptor Gragspa-‘Odzer. Then, [the following was concluded]. Except for the lands that had been “permanent endowments” at the time of the fall of the Song, and the lands that Qubilai Qa’an had granted as permanent endowments, other lands that various people had given to the temples after the “surrender of the Song” or lands that had been purchased, or land that have been hidden, should all be subject to land tax and commercial tax. It his had been designated as a regulation as a result of the memorial.