In 2008, a schoolfellow of Tsinghua University rescued a batch of bamboo slips from overseas and donated them to Tsinghua University. According to convention in archeology circle, experts intimately call these bamboo-slips ‘Tsinghua Slips’. Experts recollected that when they saw these bamboo slips for the first time, they were packed by a plastic cloth. There were 7 packages in total. It was wet inside. Bamboo slips are made of bamboo chips. Each chip is inscribed with characters. Binding all the bamboo chips of a piece of article together is called a volume. According to statistics, this batch of bamboo slips, taking the loose bamboo slips into account, contains 2500 slips altogether. On a small number of bamboo slips, there are red grid lines called vermilion lines. According to similar experience in the past, it can be inferred that this batch of bamboo slips are funeral objects in tombs. The appearance of Tsinghua slips attracted great attention of domestic and foreign historiography circles. Li Xueqin, Professor of History Department of Tsinghua University and Director-general of China Pre-Qin History Society. The batch of bamboo slips delivered to Tsinghua University from abroad attracted Li Xueqin.
Tsinghua slips vary in sizes. Though the characters written with writing brush and different in style, most of them are tidy and neat in structure. They look very clear.
The batch of bamboo slips are Warring States slips. The experts in Tsinghua University are excited. The Warring States of China refers to the period from 475 B.C. to 221 B.C., in which year he First Emperor of Qin unified China. It was a period during which China was in the most serious disunity and such disunity was the longest in Chinese history. After the establishment of Qin Dynasty, because in the society of that time, hundreds school of thoughts contending had hindered and threatened the domination of First Emperor of Qin. In 213 B.C., Li Si, primer minister of Qin, advised to the emperor. He advocated prohibiting the ordinary people to criticize current politics with past stories and defame affairs of court with private school. First Emperor of Qin adopted the advice of Li Si and ordered to burn the history records of various states expert" Records of Qing". People who wanted to learn decree should learn from officials. This is the famous "Burning Books" in history.
After the disaster of burning books of Qin Dynasty, many works were burned and thus lost. Although some works are preserved to today, they all have the phenomenon of confusion of ages and mistakes of words in different degrees. Archaeologists and historians can only carry out discussion and research with existing records for words. If this batch of Tsinghua slips is proved to be the bamboo slips of Warring States Period, that is to say, they had been completely buried underground as funeral objects before burning books and survived in that disaster. It will have great significance on research of ancient Chinese history.
Now that the owner of Tsinghua slips was a historical
official, the contents recorded in them must have relation with history. The
contents of them are different from those of Warring States Period discovered
earlier. In archeological history of China, the existing bamboo slips about
books of Warring State Period mainly include 3 batches. The third batch is
Tsinghua slips collected in Tsinghua University this time. Professor Li Xueqin
surprisingly finds there unexpectedly are sections and chapters of the "Book of
It is said that in the later years of the reign of Emperor Jing of Han. "Book of History" written in Tadpole Script was discovered in the wall of Confucius's former residency. It had 16 more pieces of article than "Modern Book of History" in clerical script by Fu Sheng in the period of Emperor Wen of Han. It was called "Book of History in Ancient Chinese". According to experts, "Book of History in Ancient Chinese" later lost but reappeared in the Eastern Jin Dynasty. The latter "Book of History" had been determined to be a false copy by the later generations after study by many scholars since Song Dynasty. But until now, there are still many scholars who argue for it. The discovery of the genuine "Book of History in Ancient Chinese" in Tsinghua slips contributes to the settlement of the controversy. The first volume of the "Bamboo Slips of Warring States Collected in Tsinghua University" contains nine documents, including "Yin Zhi", "Yin Gao", "Cheng Wu", "Bao Xun", "Qi Ye", "Jin Teng", "Huang Men", "Ji Gong" and "Chu Ju". The first eight of them belong to "Book of History" or are documents similar to "Book of History". For example, "Bao Xun" has never known to people since the burning books in Qin Dynasty. "Huang Men" records contents of Duke of Zhou admonishing his ministers to provide ideas and recommend virtuous to help him with the administration of the state. "Ji Gong" talks about contents of the last entrust of Jihong Moufu in the period of King Mu of Zhou. These can make contrast to the handed down versions, and correct the mistakes in them.
The length of "Chu Ju" slips is about 50 cm. It is the longest one among the Tsinghua slips. "Chu Ju" elaborates the bloodline and residency of the Kings of Chu and the locations of capital of Chu in all dynasties. It begins with the legendary first ancestor of Chu, Ji Lian, to King Dao of Chu in the middle age of Warring States. It lists the locations of capital of Chu in successive dynasties and the reasons for migration. Many solace names can refer to those in Chu slips discovered earlier, providing abundant clues for research of the history and geography of and archaeological work on Chu.
The discovery of Tsinghua slips has given rise to wild
range of attention from historian circle home and abroad. The study on it has
just taken its course. We believe, with further study, we will get more clues
from it for the study of Chinese history.