Wang Mu's Xixiang-xianzhi: A Reading of a Rather Unusual Gazetteer of Early Qing Shanxi

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  • 王穆の西郷県志:陝西の稀覯地志を読み解く
  • オウボク ノ セイゴウ ケン シ キョウセイ ノ キコウチ シ オ ヨミ トク

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It was in 1718 that Wang Mu 王穆, the head magistrate (zhixian 知県) of Xixiangxian 西郷県 in Shanxi 陝西 Province, completed his compilation of a ten-volume local gazetteer entitled Xixiang-xiaxianzhi 西郷県志, a unique undertaking 70% of which consists of “Yiwenzhi” 芸文志, catalogues of written works extant at the time, Volume 9 “Yiwenzhi: Zhaolai” 招徠 in particular is a catalogue of twelve works authored by Wang himself, which contain valuable records concerning migrants whom he invited to move into the region during his magistracy (1712-1721).During the Wu-Sangui rebellion which lasted from 1673 to 1678, Shanxi Province suffered serious depopulation resulting in much of its rice paddy falling out of cultivation. It was the xian 県 magistrates who, faced with the danger of not being able to pay the taxes levied by the central government and losing their appointments, were forced to invite migrants to move into the region in order to revive agricultural productivity and fulfil their tax obligations. Migrants came into Shanxi from all over China, the majority hailing from Huguang 湖広 (Hubei湖北—Hunan 湖南) and Guangdong 広東. The migration first involved able-bodied adult male colonists moving to the region, then after settling in, calling for their families to come join them. However., there was one institutional barrier to this movement. From the early Qing period, while there were regulations permitting migration to Sichuan 四川, movement into Shanxi was not officially recognized.In response, Wang Mu utilized the influence and authority of his superior, the provincial governor E Hai 鄂海, who fortunately was well connected with people in the central government, to the fullest in order to overcome this institutional problem. This is probably the reason why Xixiang-xianzhi contains so many quotations (too many, actually) from E Hai, indicating Wang’s attempt to keep on the good side of his boss; and with the former’ssupport was relatively successful in enticing migrants to repopulate his jurisdiction. However, the officials of Huguang and Guangdong were opposed to the families of migrants moving out of their districts, since there were no provisions in the existing regulations permitting such exoduses. E Hai’s influence in high places was particularly useful in encouraging families to move out of their home provinces.When in 1721 E Hai was dismissed from his position due to incompetence, Wang Mu was also relieved of duty: and such changes in personnel were by no means coincidental, for Wang’s bureaucratic career had originated from the political influence and support of E Hai. How Wang faired after his dismissal remains a mystery, but there is no doubt that he left behind a very rare and valuable account of migration to the southern part of Shanxi Province during the early Qing period.

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