Online ISSN : 2424-2616
Print ISSN : 0018-2478
ISSN-L : 0018-2478
The Order of the Bazhuguo 八柱国 under the Western Wei Dynasty : An Examination of Narrative Style Concerning the Tang Imperial Ancestor in its Official Compilations
Yoshitaka MAEJIMA
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1999 Volume 108 Issue 8 Pages 1455-1476,1546-


Concerning the "Bazhuguo 八柱国", lauded for their distinguished service to the Western Wei Dynasty, the end of chapter 16 of the Zhoushu 周書 mentions that these official posts were established in AD 550 (Datong 大統 16). Occupying the top position among the seven Zhuguo-dajianjun 柱国大将軍 other than the Northern Zhou's Wendi YuwenTai 文帝宇文泰 was the Tang imperial ancestor LiHu 李虎 ; however, the official posts of Taiwei 太尉, Shangshu-zuopushe 尚書左僕射, and Longyou-xingtai 隴右行臺 added here are in conflict with the actual bureaucratic system of the time, showing that they were added by later editors. The Western Wet modeled its bureaucracy after the Zhouli 周礼, rather than adopting the former Northern Wei system. The first step in the process, a framework for bureaucratic reform created in the fifth month of 548, abolished Sangong / Erda 三公・二大 in favor of the Liuqing 六卿 system. As a result, the position of Dajiangjun was relegated to a ranked status with no official duties. The post of Taiwei had probably already been abolished, since there is no mention of it as of 550. Furthermore, Shangshu-zuopushe was a much lower position than mentioned, and the existence of Longyou-xingtai cannot be corroborated for that era. Judging from the other posts, the author estimates that the actual position occupied by Lieu among all eight Zhuguo-dajiangjun was seventh, implying that the order was changed during the editing of the Zhoushu. The reordering of the generals can be explained by the fact that Lieu was the imperial ancestor of the Tang Dynasty and that the Zhoushu comes to us from the books selected for imperial perusal at the beginning of the Tang period. After all, it would have been politically incorrect to list the any ancestor of the present emperor second to another. The anomalous bureaucratic posts attributed to the Western Wei probably reflect the system in force at the time that the Zhoushu was edited at the beginning of the Tang period. Here is at least one example showing the necessity for careful critical review of both the narrative, especially concerning the Tang imperial ancestor, and the source materials cited in the Tang period imperial selections.

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© 1999 The Historical Society of Japan
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