1987 Volume 96 Issue 9 Pages 1468-1487,1556-
This paper investigates the actual conditions of guilds in the Ch'ang-shu hsien-Ch'eng 常熟県城 during the late Ming and the early Ch'ing on the basis of tang-kuan 當官 epigraphs contained in the Chiang-su sheng Ming-Ch'ing i-lai pei-k'e tzu-liao hsuan-chi 江蘇省明清以来碑刻資料選集 (1958) and Ming Ch'ing Suchou kunghang yeh pei-k'e chi 明清蘇州工商業碑刻集 (1980). From the middle Ming Dynasty onward, the evils of the p'u-hu 鋪戸 corvee (the corvee for the provision of official necessaries) constituted a social problem in local cities as well as Pei-ching and Nan-ching. Those epigaphs were made as the result that the guilds had petitioned the government to remove these evils. The time when they were made is from Wan-li 万暦42 (1614) to Ch'ien-lung 乾隆34 (1769). Those of the K'ang-hsi 康煕 era occupy more than half the number. They refer to many types of occupations such as pawnbrokers, lumber traders, dry goods dealers, dyers houses, grocers and the like. Though they were erected at the government office and their contents concerned notifications of the governor (Chih-hsien 知県) who had received directions from superior offices, the building expenses were borne by the guilds. An analysis of epigraphs classified by business shows that the activity for defence of interests against the government was actualized. That is to say, the organized power of the guilds was increasing in this period. Generally the development of monetary economy and simple commodity production has been pointed out as factors promoting the growth of guilds. In addition to this, the settlement of outside merchants such as Hsin-an 新安 merchants in the pawnbroker guild is remarkable. Therefore, the growth of guilds during this period was due to unified power that outside merchants possessed as company settling from the same province. Those merchants practiced not only the defence of interests against the goverment, but also mutual aid like the foundation of cemeteries (i-chung 義塚). As a rule, these activities of outside merchants made the foundation of guild halls (hui-kuan kun-so 会館・公所) that became popular during the early Ch'ing possible.