Six Writings by Master K'ung

AnonymousAD 960-AD 1279

National Palace Museum

National Palace Museum
Taipei, Taiwan

Kong Zhuan, Song dynasty (960-1279)
1166 Southern Song Quanzhou imprint by Han Zhongtong

Confucius is one of the most venerated figures in the history of China, and his descendants have been respected ever since. When the Northern Song dynasty fell in 1126 and the government fled south, the 47th descendant of Confucius, Kong Duanyou, also moved south. This text was written sometime after moving south. The book imitates the six writings of Po Chu-i (772-846), which were categorized and compiled under the title "Liu-t'ieh hsin-shu" (New Book in Six Writings). Later, following the title of "Po-shih liu-t'ieh" (Six Writings by Po), it was changed to "Six Writings by Master K'ung."

This book is a collection by Kong Zhuan from many sources. Detractors of the book have claimed that it is unfocused. However, the sources date prior to the Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) dynasties. These selections provide important information for scholars of ancient writings. As the author of a preface to the book objectively wrote, these selections are like raw materials that can be used for a variety of purposes. The six writings of Po and K'ung, as separate books, each consisted of 30 "chuan" (chapters). Near the end of the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279), they were printed together into a set of 100 chapters. Following the Yuan (1279-1368) and Ming (1368-1644) dynasties, reprintings all followed the 100-chapter edition and combined into a single title. The original separate edition vanished as an entity. This "Six Writings by Master K'ung" from the Song dynasty is the only surviving copy of this original individual edition.

This rare Song imprint of the text was not recorded by previous book collectors. Only one chapter is missing and it bears the seal of the Wen-yuan Pavilion library of the Ming dynasty. In the catalogue of that library, the text is mentioned as "one set, ten volumes; incomplete." It was thus already incomplete even at that time in the Ming inner court. After leaving the Ming court collection, it came into the possession of an official in the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) and entered the imperial collection sometime during the 18th or early 19th century, being recorded in the continuation of the "T'ien-lu lin-lang" imperial catalogue. It is now organized into 19 volumes, which reflects a later arrangement.


  • Title: Six Writings by Master K'ung
  • Creator: Anonymous
  • Date Created: AD 960-AD 1279
  • Physical Dimensions: 26.1 x 17.2 cm (print: 21 x 14.7 cm)
  • Type: Rare Books
  • Rights: National Palace Museum
  • Dynasty: Song dynasty

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