Speaking with the Learning of Odes Cao Zhi’s Representation of the Shijing and Its Hermeneutic Traditions in the Contexts of Han-Wei China

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Yixin Gu



This paper investigates the representation of the Shijing 詩經 and its hermeneutic traditions in Cao Zhi’s 曹植 (192–232 CE) poetic writings with regard to the reception and utilization of the Shijing at different stages, especially the early third century CE. Cao Zhi not merely appropriated poetic utterances and literary patterns from particular odes but also presented a variety of Shijing-related interpretations, which show correspondences with different hermeneutic traditions that transcended the boundaries of the four main Shijing schools. This case represents a syncretic mode of the reception and utilization of the Shijing within larger intellectual and cultural contexts. The Cao regime, as the new ruling authority in Northern China around the early third century CE, engaged in gathering dispersed literary scholars and cultural legacies, in which the Shijing-related materials and sources played significant roles. Taking Cao Zhi’s syncretic representation of the Shijing and its hermeneutic traditions as an instantiation of these factors, this paper also aims to invite methodological reflections on the traditional and modern studies of the reception of the Shijing, considering its status with both literal significance and hermeneutic diversity in early and medieval China.

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