instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads

Strategies for the Human Realm: Crux of the T'ai-pai Yin-ching

   Composed by Li Ch’üan (Li Quan), a provincial military official who served in the middle T’ang dynasty, the T’ai-pai Yin-ching revitalized the theoretical study of warfare in China. Remarkably comprehensive, it first focuses upon the human realm, devoting a quarter of its hundred chapters to the grand issues of government, warfare, human society, ethical values, and man’s orientation within the universe while pondering the more concrete problems of the nature of command, methods for evaluating men, the role of rewards and punishments, and the implementation of subversive measures. Instead of conquering through combat or achieving the fabled hundred victories in a hundred clashes, Li’s aim was victory without combat so as to preserve the state rather than debilitate it in warfare. (The remaining seventy-five chapters, not translated here, briefly discuss important battle equipment and techniques before unfolding extensive material on sacrifices and arcane prognosticatory methods.)