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Hong-zhi: Year 13, Month 2, Day 15

14 Mar 1500

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Previously, in the Interpreters Institute, the yi persons Zao Ha, a commissioner in the Kao-lang-wu Guard and Lou De, a commissioner in the Cheng-tao-wen Guard were drinking together and began fighting. Zao Ha killed Lou De with a knife. The Ministry of Rites advised of this. The memorial was sent to the judicial office which deliberated upon it and proposed appropriate prohibitions and arrangements: "1. In future, when yi persons who are coming to offer tribute arrive at the border, the grand defender and grand coordinator should arrange for their weapons to be taken into custody. The envoys should not be allowed to carry the weapons. Then, officers and interpreters should be selected to escort them [to the capital]. These escorts must be very careful in restraining the envoys and must not neglect their duties, allow trouble to erupt between the various yi or allow them to extort goods from offices. After they reach the capital, the escorts and interpreters must pay attention to keeping the envoys under control. The secretary first sent by the Ministry of Rites should handle matters as originally stipulated. It should be arranged that a senior interpreter go to the Institute once every five days to warn and instruct the yi to look to their own affairs. On this point, relevant precedents and details of joint deliberations in past years should be examined and relevant stipulations be deliberated upon and set down. 2. The Ministry of War should send an official to check the gate attendants and to warn and instruct the escorting personnel. He should also patrol and investigate all abuses and irregularities. The Ministry of Works should send an official to check all equipment and buildings to ensure that none have been damaged. 3. In future, when yi persons are to be banqueted in the hall of the Court of Imperial Entertainments, the senior supervisor must ensure that all sacrificial vessels are clean and in order. On the first and fifteenth days of the month, or when they are being received or taking leave, the food and wine to be supplied shall be examined by the investigating censor who is on duty on that day, who will, if he considers it coarse or insufficient, be permitted to memorialize the fact. 4. In future, when yi persons coming to offer tribute arrive at the capital, if any military or civilian persons dare to gather and stare in the street, make fun of, throw potsherds or tiles at, or strike and injure the yi persons, they shall be placed in a cangue and publicly displayed. 5. A secretary from the Ministry of Rites should arrange for an official to be solely engaged in looking after the yi persons who come to the Institute. He is to ensure that they have accommodation and that when they come and go, they have people to control and restrain the lowly masses, so that the yi persons are not intimidated or robbed. When trading, the current value of their goods should be calculated so that evil and guileful persons do not swindle the yi persons out of their valuables. 6. In future, anyone who violates the regulations by providing military weapons and equipment to the yi persons should, it is proposed, be sentenced to decapitation. If any military or civilian person who privately trades with the yi tribute envoys either within the capital or outside, or buys from or sells to them, are remiss in their duties, disturbs things, harms people or lets information leak out, they should be sent to border guards as soldiers. Military officials shall be transferred to border guards, while when interpreters or escorts transgress, those who are military officials should be handled in accordance with the regulations, while civilian officials should be dismissed. 7. When yi persons bring tribute to the capital, the regulations allow them to trade for five days. The officials will assemble traders and instruct them to bring non-prohibited goods to trade on an equal basis. If the escorts who originally came with them or the Institute attendants or interpreters entice or lead the yi to secretly enter people's houses to carry out private trade, the money and goods will be confiscated and the yi persons will not be rewarded. A proportional reduction in the envoy's freedom of movement might also be considered. Border officials will not be permitted to send off yi persons who have transgressed against the regulations. If escorts or merchants violate the regulations and engage in private buying or selling, they shall be placed in a cangue and publicly displayed. 8. Any official, clerk or other person in the capital or en route, who dares to lure the yi persons into purchasing forbidden goods or entices them into visiting prostitutes, shall be placed in a cangue and displayed publicly in that locality, and the yi persons shall be sent home. The Ministry of Rites and the Ministry of War shall both send officials to examine the baggage of the envoys and only after verifying that there are no prohibited goods being taken away will the yi be permitted to begin their journey." These deliberations were submitted to the Emperor who ordered that instructions and prohibitions be made publicly known and that it be stated that offenders would be severely punished and not pardoned.

Xiao-zong: juan 159.5b-6b

Zhong-yang Yan-jiu yuan Ming Shi-lu, volume 57, page 2858/60

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Preferred form of citation for this entry:

Geoff Wade, translator, Southeast Asia in the Ming Shi-lu: an open access resource, Singapore: Asia Research Institute and the Singapore E-Press, National University of Singapore, http://epress.nus.edu.sg/msl/reign/hong-zhi/year-13-month-2-day-15, accessed July 17, 2020