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Book of Odes

Shi Jing (The Book of Odes) is the earliest collection of Chinese poetry, and was originally called Shi (Poems), containing 305 poems from the Western Zhou Dynasty (11th centuary-771BC) to the mid Spring and Autumn Period (770-476BC) and including three sections, namely, Feng (songs), Ya (odes) and Song (hymns). Most poems in Feng are the folk songs from various places, differentiated as Da Ya (The Major Songs) and Xiao Ya (The Minor Songs). The poems in Da Ya are basically written by the nobles, while Xiao Ya contains both the poems of the nobles and folk songs. Song consists of Zhou Song, Lu Song and Shang Song, which are the hymns and songs for feting ancestors and gods.

Shi Jing represents the great artistic achievement of ancient China, reflecting the social life, folk customs and tradition, and the institutional regulations of that time.

At present, there are many annotated versions of Shi Jing.

Many poems in Shi Jing are historical poems, and thus can be used as historical materials. The content can be divided into five categories in general:

1. The history and legends of the early Zhou Dynasty;

2. Records of the great historical events;

3. Social system, including allotment of the land, taxation, cultivation, and the practice of burying some people alive with the dead;

4. Darkness of the politics, suffering of the civilian, and antagonizing of people. As an example, the two famous poems of Big Rat, and Lumbering reproach wrathfully the nobles for their exploitation.

5. Records of the natural calamity. An earthquake occurred on November 6 in the 6th year (776BC) of Zhou Emperor Youwang. This is the earliest record of earthquake in Chinese history.