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  • Writer's picture Даосская Ассоциация России

What is Huban?

Cheng Bohan

11/20/2023


The "hù bǎn" (笏板), also known as the 朝笏 cháo hù, or 朝简 cháo jiǎn, was primarily used in ancient China when ministers met with the emperor. It was used to record the emperor's orders or decrees and could also be used to write the content of memorials to the emperor as a reminder. The length of a "hù bǎn" was approximately 2 feet 6 inches, with a width of about 3 inches. Despite its small size, it was highly valuable due to the material used in its construction, which could include jade, ivory, or bamboo.




The earliest use of "hù bǎn" can be traced back to before the Spring and Autumn Period, possibly even during the Shang Dynasty. It was one of the longest-lasting office supplies used by ancient Chinese officials.

In ancient times, when civil and military officials met with the emperor, they would hold a "hù bǎn" in their hands to record the emperor's commands or decrees. They could also write down what they intended to present to the emperor to prevent forgetting their words.

 

During the Tang Dynasty, officials of the fifth rank and above used ivory "hù bǎn," while those of the sixth rank and below used bamboo or wooden ones. In the Ming Dynasty, it was mandated that officials of the fifth rank and above should use ivory "hù bǎn," while those of the fifth rank and below did not use them. Starting from the Qing Dynasty, "hù bǎn" gradually fell out of use.


In the Daoist worldview, the relationship between deities and Daoist priests is seen as a lord and minister relationship. Therefore, "hù bǎn" continued to be used in Daoist rituals.

Only the priest who have Heavenly Position can obtain and use Huban.

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