Brill’s Encyclopedia of China

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(1,235 words)

The province has been an echelon of territorial administration immediately below the central level since Yuan times. Its bureaucratic history can be traced through the derivation of the Chinese word for province, sheng. Referring in the Han dynasty to the inner quarters of the imperial court (shengzhong), the term was later attached to the three boards of imperial government located at court (zhongshusheng, shangshusheng, menxiasheng). In time, the word was transferred to the territorial units of government through which the imperial boards supervised the ex…

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Fitzgerald, John, “Provinces”, in: Brill’s Encyclopedia of China, Managing Editor English Edition: Daniel Leese. Consulted online on 03 March 2024 <>
First published online: 2008
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004168633, 20121018

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