The eight-legged essay (chinese pinyin bgwén, literally eight share text) was a style of essay that exam-takers wrote to pass the imperial examinations during the ming and qing dynasties in china.
The eight-legged essay was needed for those test takers in these civil service tests to show their merits for government service, often focusing on confucian thought and knowledge of the four books and five classics, in relation to governmental ideals. Test takers could not write in innovative or creative ways, but needed to conform to the standards of the eight-legged essay. Various skills were examined, including the ability to write coherently and to display basic logic. In certain times, the candidates were expected to spontaneously compose poetry upon a set theme, whose value was also sometimes questioned, or eliminated as part of the test material. This was a major argument in favor of the eight-legged essay, arguing that it were better to eliminate creative art in favor of prosaic literacy. In the history of chinese literature, the eight-legged essay is often said to have caused chinas cultural stagnation and economic backwardness in the 19th century.
Eight-legged essay was the required eight- part response to civil service examination questions based on confucian thought.
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the eight-legged essay (baguwen , also called babiwen , zhiyi , zhiyi systematic skill, shiyi or shiwen modern essay, or juye achievement for promotion) was a type of essay to be written as part of the state examinations. It required particular skills of composition and was therefore known as notoriously demanding.
The eight legged essay was so named because it is comprised of eight parts, each of which must be carefully composed according to a strict technique. The essay consists of an opening and amplification, which put forth the topic and clarify the theme to begin.
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The eight legged essay was the primary test for people to get ranks as scholars in ming and qing china. It tested students on their knowledge of the confucian classics, and their ability to write commentaries on them in a very formal, prescribed manner.
Wang ao (1450 1524) was a politician, essayist and poet of the ming dynasty. As a politician during the reign of the zhengde emperor, he held the position of grand secretariat. Wang ao was also an essayist who was considered a master on eight-legged essays.