During the first half century of the Qing dynasty, Manchu emperors commissioned massive publication projects on the Chinese classics. In early Qing interpretations of classics on the family, negotiations between Manchu and Han family and gender norms furthered the empire-building project. This article compares the spatial form of the Yuding Nei ze yanyi 御定内則衍義 (1656), an expansion of the “Inner Standards” chapter of the Classic of Rites commissioned by the Shunzhi emperor, to that of the Yuding Xiao jing yanyi 御定孝經衍義 (1682), an expansion of the Classic of Filial Piety commissioned by the Kangxi emperor. These works are textual spaces where the cultural and political negotiations of the early Qing empire play out; they use spatial strategies of juxtaposition and hierarchy to balance different messages for different constituencies, creating textual models of empire.

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