The term refers to the five Confucian classics: The Book of Songs, The Book of History, The Book of Rites, The Book of Changes, and The Spring and Autumn Annals. In the pre-Qin period, the term “Six Classics” was used, referring to The Book of Songs, The Book of History, The Book of Rites, The Book of Music, The Book of Changes, and The Spring and Autumn Annals. The Book of Music, did not exist in written form, hence people often used the term “Five Classics” during the Han Dynasty. After Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty established the title of “Academician of the Five Classics,” study of these works became the foundation of Chinese learning, culture, and thought. In terms of content, the Five Classics each has its own focus; for instance, The Book of Songs deals with aspirations, and The Book of History chronicles events. Different in focus but complementing each other, they form an integral collection of classics. Throughout history, Confucian scholars added significant meaning to these classics with their interpretations of the original texts. The Five Classics comprise traditional Chinese culture’s fundamental understanding of world order and values, epitomizing the concept of Dao.
Which are the Five Classics? They are: The Book of Songs, The Book of History, The Book of Rites, The Book of Changes, and The Spring and Autumn Annals. (Debates of the White Tiger Hall)