Chinese literature begins with ShiJing (Book of Odes), an anthology of songs, poems, and hymns. It consists of 311 poems (6 without text) dating from the Zhou Dynasty (1027-771 BC) to the Spring & Autumn Period (770-476 BC). Geographically, these poems were collected from the area which is now central China and the lower HuangHe (Yellow River) Valley of north China where Chinese civilization began and flourished. The area covers what are today Shanxi, Shaanxi, Shandong , Henan, and Hubei provinces.|
The collection is divided into four main sections:
GuoFeng (Lessons from the States): poems or folk songs from ordinary people.
XiaoYa (Minor Odes of the Kingdom): poems or songs concerning life of the nobility.
DaYa (Greater Odes of the Kingdom): poems or songs of praise of the rulers and their life.
Song (Odes of the Temple and the Altar): hymns written for religious ceremonies of the court.
In spite of the many interpretations and commentaries written generations later, ShiJing� influence on Chinese literature is overwhelming and undeniable by any one at any time. ShiJing not only lays the foundation for the formation of style and rules for Chinese classical poems, it is also frequently quoted in other canonical Chinese texts and has always been referred to as moral truth and lessons. It is no coincidence that the number of poems selected by Sun Zhu in 1763 for his popular 300 Tang Poems was an exact match with that of the ShiJing. This is just an example of how influential ShiJing is on Chinese literature even in the most trivial way.