(Chinese: "The Odes")
China's oldest poetic anthology, collected around 600 BCE, consisting of 305 poems, dating as far back as 1000 BCE. In the book, these are classified as:
The feng are subdivided according to which of the 15 different North Chinese feudal states they came from, and must (judging from their linguistic similarities) have been edited significantly prior to inclusion. They tell of love, marriage, deceit, the burden of taxation, and the exhaustion of war.
The word ya means "elegant", and this is the theme set by the coutr poems of the Shi Jing. These are happy songs of parties, hunting, sacrifice to the gods, and of the ancestral founder of the Zhou dynasty. They also tell of coups d'état and of administrative details, as well as voicing bitter complaints over the hereditary rulers' expensive habits and general misrule.
The song are panegyrics, mostly propaganda pieces praising the Zhou and Shang rulers.
Apart from the song, the poems of the Shi Jing are mostly brief, with four ideograms per line, rich in refrain, onomatopoieia and metaphor (mostly inspired by nature).
The Shi Jing is probably the oldest example of rhymed poetry in the world. With the Chu Ci, it forms the oldest poetic heritage of China.