The Sanzijing 三字经 “Three-character classic” is a character text book for elementary learning. It is traditionally attributed to the Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279) scholar Wang Yinglin 王应麟. The common version of the book has 1,248 characters (a Qing period print only 1,140), which are arranged in sets of three, or verses of six. The book is divided into five parts, explaining the various steps of learning, from the initial requirements, the understanding of social relationships, the numbers, seasons, the Five Processes, plants and animals, to the standardized learning with succesful outcome. The book was very popular in traditional China, and there was even a multi-lingual version including Manchurian and Mongolian. For practical learning, theSanzijing has often been rated as not very applicable because of the complexity of the text and the use of specialised characters.
There is a commentary to the Sanzijing written by Zhao Nanxing 赵南星 included in thecollectaneum Meiniezhai yishu 昧檗斋遗书, as well as a textual explanation Sanzijing xungu 三字经训诂 by Wang Xiang 王相. The collectaneum Guangrentang congshu 广仁堂丛书 includes the supplement Guang sanzijing 广三字经 by Master Jiaoxuan 蕉轩氏. The newest commentary, the Chongding sanzijing 重订三字经, has been written by Zhang Binglin 章炳麟.