Records of the Grand Historian

ShijiShi JiHistorical RecordsRecords of the Grand Historian'' (''Shiji'' 史記)HistoryShih chiRecordsRecords of the HistorianSagiShih-Chi
The Records of the Grand Historian, also known by its Chinese name Shiji, is a monumental history of ancient China and the world finished around 94 BC by the Han dynasty official Sima Qian after having been started by his father, Sima Tan, Grand Astrologer to the imperial court.wikipedia
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Sima Qian

Sima, QianSsu-ma Ch'ienGrand Historian
The Records of the Grand Historian, also known by its Chinese name Shiji, is a monumental history of ancient China and the world finished around 94 BC by the Han dynasty official Sima Qian after having been started by his father, Sima Tan, Grand Astrologer to the imperial court.
He is considered the father of Chinese historiography for his Records of the Grand Historian, a general history of China in the Jizhuanti style covering more than two thousand years beginning from the rise of the legendary Yellow Emperor and the formation of the first Chinese polity to the reigning sovereign of Sima Qian's time, Emperor Wu of Han.

Chinese historiography

Chinese sourcesChinaChinese histories
The Records of the Grand Historian, also known by its Chinese name Shiji, is a monumental history of ancient China and the world finished around 94 BC by the Han dynasty official Sima Qian after having been started by his father, Sima Tan, Grand Astrologer to the imperial court.
The first systematic Chinese historical text, the Shiji (Records of the Grand Historian, 史記), was written by Sima Qian (c.145 or 135–86BC) based on work by his father, Sima Tan.

Han dynasty

Eastern Han dynastyHanWestern Han dynasty
The Records of the Grand Historian, also known by its Chinese name Shiji, is a monumental history of ancient China and the world finished around 94 BC by the Han dynasty official Sima Qian after having been started by his father, Sima Tan, Grand Astrologer to the imperial court.
According to the Records of the Grand Historian, after the collapse of the Qin dynasty the hegemon Xiang Yu appointed Liu Bang as prince of the small fief of Hanzhong, named after its location on the Han River (in modern southwest Shaanxi).

Yellow Emperor

HuangdiHuang DiXuanyuan
The work covers the world as it was then known to the Chinese and a 2500-year period from the age of the legendary Yellow Emperor to the reign of Emperor Wu of Han in the author's own time. The Grand Historian used The Annals of the Five Emperors and the Classic of History as source materials to make genealogies from the time of the Yellow Emperor until that of the Gonghe regency (841-828 BC).
The Records of the Grand Historian, compiled by Sima Qian in the first century BCE, gives the Yellow Emperor's name as "Xuan Yuan".

Twenty-Four Histories

Chinese historiesofficial historiesChinese dynastic histories
The Records set the model for the 24 subsequent dynastic histories of China.
One of the Twenty-Four Histories is in the process of being fully translated into English: Records of the Grand Historian by William Nienhauser, in nine volumes,

Sima Tan

The Records of the Grand Historian, also known by its Chinese name Shiji, is a monumental history of ancient China and the world finished around 94 BC by the Han dynasty official Sima Qian after having been started by his father, Sima Tan, Grand Astrologer to the imperial court.
While Sima Tan had begun the Records of the Grand Historian (Shiji), he died before it was finished.

Confucius

ConfucianConfucianism
After Confucius and the First Emperor of Qin, "Sima Qian was one of the creators of Imperial China, not least because by providing definitive biographies, he virtually created the two earlier figures."
According to accounts in the Zuozhuan and Shiji, Confucius departed his homeland in 497 BC after his support for the failed attempt of dismantling the fortified city walls of the powerful Ji, Meng, and Shu families.

Qin Shi Huang

First EmperorYing ZhengQin Shihuang
After Confucius and the First Emperor of Qin, "Sima Qian was one of the creators of Imperial China, not least because by providing definitive biographies, he virtually created the two earlier figures." For instance, the material on Jing Ke's attempt at assassinating the King of Qin incorporates an eye-witness account by Xia Wuju, a physician to the king of Qin who happened to be attending the diplomatic ceremony for Jing Ke, and this account was passed on to Sima Qian by those who knew Xia.
According to the Records of the Grand Historian, written by Sima Qian during the Han dynasty, the first emperor was the eldest son of the Qin prince Yiren, who later became King Zhuangxiang of Qin.

Shang dynasty

ShangZiYin Dynasty
However, according to Joseph Needham, who wrote in 1954 on Sima Qian's accounts of the kings of the Shang dynasty (c.
The classic account of the Shang comes from texts such as the Book of Documents, Bamboo Annals and Records of the Grand Historian.

Ishiyama-dera

Ishiyama TempleThe pagoda of Ishiyama-dera
There are two known surviving fragments of Records manuscripts from before the Tang dynasty, both of which are preserved in the Ishiyama-dera temple in Ōtsu, Japan.
The temple possesses two fragments of manuscripts of the Records of the Grand Historian (Shiji 史記), the first of China's 24 dynastic histories, which are the only known extant fragments that pre-date the Tang dynasty (618–907).

Xia dynasty

XiaKing of the Xia dynastyXia Kingdom
While some aspects of Sima Qian's history of the Shang dynasty are supported by inscriptions on the oracle bones, there is, as yet, no clear corroborating evidence from archaeology on Sima Qian's history of the Xia dynasty.
The succession of dynasties was incorporated into the Bamboo Annals and the Records of the Grand Historian, and became the official position of imperial historiography and ideology.

Qin (state)

QinState of QinQin state
For instance, the material on Jing Ke's attempt at assassinating the King of Qin incorporates an eye-witness account by Xia Wuju, a physician to the king of Qin who happened to be attending the diplomatic ceremony for Jing Ke, and this account was passed on to Sima Qian by those who knew Xia.
According to the 2nd century  historical text Records of the Grand Historian by Sima Qian, the Qin state traced its origin to one of the Five Emperors in ancient times, named Zhuanxu.

Emperor Gaozu of Han

Liu BangEmperor GaozuEmperor Gao
For example, the information that Liu Bang (later Emperor Gaozu of Han), in a desperate attempt to escape in a chase from Xiang Yu's men, pushed his own children off his carriage to lighten it, was not given in the emperor's biography, but in the biography of Xiang Yu.
His temple name was "Taizu" while his posthumous name was "Emperor Gao" ; "Gaozu of Han", derived from the Records of the Grand Historian, is the common way of referring to this sovereign even though he was not accorded the temple name "Gaozu".

Jing Ke

an enemy agentfailed assassination attemptKing Or
For instance, the material on Jing Ke's attempt at assassinating the King of Qin incorporates an eye-witness account by Xia Wuju, a physician to the king of Qin who happened to be attending the diplomatic ceremony for Jing Ke, and this account was passed on to Sima Qian by those who knew Xia.
His story is told in the chapter entitled Biographies of Assassins in Sima Qian's Records of the Grand Historian.

Emperor Wu of Han

Emperor WuHan WudiLiu Che
The work covers the world as it was then known to the Chinese and a 2500-year period from the age of the legendary Yellow Emperor to the reign of Emperor Wu of Han in the author's own time.
Li's friend, the famed historian Sima Qian (whom Emperor Wu already bore a grudge against because Sima's Shiji was not as flattering to Emperor Wu and his father Emperor Jing as Emperor Wu wanted), who tried to defend Li's actions, was castrated.

Changsha

Changsha CityChangsha, ChinaChangsha, Hunan
(The father of Marquis Bian, Wu Rui, was named king (wang) of Changsha in Hunan for his loyalty to Gaozu.
Sima Qian's history states that the Yellow Emperor granted his eldest son Shaohao the lands of Changsha and its neighbors.

Qu Yuan

Mi YuanCh'ü YüanTuen Ng Festival
In his chapter on the patriotic minister and poet Qu Yuan, Sima Qian writes, "I have read [Qu Yuan's works] Li Sao, Tianwen ("Heaven Asking"), Zhaohun (summoning the soul), and Ai Ying (Lament for Ying)".
Eighty years later, the first known biography of Qu Yuan's life appeared in Han dynasty historian Sima Qian's Records of the Grand Historian, though it contains a number of contradictory details.

Li Sao

LisaoSaoChu ''sao
In his chapter on the patriotic minister and poet Qu Yuan, Sima Qian writes, "I have read [Qu Yuan's works] Li Sao, Tianwen ("Heaven Asking"), Zhaohun (summoning the soul), and Ai Ying (Lament for Ying)".
In the biography of Qu Yuan, li sao is explained as being as equivalent to li you (Sima Qian, Shiji or the Records of the Grand Historian).

Book of Documents

Classic of HistoryShujingShangshu
The Grand Historian used The Annals of the Five Emperors and the Classic of History as source materials to make genealogies from the time of the Yellow Emperor until that of the Gonghe regency (841-828 BC).
A list of 100 chapter titles was also in circulation; many are mentioned in the Records of the Grand Historian, but without quoting the text of the other chapters.

Doubting Antiquity School

Yigupaimodern textual scholarshipSkeptical School
Sima Qian began the Shiji with an account of the five rulers of supreme virtue, the Five Emperors, who modern scholars, such as those from the Doubting Antiquity School, believe to be originally local deities of the peoples of ancient China.
Joseph Needham wrote in 1954 that many scholars doubted that classic texts such as Sima Qian's Records of the Grand Historian contained accurate information about such distant history, including the thirty kings of the Shang dynasty (c.

Xiang Yu

Hong YuHung YuBa Wang
For example, the information that Liu Bang (later Emperor Gaozu of Han), in a desperate attempt to escape in a chase from Xiang Yu's men, pushed his own children off his carriage to lighten it, was not given in the emperor's biography, but in the biography of Xiang Yu.
The historian Sima Qian, who wrote Xiang Yu's biography in the Records of the Grand Historian, described Xiang as someone who boasted about his achievements and thought highly of himself.

Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors

Five EmperorsThree SovereignsThree August Ones and Five Emperors
Sima Qian began the Shiji with an account of the five rulers of supreme virtue, the Five Emperors, who modern scholars, such as those from the Doubting Antiquity School, believe to be originally local deities of the peoples of ancient China.

Sima Zhen

Zhang Yen
Most 2nd millennium editions of the Records include the commentaries of Pei Yin (裴駰, 5th century), Sima Zhen (early 8th century), and Zhang Shoujie (張守節, early 8th century).
Sima Zhen was one of the most important commentators on the Shiji.

Gonghe Regency

Gong HeGong He interregnum
The Grand Historian used The Annals of the Five Emperors and the Classic of History as source materials to make genealogies from the time of the Yellow Emperor until that of the Gonghe regency (841-828 BC).
According to the Han Dynasty historian Sima Qian (who interpreted Gonghe as 'joint harmony' in his Records of the Grand Historian), during the Gonghe regency, the Zhou Dynasty was ruled jointly by two dukes—the Duke of Zhou (not to be confused with the first and most well-known Duke of Zhou, who must have been his ancestor) and the Duke of Shao (召公—similarly, not to be confused with the first and most well-known Duke of Shao).

Lu (state)

LuState of LuLu state
List of Lu rulers based on the Records of the Grand Historian by Sima Qian: