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Encyclopedia > Records of the Grand Historian
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The Records of the Grand Historian or the Records of the Grand Historian of China (Chinese: 史記; pinyin: Shǐjì; Wade-Giles: Shih-chi; literally "Historical Records"), written from 109 BCE to 91 BCE, was the magnum opus of Sima Qian, in which he recounted Chinese history from the time of the mythical Yellow Emperor until his own time. As the first systematic Chinese historical text, it tremendously influenced Chinese historiography and prose, and is comparable to Herodotus and his Historiai. Jump to: navigation, search Pinyin (Chinese: 拼音, pÄ«nyÄ«n) literally means join (together) sounds (a less literal translation being phoneticize, spell or transcription) in Chinese and usually refers to HànyÇ” PÄ«nyÄ«n (汉语拼音, literal meaning: Han language pinyin), which is a system of romanization (phonemic notation and transcription to... Wade-Giles, sometimes abbreviated Wade, is a Romanization (phonetic notation and transliteration) system for the Chinese language based on Mandarin. ... Jump to: navigation, search Sima Qian (circa 145—90 BC) was a Prefect of the Grand Scribes (太史令) of the Han Dynasty. ... Yellow Emperor The Yellow Emperor or Huang Di (Chinese: 黃帝, Simplified Chinese: 黄帝, pÄ«nyÄ«n: huángdì) is a legendary Chinese sovereign and cultural hero who is said to be the ancestor of all Han Chinese. ... Jump to: navigation, search Bust of Herodotus Herodotus of Halicarnassus (Greek: Ἡροδοτος, Herodotos) was an ancient historian who lived in the 5th century BC (484 BC-ca. ...

The 130-chapter text classifies all information into several categories:

  1. 12 chapters of Běnjì (本紀) contain all biographies of the prominent rulers from the mythical Yellow Emperor to Qin Shi Huang and the kings of Xia, Shang, and Zhou dynasties. The biographies of four emperors and one empress dowager of the Han Dynasty before his age are also included.
  2. 30 chapters of Shìjiā (世家) contain all biograghies of notable rulers, nobility and bureaucrats mostly from the Spring and Autumn Period and Period of the Warring States.
  3. 70 chapters of Lièzhuàn (列傳) contain all biographies of important figures including Lao Zi, Mozi, Sun Tzu, and Jīng Kē.
  4. 8 chapters of Shū (書) are the economic and cultural records of the time covered in the book.
  5. 10 chapters of Biǎo (表) are timelines of events.

Unlike subsequent official historical texts that adopted Confucian doctrine, proclaimed the divine rights of the emperors, and degraded any failed claimant of the throne, Sīmǎ Qiān's more liberal and objective prose had been renowned and followed by poets and novelists. Most chapters of Lièzhuàn were vivid descriptions of events and persons, a reason for which is that the author critically used stories passed on from antiquity as part of the sources, balancing reliability and accuracy of the records. For instance, the material on Jīng Kē's attempt at assassinating Qin Shi Huang was an eye-witness story passed on by the great-grandfather of his father's friend, who served as a low-ranked bureaucrat at Qin court and happened to be attending the diplomatic ceremony for Jīng Kē. Yellow Emperor The Yellow Emperor or Huang Di (Chinese: 黃帝, Simplified Chinese: 黄帝, pÄ«nyÄ«n: huángdì) is a legendary Chinese sovereign and cultural hero who is said to be the ancestor of all Han Chinese. ... Jump to: navigation, search Qin Shi Huang (秦始皇) (November or December 260 BC-September 10, 210 BC), personal name Zheng, was king of the Chinese State of Qin from 247 BC to 221 BC, and then the first emperor of a unified China from 221 BC to 210 BC, ruling under... Jump to: navigation, search The Xia Dynasty (Chinese: 夏朝; pinyin: ; Wade-Giles: Hsia-chao), ca. ... Jump to: navigation, search Shang Dynasty (Chinese: 商朝) or Yin Dynasty Shang civilization. ... The Zhou Dynasty (周朝; Wade-Giles: Chou Dynasty) (late 10th century BC or 9th century BC to 256 BC) followed the Shang (Yin) Dynasty and preceded the Qin Dynasty in China. ... Jump to: navigation, search Han commanderies and kingdoms AD 2. ... Jump to: navigation, search The Spring and Autumn Period (Chinese: 春秋時代; pinyin: ) represented an era in Chinese history between 722 BC and 481 BC. The period takes its name from the Spring and Autumn Annals, a chronicle of the period whose authorship was traditionally attributed to Confucius. ... Alternative meaning: Warring States Period (Japan) The Warring States Period (traditional Chinese: 戰國時代, simplified Chinese: 战国时代 pinyin Zhànguó Shídài) takes place from sometime in the 5th century BC to the unification of China by Qin in 221 BC. It is nominally considered to be the second part of the Eastern... Lao Zi (Chinese 老子, also spelled Laozi, Lao Tzu, or Lao Tse) is a major figure in Chinese philosophy whose historical existence is debated. ... Mozi (c. ... Sun Tzu (孫子 also commonly written in pinyin: Sūn Zǐ) was the author of The Art of War, an influential ancient Chinese book on military strategy (for the most part not dealing directly with tactics). ... Jing Ke (Chinese: 荊軻; pinyin: ; Wade-Giles: Ching Ko) was a guest residing in the estates of Dan, crown prince of Yan and renowned for his failed assassination of the Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang who reigned from 221 BC to 210 BC. His story is told in the chapter... Alternative meanings: Timeline is a 1999 science fiction novel by Michael Crichton Timeline is a 2003 film based on the novel. ... Confucianism (儒家 Pinyin: rújiā The School of the Scholars), sometimes translated as the School of Literati, is an East Asian ethical, religious and philosophical system originally developed from the teachings of Confucius. ... The Qin empire in 210 BC, during the Qin Dynasty. ...


  • Ssu-ma Ch'ien, Records of the grand historian of China. Translated from the Shih chi of Ssu-ma Ch'ien by Burton Watson. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961, ISBN 0231081650
  • Various titles by Burton Watson.

Burton Watson (born 1925) is one of the worlds best-known translators of the Chinese and Japanese literary works. ...

See also

  • Twenty-Four Histories

The Twenty-Four Histories is a collection of historical books covering a period of history from 3000 B.C. to the Ming Dynasty in the 17th century. ...

External links

  • Complete text of Shǐjì in Chinese
  • A comparative reading of Shǐjì in both modern and classic Chinese

  Results from FactBites:
Sima Qian (226 words)
Chinese historian of the Han dynasty and author of the Shi ji [Records of the Grand Historian].
Records of the grand historian of China (Burton Watson).
Records of the Historian (Yang Hsien-yi and Gladys Yang).
Expert About hi:Historian (1610 words)
The duties of a town historian are prescribed by law (and it is presumed that any historian is familiar with the requirements of the state law affecting his position), but much freedom is left to the historian as to precisely how and how far these prescribed conditions are carried out.
Primarily, the responsibility of the town historian is to the town and the town's code of ethics.
The Grand Historian was responsible both for establishing and maintaining the royal calendar (the method of numbering the years of the dynasty) and for composing a record of the principal events of the reign.
  More results at FactBites »



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