Book of Han
The Book of Han, Hanshu or History of the Former Han (simplified Chinese: (前)汉书; traditional Chinese: (前)漢書; pinyin: (Qián) Hànshū; Wade–Giles: (Ch'ien) Han Shu) is a history of China finished in AD 111, covering the Western, or Former Han dynasty from the first emperor in 206 BC to the fall of Wang Mang in 23 AD. It is also called the Book of Former Han.
The work was composed by Ban Gu, a court official, with the help of his twin brother Ban Chao and their sister Ban Zhao, continuing the work of their father, Ban Biao. They modeled their work on the Records of the Grand Historian, a universal history, but theirs was the first in this annals-biography form to cover a single dynasty. It is the best source, sometimes the only one, for many topics in this period. A second work, the Book of the Later Han covers the Eastern Han period from 25 to 220, and was composed in the fifth century by Fan Ye (398–445).
This history developed from a continuation of Sima Qian's Records of the Grand Historian, initiated by Ban Gu's father, Ban Biao, at the beginning of the Later Han Dynasty. This work is usually referred to as Later Traditions (後傳), which clearly indicates that the elder Ban's work was meant to be a continuation. (It should be noted that other scholars of the time, including Liu Xin and Yang Xiong also worked on continuations of Sima's history.) After Ban Biao's death, his eldest son Ban Gu was dissatisfied with what his father had completed, and he began a new history that started with the beginning of the Han dynasty. This distinguished it from Sima Qian's history, which had begun with China's earliest legendary rulers. In this way, Ban Gu initiated the Jizhuanti(纪传体) format for dynastic histories that was to remain the model for the official histories until modern times.
For the periods where they overlapped, Ban Gu adopted nearly verbatim much of Sima Qian's material, though in some cases he also expanded it. He also incorporated at least some of what his father had written, though it is difficult to know how much. The completed work ran to a total of 100 fascicles 卷, and included essays on law, science, geography, and literature. Ban Gu's younger sister Ban Zhao finished writing the book in 111, 19 years after Ban Gu had been imprisoned. An outstanding scholar in her own right, she is thought to have written volumes 13-20 (eight chronological tables) and 26 (treatise on astronomy). As with the Records of the Grand Historian, Zhang Qian, a notable Chinese general who travelled to the west, was a key source for the cultural and socio-economic data on the Western Regions contained in the 96th fascicle. The "Annals" section and the three chapters covering the reign of Wang Mang were translated into English by Homer H. Dubs. Other chapters have been rendered into English by Anthony Hulsewé, Clyde B. Sargent, Nancy Lee Swann, and Burton Watson.
Ban Gu's history set the standard for the writings of later Chinese dynasties, and today it is a reference used to study the Han period. It is regarded as one of the "Four Histories" 四史 of the Twenty-Four Histories canon, together with the Records of the Grand Historian, Records of the Three Kingdoms and History of the Later Han.
Ji (紀, annal), 12 volumes. Emperors' biographies in strict annal form, which offer a chronological overview of the most important occurrences, as seen from the imperial court.
|#||Number||Title (Chinese)||Title (English)|
|001||Volume 1 (Part 1), Volume 1 (Part 2)||高帝紀||Annals of Emperor Gaozu, 206-195 BC|
|002||Volume 2||惠帝紀||Annals of Emperor Hui, 194-188 BC|
|003||Volume 3||高后紀||Annals of Empress Lü Zhi (regent 195-180 BC)|
|004||Volume 4||文帝紀||Annals of Emperor Wen, 179-157 BC|
|005||Volume 5||景帝紀||Annals of Emperor Jing, 156-141 BC|
|006||Volume 6||武帝紀||Annals of Emperor Wu, 140-87 BC|
|007||Volume 7||昭帝紀||Annals of Emperor Zhao, 86-74 BC|
|008||Volume 8||宣帝紀||Annals of Emperor Xuan, 73-49 BC|
|009||Volume 9||元帝紀||Annals of Emperor Yuan, 48-33 BC|
|010||Volume 10||成帝紀||Annals of Emperor Cheng, 32-7 BC|
|011||Volume 11||哀帝紀||Annals of Emperor Ai, 6-1 BC|
|012||Volume 12||平帝紀||Annals of Emperor Ping, 1 BC - 5 AD|
Biao (表, tables), 8 volumes. Chronological tables of important people.
|#||Number||Title (Chinese)||Title (English)|
|013||Volume 13||異姓諸侯王表||Table of nobles not related to the imperial clan|
|014||Volume 14||諸侯王表||Table of nobles related to the imperial clan|
|015||Volume 15||王子侯表||Table of sons of nobles|
|016||Volume 16||高惠高后文功臣表||Table of meritorious officials during the reigns of (Emperors) Gao, Hui, Wen and Empress Gao|
|017||Volume 17||景武昭宣元成功臣表||Table of meritorious officials during the reigns of (Emperors) Jing, Wu, Zhao, Xuan, Yuan and Cheng|
|018||Volume 18||外戚恩澤侯表||Table of nobles from families of the imperial consorts|
|019||Volume 19||上百官公卿表||Table of nobility ranks and government offices|
|020||Volume 20||古今人表||Prominent people from the past until the present|
Zhi (志, memoirs), 10 volumes. Each treatise describes an area of effort of the state.
|#||Number||Title (Chinese)||Title (English)|
|021||Volume 21||律曆志||Treatise on Rhythm and the Calendar|
|022||Volume 22||禮樂志||Treatise on Rites and Music|
|023||Volume 23||刑法志||Treatise on Punishment and Law|
|024||Volume 24 (Part 1), Volume 24 (Part 2)||食貨志||Treatise on Food and Money|
|025||Volume 25 (Part 1), Volume 25 (Part 2)||郊祀志||Treatise on Sacrifices|
|026||Volume 26||天文志||Treatise on Astronomy|
|027||Volume 27 (Part 1), Volume 27 (Part 2), Volume 27 (Part 3), Volume 27 (Part 4), Volume 27 (Part 5)||五行志||Treatise on the Five Elements|
|028||Volume 28 (Part 1), Volume 28 (Part 2)||地理志||Treatise on Geography|
|029||Volume 29||溝洫志||Treatise on Rivers and Canals|
|030||Volume 30||藝文志||Treatise on Literature|
Zhuan (傳, exemplary traditions, usually translated as biographies), 70 volumes. Biographies of important people. The biographies confine themselves to the description of events that clearly show the exemplary character of the person. Two or more people are treated in one main article, as they belong to the same class of people. The last articles describe the relations between China and the various peoples beyond the frontiers.
|#||Number||Title (Chinese)||Title (English)|
|031||Volume 31||陳勝項籍傳||Chen Sheng and Xiang Yu|
|032||Volume 32||張耳陳餘傳||Zhang Er and Chen Yu|
|033||Volume 33||魏豹田儋韓王信傳||Wei Bao, Tian Dan and Hán Xin (King of Hán)|
|034||Volume 34||韓彭英盧吳傳||Han, Peng, Ying, Lu and Wu --- Han Xin, Peng Yue, Ying Bu, Lu Wan and Wu Rui (吳芮)|
|035||Volume 35||荊燕吳傳||the Princes of Jing, Yan and Wu|
|036||Volume 36||楚元王傳||Prince Chu Yuan --- Liu Xiang and Liu Xin|
|037||Volume 37||季布欒布田叔傳||Ji Bu, Luan Bu and Tian Shu|
|038||Volume 38||高五王傳||the five sons of Emperor Gao|
|039||Volume 39||蕭何曹參傳||Xiao He and Cao Shen|
|040||Volume 40||張陳王周傳||Zhang, Chen, Wang and Zhou --- Zhang Liang, Chen Ping, Wang Ling (王陵) and Zhou Bo (周勃)|
|041||Volume 41||樊酈滕灌傅靳周傳||Fan, Li, Teng, Guan, Fu, Jin and Zhou --- Fan Kuai, Li Shang (酈商), Xiahou Ying, Guan Ying (灌嬰), Fu Kuan, Jin She (靳歙) and Zhou Xue (周緤)|
|042||Volume 42||張周趙任申屠傳||Zhang, Zhou, Zhao, Ren and Shentu --- Zhang Cang (張蒼), Zhou Chang (周昌), Zhao Yao (趙堯), Ren Ao (任敖) and Shentu Jia (申屠嘉)|
|043||Volume 43||酈陸朱劉叔孫傳||Li, Lu, Zhu, Liu and Shusun --- Li Yiji (酈食其), Lu Gu (陸賈), Zhu Jian (朱建), Lou Jing (婁敬) and Shusun Tong (叔孫通)|
|044||Volume 44||淮南衡山濟北王傳||the kings of Huainan, Hengshan and Jibei|
|045||Volume 45||蒯伍江息夫傳||Kuai, Wu, Jiang and Xifu --- Kuai Tong (蒯通), Wu Bei (伍被), Jiang Chong (江充) and Xifu Gong (息夫躬)|
|046||Volume 46||萬石衛直周張傳||the lords of Wan, Wei, Zhi, Zhou and Zhang --- Shi Fen (石奮), Wei Wan (衛綰), Zhi Buyi (直不疑), Zhou Ren (周仁) and Zhang Ou (張歐)|
|047||Volume 47||文三王傳||the three sons of Emperor Wen|
|048||Volume 48||賈誼傳||Jia Yi|
|049||Volume 49||爰盎晁錯傳||Yuan Ang and Chao Cuo|
|050||Volume 50||張馮汲鄭傳||Zhang, Feng, Ji and Zheng --- Zhang Shizhi (張釋之), Feng Tang (馮唐), Ji An (汲黯) and Zheng Dangshi (鄭當時)|
|051||Volume 51||賈鄒枚路傳||Jia, Zou, Mei and Lu --- Jia Shan (賈山, Zou Yang (鄒陽), Mei Cheng (枚乘) and Lu Wenshu (路溫舒)|
|052||Volume 52||竇田灌韓傳||Dou, Tian, Guan and Han --- Dou Ying (竇嬰), Tian Fen (田蚡), Guan Fu (灌夫) and Han Anguo (韓安國)|
|053||Volume 53||景十三王傳||the thirteen sons of Emperor Jing|
|054||Volume 54||李廣蘇建傳||Li Guang and Su Jian|
|055||Volume 55||衛青霍去病傳||Wei Qing and Huo Qubing|
|056||Volume 56||董仲舒傳||Dong Zhongshu|
|057||Volume 57 (Part 1), Volume 57 (Part 2)||司馬相如傳||Sima Xiangru|
|058||Volume 58||公孫弘卜式兒寬傳||Gongsun Hong, Bu Shi and Er Kuan|
|059||Volume 59||張湯傳||Zhang Tang|
|060||Volume 60||杜周傳||Du Zhou|
|061||Volume 61||張騫李廣利傳||Zhang Jian and Li Guangli|
|062||Volume 62||司馬遷傳||Sima Qian|
|063||Volume 63||武五子傳||the five sons of Emperor Wu|
|064||Volume 64 (Part 1), Volume 64 (Part 2)||嚴朱吾丘主父徐嚴終王賈傳||Yan, Zhu, Wuqiu, Zhufu, Xu, Yan, Zhong, Wang and Jia --- Yan Zhu (嚴助), Zhu Maichen (朱買臣), Wuqiu Shouwang (吾丘壽王), Zhufu Yan (主父偃), Xu Yue (徐樂), Yan An (嚴安), Zhong Jun (終軍), Wang Bao (王褒) and Jia Juanzhi (賈捐之); two parts|
|065||Volume 65||東方朔傳||Dongfang Shuo|
|066||Volume 66||公孫劉田王楊蔡陳鄭傳||Gongsun, Liu, Tian, Wang, Yang, Cai, Chen and Zheng --- Gongsun He (公孫賀), Liu Quli (劉屈氂), Tian Qiuqian (田千秋), Wang Xin (王訢), Yang Chang (楊敞), Cai Yi (蔡義), Chen Wannian (陳萬年) and Zheng Hong (鄭弘)|
|067||Volume 67||楊胡朱梅云傳||Yang, Hu, Zhu, Mei and Yun --- Yang Wangsun (楊王孫), Hu Jian (胡建), Zhu Yun (朱雲), Mei Fu (梅福) and Yun Chang (云敞)|
|068||Volume 68||霍光金日磾傳||Huo Guang and Jin Midi|
|069||Volume 69||趙充國辛慶忌傳||Zhao Chongguo and Xin Qingji|
|070||Volume 70||傅常鄭甘陳段傳||Fu, Chang, Zheng, Gan, Chen and Duan --- Fu Jiezi, Chang Hui (常惠), Zheng Ji, Gan Yannian (甘延壽), Chen Tang and Duan Huizong (段會宗)|
|071||Volume 71||雋疏于薛平彭傳||Jun, Shu, Yu, Xue, Ping and Peng --- Jun Buyi (雋不疑), Shu Guang (疏廣) and Shu Shou (疏受), Yu Dingguo (于定國), Xue Guangde (薛廣德), Ping Dang (平當) and Peng Xuan (彭宣)|
|072||Volume 72||王貢兩龔鮑傳||Wang, Gong, two Gongs and Bao --- Wang Ji (王吉), Gong Yu (貢禹), Gong Sheng (龔勝) and Gong She (龔舍) and Bao Xuan (鮑宣)|
|073||Volume 73||韋賢傳||Wei Xian|
|074||Volume 74||魏相丙吉傳||Wei Xiang and Bing Ji|
|075||Volume 75||眭兩夏侯京翼李傳||Sui, two Xiahous, Jing, Ji and Li --- Sui Hong (眭弘), Xiahou Shichang (夏侯始昌) and Xiahou Sheng (夏侯勝), Jing Fang (京房), Ji Feng (翼奉) and Li Xun (李尋)|
|076||Volume 76||趙尹韓張兩王傳||Zhao, Yin, Han, Zhang and two Wangs --- Zhao Guanghan (趙廣漢), Yin Wenggui (尹翁歸), Han Yanshou (韓延壽), Zhang Chang (張敞), Wang Zun (王尊) and Wang Zhang (王章)|
|077||Volume 77||蓋諸葛劉鄭孫毋將何傳||Gai, Zhuge, Liu, Zheng, Sun, Wujiang and He --- Gai: Gai Kuanrao (蓋寬饒), Zhuge: Zhuge Feng (諸葛豐), Liu: Liu Fu (劉輔), Zheng: Zheng Chong (鄭崇), Sun: Sun Bao (孫寶), Wujiang: Wujiang Long (毋將隆), He: He Bing (何並)|
|078||Volume 78||蕭望之傳||Xiao Wangzhi|
|079||Volume 79||馮奉世傳||Feng Fengshi|
|080||Volume 80||宣元六王傳||the six sons of Emperors Xuan and Yuan|
|081||Volume 81||匡張孔馬傳||Kuang, Zhang, Kong and Ma --- Kuang Heng (匡衡), Zhang Yu (張禹), Kong Guang (孔光) and Ma Gong (馬宮)|
|082||Volume 82||王商史丹傅喜傳||Wang Shang, Shi Dan and Fu Xi|
|083||Volume 83||薛宣朱博傳||Xue Xuan and Zhu Bo|
|084||Volume 84||翟方進傳||Zhai Fangjin|
|085||Volume 85||谷永杜鄴傳||Gu Yong and Du Ye|
|086||Volume 86||何武王嘉師丹傳||He Wu, Wang Jia and Shi Dan|
|087||Volume 87 (Part 1), Volume 87 (Part 2)||揚雄傳||Yang Xiong|
|088||Volume 88||儒林傳||Confucian Scholars|
|089||Volume 89||循吏傳||Upright Officials|
|090||Volume 90||酷吏傳||Cruel Officials|
|094||Volume 94 (Part 1), Volume 94 (Part 2)||匈奴傳||Traditions of the Xiongnu|
|095||Volume 95||西南夷兩粵朝鮮傳||Traditions of the Yi of the southeast, the two Yues, and Chosun (Korea) --- Nanyue and Min Yue|
|096||Volume 96 (Part 1), Volume 96 (Part 2)||西域傳||Traditions of the Western Regions|
|097||Volume 97 (Part 1), Volume 97 (Part 2)||外戚傳||the Empresses and Imperial Affines|
|098||Volume 98||元后傳||Empress Wang Zhengjun|
|099||Volume 99 (Part 1), Volume 99 (Part 2), Volume 99 (Part 3)||王莽傳||Wang Mang|
|100||Volume 100 (Part 1), Volume 100 (Part 2)||敘傳||Afterword and Family History|
Mentioning of Japan
The people of Japan make their first unambiguous appearance in written history in this book (Book of Han, Volume 28, Treatise on Geography), in which it is recorded, "The people of Wo are located across the ocean from Lelang, are divided into more than one hundred tribes, and come to offer tribute from time to time." It is later recorded that in 57, the southern Wa kingdom of Na sent an emissary named Taifu to pay tribute to Emperor Guangwu and received a golden seal. The seal itself was discovered in northern Kyūshū in the 18th century. According to the Book of Wei, the most powerful kingdom on the archipelago in the 3rd century was called Yamataikoku and was ruled by the legendary Queen Himiko.
References and further reading
- Dorn'eich, Chris M. (2008). Chinese sources on the History of the Niusi-Wusi-Asi(oi)-Rishi(ka)-Arsi-Arshi-Ruzhi and their Kueishuang-Kushan Dynasty. Shiji 110/Hanshu 94A: The Xiongnu: Synopsis of Chinese original Text and several Western Translations with Extant Annotations. Berlin. To read or download go to: 
- Honey, David B. "The Han shu Manuscript Evidence, and the Textual Criticism of the Shih-chi: The Case of the Hsiung-nü lieh-chuan," CLEAR 21 (1999), 67-97.
- Hulsewe, A.F.P. "A Striking Discrepancy between the Shih chi and the Han shu." T'oung Pao 76.4-5 (1990): 322-23.
- Hulsewé, A. F. P. and Loewe, M. A. N. China in Central Asia: The Early Stage 125 BC – AD 23: an annotated translation of chapters 61 and 96 of the History of the Former Han Dynasty. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1979.
- Dubs, Homer H. (trans.) The History of the Former Han Dynasty. 3 vols. Baltimore: Waverly, 1938-55. Digitized text. (Digitized text does not retain volume or page numbers and alters Dubs' footnote numbering.) Glossary.
- Sargent, Cyde B., Tr. Wang Mang; A Translation of the Official Account of His Rise to Power as Given in the History of the Former Han Dynasty, with Introd. and Notes. Shanghai: Graphic Art Book Co., 1947.
- Swann, Nancy Lee, tr. Food and Money in Ancient China: The Earliest Economic History of China to A.D. 25. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1950; rpt. New York: Octagon Books, 1974.
- Stange, Hans O.H. "Die monographie über Wang Mang." Abhandlungen für die kunde des morgenlandes XXIII, 3, 1939.
- Stange, Hans O.H. Leben und persünlichkeit und werk Wang Mangs. Berlin, 1914.
- Tinios, Ellis. “Sure Guidance for One’s Own Time: Pan Ku and the Tsan to Han-shu 94.” Early China 9-10 (1983–85): 184-203.
- Van der Sprenkel, O. B. Pan Piao, Pan Ku, and the Han History. Centre for Oriental Studies Occasional Paper, no. 3. Canberra: Australian National University, 1964.
- Watson, Burton. 1974. Courtier and Commoner in Ancient China. Selections from the History of the Former Han. Columbia University Press, New York. (A translation of chapters 54,63,65,67,68,71,74,78,92, and 97).
- Wilbur, C. Martin. Slavery in China during the Former Han Dynasty, 206 B.C.–A.D. 25. Publications of Field Museum of Natural History, Anthropological Series, 35. Chicago: Field Museum of Natural History, 1943. Reprint. New York: Russell & Russell, 1967. Selected translations from the Han shu.
- "Main Sources (2): Hanshu," in Wilkinson, Endymion (2012). Chinese History: A New Manual. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center. ISBN 9780674067158., pp. 711-713.
- Wu, Shuping, "Hanshu" ("Book of Han"). Encyclopedia of China (Chinese Literature Edition), 1st ed.
|Chinese Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- Book of Han (Full text) - Chinese Text Project
- Pan Chao (Ban Zhao), Female Historian
- Silk Road Seattle (The Silk Road Seattle website contains many useful resources including a number of full-text historical works, maps, photos, etc.)