The Twenty-Four Histories (Chinese: 二十四史; pinyin: Èrshísì shǐ; Wade–Giles: Erh-shih-szu shih), also known as the Standard Histories (zhengshi 正史) are the Chinese official historical books covering a period from 3000 BC to the Ming dynasty in the 17th century. The Han dynasty official Sima Qian established many of the conventions of the genre, but the form was not fixed until much later. Starting with the Tang dynasty, each dynasty established an official office to write the history of its predecessor using official court records. As fixed and edited in the Qing dynasty, the whole set contains 3213 volumes and about 40 million words. It is considered one of the most important sources on Chinese history and culture.
The title "Twenty-Four Histories" dates from 1775 which was the 40th year in the reign of the Qianlong Emperor. This was when the last volume, the "History of Ming" was reworked and a complete set of the histories produced.
Books of the Twenty-Four Histories
- Early Four Historiographies (前四史)
- Book of Song (宋書, Sòng Shū) — Southern Dynasties, compiled by Shen Yue 沈約 in 488
- Book of Qi (齊書, Qí Shū) — Southern Dynasties, compiled by Xiao Zixian 蕭子顯 in 537
- Book of Wei (魏書, Wèi Shū) — Northern Dynasties, compiled by Wei Shou 魏收 in 554
- Eight Historiographies of Tang Dynasty (唐初八史)
- Book of Liang (梁書, Liáng Shū) — Southern Dynasties, compiled by Yao Silian 姚思廉 in 636
- Book of Chen (陳書, Chén Shū) — Southern Dynasties, compiled by Yao Silian in 636
- Book of Northern Qi (北齊書, Běi Qí Shū) — Northern Dynasties, compiled by Li Baiyao 李百藥 in 636
- Book of Zhou (周書, Zhōu Shū) — Northern Dynasties, compiled under Linghu Defen 令狐德棻 in 636
- Book of Sui (隋書, Suī Shū), compiled under Wei Zheng 魏徵 in 636
- Book of Jin (晉書, Jìn Shū), compiled under Fang Xuanling 房玄齡 in 648
- History of the Southern Dynasties (南史, Nán Shǐ), compiled by Li Yanshou 李延壽 in 659
- History of the Northern Dynasties (北史, Běi Shǐ), compiled by Li Yanshou in 659
- Book of Tang (唐書, Táng Shū), compiled under Liu Xu 劉昫 in 945
- Old History of the Five Dynasties (五代史, Wǔdài Shǐ), compiled under Xue Juzheng 薛居正 in 974
- New History of the Five Dynasties (新五代史, Xīn Wǔdài Shǐ), compiled under Ouyang Xiu 歐陽脩 in 1053
- New Book of Tang (新唐書, Xīn Táng Shū), compiled under Ouyang Xiu in 1060
- Three Historiographies of Yuan Dynasty (元末三史)
- History of Yuan (元史, Yuán Shǐ), compiled under Song Lian 宋濂 in 1370
- History of Ming (明史, Míng Shǐ), compiled under Zhang Tingyu 張廷玉 in 1739
These works were begun by one historian and completed by an heir, usually in the next generation.
- Records of the Grand Historian, inherited from Sima Tan 司馬談 (father) by Sima Qian 司馬遷 (son)
- Book of Han, inherited from Ban Biao 班彪 (brother), Ban Gu (son) by Ban Zhao 班昭 (sister)
- Book of Liang and Book of Chen, inherited from Yao Cha 姚察 (father) by Yao Silian 姚思廉 (son)
- Book of Northern Qi, inherited from Li Delin 李德林 (father) by Li Baiyao 李百藥 (son)
- History of the Southern Dynasties and History of the Northern Dynasties, inherited from Li Dashi 李大師 (father) by Li Yanshou 李延壽 (son)
- New History of Yuan (新元史, Xīn Yuán Shǐ), compiled by Ke Shaomin 柯劭忞 in 1920
- Draft History of Qing (清史稿, Qīng Shǐ Gǎo), compiled under Zhao Erxun 趙爾巽 in 1927
- The responsibility for publishing a history of the Qing rested on the regime that would replace the Qing. The ROC left an edition in draft form in 1927, but before it could be returned to, the PRC took over Mainland China. The ROC published a revised edition in 1961 and the PRC is currently working on their own edition.
In China, the Zhonghua Shuju have edited a number of these Histories. These sets (or editions) are appreciated because they have been carefully collated and edited (punctuated) by the Chinese specialists. Therefore, these editions are believed to be relatively reliable, and easy to read and understand.
Only two of the Twenty-Four Histories have been completely translated into English: Records of the Grand Historian by Burton Watson in 1963, and New History of the Five Dynasties by Richard Davis in 2004. In Korean and Vietnamese, only the Records has been translated. Most of the histories have been translated into Japanese.
- Ch 49, "Standard Histories," in Endymion Wilkinson. Chinese History: A New Manual. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, Harvard-Yenching Institute Monograph Series, 2012). ISBN 9780674067158. Also see "Standard Histories" link to the Googlebook of the 2000 edition of Wilkinson.
- Hill, John E. (2009) Through the Jade Gate to Rome: A Study of the Silk Routes during the Later Han Dynasty, 1st to 2nd Centuries CE. BookSurge, Charleston, South Carolina. ISBN 978-1-4392-2134-1.
- Xu Elina-Qian, p.23
- Xu Elina-Qian, p.19
- Chinese Wikisource has original text related to this article: Twenty-Four Canonical Histories
- Xu Elina-Qian, Historical Development of the Pre-Dynastic Khitan, University of Helsinki, 2005. 273 pages. p.19,p.23
- Chinese Literature The Ershiwushi 二十五史 "The Twenty-five Official Dynastic Histories" (zhengshi 正史) Ulrich Theobold, China Knowledge