Zuo Zhuan

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Zuo Zhuan
First page of the book
Author Zuo Qiuming
Original title 左傳
Country Zhou Dynasty, China
Language Classical Chinese
Subject History of the Spring and Autumn period
Published No later than 389 BC[1]
Zuo Zhuan
Traditional Chinese 左傳
Simplified Chinese 左传
Literal meaning Zuo Tradition

Zuo Zhuan (Wade-Giles: Tso Chuan; Chinese: ), variously translated as the Chronicle of Zuo, Commentary of Zuo, or Zuo Tradition, is among the earliest Chinese works of narrative history, covering the period from 722 to 468 BC. It is one of the most important sources for understanding the history of the Spring and Autumn period (Chunqiu). Together with the Gongyang Zhuan and Guliang Zhuan, the work forms one of the surviving Three Commentaries on the Spring and Autumn Annals.

Zuo Zhuan is traditionally attributed to Zuo Qiuming, as a commentary to the Spring and Autumn Annals. Most notable modern scholars of this book such as Yang Bojun hold that the work was compiled during the Warring States period, with a compilation date not later than 389 BC.[1]

Liang Qichao further proposed from internal and comparative textual analyses that the extant editions of Zuo Zhuan and Guoyu derive from a pre-Liu Xiang edition of "Guoyu" that originally had passages from the two. The neatly delineated, chronologically complementary distribution of accounts between the two was to him evidence that Liu Xiang extracted historical accounts parallel to those in the Annals to compile what was to be called the Zuo Zhuan; accounts lacking a Chunqiu parallel were left in Guoyu in the original format under chapters by state; hence the name, organization, and text of the Guoyu 國語, or Discourse of States, that we have today.

The book contains the earliest reference to weiqi (the board game of go) in the 25th Year of Duke Xiang of Lu (548 BC in the Gregorian calendar)

With its vivid and concise language, Zuo Zhuan is also a gem of classical Chinese prose. This work and the Shiji or Records of the Grand Historian, were regarded as the ultimate models by many generations of prose stylists in ancient China.


Zuo Zhuan follows the sequence of 12 dukes of the State of Lu, starting in the first year of Duke Yin of Lu and finishing in the 27th year of Duke Ai of Lu. Altogether, the 18,000 character work records the history of the various vassal states of the Zhou Dynasty over a period of 254 years.

Contents of Zuo Zhuan


Ruler of the State of Lu Reign
Period of Coverage
隱公 Duke Yin of Lu (鲁隐公) 11 722 – 712 BC
桓公 Duke Huan of Lu (鲁桓公) 18 711 – 694 BC
庄公 Duke Zhuang of Lu (鲁庄公) 32 693 – 662 BC
闵公 Duke Min of Lu (鲁闵公) 2 661 – 660 BC
僖公 Duke Xi of Lu (鲁僖公) 33 659 – 627 BC
文公 Duke Wen of Lu (鲁文公) 18 626 – 609 BC
宣公 Duke Xuan of Lu (鲁宣公) 18 608 – 591 BC
成公 Duke Cheng of Lu (鲁成公) 18 590 – 573 BC
襄公 Duke Xiang of Lu (鲁襄公) 31 572 – 542 BC
昭公 Duke Zhao of Lu (鲁昭公) 32 541 – 510 BC
定公 Duke Ding of Lu (鲁定公) 15 509 – 495 BC
哀公 Duke Ai of Lu (鲁哀公) 27 494 – 468 BC

Note: Zuo Zhuan contains an appendix starting in the fourth year of the reign of Duke Dao of Lu (463 BC).


  1. ^ a b Gu, Sharron (2011). A Cultural History of the Chinese Language. McFarland & Company. p. 43. ISBN 9780786466498. 


  • Legge, James (1872). The Ch'un Ts'ew, with the Tso Chuen. The Chinese Classics V. London: Trübner. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Chunqiu Zuozhuan Bilingual text of Zuo Zhuan with side-by-side Chinese original and Legge's English translation
  • Zuo Zhuan Fully searchable text (Chinese)
  • The Zuozhuan Digital Concordance, by St. John Page and Isabel García Hidalgo. The English data is based on Legge's translation, with missing sections not covered by Legge translated by Page and added to cover the full text.