The Twenty-Four Histories (Chinese: 二十四史; pinyin: Èrshísì Shǐ; Wade–Giles: Erh-shih-szu shih), also known as the Orthodox Histories (Chinese: 正史; pinyin: Zhèngshǐ) 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.
|Title||Corresponding dynasty||Main author||Year of compilation||Notes|
|Records of the Grand Historian
|From the age of the legendary Yellow Emperor to the reign of Emperor Wu of Han||Sima Qian (Han dynasty)||91 BC||Part of the Early Four Historiographies (前四史)|
|Book of Han
|Western Han||Ban Gu (Han dynasty)||82 AD||Part of the Early Four Historiographies (前四史)|
|Records of the Three Kingdoms
|Cao Wei, Shu Han, Eastern Wu||Chen Shou (Jin dynasty)||289 AD||Part of the Early Four Historiographies (前四史)|
|Book of the Later Han
|Eastern Han||Fan Ye (Liu Song dynasty)||445 AD||Part of the Early Four Historiographies (前四史)|
|Book of Song
|Liu Song dynasty||Shen Yue (Liang dynasty)||488 AD|
|Book of Southern Qi
|Southern Qi||Xiao Zixian (Liang dynasty)||537 AD|
|Book of Wei
|Northern Wei, Eastern Wei||Wei Shou (Northern Qi)||554 AD|
|Book of Liang
|Liang dynasty||Yao Silian (Tang dynasty)||636 AD||Part of the Eight Historiographies compiled in Tang dynasty (唐初八史)|
|Book of Chen
|Chen dynasty||Yao Silian (Tang dynasty)||636 AD||Part of the Eight Historiographies compiled in Tang dynasty (唐初八史)|
|Book of Northern Qi
|Northern Qi||Li Baiyao (Tang dynasty)||636 AD||Part of the Eight Historiographies compiled in Tang dynasty (唐初八史)|
|Book of Zhou
|Western Wei, Northern Zhou||Linghu Defen (Tang dynasty)||636 AD||Part of the Eight Historiographies compiled in Tang dynasty (唐初八史)|
|Book of Sui
|Sui dynasty||Wei Zheng (Tang dynasty)||636 AD||Part of the Eight Historiographies compiled in Tang dynasty (唐初八史)|
|Book of Jin
|Jin dynasty (265–420)||Fang Xuanling (Tang dynasty)||648 AD||Part of the Eight Historiographies compiled in Tang dynasty (唐初八史)|
|History of the Southern Dynasties
|Liu Song dynasty, Southern Qi, Liang dynasty, Chen dynasty||Li Yanshou (Tang dynasty)||659 AD||Part of the Eight Historiographies compiled in Tang dynasty (唐初八史)|
|History of the Northern Dynasties
|Northern Wei, Western Wei, Eastern Wei, Northern Zhou, Northern Qi, Sui dynasty||Li Yanshou (Tang dynasty)||659 AD||Part of the Eight Historiographies compiled in Tang dynasty (唐初八史)|
|Old Book of Tang
|Tang dynasty||Liu Xu (Later Jin)||945 AD|
|Old History of the Five Dynasties
|Later Liang, Later Tang, Later Jin, Later Han, Later Zhou||Xue Juzheng (Song dynasty)||974 AD|
|Historical Records of the Five Dynasties
|Later Liang, Later Tang, Later Jin, Later Han, Later Zhou||Ouyang Xiu (Song dynasty)||1053 AD||Also called "New History of the Five Dynasties" (新五代史)|
|New Book of Tang
|Tang dynasty||Ouyang Xiu (Song dynasty)||1060 AD|
|History of Liao
|Liao dynasty||Toqto'a (Yuan dynasty)||1343 AD||Part of the Three Historiographies compiled in Yuan dynasty (元末三史)|
|History of Jin
|Jin dynasty (1115–1234)||Toqto'a (Yuan dynasty)||1345 AD||Part of the Three Historiographies compiled in Yuan dynasty (元末三史)|
|History of Song
|Song dynasty||Toqto'a (Yuan dynasty)||1345 AD||Part of the Three Historiographies compiled in Yuan dynasty (元末三史)|
|History of Yuan
|Yuan dynasty||Song Lian (Ming dynasty)||1370 AD|
|History of Ming
|Ming dynasty||Zhang Tingyu (Qing dynasty)||1739 AD|
These works were begun by one historian and completed by an heir, usually of 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 (daughter)
- 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)
There were attempts at producing new historiographies after the Qing dynasty, but they either never gained widespread acceptance as part of the official historical canon or they remain unfinished.
|Title||Corresponding dynasty||Main author||Year of compilation||Notes|
|New History of Yuan
|Yuan dynasty||Ke Shaomin (Republic of China)||1920 AD||Part of the Twenty-Five Histories (二十五史)|
|Draft History of Qing
|Qing dynasty||Zhao Erxun (Republic of China)||1927 AD|
Modern attempts at creating the official Qing history
In 1961, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the declaration of the Republic of China (ROC), the ROC government in Taiwan published the History of Qing, adding 21 supplementary chapters to the Draft History of Qing and revising many existing chapters to denounce the People's Republic of China (PRC) as an illegitimate, impostor regime. It also removed passages that were derogatory towards the Xinhai Revolution. This edition has not been widely accepted as the official Qing history because it is recognized that it was a rushed job motivated by political objectives. It does not correct most of the errors known to exist in the Draft History of Qing.
An additional project, attempting to write a New History of Qing incorporating new materials and improvements in historiography, lasted from 1988 to 2000. Only 33 chapters out of the projected 500 were published. This project was later abandoned following the rise of the Pan-Green Coalition, which sees Taiwan as a distinct entity from Mainland China, both culturally and politically. As such, it is argued that it is not the duty of the Taiwanese regime to compile the Qing history.
In 2002, the PRC once again announced that it would complete the History of Qing. The project is under the leadership of Dai Yi. As of December 2013, the project has been delayed twice and will not be completed until 2016.
In Korean and Vietnamese, only the Records has been translated. Most of the histories have been translated into Japanese.
- Chinese classic texts
- Draft History of Qing, a continuation of the histories through 1911.
- History of China
- Official communications of the Chinese Empire
- Zizhi Tongjian
- 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.
- "台灣版《清史》一年速成 筆墨官司幾上幾下". big5.huaxia.com. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
- Hsi-yuan Chen, 'Last chapter unfinished. The making of the official Qing History and the crisis of Traditional Chinese Historiography', in: Historiography East and West, 2 (2004), pp. 173-204. (Abstract)
- Wilkinson, Endymion (2012). Chinese history : a new manual. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Asia Center. pp. 834–5. ISBN 978-0674067158.
- Xu Elina-Qian, p. 19.
- The Grand Scribe's Records (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994- )
- Xu Elina-Qian, Historical Development of the Pre-Dynastic Khitan, University of Helsinki, 2005. 273 pages. 19 and 23
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