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Da-Tang chuangye qijuzhu 大唐創業起居注

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The Da-Tang chuangyue qijuzhu 大唐創業起居注 "Imperial diary of the foundation of the Great Tang" is a kind of chronicle of the foundation of the Tang dynasty 唐 (618-907).
The type of imperial diary (qijuzhu 起居注) seems to have developed during the later Han period 後漢 (25-220 AD) but the earliest surviving fragments of such an imperial diary - and the only surviving pre-Qing exemplar - stem from the Western Jin period (Xijin 西晉, 265-316). This is Liu Daohui's 劉道薈 Jin qijuzhu 晉起居注, reconstructed in the collectaneum Hanxuetang congshu 漢學堂叢書.
The imperial diary of the foundation of the Tang dynasty has a length of 3 juan "scrolls". It was written by Wen Daya 溫大雅, gives an account of almost one year of the martial activities of Li Yuan 李淵 (posthumous title Tang Gaozu 唐高祖, r. 618-626) from the start of his uprising against the Sui dynasty 隋 (581-618) until his proclamation of the Tang dynasty.
The Da-Tang chuangye qijuzhu gives an interesting insight into the motivation, activities and roles of Li Yuan and his sons Li Jiancheng 李建成 and Li Shimin 李世民 (later known as Emperor Taizong 唐太宗, r. 626-649). Some statements often stand in contrast to the better known official dynastic histories (zhengshi 正史) Jiutangshu 舊唐書, Xintangshu 新唐書 or the universal history Zizhi tongjian 資治通鑒. According to the "Imperial diary" it was not Li Yuan's son Li Shimin who incited his father to rebel against the Sui, but the motivation to make an end to the Sui came from Li Yuan himself. Li Yuan is described as a warrior and strategist of great ability, while the better known histories of the Tang describe him as incompetent and thus try to give a reason for Li Shimin's having forced his father to abdicate. The military successes of Li Jiancheng as reported in the "diary" are in the official dynastic histories either ascribed to his brother Li Shimin or even omitted in total.
The "Imperial diary of the foundation of Tang" is thus a clear example of how history was rewritten in favour of Li Shimin who actually killed his own brother and deposed his father. The truth can be read in the qijuzhu that had intentionally been ignored by later historians.

Source: Zhang Zexian 張澤咸 (1992), "Da-Tang chuangye qijuzhu 大唐創業起居注", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 1, p. 146.

July 3, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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