- An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art
About [Location: HOME > Literature > Four Categories > Historiography > Annals and Chronicles > Ming tongjian]

Chinese Literature
Ming tongjian 明通鑒

The Four Categories of Literature
Ming tongjian 明通鑒 "Comprehensive Mirror (to Aid in Government) of the Ming Period" is a history of the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) written by the late Qing period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Xia Xie 夏燮 (1800-1875), courtesy name Xia Xifu 夏曦父 (or Xia Qianfu 夏謙甫) or Xia Jili 夏季里, style Xieshen juren 謝山居士 or Jiangshang jiansou 江上蹇叟. He came from Dangtu 當涂, Anhui, and obtained his juren degree in 1821. He began his career as assistant instructor (xundao 訓導) of Qingyang 青陽, Anhui, and then Lincheng 臨城, Zhili, and was later magistrate (zhixian 知縣) of Anren 安仁, Hunan. In 1860 he became a retainer of Zeng Guofan 曾國藩, who was entrusted with the pacification of the Taiping rebels 太平in the provinces of Hunan, Hubei and Anhui. After the downfall of the Taipings Xia Xie was magistrate of Yongning 永寧, Jiangxi. Xia Xie was well educated in phonetics and history. Among his many writings are the books Zhong-Xi jishi 中西紀事, Yuefen jishi 粵氛紀事 and Wufu shili 五服釋例. The 100 juan "scrolls" long Ming tongjian imitates Zhu Xi's 朱熹 Tongjian gangmu 通鑒綱目 from the Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279) , a book that explains history with the help of "great guidelines" (gang 綱) and detailed "meshes" (mu 目). Xie made use of basic texts on the history of the Ming, like the Mingshilu 明實錄, Mingshi 明史 and Tongjian gangmu sanbian 通鑒綱目三編, served himself of many administrative sources like the Ming huidian 明會典 and Da-Ming yitong zhi 大明一統志 and a vast amount of inofficial histories of that period of time. Very important is his use of books that were prohibited and destroyed during the "litary inquisition" during the late Qianlong reign 乾隆 (1736-1796). The Ming tongjian was finished in 1862. It begins with a 4 juan long Introductory Part (Qianbian 前編) narrating the foundation of the Ming (1352-1368, years counted according to the Yuan calendar), followed by the Main Part (Zhengbian 正編, 1368-1644), and ends with an appendix (Fubian 附編, 1644-1683, with dates rendered in the Qing calendar) of 6 juan that renders the history of the five princes of the Southern Ming 南明 (1644-1661) and of Zheng Chenggong 鄭成功 (Coxinga) who had occupied the island of Taiwan. The text is very detailed and makes the Ming tongjian an important history of that period. Annotations include also further information from sources that are not very reliable but at least worth mentioning. With such a large amount of sources, Xia Xie was able to rectify a lot of errors included in the official dynastic history Mingshi.
The Ming tongjian was printed in 1873 by an official printing shop in Yihuang 宜黃, Jiangxi, and reprinted in 1897. In 1959 the Zhonghua shuju press 中華書局 published a modern edition annotated by Shen Zhongjiu 沈仲九. The last edition was published in 1991 by the Shanghia guji chubanshe 上海古籍出版社.

Source: Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (ed. 1996), Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 1, p. 890.


December 2, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
Chinese Literature over time