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Nanqishu 南齊書

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The Nanqishu 南齊書 "Book of the Southern Qi dynasty" is the official dynastic history (zhengshi 正史) of the Southern Qi dynasty (479-502), one of the Southern Dynasties 南朝 (420~589) that ruled over the southern part of China between the 5th and the 6th centuries CE. As usual the history of the dynasty of Qi was compiled following official edict at the beginning of the successor dynasty, the Liang 梁 (502-557). The sole author was Xiao Zixian 蕭子顯, son of one of the princely kings of Qi. Of the originally 60 juan "scrolls" only 59 are preserved, and there are some small parts missing from other chapters. The book is consisting of imperial biographies (benji 本紀, 8 juan), treatises (zhi 志, 11 juan), and normal and collective biographies (liezhuan 列傳, 40 juan). Xiao, although a descendant of the toppled dynasty, served in high positions under the Liang dynasty. He was interested in history and wrote a history of the Later Han dynasty 後漢 (25-220) which is unfortunately lost. At least a few fragments of his Jinshi cao 晉史草 "Draft to a history of the Jin dynasty 晉" (265-420) have survived.
The original title of the book was Qishu 齊書 "The book of Qi" or Qishi 齊史 "The history of Qi". Only during the Song period 宋 (960-1279) the prefix Nan- was added in order to distinguish it from the official history of the (Northern) Qi dynasty 北齊 which ruled somewhat later (550-577).
Xiao's sources were older histories of the dynasty, like Liu Zhi's 劉陟 Qiji 齊紀 "The annals of Qi" and Shen Yue’s 沈約 book with the same title, but also primary sources like the imperial diaries (qijuzhu 起居注). In the treatise of geography (14-15 Zhoujun zhi 州郡志) Xiao Zixian adds valuable information about local customs. In imitation of the previous official dynastic history, that of the (Liu-)Song dynasty 宋 (420-479), he created a collective biography of imperial minions (56 Xingchen zhuan 倖臣傳), which is quite unique in the Chinese historiography. His chapter about the "barbarians of Wei" (57 Weilu zhuan 魏虜傳), the Northern Wei dynasty 北魏 (386-534), is likewise of historical value.

Source: Zhou Yiliang 周一良 (1992), "Nanqishu 南齊書", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史 (Beijiing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 2, p. 727.

July 11, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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