An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Tongjian gangmu sanbian 通鑒綱目三編

Sep 28, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald

(Qinding) Tongjian gangmu sanbian (御定)通鑑綱目三編 "(Imperially endorsed) Third compilation to the Outlines and Details of the Comprehensive Mirror" is a continuation to Zhu Xi's 朱熹 (1130-1200) historiographical critique Tongjian gangmu 通鑑綱目 and Shang Lu's 商輅 Tongjian gangmu xubian 通鑑綱目續編 (also called Song-Yuan tongjian gangmu 宋元通鑑綱目). The Sanbian was compiled on offial order by a team supervised by Zhang Tingyu 張廷玉 (1672-1755).

In 1746, a first version with a length of 20 juan was submitted to the throne, and the Qianlong Emperor 乾隆 (r. 1735-1796) wrote a preface to it. The structure of the book imitates that of the Tongjian gangmu and presents the great outlines of history in large (gang 綱 "ropes"), commenting them in smaller typeset (mu 目 "meshes").

Yet this version was not of a sufficient quality because Zhang Tingyu laid more stress on a good style of calligraphy than on content. Facts about foreign countries, as well as personal and geographical names had not been critically investigated. Šuhede 赫舒德 (1710-1777) therefore took over the task to amend the first version, following the criteria of the Emperor's comments (Qingding) Tongjian jilan 欽定通鑑輯覽 and the official glossary for Kitan, Jurchen and Mongolian terms, the (Qinding) Liao-Jin-Yuan sanshi guoyu jie 欽定遼金元三史國語解. The team of compilers undertook serious critical work, amended errors and added information so that a reliable book was compiled. The revised version is 40 juan long.

The first version had been printed by the Imperial Household (neiwufu 内務府) and as a "pocket book" edition by the Guxiang Studio 古香齋. It is also found in the collection Peiyuantang quanji 培遠堂全集. The 40-juan long version is included in the collectanea Siku quanshu 四庫全書, but in the sub-category of annals (biannian 編年), not of historical critique (shiping 史評). This is why the authors failed to incorporate moral doctrines into their book, as the model Tongjian gangmu had done. The text is also included in the Zizhi tongjian gangmu sibian heke 資治通鋻綱目四編合刻.

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, 895.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 766.