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Xintangshu 新唐書

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The Xintangshu 新唐書 "The new book of the Tang dynasty" is the second offical dynastic history (zhengshi 正史) of the Tang dynasty 唐 (618-907). It was written by a team under the supervision of the Northern Song period 北宋 (960-1126) scholars Ouyang Xiu 歐陽修 and Song Qi 宋祁. The Xintangshu contains 225 juan "scrolls", of which 10 juan are imperial biographies (benji 本紀), 50 juan treatises (zhi 志), 15 juan tables (biao 表), and 150 juan normal and collective biographies (liezhuan 列傳). It took 17 years to compile the book. It was submitted to the throne in 1060 by Zeng Gongliang 曾公亮. The argument of the compilers to write a new history of the Tang was that the Xintangshu contained more facts described with fewer words. Although the biographies of 331 persons more are included, the Xintangshu also omits the biographies of 61 persons included in the Jiujangshu 舊唐書, the first dynastic history of the Tang (also called jiushu 舊書 "the old book"). It is true that Ouyang's book added many very important information about the last decades of the Tang period, but on the other hand shortened some paragraphs so drastically that facts were simplified or even became distorted. The largest part of the book was compiled by Song Qi, while Ouyang Xiu took over the final polishing and compiled only a minor part of the imperial biographies and the treatises. The treatises on astonomy (31-33 Tianwen zhi 天文志), calendar (25-31 Li zhi 曆志), and the five processes (34-36 Wuxing zhi 五行志) were compiled by Liu Xisou 劉羲叟 and Mei Yaochen 梅堯臣. The primary sources for the Xintangshu were official documents but also miscellaneous history writings, stone inscriptions, essays and narratives. It is escpecially the treatises which are much more detailed in the new history than in the old one, like the treatise on food and commerce (51-55 Shihuo zhi 食貨志) and that on administrative geography (37-47 Dili zhi 地理志), which present much more detailed information than the Jiutangshu had done. There is also more information provided on relations to foreign countries, which were taken from Jia Dan's 賈耽 Huanghua sida ji 皇華四達記 "Report about the [countries] in the four cardinal directions of August China". The treatise on the books stored in the imperial library (57-60 Yiwen zhi 藝文志) contains more book than that in the old book. Thoroughly new for the dynastic histories are the treatises on military (50 Bing zhi 兵志), state examinations (44-45 Xuanju zhi 選舉志), and courtly etiquette (23 Yiwei zhi 儀衛). The Xintangshu is the first dynastic history after the Shiji 史記 and the Hanshu 漢書 that contains tables. Yet while the tables in the latter two books are mainly lists of events and of feudal domains the Xintangshu tables contain information about the imperial house (70 Zongshi shixi biao 宗室世系表), the provincial defense commands (64-69 Fangzhen biao 方鎮表) and prime ministers (61-63 Zaixiang biao 宰相表) and their families (71-75 Zaixiang shixi biao 宰相世系表). Although the last table seems to be of great value for the study of the Tang period aristocracy Chinese scholars of later times found out that there are many errors in the tables, which were apparently not correctly copied from the family registers (pudie 譜牒).
Both books, the Jiutangshu as well as the Xintangshu, have their advantages and shortcomings, and it is therefore necessary to consult both.
The earliest printing of the Xintangshu was done during the Song period. Eight juan are preserved of such a print. Of another Song period print, in 16 columns per page, 124 juan survive. Two juan of a Southern Song print in 10 columns have also survived. The Bona 百衲 edition of the Hanfen Studio 涵芬樓 (see Hanfenlou miji 涵芬樓秘笈) is based on these three printings. In imperial times the Wuying Hall 武英殿 printing from the Qing period 清 (1644-1911) was most widespread, while the modern version is that of the Zhonghua shuju press 中華書局 from 1975.

Source: Zhang Zexian 張澤咸 (1992), "Xintangshu 新唐書", 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. 3, pp. 1324-1325.

July 3, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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