An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Regional Histories (zaiji lei 載記類)

Jul 8, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Regional Histories (zaiji lei 載記類) is a subcategory in traditional Chinese bibliographies and part of the category of Historiography (shibu 史部). The term zaiji 載記 was first used in the catalogue of the Tianyige Library, Tianyige shumu 天一閣書目. The literal translation is "chronological/annual records". It was a word used by the central ("rightful") dynasty to denote independent political unities. What made the history of such a state "illegal" was the adaption of an own calendar, but in this type of chronicles, the "legal" calendar is used instead.

The term zaiji, re-discovered in the early Qing period 清 (1644-1911), replaced the older terms weishi 偽史 and bashi 霸史 that wre used for history books on "illegal" dynasties or independent dynasties, so-called "(regional) hegemons" (ba 霸). The word ba goes back to a more or less official institution of the Spring and Autumn period, when rulers of the regional states of the Zhou empire took over leadership positions to replace the function of the Zhou kings, whose military powers had declined considerably after the flight to the east in 770 BCE. Especially the later of the hegemons made politics independently from the Zhou court.

Yet the term bashi "history of hegemonial states" was preceded by the term weishi "history of illegal states", used to designate histories of the so-called Sixteen Barbarian States 五胡十六國 (300~430) that ruled over northern China during the Eastern Jin period 東晉 (317-420).

An overview on the development of the category of books on the history of regionally limited states and empire can be found further below.

Table 1. Regional Histories (zaiji 載記)
Part of Siku quanshu 四庫全書
Part of Xuxiu siku quanshu 續修四庫全書
吳越春秋 十卷 Wu-Yue chunqiu (Han) 趙曄 Zhao Ye
越絕書 十五卷 Yuejueshu (Han) 袁康 Yuan Kang, 吳平 Wu Ping
蜀王本紀 * Shuwang benji (Han) 揚雄 Yang Xiong
徐偃王志 * Xu Yanwang zhi () NN
華陽國志 十二卷 Huayang guo zhi (Jin) 常璩 Chang Qu
鄴中記 一卷 Yezhongji (Jin) 陸翽 Lu Hui
三十國春秋 * Sanshiguo chunqiu (Jin) 蕭方等 Xiao Fangdeng
十六國春秋 一百卷 Shiliuguo chunqiu (Northern Wei) 崔鴻 Cui Hong (?)
南越志 * Nanyuezhi (Liu-Song) 沈懷遠 Shen Huaiyuan
蠻書 十卷 Manshu (Tang) 樊綽 Fan Chuo
釣磯立談 一卷 Diaoji litan (Southern Tang) 史虛白 Shi Xubai
江南野史 十卷 Jiangnan yeshi (Song) 龍袞 Long Gun
江南別錄 一卷 Jiangnan bielu (Song) 陳彭年 Chen Pengnian
江表志 三卷 Jiangbiaozhi (Song) 鄭文寶 Zheng Wenbao
江南餘載 二卷 Jiangnan yuzai (Song) Anon.
三楚新錄 三卷 San Chu xinlu (Song) 周羽梨 Zhou Yuli
錦里耆舊傳 四卷 Jinli qijiu zhuan (Song) 句延慶 Gou Yanqing
五國故事 二卷 Wuguo gushi (Song) NN
蜀檮杌 二卷 Shu taowu (Song) 張唐英 Zhang Tangying
馬氏南唐書 三十卷 Mashi Nantangshu (Song) 馬令 Ma Ling
陸氏南唐書 十八卷 Lushi Nantangshu (Song) 陸游 Lu You
吳越備史 四卷 Wu-Yue beishi (Song) 錢儼 Qian Yan
楚史檮杌 * Chushi taowu (Song) NN; (Yuan) 吾衍 Wu Yan (comp.)
西夏事略 一卷 (存目) Xixia shilüe (Song) 王稱 Wang Cheng (?)
紅冊 (忽蘭迭卜帖兒) * Deb-ther dmar-po (Hu-lan deb-ther) (Yuan) 公哥朵兒只 Künga Dorje
安南志略 十九卷 Annan zhilüe (An Nam chí lược) (Trần) 黎崱 Lê Tắc
黃金史 * Huangjinshi (Ming)
南詔事略 一卷 (存目) Nanzhao shilüe (Ming) 顧應祥 Gu Yingxiang
吳越紀餘 五卷 (存目) Wu-Yue jiyu (Ming) 錢貴 Qian Gui
南詔野史 一卷 (存目) Nanzhao yeshi (Ming) 楊慎 Yang Shen (?)
朝鮮史略 六卷 Chaoxian shilüe (Chosŏn saryak) () NN
越史略 三卷 Yueshilüe (Đại Việt sử lược) () NN
南明野史 * Nanming yeshi (Qing) "南沙三余氏 Nansha sanyu shi"
十國春秋 一百十四卷 Shiguo chunqiu (Qing) 吳任臣 Wu Renchen
泐史 * Leshi (Yuan, Ming, Qing) NN
蒙兀兒史記 * Mengwu'er shiji (Qing) 屠寄 Tu Ji
西夏記 * Xixiaji (Rep) 戴錫章 Dai Xizhang
* not included in the series Siku quanshu 四庫全書, the catalogue Siku quanshu zongmu tiyao 四庫全書總目題要 (Cunmu 存目 section), nor the Xuxiu siku quanshu 續修四庫全書.

The oldest surviving catalogue using the word zaiji 載記 was Ruan Xiaoxu's 阮孝緒 Qilu 七錄. The term is also found in the bibliographic chapters of the Jiutangshu 舊唐書 (that concurrently used the term weishi), the Xintangshu 新唐書, the catalogues Chongwen zongmu 崇文總目, Junzhai dushu zhi 郡齋讀書志, Suichutang shumu 遂初堂書目, Zhizhai shulu jieti 直齋書錄解題 and the bibliographic chapter of the encyclopaedia Wenxian tongkao 文獻通考.

The latter uses both terms, bashi for the states and dynasties controlling northern, northwest and southwest China during the ruling Song dynasty 宋 (960-1279), namely the Liao 遼 (907-1125) state of the Kitans, the Jin 金 (1115-1234) state of the Jurchens, the Nanzhao 南詔 state in modern Yunnan, and the city states in the "Western Territories" (Uyghurs, Karakhans), and weishi for competitor dynasties and states of the past, like the Ten States in the 10th century (competitors to the Five Dynasties), or the Sixteen Barbarian States of the 4th century.

The compilers of the imperial series Siku quanshu 四庫全書 argue that ideological denominations should be given up, and introduced the term zaiji that is derived from the Houhanshu 後漢書, whose author Fan Ye 范曄 (398-445) used this word for the biographies of powerful potentates that ruled independently over parts of Han China, like Gongsun Shu 公孫述 (d. 36 CE) or the rebels from Pinglin 平林 and Xinshi 新市 (i.e. Chen Mu 陳牧 and Liao Zhan 廖湛). In the end, the term was not adapted in the Houhanshu, but the biographies of these individuals were called with the normal term liezhuan 列傳.

The word zaiji is in fact used in the alternative history (bieshi 別史) Dongguan hanji 東觀漢記 (ch. 21) as a term for the biographies of independently ruling potentates like Wang Chang 王常, Liu Penzi 劉盆子, Fan Chong 樊崇, Wei Ao 隗囂, Wang Yuan 王元, Gongshun Shu, Yan Cen 延岑 and Tian Rong 田戎.

The historical critique Shitong 史通 remarks that practically no historian followed this example, barring the official dynastic history Jinshu 晉書, written during the early Tang period 唐 (618-907), where the chronicles of the Sixteen Barbarian states are called zaiji.

A special case is the book Yueshilüe 越史略, a history of Vietnam written during the early Ming period 明 (1368-1644). It might be considered as of a zaiji type because it narrates the history of a semi-autonomous region of the Chinese empire (Vietnam was at that time a vassal state), but it is the only text of this kind that was compiled by the "usurpatorious" dynasty itself.

The bibliographic chapter Jingji zhi 經籍志 in the Suishu 隋書 includes not only history books on the rule of the Sixteen Barbarian dynasties (like Zhaoshu 趙書, Er Shi zhuan 二石傳 [biographies of Shi Le 石勒 and Shi Hu 石虎], Nanyan lu 南燕錄, Qinji 秦記, Tuoba-Liang lu 托跋涼錄, and regional histories like Xihe ji 西河記 or Dunhuang shilu 敦煌實錄 [not "veritable records", shilu, in the bureaucratic sense]), but also on the region of Shu 蜀 (modern Sichuan), where the Shu-Han dynasty 蜀漢 (221-263) ruled, one of the Three Empires 三國 (220~280 CE) and a competitor to the "legal" Cao-Wei dynasty 曹魏 (220-265).

Reports on the Shu-Han dynasty are Chang Qu's 常璩 (c. 291-c. 361) Han zhi shu 漢之書 (10 juan), and the surviving Huayang guo zhi 華陽國志 (12 juan). A text called Zhanguo chunqiu 戰國春秋 by Li Gai 李概 (fl. 554) is found among the bashi texts, and a chronicle of Prince Xu 諝, son of Emperor Yuan 梁元帝 (r. 552-555) of the Liang dynasty 梁 (502-557), and ruler of the short-lived Later Liang 後梁 (555-587), is also listed ( 天啟紀). Many of these old texts went lost during the disturbances by which the Northern Wei period 北魏 (386-534) was afflicted.

The compilers of the Suishu bibliography deliberate (using a phrase from the Zuozhuan 左傳) whether it was justified to speak of a "state" when there was no rightful ruler (bu you jun zi, qi neng guo hu 不有君子,其能國乎?), and come to the conclusion that during the early 4th century the emperors of the Jin dynasty lost their grip on the "provinces", and the various local potentates called themselves emperors, proclaimed reign mottos, counted according to their own calendar and appointed their own court historians. Thanks to Cui Hao 崔浩 (i.e. Cui Hong 崔鴻, 478-525), author of the Shiliuguo chunqiu 十六國春秋, part of their records had survived into the Tang period.

The Jiutangshu bibliography attaches the twenty "history books of miscellaneous illegal states" (za weiguo shi 雜偽國史) to the annals (biannian 編年) section. The texts are more or less identical with those in the Suishu. The Xintangshu bibliography knowns 17 "illegal histories".

The Chongwen zongmu (27 texts) is the first catalogue, where histories of the Ten States 十國 (902~979) are found, like Qianshu Wangshi jishi 前蜀王氏紀事 (Former Shu 前蜀, 907-925) by Mao Wenxi 毛文錫 (10th cent.), Wulu 吳錄 (Wu empire 吳, 902-937) by Xu Xuan 徐鉉 (916-991) or Hu-Xiang Mashi gushi 湖湘馬氏故事 (Chu dynasty 楚, 926-951) by Cao Yan 曹衍 (10th cent.), but also a collection of biographies by Xin Duhao 信都鎬 (10th cent.) of the "heroes" from the battle of River Fei 淝水 in 383, Feishang yingxiong xiaolu 淝上英雄小錄.

The compilers of the Chongwen zongmu quote from a writing of Ouyang Xiu 歐陽修 (1007-1072), where he blames many of the great dynasties to have neglected demonstrating their superiority over local potentates, with the result that "illegal" dynasties came up and overthrew the rightful one.

The catalogue Junzhai dushu zhi by Chao Gongwu 晁公武 (1105-1180) focused in this category (29 texts) less on old texts about the Sixteen Barbarian States (of which today only fragments survive) and instead listed more books on the Ten States, like Jiuguozhi 九國志 by Lu Zhen 路振 (1111-1187), Jiangnanlu 江南錄 by Xu Xuan 徐鉉 (916-991), Jiangnan bielu 江南別錄 by Chen Pengnian 陳彭年 (961-1017), Nantang jinshi 南唐近事 by Zheng Wenbao 鄭文寶 (953-1013), or Jiangnan yeshi 江南野史 by Long Gun 龍袞 (juren degree 1102), but also reports on foreign countries and native peoples, like Nanmanlu 南蠻錄 (about Annam, anonymous), or Xiyuzhi 西域志 (attributed to the monk Xuanzang 玄奘).

The bibliographic chapter of Zheng Qiao's 鄭樵 (1104-1162) universal history Tongzhi 通志 enlarged the category to 73 texts, with more recently written books as Wu-Yue beishi 吳越備史, Qianshi wushen yingzheng lu 錢氏戊申英政錄 by Qian Yan 錢儼 (937-1003), Jiangnan yuzai 江南餘載 (anonymous), Qianshushu 前蜀書, Houshu Meng xianzhu shilu 後蜀孟先主實錄 and Houshu Meng houzhu shilu 後蜀孟後主實錄 (all written by Li Hao 李昊, c. 893-c. 965), Guangzheng zalu 廣政雜錄 (about the Shu empire in Sichuan) by He Guangyuan 何光遠, Min wang Shenzhi zhuan 閩王審知傳 (empire of Min 閩 in Fujian) by Chen Zhiyong 陳致雍 or Bohai xingnian ji 渤海行年記 (about the empire of Bohai 渤海 north of modern Korea) by Zeng Yan 曾顏.

You Mao's 尤袤 (1127-1194) Suichutang shumu calls the text Wu-Yue beishi with the family name of the dynastic founders, Qianmiu beishi 錢鏐備史 "Complete history of the fake Qian dynasty". It also includes the book Diaoji litan 釣磯立談 by Shi Xubai 史虛白 (?), a private history from the state of Southern Tang 南唐 (937-975).

The 40 texts in the "illegal dynasties" section of the catalogue Zhizhai shulu jieti show that the compiler, Chen Zhensun 陳振孫 (1179-1262), took the definition of "legal" and "illegal" more serious than other bibliographers. He does not only count reports on the Sixteen Barbarian States and the Ten States of the 10th century to this category, but also books on the competitor dynasties to the Song in the north, namely the Western Xia 西夏 (1038-1227), the Jurchens, and even the Mongols, and therefore listed in this section texts as Hong Hao's 洪皓 Songmo jiwen 松漠記聞, Zhang Li's 張棣 Jinguozhi 金國志, Li Daliang's 李大諒 Zhengmengji 征蒙記 (although Li was a general of the Jurchens), or Zhang Shiyan's 張師顏 Jinren nanqian lu 金人南遷錄.

The compiler of the Wenxian tongkao catalogue did not make a clear the difference between histories of "hegemonial" (bashi) and "illegal" states (weishi), the former term probably referring to contemporary states (i.e. the Liao and Jin states in northern China), with the books Qidan jiangyu tu 契丹疆宇圖, Liao sijing ji 遼四京記, Xiongnu xuzhi 匈奴須知 (the Kitans termed "Xiongnu"), Beiliao yishi 北遼遺事, Jinluzhi 金虜志, Xiyuzhi 西域志 (the "Western Territories" in modern Xinjiang), Yunnan zhi 雲南志 (the state of Dali 大理) or Zhufanzhi 諸蕃志 (foreign countries), the latter to dynasties ruling over parts of China in the past, with texts like Jiangnanlu, Nantang jinshi, Nantangshu 南唐書 or Qianshu jishi 前蜀記事, all of them narrating the history of some of the Ten States, and regions inside China, in the sense of regional histories (like Huayang guo zhi).

The corpus of the "illegal" or "hegemonial" states was more or less fixed from the late Song period on, with one exception, the catalogue Qianqintang shumu 千頃堂書目, which lists many texts (most of them relatively new at that time) rarely seen in other bibliographies, like Zhao Qimei's 趙琦美 (1563-1624) Weiwu zaji 偽吳雜記, the anonymous Baoyuelu 保越錄 (in the Siku quanshu classified as a biographic travel diary, zalu 雜錄), Yao Shilin's 姚士粦 (1559-?) Houliang chunqiu 後梁春秋, Chen Ting's 陳霆 Tangyu jizhuan 唐餘紀傳, Dongguo shilüe 東國史略, Dong Yue's 董悦 (c. 1600) Qiguokao 七國考 (actually a study of the administrative system of the regional states of the Zhou period), Qian Gui's 錢貴 Wu-Yue jiyu 吳越紀餘 or Hu Hui's 胡恢 (late 10th cent.) Nantangshu 南唐書. Most of the "standard" bashi or weishi histories are missing in this catalogue.

The series Siku quanshu includes 21 books in the zaiji category, plus two histories of foreign states, namely Chaoxian shilüe 朝鮮史略 and the above-mentioned Yueshilüe on Annam. The cunmu 存目 catalogue of existing books not included in the corpus of the series describes a further 21 texts. The section begins with two books describing the history of the powerful semi-barbarian states of Wu and Yue during the Spring and Autumn period, namely Wu-Yue chunqiu 吳越春秋 and Yuejueshu 越絕書, then goes on with the famous history of early Sichuan, Huayang guo zhi, and the compound history of the Sixteen Barbarian States, Cui Hong's Shiliuguo chunqiu, and more than a dozen books on the Ten States that ruled over southern China during the Five Dynasties period. An exception from this pattern is Fan Chuo's 樊綽 (mid-9th cent.) history of early Yunnan, Manshu 蠻書. The cunmu describes more books on Yunnan, namely Nanzhao yeshi 南詔野史, Nanzhao shilüe 南詔事略, and Yang Shen's 楊慎 (1488-1559) Dian zaiji 滇載記, furthermore a book on the Western Xia, Xixia shilüe 西夏事略 by Wang Cheng 王稱 (?), and two books on relations to Korea, namely Chaoxian guo ji 朝鮮國紀 and Gaoli shi 高麗史.