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Zhoushu 周書

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Don't confound this official dynastic history with the "Book of the Zhou Dynasty" Zhoushu, which is a chapter of the Confucian Classic Shangshu 尚書.

The Zhoushu 周書 "Book of the Zhou dynasty" is the official dynastic history (zhengshi 正史) of the Northern Zhou dynasty 北周 (557-581). It was written by the Tang period 唐 (618-907) scholar Linghu Defen 令狐德芬 and comprises 50 juan, "scrolls", 8 of which are imperial biographies (benji 本紀), and the rest normal and collective biographies (liezhuan 列傳). During the Song period 宋 (960-1279) a great part of the book was already lost. In the modern version juan 18, 24, 26, 31 and 32 are missing, and at the end of each extant chapter a historiographies has written a short comment. Juan 31 and 32 have been supplemented from the dynastic history Beishi 北史 "History of the Northern Dynasties 北朝 (386~581)", juan 24 and 26 from Gao Jun's 高峻 Xiaoshi 小史.
Linghu Defen was an important historian during the early Tang period. He suggested to the emperor compiling a history of the short-lived Zhou Dynasty, as well as of the Liang 梁 (502-557), Chen 陳 557-589 and Northern Qi 北齊 (550-577) dynasties, as long as there was still source material available. A very important point was that the ancestors of the Tang dynasty had acted as officials of the Zhou dynasty, so that the Northern Zhou dynasty could be seen as the direct predecessor of the Sui 隋 (581-618) and Tang dynasties. In 929 Linghu Defen, Cen Wenben 岑文本 and Cui Renshi 崔仁師 took over the compilation of the Zhoushu which was completed in 636.
Although the content of the Zhoushu is quite reliable the authors laid too much stress on its good literary style. Primary sources are thus not preserved in the original version.

Source: Zhou Yiliang 周一良 (1992), "Zhoushu 周書", 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, p. 1604.

July 15, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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