An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Zizhi tongjian qianbian 資治通鑒前編

Sep 16, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Zizhi tongjian qianbian 資治通鑑前編 "Previous supplement to the Comprehensive Mirror to Aid in Government", also called Zizhi tongjian gangmu qianbian 資治通鑑綱目前編 or shortly 通鑑前編, is a chronicle written by Jin Lüxiang 金履祥 (1232–1303, courtesy name Jifu 吉父 or 吉甫, style Cinong 次農 , Renshan xiansheng 仁山先生 or Lanxiren 蘭溪人). Jin Lüxiang also wrote some commentaries to the Confucian Four Books (sishu 四書). His collected works are called Renshan ji 仁山集.

The 18-juan long book was written as a supplement to Sima Guang's 司馬光 (1019–1086) chronicle Zizhi tongjian 資治通鑑 that only begins in the year 403 BCE, so that it was thought necessary also to write the history of earlier times. In 1264 Jin Lüxiang completed his Tongjian qianbian.

It was written as an alternative to Liu Shu's 劉恕 (1032–1078) Tongjian waiji 通鑑外紀, for which the Confucian Classics had not been used as sources. Jin, instead, made not only use of non-canonical sources, like the historical writings and the various treatises, but also of classics, like the Shangshu 尚書, Shijing 詩經 and Chunqiu 春秋.

Following the examples of philosophically inspired histories, like Shao Yong's 邵雍 Huangji jingshi 皇極經世 or Hu Hong's 胡宏 Huangwang daji 皇王大紀, Jin Lüxiang combed through various Confucian texts, in order to write a history of China's age of antiquity, to be posed chronologically before the beginning of the Zizhi tongjian in the year 403 BCE.

Jin Lüxiang arranged the material in chronological order and added his comments to the historical facts, which were intended as a guideline to the reader, what to learn from history. This pattern should go back to the Zizhi tongjian and tried to avoid a purely theoretical interpretation of history, as Zhu Xi 朱熹 (1130-1200) had done it in his Tongjian gangmu 通鑑綱目.

The Tongjian qianbian covers the time from the mythological emperors Yao 堯 and Shun 舜 until the year, when Sima Guang's Zizhi tongjian sets in.

The Tongjian qianbian is included in the collectanea Tongjian gangmu quanshu 通鑑綱目全書, Zizhi tongjian daquan 資治通鑒大全, Zizhi tongjian gangmu sibian heke XXX, Siku quanshu 四庫全書, and Jinrenshan congshu 金仁山叢書.

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, 893.