An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Chang'an zhi 長安志

Jul 6, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Chang'an zhi 長安志 "Records of Chang'an" is a gazetteer-style description of the old capital Chang'an (modern Xi'an 西安, Shaanxi), its palaces, markets and wards, as well as of the districts surrounding Chang'an. It was written during the Northern Song period 北宋 (960-1126) by Song Minqiu 宋敏求 (1019-1079) and is 20-juan long.

Song Minqiu, courtesy name Cidao 次道, hailed from Zhaozhou 趙州 (today's Zhaoxian 趙縣, Hebei) and was a historian who had taken part in the compilation of the veritable records (shilu 實錄) of Emperor Wuzong 唐武宗 (r. 840-846) of the Tang dynasty 唐 (618-907), and the book Tang da zhaoling ji 唐大詔令集, a collection of edicts and memorials from the Tang period. He also took part in the compilation of the Xintangshu 新唐書, the new official dynastic history of the Tang dynasty. Two of his local gazetters, Henanzhi 河南志 in 20 juan, and Dongjingji 東京記 in 3 juan, are lost. The Chang'an zhi is his only surviving book.

Chang'an had been the imperial capital during the Western Han 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) and the Tang periods but the region had been the core also of the Western Zhou 西周 (11th cent.-770 BC) and the Qin 秦 (221-206 BC) empires. The area was therefore of course of great interest, and the mid-Tang scholar Wei Shu 韋述 (d. 757) had written the Liangjing xinji 兩京新記 "New book of the two capitals [Chang'an and Luoyang 洛陽]", which Song Minqiu used as the main source for his book. Wei's book is only preserved in fragments and was not as detailed as the Chang'an zhi. Song Minqiu also delivered a chronological overview of the capital region, from ancient times to the end of the Tang period.

The Yuan-period 元 (1279-1368) scholar Luo Tianxiang 駱天驤 wrote a supplement to it, describing the region in later times down to his own. His book is called Leibian Chang'an zhi 類編長安志, in 10 juan. During the Qing period 清 (1644-1911) Xu Song 徐松 (1781-1848) wrote a book about the two cities of Chang'an (in his time the city of Chang'an "Everlasting peace" was renamed Xi'an 西安 "Western pacification") and Luoyang, the Tang liang jing chengfang kao 唐兩京城防考, for which he used the Chang'an zhi and its Yuan period supplement.

The original print of the Chang'an zhi from the Song period is lost. The oldest extant prints are from the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) when it was printed together with Li Haowen's 李好文 (jinshi degree 1321) Chang'an tuzhi 長安圖志 from the Yuan period. This version includes many errors and some street names are missing, and inspite of a revision the Qing-period scholar Bi Yuan 畢沅 (1730-1797) was not able to create a perfect version. At least some missing information can be reconstructed from Luo Tianxiang's supplement.

Table 1. Contents of the Chang'an zhi 長安志
總序 Summary
分野 Astronomy
土產 Local products
土貢 Local tributes
風俗 Customs and habits
四至 Geography and neighbouring regions
管縣戶口 District administration and households
雜制 Miscellaneous regulations
雍州 The province of Yongzhou
京都 The capital
京兆尹 The metropolitan magistrate
府縣官 Offices for local administration
宮室 Palaces and other buildings
唐皇城 The imperial ["forbidden"] city during the Tang period
唐京城 The capital city during the Tang period
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