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Chinese Literature
Xingshilu 姓氏錄 "Record of Eminent Families"


The Xingshilu 姓氏錄 "Record of eminent families" is an official register of the most important families of the early Tang period 唐 (618-907). It was compiled on imperial order of Emperor Gaozong 唐高宗 (r. 649-683) and Empress Wu Zetian 武則天 (r. 690-704). The reason for the compilation was that Gaozong deposed his empress Wang 王后 and installed Wu Zetian instead. In order to raise the position of the family of Wu the new empress had revised older family registers, like the Zhenguan shizhu zhi 貞觀氏族志. In this book the family of Li Yifu 李義府, the trusted cousellor of the emperor, was also not mentioned. The compilation was observed by Kong Zhiyue 孔志約 and made by twelve people under the supervision of Yang Renqing 楊仁卿, Shi Yuandao 史元道 and Lü Cai 呂才. The book was finished in 659 and the emperor personally wrote a preface.
The Xingshilu gives an overview of 245 families (xing 姓) and 287 households (jia 家), each of which is categorised in one of nine classes, according to the official ranks (see jiupin). All families producing officials of a rank higher than five were included in the Xingshilu. The members of the Wu family were all ranked in the highest class. The new official family register met resistance from the side of military officials who saw themselves underrepresented. The newly compiled register had to be revised, and a lot of older families whose power had vanished since were eliminated from the book.


Source: Hu Rulei 胡如雷 (1992). "Xingshilu 姓氏錄", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史, vol. 3, p. 1332. Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe.
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September 16, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail