Dynasties, Histories of the

Dynasties, Histories of the

 

(Cheng shih), a type of Chinese historical composition. Histories of the dynasties were usually compiled after the fall of a dynasty on orders from the emperor of the succeeding dynasty. In all there are 26 histories of dynasties, compiled from the second century B.C. until the 1920’s. The form for the compilation of all the histories was set by the first of them—Shih chi (Historical Records), by Ssu-ma Ch’ien. The histories usually consist of four main sections, divided into chapters: section one (penchi or ti-chi) is devoted to a description of the genealogy of the emperors and their deeds; section two (nien-piao) is a chronological table; section three (shu or chin) consists of treatises of a particular type devoted to various questions— economics, geography, administrative organization, literature, art and so forth; section four (lieh-chuan) consists of biographies. The histories of the dynasties are a valuable historical source.

REFERENCE

Chang Shun-huei. Chungkuo lishih yaochieh chiehshao (Survey of Major Chinese Historical Writings). Wuhan, 1956.

L. S. VASIL’EV

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