Ssu-ma Ch'ien

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Ssu-ma Ch'ien

(so͝o`mä chyĕn), 145?–90? B.C., Chinese historian; sometimes called the Father of Chinese History. He succeeded his father, Ssu-ma T'an, as grand historian (an office then dealing with astronomy and the calendar) at the court of the Early HanHan
, dynasty of China that ruled from 202 B.C. to A.D. 220. Liu Pang, the first Han emperor, had been a farmer, minor village official, and guerrilla fighter under the Ch'in dynasty.
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 emperor Wu. There he took up a project on history planned by his father and extended it into a history of China and of all regions and peoples known at that time. Incurring the emperor's displeasure, he suffered the punishment of castration. Rejecting the alternative of suicide, he chose to complete this work, the Shih chi [records of the historian]. In 130 chapters, including basic annals of dynasties or rulers, chronological tables, treatises, hereditary houses, and accounts of famous men and foreign lands and peoples, it has served as a model for subsequent Chinese dynastic histories. Its wide range, many-faceted characterizations, and vivid dialogue have won it the admiration of Asian readers for over 2,000 years.


See Records of the Grand Historian of China, tr. by B. Watson (2 vol., 1961, repr. 1969); study by B. Watson (1958).

References in periodicals archive ?
However, it is very strange that Ssu-ma Ch'ien should have written two separate biographies of "Ch'un-y[ddot{u}] K'un," as though there were two contemporary personages of the same appellation: Shih-chi 1267.
19] He was imagined by Lu Pu-wei, by Ssu-ma Ch'ien, and by all posterity, as a personified phallus.
We know that Ssu-ma Ch'ien stopped his work on the Shih-chi in about 100 B.
This seems to reflect the perspective of later readers instead of the original authors; at the time when Ssu-ma Ch'ien worked on the Shih-chi, the songs were actually being composed and must certainly have been understood by the court officials involved.
7: The Memoirs of Pre-Han China by Ssu-ma Ch'ien (Bloomington: Indiana Univ.
Durrant's conclusion is that Ssu-ma Ch'ien intended his treatment of the First Emperor to be "sarcastic.
The mighty First Emperor's vain effort to construct his own historical persona and obliterate the memory of all of the Warring States except Ch'in were both undone by the humble brush of the Grand Historian Ssu-ma Ch'ien.
1) This new, fragmented arrangement of historical data allowed Ssu-ma Ch'ien to approach events from diverse angles, and indeed he sometimes narrates a single incident more than once, in different chapters, from slightly different points of view.
Within this framework Ssu-ma Ch'ien places names, information about these individuals, important events, and specific dates.
4) More recently, Hsu Fu-kuan has proposed that Ssu-ma Ch'ien used the tables to highlight key events.
Press, 1974), 24-33; see also Burton Watson, Ssu-ma Ch'ien, Grand Historian of China (New York: Columbia Univ.
220) astrologer and historiographer, Ssu-ma Ch'ien (d.