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Chinese Literature
Hanshu 漢書 "The Book of the [Former] Han Dynasty"


The Hanshu 漢書 is the official dynastic history (zhengshi 正史) of the Former Han dynasty 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE). It is also the first history concentrating on one single dynasty (duandaishi 斷代史). The first dynastic history of China was the Shiji 史記 "Records of the Grand Scribe", written by Sima Qian 司馬遷. It covers several dynasties (as a tongshi 通史 "universal history") and ranges from the mythological emperors to the Xia 夏 (17th-15th cent. BC), Shang 商 (17th-11th cent.), Zhou 周 (11th cent.-221) and Qin 秦 (221-206) dynasties and ends with the contemporary ruler, Emperor Wu 漢武帝 (r. 141-87) in the year 93 BCE. The pattern of Sima Qian's historiographic work was unique and served as model for the official standard histories of the imperial dynasties for the next two thousand years.
The Hanshu was written by Ban Biao 班彪 and his son Ban Gu 班固, a historian who also took part in the compilation of the political compendium Baihutong 白虎通 and the history Dongguan hanji 東觀漢記. Ban Gu thus helped standardizing the style of the official dynastic histories. Like Sima Qian, Ban Gu used the biographic-thematic style (jizhuanti 紀傳體) with four different types of chapters. In the Hanshu the imperial biographies are much more written in an annalistic year-by-year style and report only officially recorded events, while the Shiji, especially in its parts covering the pre-Qin era, is largely anecdotical and narrative. The Hanshu is 100 juan "scrolls" long, of which 12 are imperial biographies (benji 本紀), 8 tables (biao 表), 10 treatises (zhi 志) and 70 normal and collective biographies (liezhuan 列傳). The last chapters of these is a biography of Ban Gu himself. A lot of chapters are divided into two parts (shang 上 "upper" and xia 下 "lower").
The compilation of the Hanshu had been begun by Ban Biao who compiled 65 chapters of a book to be called Houzhuan 後傳 "Later Biographies". It was planned as an appendix or supplement to the Shiji. After the death of his father in 54 CE Ban Gu continued to do this work, but he also changed the work of his father because he thought it not detailed enough. Ban Gu died before the book was completed, and therefore Emperor He 漢和帝 (r. 88-105) ordered his sister Ban Zhao 班昭 to complete the missing part of the tables. The missing treatise on astronomy was written by Ma Xuzhong 馬續踵, a disciple of Ban Gu. Ban Zhao has also written the short book Nüjie 女誡 which served for the education of girls in a gentry household.
Although the Shiji served as a general pattern for the Hanshu there are some differences. Ban Gu abbreviated the term benji for the imperial biographies to ji 紀 and called the treatises zhi instead of shu 書. He makes no use of hereditary biographies (shijia 世家) at all, which had served in the Shiji for the feudal states, but also for eminent persons serving the Han dynasty. Such persons, as well as the relatives of empresses, were given a normal liezhuan biography. Ban Gu also abbreviates this term to zhuan. Concerning the collective biographies among the zhuan Ban Gu also established other types than Sima Qian and made not use of many categories the latter had used, like "Humorists", "Assassins", or "Profiteers".
Although the Shiji already covered the first century of the Han dynasty, Ban Gu did not only use the material provided in the Shiji but added other sources or even rearranged the material in a new mode, often in a very style to Sima Qian. This is especially true for events from the time of Emperor Wu. In many biographies from that period of time Ban Gu added a lot of source materials, like memorials submitted to the throne. This thoroughly changed the picture of Emperor Wu towards whom Sima Qian was somewhat more critical than Ban Gu.
Among the tables two are especially worth mentioning, namely the table of important persons of past and present (20 Gujin ren biao 古今人表), and the table of holders of position in state offices (19 Baiguan gongqing biao 百官公卿表). The first is unique among the dynastic histories and ranks each person mentioned into one of nine moral categories. The latter is important for our knowledge about the process of appointing officials in early imperial China.
The treatises have attracted the interest of scholars of all times because they provide abundant information about administration, society, economy (24 Shihuo zhi 食貨志), geography (28 Dili zhi 地理志), thought (24 Wuxing zhi 五行志) and literature (30 Yiwen zhi 藝文志) of the Former Han period.
The Hanshu received the attention of contemporaries but it was not easy to read and to understand because it used a lot of outdated characters and styles. The commentaries to the Hanshu therefore were already compiled at the end of the Later Han period, by Xun Yue 荀悅, Fu Qian 服虔, Ying Shao 應劭, Fu Yan 伏儼, Liu De 劉德, Master Zheng 鄭氏, Li Pei 李斐, and Li Qi 李奇. They were followed by a lot of commentators from the periods of the Three Kingdoms 三國 (220-280) and the Jin dynasty 晉 (265-316-420): Deng Zhan 鄧展, Wen Ying 文穎, Zhang Yi 張揖, Su Lin 蘇林, Zhang Yan 張晏, Ru Chun 如淳, Meng Kang 孟康, Xiang Zhao 項昭, Wei Shao 韋昭, Jin Zhuo 晉灼, Liu Bao 劉寶, Master Zang 臣瓚, Guo Pu 郭璞, Cai Mo 蔡謨, and Cui Hao 崔浩. During the Tang period 唐 (618-907) Yan Shigu 顔師固 collected and revised all commentaries and created an actualized commentary of the Hanshu. Wang Xianqian 王先謙 undertook a similar work during the Qing period 清 (1644-1911) and published it under the title of Hanshu buzhu 漢書補注. In 1962 the Zhonghua shuju press 中華書局 published a modern edition of the Hanshu, including the commentary of Yan Shigu, with a text-critical work comparing the versions of Wang Xianqian, a print from the Song period 宋 (960-1279), that of Mao Jin's 毛晉 edition in the collectaneum Jiguge congshu 汲古閣叢書 from the Ming period 明 (1368-1644), the edition of the Imperial Library of the Wuying Hall 武英殿 and the print from the Jinling shuju press 金陵書局 from the mid-19th century.


Source: Wu Shuping 吳樹平 (1992). "Hanshu 漢書", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史, vol. 1, pp. 350 f. Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe.

Chapters of the Hanshu
1.-12. 紀 Ji Imperial Biographies 1-12:
1. 高帝紀 Han Gaodi (Gaozu) 1-2 (r. 206/02-195 BCE)
2. 惠帝紀 Han Huidi (r. 195-188)
3. 高后紀 Han Gaohou (Empress Lü, r. 187-180)
4. 文帝紀 Han Wendi (r. 180-157)
5. 景帝紀 Han Jingdi (r. 157-141)
6. 武帝紀 Han Wudi (r. 141-87)
7. 昭帝紀 Han Zhaodi (r. 87-74)
8. 宣帝紀 Han Xuandi (r. 74-49)
9. 元帝紀 Han Yuandi (r. 49-33)
10. 成帝紀 Han Chengdi (r. 33-7)
11. 哀帝紀 Han Aidi (r. 7-1 BCE)
12. 平帝紀 Han Pingdi (r. 1 BCE-5 AD)
13.-20. 表 Biao Tables 1-8:
13. 異姓諸侯王表 Princes not related to the imperial house
14. 諸侯王表 Imperial princedoms
15. 王子侯表 Imperial marquisates 1-2
16. 高惠高后文功臣表 High officials from Han Gaozu to Empress Lü
17. 景武昭宣元成功臣表 High officials from Han Jingdi to Han Chengdi
18. 外戚恩澤侯表 Marquisates owned by relatives of imperial consorts
19. 上百官公卿表 The highest ministries 1-2
20. 古今人表 Important persons of past and present
21.-30 志 Zhi Treatises 1-10:
21. 律曆志 Lüli Music measurements and calendar 1-2
22. 禮樂志 Liyue Rites and music philosophy
23. 刑法志 Xingfa Penal law
24. 食貨志 Shihuo Food and commodities 1-2
25. 郊祀志 Jiaosi Sacrifices 1-2
26. 天文志 Tianwen Astronomy
27. 五行志 Wuxing Five processes 1,2 a-b,3 a-b
28. 地理志 Dili Regional administration 1-2
29. 溝洫志 Gouxu Rivers and canals
30. 藝文志 Yiwen Literature
31.-100. 傳 Zhuan Biographies 1-70:
31. 陳勝項籍傳 Chen Sheng and Xiang Ji
32. 張耳陳餘傳 Zhang Er and Chen Yu
33. 魏豹田儋韓王信傳 Wei Bao, Tian Dan and Xin, King of Han
34. 韓彭英盧吳傳 Han Xin 韓信, Peng Yue 彭越, Ying Bu 英布 (Qing Bu 黥布), Lu Wan 盧綰, and Wu Rui 吳芮
35. 荊燕吳傳 The princes of Jing [Liu Jia 劉賈], Yan [Liu Ze 劉澤] and Wu [Liu Pi 劉濞]
36. 楚元王傳 Prince Yuan of Chu, [Liu Xiang 劉向, and Liu Xin 劉歆]
37. 季布欒布田叔傳 Ji Bu, Luan Bu, and Tian Shu
38. 高五王傳 The five princes (sons) of Emperor Gaozu [Liu Fei 劉肥 (Prince Daohui of Qi 齊悼惠王), Liu Ruyi 劉如意 (Prince Yin of Zhao 趙隱王), Liu You 劉友 (Prince You of Zhao 趙幽王), Liu Hui 劉恢 (Prince Gong of Zhao 趙共王), Liu Jian 劉建 (Prince Ling of Yan 燕靈王)]
39. 蕭何曹參傳 Xiao He and Cao Shen
40. 張陳王周傳 Zhang Liang 張良, Chen Ping 陳平, Wang Ling 王陵, and Zhou Bo 周勃
41. 樊酈滕灌傅靳周傳 Fan Kuai 樊噲, Li Shang 酈商, Teng Ying 滕嬰 (Xiahou Ying 夏侯嬰), Guan Ying 灌嬰, Fu Kuan 傅寬, Jin She 靳歙, and Zhou Xie 周緤
42. 張周趙任申屠傳 Zhang Cang 張蒼, Zhou Chang 周昌, Zhao Yao 趙堯, Ren Ao 任敖, and Shentu Jia 申屠嘉
43. 酈陸朱劉叔孫傳 Li Yiji 酈食其, Lu Jia 陸賈, Zhu Jian 朱建, Liu Jing 劉敬 (Lou Jing 婁敬), and Shusun Tong 叔孫通
44. 淮南衡山濟北王傳 The princes of Huainan [Liu Chang 劉長 (Prince Li 淮南厲王)], Hengshan [Liu Ci 劉賜], and Jibei [Liu Bo 劉勃 (Prince Zhen 濟北貞王)]
45. 蒯伍江息夫傳 Kuai Tong 蒯通, Wu Bei 伍被, Jiang Chong 江充, and Xi Fugong 息夫躬
46. 萬石衛直周張傳 Shi Fen 石奮, Lord of Wanshi, Wei Wan 衛綰, Zhi Buyi 直不疑, Zhou Ren 周仁, and Zhang Ou 張歐
47. 文三王傳 The three princes (sons) of Emperor Wen [Liu Wu 劉武 (Prince Xiao of Liang 梁孝王), Liu Sen 劉參 (Prince Xiao of Dai 代孝王), Liu Ji 劉揖 (Prince Huai of Liang 梁懷王)]
48. 賈誼傳 Jia Yi
49. 爰盎晁錯傳 Yuan Ang and Chao Cuo
50. 張馮汲鄭傳 Zhang Shizhi 張釋之, Feng Tang 馮唐, Ji An 汲黯, and Zheng Dangshi 鄭當時
51. 賈鄒枚路傳 Jia Shan 賈山, Zou Yang 鄒陽, Mei Cheng 枚乘, and Lu Wenshu 路溫舒
52. 竇田灌韓傳 Dou Ying 竇嬰, Tian Fen 田蚡, Guan Fu 灌夫, and Han Anguo 韓安國
53. 景十三王傳 The thirteen princes (sons) of Emperor Jing [Liu De 劉德 (Prince Xian of Hexian 河間獻王), Liu E 劉閼 (Prince Ai of Linjiang 臨江哀王), Liu Rong 劉榮 (Prince Min of Linjiang 臨江閔王), Liu Yu 劉餘 (Prince Gong of Lu 魯恭王), Liu Fei 劉非 (Prince Yi of Jiangdu 江都易王), Liu Duan 劉端 (Prince Yu of Jiaoxi 膠西于王), Liu Pengzu 劉彭祖 (Prince Jingsu of Zhao 趙敬肅王), Liu Sheng 劉勝 (Prince Jing of Zhongshan 中山靖王), Liu Fa 劉發 (Prince Ding of Changsha 長沙定王), Liu Yue 劉越 (Prince Hui of Guangchuan 廣川惠王), Liu Ji 劉寄 (Prince Kang of Jiaodong 膠東康王), Liu Qing 劉慶 (Prince Gong of Liu'an 六安共王), Liu Cheng 劉乘 (Prince Ai of Qinghe 清河哀王), Liu Shun 劉舜 (Prince Xian of Changshan 常山憲王)]
54. 李廣蘇建傳 Li Guang and Su Jian
55. 衛青霍去病傳 Wei Qing and Huo Qubing
56. 董仲舒傳 Dong Zhongshu
57. 司馬相如 Sima Xiangru 1-2
58. 公孫弘卜式兒寬傳 Gongsun Hong, Bu Shi, and Er (Ni) Kuan
59. 張湯傳 Zhang Tang
60. 杜周傳 Du Zhou
61. 張騫李廣利傳 Zhang Qian and Li Guangli
62. 司馬遷傳 Sima Qian [and Sima Tan 司馬談]
63. 武五子傳 The five princes (sons) of Emperor Wu [Liu Ju 劉據 (Crown Prince Li 戾太子), Liu Hong 劉閎 (Prince Huai of Qi 齊懷王), Liu Dan 劉旦 (Prince Ci of Yan 燕剌王), Liu Xu 劉胥 (Prince Li of Guangling 廣陵厲王), Prince Bo 劉髆 (Prince Ai of Changyi 昌邑哀王)]
64. 嚴朱吾丘主父徐嚴終王賈傳 Yan Zhu 嚴助, Zhu Maichen 朱買臣, Wuqiu Shouwang 吾丘壽王, Zhufu Yan 主父偃, Xu Le 徐樂, Yan An 嚴安, Zhong Jun 終軍, Wang Bao 王褒, and Jia Juanzhi 賈捐之
65. 東方朔傳 Dongfang Shuo
66. 公孫劉田王楊蔡陳鄭傳 Gongsun He 公孫賀, Liu Quli 劉屈氂, Tian Qianqiu 田千秋 (Che Qianqiu 車千秋), Wang Xin 王訢, Yang Chang 楊敞, Cai Yi 蔡義, Chen Wannian 陳萬年, and Zheng Hong 鄭弘
67. 楊胡朱梅云傳 Yang Wangsun 楊王孫, Hu Jian 胡建, Zhu Yun 朱雲, Mei Fu 梅福, and Yun Chang 云敞
68. 霍光金日磾傳 Huo Guang and Jin Midi
69. 趙充國辛慶忌傳 Zhao Chongguo and Xin Qingji
70. 傅常鄭甘陳段傳 Fu Jiezi 傅介子, Chang Hui 常惠, Zheng Ji 鄭吉, Gan Yannian 甘延壽, Chen Tang 陳湯, and Duan Huizong 段會宗
71. 雋疏于薛平彭傳 Juan Buyi 雋不疑, Shu Guang 疏廣 and Shu Shou 疏受, Yu Dingguo 于定國, Xue Guangde 薛廣德, Ping Dang 平當, and Peng Xuan 彭宣
72. 王貢兩龔鮑傳 Wang Ji 王吉, Gong Yu 貢禹, Gong Sheng 龔勝 and Gong She 龔舍, and Bao Xuan 鮑宣
73. 韋賢傳 Wei Xian
74. 魏相丙吉傳 Wei Xiang and Bing Ji
75. 眭兩夏侯京翼李傳 Sui Hong 眭弘, Xiahou Shichang 夏侯始昌 and Xiahou Sheng 夏侯勝, Jing Fang 京房, Ji Feng 翼奉, and Li Xun 李尋
76. 趙尹韓張兩王傳 Zhao Guanghan 趙廣漢, Yin Wenggui 尹翁歸, Han Yanshou 韓延壽, Zhang Chang 張敞, Wang Zun 王尊 and Wang Zhang 王章
77. 蓋諸葛劉鄭孫毋將何傳 Gai Kuanrao 蓋寬饒, Zhuge Feng 諸葛豐, Liu Fu 劉輔, Zheng Chong 鄭崇, Sun Bao 孫寶, Wujiang Long 毋將隆, and He Bing 何並
78. 蕭望之傳 Xiao Wangzhi
79. 馮奉世傳 Feng Fengshi
80. 宣元六王傳 The six princes (sons) of emperors Xuan and Yuan [Liu Qin 劉欽 (Prince Xian of Huainan 淮陽憲王), Liu Ao 劉囂 (Prince Xiao of Chu 楚孝王), Liu Yu 劉宇 (Prince Si of Dongping 東平思王), Liu Jing 劉竟 (Prince Ai of Zhongshan 中山哀王), Liu Kang 劉康 (Prince Gong of Dingtao 定陶共王), Liu Xing 劉興 (Prince Xiao of Zhongshan 中山孝王)]
81. 匡張孔馬傳 Kuang Heng 匡衡, Zhang Yu 張禹, Kong Guang 孔光, and Ma Gong 馬宮
82. 王商史丹傅喜傳 Wang Shang, Shi Dan, and Fu Xi
83. 薛宣朱博傳 Xue Xuan and Zhu Bo
84. 翟方進傳 Zhai Fangjin
85. 谷永杜鄴傳 Gu Yong and Du Ye
86. 何武王嘉師丹傳 He Wu, Wang Jia, and Shi Dan
87. 揚雄傳 Yang Xiong 1-2
88. 儒林傳 Rulin The forest of scholars: Ding Kuan 丁寬, Shi Chou 施讎, Meng Xi 孟喜, Liangqiu He 梁丘賀, Jing Fang 京房, Fei Zhi 費直, Gao Xiang 高相, Master Fu Sheng 伏生 (伏勝), Ouyang Sheng 歐陽生, Lin Zun 林尊, Xiahou Sheng 夏侯勝, Zhou Kan 周堪, Zhang Shanfu 張山拊, Kong Anguo 孔安國, Master Shen Pei 申公 (申培), Wang Shi 王式, Yuan Gu 轅固, Hou Cang 后蒼, Han Ying 韓嬰, Zhaozi 趙子, Master Mao Heng 毛公 (毛亨), Meng Qing 孟卿, Master Humu 胡母生, Yan Pengzu 嚴彭祖, Yan Anle 顏安樂, Master Xiaqiu Jiang 瑕丘江公, Fang Feng 房鳳
89. 循吏傳 Xunli Benevolent officials: Wen Weng 文翁, Wang Cheng 王成, Huang Ba 黃霸, Zhu Yi 朱邑, Gong Sui 龔遂, Zhao Xinchen 召信臣
90. 酷吏傳 Kuli Cruel officials: Zhi Du 郅都, Ning Cheng 甯成, Zhou Yangyou 周陽由, Zhao Yu 趙禹, Yi Zong 義縱, Wang Wenshu 王溫舒, Yin Qi 尹齊, Yang Pu 楊僕, Xian Xuan 咸宣, Tian Guangming 田廣明, Tian Yannian 田延年, Yan Yannian 嚴延年, Yin Shang 尹賞
91. 貨殖傳 Huozhi Profiteers: Fan Li 范蠡, Zigan 子贛 (Duanmu Ci 端木賜, i. e. Zigong 子貢), Bai Gui 白圭, Yi Dun 猗頓, Wuzhi Ying 烏氏蠃, Widow Qing from Ba 巴寡婦清, Mr and Ms Zhuo from Shu 蜀卓氏, Cheng Zheng 程鄭, Mr Kong from Wan 宛孔氏, Mr Bing 丙氏, Dao Xian 刀閒, Shi Shi 師史, Mr Ren from Xuanqu 宣曲任氏
92. 游俠傳 Youxia Wandering knights: Zhu Jia 朱家, Ju Meng 劇孟, Guo Jie 郭解, Wan Zhang 萬章, Lou Hu 樓護, Chen Zun 陳遵, Yuan Bu 原涉
93. 佞幸傳 Ningxing Flatterers: Deng Tong 鄧通, Zhao Tan 趙談, Han Yan 韓嫣, Li Yannian 李延年, Shi Xian 石顯, Chunyu Zhang 淳于長, Dong Xian 董賢
94. 匈奴傳 The Xiongnu 1-2
95. 西南夷兩粵朝鮮傳 The Southwestern Yi 西南夷, Southern Yue 南粵, Min-Yue 閩粵 and Koreans 朝鮮
96. 西域傳 The city-states of the Western Territories 1-2
97. 外戚傳 Waiqi Empresses 1-2: Gaozu's Empress Lü 高祖呂皇后, Xiaohui's Empress Zhang 孝惠張皇后, Gaozu's Concubine Bo 高祖薄姬, Xiaowen's Empress Dou 孝文竇皇后, Xiaojing's Empress Bo 孝景薄皇后, Xiaojing's Empress Wang 孝景王皇后, Xiaowu's Empress Chen 孝武陳皇后, Xiaowu's Empress Wei 孝武衛皇后, Xiaowu's Lady Li 孝武李夫人, Xiaowu's Concubine Zhao called Gouyi 孝武鉤弋趙婕妤, Xiaozhao's Empress Shangguan 孝昭上官皇后, Prince Wei's Concubine Shi 衛太子史良娣 (grandmother of Emperor Xuan), Imperial Grandson Shi's Lady Wang 史皇孫王夫人, Xiaoxuan's Empress Xu 孝宣許皇后, Xiaoxuan's Empress Huo 孝宣霍皇后, Xiaoxuan's Empress Wang 孝宣王皇后, Xiaocheng's Empress Xu 孝成許皇后, Xiaocheng's Concubine Ban 孝成班婕妤, Xiaocheng's Empress Zhao 孝成趙皇后, Xiaoyuan's Concubine Fu 孝元傅昭儀, Concubine Ding of the Prince of Dingtao 定陶丁姬 (mother of Emperor Ai), Xiao'ai's Empress Fu 孝哀傅皇后, Xiaoyuan's Concubine Feng 孝元馮昭儀, Concubine Wei of the Prince of Zhongshan 中山衛姬 (mother of Emperor Ping), Xiaoping's Empress Wang 孝平王皇后
98. 元后傳 The Empress of Yuandi (Wang Zhengjun 王政君)
99. 王莽傳 Wang Mang 1-3
100. 敘傳 Xuzhuan Postface and biography of Ban Gu 1-2
Chinese literature according to the four-category system

July 3, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail