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Kroll J.L. Shih chi, Han shu and the Han Culture // Archiv Orientální. Quarterly Journal of African and Asian Studies. 3 volume 74 / 2006. С. 299-348.


Of all the peoples of the world, the Chinese are the most famous for their historical-mindedness. They owe this reputation primarily to their unique traditional historiography. Its main genre is that of Standard Histories (chengshih), which first emerged early in the first century B.C. and which were compiled for more than two millennia. The genre was first created and developed through the efforts of two Han historians. Ssu-ma Ch'ien (145? – 86? B.C.) initiated it by writing the Shih chi (“Records of the Historian” [or, to be more exact, “the Astrologer”]), the first general history of the Chinese œcumene; whereas Pan Ku (A.D. 32 -92) modified the genre by writing his Han shu (“Han History”), the first history of a single dynasty. All in all, twenty-five Standard Histories were compiled. For the most part they are histories of one dynasty, like Han shu, but some of them are histories of several dynasties. The Shih chi and Han shu became models for later generations and greatly influenced traditional historians of China as well as of other countries of the region affected by Chinese culture, such as Korea and Japan. The cultural significance of the Shih chi is especially great. Suffice it to say that within its framework, Ssu-ma Ch'ien created the earliest samples of Chinese biographies that have come down to us. The possibility they are the first biographies written in China cannot be ruled out...

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Keywords


Chinese historiography
the Han Culture
Han shu
Shih chi

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