Records of the Grand Historian
First page of the book in manuscript
Author Sima Qian
Original title 史記 (Shǐjì)
Country Han Dynasty China
Language Classical Chinese
Subject Ancient Chinese history
Publication date circa 91 BC

The Records of the Grand Historian, also known by its Chinese name Shiji (Chinese: 史記; pinyin: Shǐjì; literally "Historical Records"), written from 109 to 91 BC, was the magnum opus of Sima Qian, in which he recounted Chinese history from the time of the Yellow Emperor until his own time. (The Yellow Emperor, traditionally dated around 2600 BC, is the first ruler whom Sima Qian considered sufficiently established as historical to appear in the Records.)


The 130 volumes (i.e. scrolls, now usually called "chapters") of the text classify information into several categories:

  1. 12 volumes of Benji (本紀), "Basic Annals" or "Imperial Biographies", contain the biographies of all prominent rulers from the Yellow Emperor to Qin Shi Huang and the kings of Xia, Shang, and Zhou dynasties. The biographies of four emperors and one empress dowager of the Western Han Dynasty before his time are also included. The biography of Xiang Yu, who never actually ruled all the country, was contained in this class. This may be because Sima Qian included de facto rulers such as Xiang Yu and Empress Dowager Lu and excluded rulers with no real power, such as Emperor Yi of Chu and Emperor Hui of Han.[1]
  2. 10 volumes of Biao (表) or "Tables", are timelines of events.
  3. 8 volumes of Shu (書) or "Treatises", of economics and other topics of the time.
  4. 30 volumes of Shijia (世家) or "Biographies of the Feudal Houses and Eminent Persons", contain biographies of notable rulers, nobility and bureaucrats mostly from the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods. Confucius is also included in this class.
  5. 70 volumes of Liezhuan (列傳) or "Biographies and Collective Biographies", contain biographies of important individual figures including Laozi, Mozi, Sun Tzu, and Jing Ke.


Unlike subsequent official historical texts that adopted Confucian doctrine, proclaimed the divine rights of the emperors, and degraded any failed claimant to the throne, Sima Qian's more liberal and objective prose has been renowned and followed by poets and novelists. Most volumes of Liezhuan are vivid descriptions of events and persons. The author explains that he critically used stories passed on from antiquity as part of his sources, balancing reliability and accuracy of the records. For instance, the material on Jing Ke's attempt at assassinating the first emperor of China was supposedly an eye-witness account passed on by the great-grandfather of his father's friend, who served as a low-ranking bureaucrat at court of Qin and happened to be attending the diplomatic ceremony for Jing Ke.

It has been observed that the diplomatic Sima Qian has a way of accentuating the positive in his treatment of rulers in the Basic Annals, but slipping negative information into other chapters, and so his work must be read as a whole to obtain full information. For example, the information that Liu Bang (later Emperor Gaozu of Han), in a desperate attempt to escape in a chase from Xiang Yu's men, pushed his own children off his carriage to lighten it, was not given in the emperor's biography, but in the biography of Xiang Yu. He is also careful to balance the negative with the positive, for example, in the biography of Empress Dowager Lu which contains lurid accounts of her cruelty, he pointed out at the end that, whatever her personal life may have been, her rule brought peace and prosperity to the country.[2]

Source materials

Sima's family were hereditary historians to the Han emperor. Sima Qian's father Sima Tan served as Grand Historian, and Sima Qian succeeded to his position. Thus he had access to the early Han dynasty archives, edicts, and records. Sima Qian was a methodical, skeptical historian who had access to ancient books, written on bamboo and wooden slips, from before the time of the Han Dynasty. Many of the sources he used did not survive. He not only used archives and imperial records, but also interviewed people and traveled around China to verify information. In his first chapter, "Annals of the Five Emperors," he writes,[3]

I myself have travelled west as far as K'ung-t'ung, north past Cho-lu, east to the sea, and in the south I have sailed the Yellow and Huai Rivers. The elders and old men of these various lands frequently pointed out to me the places where the Yellow Emperor, Yao, and Shun had lived, and in these places the manners and customs seemed quite different. In general those of their accounts which do not differ from the ancient texts seem to be near to the truth.
— Sima Qian, translation by Burton Watson [4]

The Grand Historian used The Annals of the Five Emperors (五帝系諜) and the Classic of History as source materials to make genealogies from the time of the Yellow Emperor until that of the Gonghe regency (841-2 BC). Sima Qian often cites his sources. For example, in the first chapter, "Annals of the Five Emperors," he writes, "I have read the Spring and Autumn Annals and the Guoyu." In his 13th chapter, "Genealogical Table of the Three Ages," Sima Qian writes, "I have read all the genealogies of the kings (dieji 谍记) that exist since the time of the Yellow Emperor." In his 14th chapter, "Yearly Chronicle of the Feudal Lords", he writes, "I have read all the royal annals (chunqiu li pudie 春秋曆譜諜) up until the time of King Li of Zhou." In his 15th chapter, "Yearly Chronicle of the Six States," he writes, “I have read the Annals of Qin (qin ji 秦記), and they say that the Quanrong [a barbarian tribe] defeated King You of Zhou [ca 771 BC]."

In the 19th chapter, he writes, "I have occasion to read over the records of enfeoffment and come to the case of Wu Qian, the marquis of Bian...." (The father of Marquis Bian, Wu Rui, was named king (wang) of Changsha in Hunan for his loyalty to Gaozu. See article on Zhao Tuo). In his chapter on the patriotic minister and poet Qu Yuan, Sima Qian writes, "I have read [Qu Yuan's works] Li Sao, Tianwen ("Heaven Asking"), Zhaohun (summoning the soul), and Ai Ying (Lament for Ying)”. In the 62nd chapter, "Biography of Guan and of Yan", he writes, "I have read Guan's Mu Min (牧民 - "Government of the People", a chapter in the Guanzi), Shan Gao ("The Mountains Are High"), Chengma (chariot and horses; a long section on war and economics), Qingzhong (Light and Heavy; i.e. "what is important"), and Jiufu (Nine Houses), as well as the Spring and Autumn Annals of Yanzi." In his 64th chapter, "Biography of Sima Rangju", the Grand Historian writes, "I have read Sima's Art of War." In the 121st chapter, "Biographies of Scholars", he writes, "I read the Imperial Decrees that encouraged education officials."

Sima Qian wrote of the problems with incomplete, fragmentary and contradictory sources. For example, he mentioned in the preface to chapter 15 that the chronicle records of the feudal states kept in the Zhou's archive were burnt by Qin Shihuang because they contained criticisms and ridicule of the Qin, and that the Qin annals were brief and incomplete.[5] In the 13th chapter he mentioned that the chronologies and genealogies of different ancient texts "disagree and contradict each other throughout". In his 18th chapter, Sima Qian writes, "I have set down only what is certain, and in doubtful cases left a blank."[6]

Reliability and accuracy

Scholars have questioned the historicity of legendary kings of the ancient periods given by Sima Qian. Sima Qian begins Shiji with an account of the five rulers of supreme virtue, the Five Emperors who modern scholars, such as those from the Doubting Antiquity School, believe to be originally local deities of the peoples of ancient China.[7] Sima Qian sifted out the elements of the supernatural and fantastic which seemed to contradict their existence as actual human monarchs, and was therefore criticized for turning myths and folklore into sober history.[7]

However, according to Joseph Needham, who wrote in 1954 on Sima Qian accounts of the kings of the Shang Dynasty (c. 1600–c. 1050 BC):

It was commonly maintained that Ssuma Chhien [Sima Qian] could not have adequate historical materials for his account of what had happened more than a thousand years earlier. One may judge of the astonishment of many, therefore, when it appeared that no less than twenty-three of the thirty rulers' name were to be clearly found on the indisputably genuine Anyang bones. It must be, therefore, that Ssuma Chhien [Sima Qian] did have fairly reliable materials at his disposal—a fact which underlines once more the deep historical-mindedness of the Chinese—and that the Shang dynasty is perfectly acceptable.
— Joseph Needham[8]

While some aspects of Sima Qian's history of the Shang Dynasty are supported by inscriptions on the oracle bones, there is, as yet, no clear corroborating evidence from archaeology on Sima Qian's history of the Xia Dynasty.

There are also discrepancies of fact such as dates between various portions of the work. This may be a result of Sima Qian's use of different source texts.[9]



Benji (本紀, annals), 12 volumes. Royal biographies in strict annalistic form that offer an overview of the most important events, especially from the time of the Zhou dynasty to that of the emperor of the Han dynasty.

Number Title Translation Notes
1. 五帝本紀 Annals of the Five Emperors Traditional view of prehistoric China, beginning from the Yellow Emperor
2. 夏本紀 Annals of Xia Xia Dynasty
3. 殷本紀 Annals of Yin Shang (Yin) Dynasty
4. 周本紀 Annals of Zhou Zhou Dynasty
5. 秦本紀 Annals of Qin State of Qin
6. 秦始皇本紀 Annals of Qin Shi Huang Qin Dynasty
7. 項羽本紀 Annals of Xiang Yu
8. 高祖本紀 Annals of Gaozu Emperor Gaozu of Han, 206-195 BC
9. 呂太后本紀 Annals of Empress Dowager Lü Empress Lü Zhi (regent 195-180 BC)
10. 孝文本紀 Annals of the Xiaowen Emperor Emperor Wen of Han, 179-157 BC
11. 孝景本紀 Annals of the Xiaojing Emperor Emperor Jing of Han, 156-141 BC
12. 孝武本紀 Annals of the Xiaowu Emperor Emperor Wu of Han, 140-87 BC


Biao (表, tables), 10 tables: overview of the reigns of the successive lords of the feudal states from the time of the Zhou dynasty till that of the early Han. At the same time the most important events of their reigns are mentioned.

Number Title Translation Notes
13. 三代世表 Genealogical Table of the Three Ages From the Yellow Emperor's time to the Xia, Shang, and Zhou dynasties
14. 十二諸侯年表 Yearly Chronicle of the Feudal Lords The lords who ruled the twelve feudal states in the Spring and Autumn Period
15. 六國年表 Yearly Chronicle of the Six States The six feudal states in the Warring States period
16. 秦楚之際月表 Monthly Table of (the Events) between Qin and Chu The war between the feudal states of Qin and Chu
17. 漢興以來諸侯王年表 Yearly Table of the Nobles of the Imperial Clan since the Han Dynasty's Founding Nobles of the imperial family who held titles of nobility
18. 高祖功臣侯者年表 Yearly Table of the Officials who became Marquises in the Time of Gaozu Officials who received marquis titles in the time of Emperor Gaozu of Han
19. 惠景閒侯者年表 Yearly Table of the Officials who became Marquises between the Reigns of Emperor Hui and Emperor Jing Officials who received marquis titles from 194 to 141 BCE
20. 建元以來侯者年表 Yearly Table of the Officials who became Marquises since the Jianyuan Period Jianyuan was the reign period of Emperor Wu of Han from 140-135 BC
21. 建元已來王子侯者年表 Yearly Table of the Nobles' Sons who became Marquises since the Jianyuan period
22. 漢興以來將相名臣年表 Yearly Table of Statesmen, Generals and Officials since the Han Dynasty's Founding


Shu (書, treatises), 8 volumes. Each treatise describes an area of state interest.

Number Title Translation Notes
23. 禮書 Rites
24. 樂書 Music probably postdating Sima Qian, cf. Record of Music
25. 律書 Bells Harmony and measurements
26. 曆書 Calendars
27. 天官書 Astronomy
28. 封禪書 Religious sacrificial ceremonies Sacrifices to Heaven and Earth
29. 河渠書 Rivers and canals
30. 平準書 Equalization Names of officials who had to buy crops in a year of bountiful harvest and sell in a year of crop failure


Shijia (世家, genealogies), 30 volumes. Descriptions in chronicle form of the events of the states from the time of the Zhou Dynasty until the early Han Dynasty and of eminent people.

Number Title Translation Notes
31. 吳太伯世家 House of Wu Taibo State of Wu
32. 齊太公世家 House of Duke Tai of Qi State of Qi
33. 魯周公世家 House of Lu Zhougong State of Lu
34. 燕召公世家 House of Yan Shaogong State of Yan
35. 管蔡世家 Houses of Guan and Cai States of Cai and Cao
36. 陳杞世家 Houses of Chen and Qi
37. 衛康叔世家 House of Wei Kang Shu State of Wey
38. 宋微子世家 House of Song Wei Zi State of Song
39. 晉世家 House of Jin
40. 楚世家 House of Chu
41. 越王句踐世家 House of King Goujian of Yue State of Yue
42. 鄭世家 House of Zheng
43. 趙世家 House of Zhao
44. 魏世家 House of Wei
45. 韓世家 House of Han
46. 田敬仲完世家 House of Tian Jingzhong (Tian Wan) State of Qi under the House of Tian
47. 孔子世家 House of Confucius
48. 陳涉世家 House of Chen She
49. 外戚世家 Houses of the External Relatives The empresses and their families
50. 楚元王世家 House of Prince Yuan of Chu
51. 荊燕世家 Houses of Jing and Yan
52. 齊悼惠王世家 House of Prince Daohui of Qi Liu Fei
53. 蕭相國世家 House of Chancellor Xiao Xiao He
54. 曹相國世家 House of Chancellor Cao Cao Shen
55. 留侯世家 House of Marquis of Liu Zhang Liang
56. 陳丞相世家 House of Chancellor Chen Chen Ping
57. 絳侯周勃世家 House of Zhou Bo, Marquis of Jiang
58. 梁孝王世家 House of Prince Xiao of Liang
59. 五宗世家 House of the Five Clans The sons of Emperor Jing of Han
60. 三王世家 House of the Three Kings The rulers of Qi, Yan and Guangling


Liezhuan (列傳, exemplary lives, often called biographies), 70 volumes. Biographies of important people. The biographies are limited to the description of the events that show the exemplary character of the subject, but in the Shiji is often supplemented with legends. One biography can treat two or more people if they are considered to belong to the same type. The last biographies describe the relations between the Chinese and the neighboring peoples.

Number Title Translation Notes
61. 伯夷列傳 Biography of Bo Yi
62. 管晏列傳 Biographies of Guan and Yan Guan Zhong and Yan Ying (晏嬰)
63. 老子韓非列傳 Biographies of Laozi and Han Fei Includes the biographies of Zhuangzi and Shen Buhai
64. 司馬穰苴列傳 Biography of Sima Rangju
65. 孫子吳起列傳 Biographies of Sun Tzu and Wu Qi
66. 伍子胥列傳 Biography of Wu Zixu
67. 仲尼弟子列傳 Biographies of the disciples of Zhongni Zhongni is courtesy name of Confucius
68. 商君列傳 Biography of Lord Shang Shang Yang
69. 蘇秦列傳 Biography of Su Qin
70. 張儀列傳 Biography of Zhang Yi
71. 樗里子甘茂列傳 Biographies of Shu Lizi and Gan Mao Includes the biography of Gan Luo (甘羅)
72. 穰侯列傳 Biography of the Marquis of Rang Wei Ran (魏冉)
73. 白起王翦列傳 Biographies of Bai Qi and Wang Jian
74. 孟子荀卿列傳 Biographies of Mengzi and Xun Qing Mencius and Xunzi
75. 孟嘗君列傳 Biography of Lord Mengchang one of the Four Lords of the Warring States
76. 平原君虞卿列傳 Biographies of Lord Pingyuan and Yu Qing Lord Pingyuan was one of the Four Lords of the Warring States
77. 魏公子列傳 Biographiy of the son of the Duke of Wei Lord Xinling (信陵君), one of the Four Lords of the Warring States
78. 春申君列傳 Biography of Lord Chunshen one of the Four Lords of the Warring States
79. 范睢蔡澤列傳 Biographies of Fan Sui and Cai Ze
80. 樂毅列傳 Biography of Yue Yi
81. 廉頗藺相如列傳 Biographies of Lian Po and Lin Xiangru
82. 田單列傳 Biography of Tian Dan
83. 魯仲連鄒陽列傳 Biographies of Lu Zhonglian and Zou Yang
84. 屈原賈生列傳 Biographies of Qu Yuan and Master Jia Master Jia refers to Jia Yi
85. 呂不韋生列傳 Biography of Master Lü Buwei
86. 刺客列傳 Biographies of Assassins Cao Mo (曹沫), Zhuan Zhu, Yu Rang (豫讓), Nie Zheng (聶政) and Jing Ke
87. 李斯列傳 Biography of Li Si
88. 蒙恬列傳 Biography of Meng Tian
89. 張耳陳餘列傳 Biographies of Zhang Er and Chen Yu
90. 魏豹彭越列傳 Biographies of Wei Bao and Peng Yue
91. 黥布列傳 Biography of Qing Bu Ying Bu
92. 淮陰侯列傳 Biography of the Marquis of Huaiyin Han Xin
93. 韓信盧綰列傳 Biographies of Hán Xin (King of Hán) and Lu Wan Includes the biography of Chen Xi (陳豨)
94. 田儋列傳 Biography of Tian Dan
95. 樊酈滕灌列傳 Biographies of Fan, Li, Teng and Guan Fan Kuai, Li Shang (酈商), Xiahou Ying, Guan Ying (灌嬰)
96. 張丞相列傳 Biography of Chancellor Zhang Zhang Cang (張蒼)
97. 酈生陸賈列傳 Biographies of Li Yiji and Lu Gu Includes the biography of Zhu Jian (朱建)
98. 傅靳蒯成列傳 Biographies of Fu, Jin, and the Marquis of Kuaicheng Fu Kuan (寬), Jin She (歙) and Zhou Xue (周譄)
99. 劉敬叔孫通列傳 Biographies of Liu Jing and Shusun Tong
100. 季布欒布列傳 Biographies of Ji Bu and Luan Bu
101. 袁盎晁錯列傳 Biographies of Yuan Ang and Chao Cuo
102. 張釋之馮唐列傳 Biographies of Zhang Shizhi and Feng Tang
103. 萬石張叔列傳 Biographies of Wan Shi and Zhang Shu
104. 田叔列傳 Biography of Tian Shu
105. 扁鵲倉公列傳 Biographies of Bian Que and the Duke of Cang Duke of Cang refers to Tai Cang (太倉)
106. 吳王濞列傳 Biographies of Pi, the Prince of Wu Liu Pi
107. 魏其武安侯列 Biographies of the Marquis of Weiqi and the Marquis of Wu'an Dou Ying (竇嬰) and Tian Fen (田蚡)
108. 韓長孺列傳 Biography of Han Changru
109. 李將軍列傳 Biography of General Li Li Guang
110. 匈奴列傳 Treatise on the Xiongnu
111. 衛將軍驃騎列傳 Biography of Cavalry General Wei Wei Qing
112. 平津侯主父列傳 Biographies of the Marquis of Pingjin and Zhufu Gongsun Hong (公孫弘) and Zhufu Yan (主父偃)
113. 南越列傳 Treatise on the Nanyue
114. 東越列傳 Treatise on the Eastern Yue
115. 朝鮮列傳 Treatise on Chosun Korea
116. 西南夷列傳 Treatise on the Southwestern Yi people
117. 司馬相如列傳 Biography of Sima Xiangru
118. 淮南衡山列傳 Biographies of Huainan and Hengshan The kings of Huainan and Hengshan
119. 循吏列傳 Biographies of Upright Officials Sunshu Ao, Zi Chan, Gong Yixiu (公儀休), Shi She (石奢) and Li Li (李離)
120. 汲鄭列傳 Biographies of Ji and Zheng Ji An (汲黯) and Zheng Dangshi (鄭當時)
121. 儒林列傳 Biographies of Confucian Scholars Gongsun Hong (公孫弘), Shen Gong (申公), Yuan Gu (轅固), Han Ying (韓嬰), Fu Sheng, Dong Zhongshu and Hu Wu (胡毋)
122. 酷吏列傳 Biographies of Cruel Officials Hou Feng (侯封), Zhi Du (郅都), Ning Cheng, Zhou Yangyou (周陽由), Zhao Yu (趙禹), Zhang Tang, Yi Zong (義縱), Wang Wenshu (王溫舒), Yin Qi (尹齊), Yang Pu (楊僕), Jian Xuan (減宣)and Du Zhou (杜周)
123. 大宛列傳 Treatise on the Dayuan
124. 游俠列傳 Biographies of Knight-errants Lu Zhujia (魯朱家) and Guo Jie (郭解)
125. 佞幸列傳 Biographies of Flatterers
126. 滑稽列傳 Biographies of Jesters Chunyu Kun, You Meng (優孟), You Zhan (優旃) and Dongfang Shuo)
127. 日者列傳 Biographies of Soothsayers
128. 龜策列傳 Biographies of Diviners
129. 貨殖列傳 Biographies of Usurers People who enriched themselves


The last important section features an afterword that includes an autobiography by Sima Qian. He explains in it why and under what circumstances he wrote the Shiji.

Number Title Translation Notes
130. 太史公自序 Autobiographical Afterword of the Grand Historian

Transmission and supplementation by other writers

After the completion of the Shiji in ca. 91 BCE, the nearly completed manuscript was hidden in the residence of the daughter of Sima Qian, Sima Ying (司馬英), to avoid destruction under Emperor Wu and his immediate successor Emperor Zhao. The Shiji was finally disseminated during the reign of Emperor Xuan by Sima Qian's grandson (through his daughter), Yang Yun (杨惲), after a hiatus of around twenty years.

The changes in the manuscript of the Shiji during this hiatus have always been disputed among scholars. That the text was more or less complete by ca. 91 BCE is established in the Letter to Ren'an, and Sima Qian himself gave the precise number of chapters for each section of his work in the postface to Shiji.[10] After his death (presumably only a few years later), few people had the opportunity to see the whole work. However, various additions were still made to it. The historian Liu Zhiji (劉知幾, 661-721) reported the names of a total of fifteen scholars supposed to have added material to the Shiji during the period after the death of Sima Qian. Only the additions by Chu Shaosun (褚少孫, c.105 - c.30 BCE) are clearly indicated by adding "Mr Chu said," (Chu xiansheng yue, 褚先生曰). Already in the first century AD, Ban Biao and Ban Gu claimed that ten chapters in Records of the Grand Historian were lacking. A large number of chapters dealing with the first century of the Han Dynasty (i.e. the 2nd century BCE) correspond exactly to the relevant chapters from Hanshu. It is unclear whether those chapters initially came from the Shiji or from the Hanshu. Researchers Yves Hervouet (1921-1999) and Anthony Hulsewé (1910-1993) argued that the originals of those chapters of Shiji were lost and they were later reconstructed using the corresponding chapters from Hanshu.[11]


The earliest extant copy of Records of the Grand Historian, handwritten, was made during the Southern and Northern Dynasties period (420 – 589 AD). The earliest printed edition, called Shiji jijie (史記集解, literally Records of the Grand Historian, Collected Annotations), was published during the Northern Song Dynasty. Huang Shanfu's edition, printed under the Southern Song dynasty, is the earliest collection of the Sanjiazhu commentaries on Records of the Grand Historian (三家注, literally: The Combined Annotations of the Three Experts).

In modern times, the Zhonghua Book Company (simp. 中华书局 trad. 中華書局) in Beijing has published the book in both simplified Chinese and traditional Chinese editions. The 1959 (2nd ed., 1982) Sanjiazhu edition (based upon the Jinling Publishing House edition, vide infra) contains commentaries interspersed among the main text and is considered to be an authoritative modern edition.

The most well known editions of the Shiji are:

Year Publisher Printing technique Notes
Southern Song Dynasty (1127 – 1279) Huang Shanfu Block-printed Abbreviated as the Huang Shanfu edition (黄善夫本)
Ming Dynasty, between the times of the Jiajing and Wanli Emperors (between 1521 and 1620) The Northern and Southern Imperial Academy Block-printed published in 21 Shi. Abbreviated as the Jian edition (监本)
Ming Dynasty Publisher: the bibliophile Mao Jin (毛晋), 1599 – 1659) and his studio Ji Gu Ge (汲古閣 or the Drawing from Ancient Times Studio) Block-printed Published in 17 Shi. Abbreviated as the Mao Ke edition (毛刻本) or the Ji Gu Ge edition (汲古閣本)
Qing Dynasty, in the time of the Qianlong Emperor (1711 – 1799) Wu Yingdian Block-printed Published in the Twenty-Four Histories, abbreviated as the Wu Yingdian edition (武英殿本)
Qing Dynasty, in the time of the Tongzhi Emperor (1856 – 1875) Jinling Publishing House (in Nanjing) Block-printed Proofreading and copy editing done by Zhang Wenhu. Published with the Sanjiazhu commentaries, 130 volumes in total. Abbreviated as the Jinling Ju or Jinling Publishing edition (金陵局本)

Annotations and commentaries

The best known annotations are Shiji Jijie,Shiji Suoyin and Shiji Zhengyi. Huang Shanfu combined the three, which make up The Combined Annotations of the Three Experts. After the Shanfu edition, Sanjiazhu became mandatory for students of shiji and ancient Chinese history. During the Qing Dynasty, Liang Yusheng authored shiji Zhi yi ("records doubts on shiji"). In modern times, Japanese scholar Takigawa Kametaro published a book called 史记会注考证,.

Liu Song Dynasty

  • Pei Yin (裴骃) Shiji Jijie (史记集解)

Tang Dynasty

  • Sima Zhen (司马贞) Shiji Suoyin (史记索隐)
  • Zhang Shoujie (张守节) Shiji Zhengyi (史記正義)

Notable translations

  • (French) Chavannes, Édouard, trans. (1895–1905). Les Mémoires historiques de Se-ma Ts'ien, 6 vols.; rpt. Paris: Adrien Maisonneuve (1969).
  • Watson, Burton, trans. (1993). Records of the Grand Historian: Han Dynasty and Qin Dynasty, revised, 3 vols. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Nienhauser, William J., ed. (1994–2008). The Grand Scribe's Records, 8 vols. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

See also


Further reading

  • Hulsewé A.F.P. (1993), “Shih chi”, Early Chinese Texts: a bibliographical guide (editor—Loewe M.) p. 405-414 (Berkeley: Society for the Study of Early China).
  • Watson, Burton (1993), Records of the Grand Historian of China. Qin Dynasty. (Hong Kong: The Research Centre for Translation [The Chinese University of Hong Kong]; New York, Columbia University Press). ISBN 0-231-08168-5 (hbk); ISBN 0-231-08169-3 (pbk)
  • ---- (1993), Records of the Grand Historian of China. Han Dynasty II. (Revised Edition). (New York, Columbia University Press). ISBN 0-231-08168-5 (hbk); ISBN 0-231-08167-7 (pbk)
  • Ssu-ma Ch'ien (1961), Records of the grand historian of China: Han Dynasty I, Translated from the Shih chi of Ssu-ma Ch'ien by Burton Watson (Hong Kong: The Research Centre for Translation [The Chinese University of Hong Kong]; New York: Columbia University Press). Revised Edition (1993): ISBN 0-231-08165-0 (pbk), 0-231-08164-2.
  • Nienhauser, William J., ed. (1994), The Grand Scribe’s Records I: the basic annals of pre-Han China (Bloomington: Indiana University Press). (An annotated translation.)
  • ---- (1994), The Grand Scribe’s Records VII: the memoirs of pre-Han China (Bloomington: Indiana University Press). (An annotated translation.)
  • ---- (2002), The Grand Scribe’s Records II: the basic annals of pre-Han China (Bloomington: Indiana University Press). (An annotated translation.)
  • ---- (2006), The Grand Scribe’s Records V.1: the hereditary houses of pre-Han China (Bloomington: Indiana University Press). (An annotated translation.)
  • ---- (2008). The Grand Scribe’s Records VIII: the memoirs of Han China (Bloomington: Indiana University Press). (An annotated translation.)

External links

  • Simplified - Chinese Text Project
  • The Original Text in its Entirety (Chinese)
  • CHINAKNOWLEDGE Shiji 史記 "Records of the Grand Scribe.
  • Internet Sacred Text Archive, with English translations of chapters 1–3, "SSuma Ch'ien's Historical Records", translated by Herbert J. Allen, from
    • , 1894, Article X, pp. 269–295.
    • , 1895, Article III, pp. 93–109, and Article XVII, pp. 601–614.
and part of chapter 63, from The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East, Volume XII: Medieval China, ed. Charles F. Horne, 1917, pp. 396–398.
  • Another copy of Allen's translations of chapters 1–3