The Zuo zhuan translated The Zuo Tradition or The Commentary of Zuo, is an ancient Chinese narrative history, traditionally regarded as a commentary on the ancient Chinese chronicle Spring and Autumn Annals. It comprises 30 chapters covering a period from 722 to 468 BC, focuses on political and military affairs from that era; the Zuo zhuan is famous for its "relentlessly realistic" style, recounts many tense and dramatic episodes, such as battles and fights, royal assassinations and murder of concubines and intrigue, citizens' oppression and insurgences, appearances of ghosts and cosmic portents. For many centuries, the Zuo zhuan was the primary text through which educated Chinese gained an understanding of their ancient history. Unlike the other two surviving Annals commentaries—the Gongyang and Guliang commentaries—the Zuo zhuan does not explain the wording of the Annals, but expounds upon its historical background, contains a large number of rich and lively accounts of Spring and Autumn period history and culture.
The Zuo zhuan is the source of more Chinese sayings and idioms than any other classical work, its concise, flowing style came to be held as a paragon of elegant Classical Chinese. Its tendency toward third-person narration and portraying characters through direct speech and action became hallmarks of Chinese narrative in general, its style was imitated by historians and ancient style prose masters for over 2000 years of subsequent Chinese history. Although the Zuo zhuan has long been regarded as "a masterpiece of grand historical narrative", its early textual history is unknown, the nature of its original composition and authorship have been debated; the "Zuo" of the title was traditionally believed to refer to one "Zuo Qiuming"—an obscure figure of the 5th century BC described as a blind disciple of Confucius—but there is little actual evidence to support this. Most scholars now believe that the Zuo zhuan was an independent work composed during the 4th century BC, rearranged as a commentary to the Annals.
Notwithstanding its prominent position throughout Chinese history as the paragon of Classical Chinese prose, little is known of the Zuo zhuan's creation and early history. Bamboo and silk manuscripts excavated from late Warring States period tombs—combined with analyses of the Zuo zhuan's language, chronological references, philosophical viewpoints—suggest that the composition of the Zuo zhuan was complete by 300 BC. However, no pre-Han dynasty source indicates that the Zuo zhuan had to that point been organized into any coherent form, no texts from this period directly refer to the Zuo zhuan as a source, though a few mention its parent text Spring and Autumn Annals, it seems to have had no distinct title of its own during this period, but was called Annals along with a larger group of similar texts. In the 3rd century AD, the Chinese scholar Du Yu intercalated it with the Annals so that each Annals entry was followed by the corresponding narrative from the Zuo zhuan, this became the received format of the Zuo zhuan that exists today.
Most scholars now believe that the Zuo zhuan was an independent work composed during the latter half of the 4th century BC—though incorporating some older material—that was rearranged as a commentary to the Annals. China's first dynastic history Records of the Grand Historian, completed by the historian Sima Qian in the early 1st century BC, refers to the Zuo zhuan as "Master Zuo's Spring and Autumn Annals" and attributes it to a man named "Zuo Qiuming". According to Sima Qian, after Confucius' death his disciples began disagreeing over their interpretations of the Annals, so Zuo Qiuming gathered together Confucius' scribal records and used them to compile the Zuo Annals in order to "preserve the true teachings."This "Zuo Qiuming" Sima Qian references was traditionally assumed to be the Zuo Qiuming who appears in the Analects of Confucius when Confucius praises him for his moral judgment. Other than this brief mention, nothing is concretely known of the life or identity of the Zuo Qiuming of the Analects, nor of what connection he might have with the Zuo zhuan.
This traditional assumption that the title's "Master Zuo" refers to the Zuo Qiuming of the Analects is not based on any specific evidence, was challenged by scholars as early as the 8th century. If he is the "Zuo" referenced in the Zuo zhuan's title, this attribution is questionable because the Zuo zhuan describes events from the late Spring and Autumn period that the Zuo Qiuming of the Analects could not have known. Alternatively, a number of scholars, beginning in the 18th century, have suggested that the Zuo zhuan was the product of one Wu Qi, a military leader who served in the State of Wei and who, according to the Han Feizi, was from a place called "Zuoshi". In 1792, the scholar Yao Nai wrote: "The text did not come from one person. There were repeated accretions and additions, with those of Wu Qi and his followers being numerous...." In the early 19th century, the Chinese scholar Liu Fenglu initiated a long, drawn-out controversy when he proposed, by emphasizing certain discrepancies between it and the Annals, that the Zuo zhuan was not a commentary on the Annals.
Liu's theory was taken much further by the prominent scholar and reformer Kang Youwei, who argued that Liu Xin did not find the "ancient script" version
Kaifeng, known by several names, is a prefecture-level city in east-central Henan province, China. It is one of the Eight Ancient Capitals of China, for being the capital seven times in history, is most famous for being the capital of China in the Northern Song dynasty. There are about 5 million people living in its metropolitan area. Located along the southern bank of the Yellow River, it borders the provincial capital of Zhengzhou to the west, Xinxiang to the northwest, Shangqiu to the east, Zhoukou to the southeast, Xuchang to the southwest, Heze of Shandong to the northeast; the postal romanization for the city is "Kaifeng". Its official one-character abbreviation in Chinese is 汴, it has been known as Dàliáng Biànliáng Biànzhōu Nánjīng Dōngjīng Biànjīng The name "Kaifeng" first appeared as the area's name after the Qin's conquest of China in the second century BC and means "expand the borders" and figuratively "hidden" and "vengeance". Its name was Qifeng, but the syllable qi was changed to the synonymous kai （/*Nə-ʰˤəj/, /*ʰˤəj/） to avoid the naming taboo of Liu Qi.
The prefecture-level city of Kaifeng administers five districts and four counties: Gulou District Longting District Yuwangtai District Xiangfu District Shunhe Hui District Weishi County Qi County Tongxu County Lankao County Kaifeng is one of the Eight Ancient Capitals of China. As with Beijing, there have been many reconstructions during its history. In 364 BC during the Warring States period, the State of Wei founded a city called Daliang as its capital in this area. During this period, the first of many canals in the area was constructed linking a local river to the Yellow River; when the State of Wei was conquered by the State of Qin, Kaifeng was destroyed and abandoned except for a mid-sized market town, which remained in place. Early in the 7th century, Kaifeng was transformed into a major commercial hub when it was connected to the Grand Canal as well as through the construction of a canal running to western Shandong. In 781 during the Tang dynasty, a new city was named Bian. Bian was the capital of the Later Jin, Later Han, Later Zhou of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period.
The Song dynasty made Bian its capital when it overthrew the Later Zhou in 960. Shortly afterwards, the city underwent further expansion. During the Song, when it was known as Dongjing or Bianjing, Kaifeng was the capital, with a population of over 400,000 living both inside and outside the city wall. Typhus was an acute problem in the city; the historian Jacques Gernet provides a lively picture of life in this period in his Daily Life in China on the Eve of the Mongol Invasion, 1250-1276, which draws on Dongjing Meng Hua Lu, a nostalgic memoir of the city of Kaifeng. In 1049, the Youguosi Pagoda – or Iron Pagoda as it is called today – was constructed measuring 54.7 metres in height. It has survived the vicissitudes of war and floods to become the oldest landmark in this ancient city. Another Song-dynasty pagoda, Po Tower, dating from 974, has been destroyed. Another well-known sight was the astronomical clock tower of the engineer and statesman Su Song, it was crowned with a rotating armillary sphere, hydraulically-powered, yet it incorporated an escapement mechanism two hundred years before they were found in the clockworks of Europe and featured the first known endless power-transmitting chain drive.
Kaifeng reached its peak importance in the 11th century when it was a commercial and industrial center at the intersection of four major canals. During this time, the city was surrounded by three rings of city walls and had a population of between 600,000 and 700,000, it is believed that Kaifeng was the largest city in the world from 1013 to 1127. This period ended in 1127, it subsequently came under the rule of the Jurchen Jin dynasty, which had conquered most of North China during the Jin–Song Wars. While it remained an important administrative center, only the city area inside the inner city wall of the early Song remained settled and the two outer rings were abandoned. One major problem associated with Kaifeng as the imperial capital of the Song was its location. While it was conveniently situated along the Grand Canal for logistic supply, Kaifeng was militarily vulnerable due to its position on the floodplains of the Yellow River. Kaifeng was reconstructed during this time; the Jurchen kept their main capital further north until 1214 when they were forced to move the imperial court southwards to Kaifeng in order to flee from the onslaught of the Mongols.
In 1232 they succumbed to the combined Song forces in the Mongol siege of Kaifeng. The Mongols captured the city, in 1279 they conquered all of China. At the beginning of the Ming dynasty in 1368, Kaifeng was made the capital of Henan province. In 1642, Kaifeng was flooded by the Ming army with water from the Yellow River to prevent the peasant rebel Li Zicheng from taking over. After this disaster, the city was abandoned again. In 1662, during the reign of the Kangxi Emperor in the Qing dynasty, Kaifeng was rebuilt. However, further flooding occurred in 1841 followed by another reconstruction in 1843, which produced the contemporary Kaifeng as it stands today. On 6 June 1938, the city was occupied by the invading Japanese Imperial Army. Kaifeng is also
A universal history is a work aiming at the presentation of the history of mankind as a whole, coherent unit. A universal chronicle or world chronicle traces history from the beginning of written information about the past up to the present. Universal history embraces the events of all times and nations in so far as scientific treatment of them is possible. Universal history in the Western tradition is divided into three parts, viz. ancient and modern time. The division on ancient and medieval periods is less sharp or absent in the Arabic and Asian historiographies. A synoptic view of universal history led some scholars, beginning with Karl Jaspers, to distinguish the Axial Age synchronous to "classical antiquity" of the Western tradition. Jaspers proposed a more universal periodization—prehistory and planetary history. All distinguished earlier periods belong to the second period, a brief transitory phase between two much longer periods; the roots of historiography in the 19th century are bound up with the concept that history written with a strong connection to the primary sources could be integrated with "the big picture", i.e. to a general, universal history.
For example, Leopold von Ranke the pre-eminent historian of the 19th century, founder of Rankean historical positivism, the classic mode of historiography that now stands against postmodernism, attempted to write a Universal History at the close of his career. The works of world historians Oswald Spengler and Arnold J. Toynbee are examples of attempts to integrate primary source-based history and Universal History. Spengler's work is more general. Both writers attempted to incorporate teleological theories into general presentations of the history. Toynbee found as the telos of universal history the emergence of a single World State. A project of Universal history may be seen in the Hebrew Bible, which from the point of view of its redactors in the 5th century BC presents a history of humankind from creation to the Flood, from there a history of the Israelites down to the present; the Seder Olam is a 2nd-century CE rabbinic interpretation of this chronology. In Greco-Roman antiquity, the first universal history was written by Ephorus.
This work has been lost, but its influence can be seen in the ambitions of Polybius and Diodorus to give comprehensive accounts of their worlds. Herodotus' History is the earliest surviving member of the Greco-Roman world-historical tradition, although under some definitions of universal history it does not qualify as universal because it reflects no attempt to describe an overall direction of history or a principle or set of principles governing or underlying it. Polybius was the first to attempt a universal history in this stricter sense of the term: For what gives my work its peculiar quality, what is most remarkable in the present age, is this: Fortune has gained all the affairs of the world in one direction and has forced to incline towards one and the same end. Metamorphoses by Ovid has been considered as a universal history because of its comprehensive chronology—from the creation of mankind to the death of Julius Caesar a year before the poet's birth. In Leipzig are preserved five fragments dating to the 2nd century AD and coming from a world chronicle.
Its author is unknown, but was a Christian. Universal history provided an influential lens on the rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire in such works as Eusebius's Ecclesiastical History, Augustine's City of God, Orosius' History Against the Pagans. During the Han Dynasty of China, Sima Qian was the first Chinese historian to attempt a universal history—from the earliest mythological origins of his civilization to his present day—in his Records of the Grand Historian. Although his generation was the first in China to discover the existence of kingdoms in Central Asia and India, his work did not attempt to cover the history of these regions; the universal chronicle traces history from the beginning of the world up to the present and was an popular genre of historiography in medieval Western Europe. The universal chronicle differs from the ordinary chronicle in its much broader chronological and geographical scope, giving, in principle, a continuous account of the progress of world history from the creation of the world up to the author's own times, but in practice narrowing down to a more limited geographical range as it approaches those times.
The Chronica of Eusebius of Caesarea is considered to be the starting point of this tradition. The second book of this work consisted of a set of concordance tables that for the first time synchronized the several concurrent chronologies in use with different peoples. Eusebius' chronicle became known to the Latin West through the translation by Jerome. Universal chronicles are sometimes organized around a central ideological theme, such as the Augustinian idea of the tension between the heavenly and the earthly state, as depicted in the City of God, which plays a major role in Otto von Freising's Historia de duabus civitatibus. Augustine's thesis depicts the history of the world as universal warfare between the Devil; this metaphysical war is not limited by time but only by geography as it takes place on planet Earth. In this war God moves those governments, political /ideological move
Chinese imperial examinations were a civil service examination system in Imperial China to select candidates for the state bureaucracy. Although there were imperial exams as early as the Han dynasty, the system became utilized as the major path to office only in the mid-Tang dynasty, remained so until its abolition in 1905. Since the exams were based on knowledge of the classics and literary style, not technical expertise, successful candidates were generalists who shared a common language and culture, one shared by those who failed; this common culture helped to unify the empire and the ideal of achievement by merit gave legitimacy to imperial rule, while leaving clear problems resulting from a systemic lack of technical and practical expertise. However, the Confucian examination syllabus has been compared to the humanist education central to contemporary European government service; the examination helped to shape China's intellectual and political life. The increased reliance on the exam system was in part responsible for Tang dynasty shifting from a military aristocracy to a gentry class of scholar-bureaucrats.
Starting with the Song dynasty, the system was regularized and developed into a three-tiered ladder from local to provincial to court exams. The content was fixed on texts of Neo-Confucian orthodoxy. By the Ming dynasty, the highest degree, the jinshi, became essential for highest office. On the other hand, the initial degree, the shengyuan, became vastly oversupplied, resulting in holders who could not hope for office, yet were still granted social privilege. Critics charged that the system stifled creativity and created officials who dared not defy authority, yet the system continued to promote cultural unity. Wealthy families from the merchant class, could opt into the system by educating their sons or purchasing degrees. In the 19th century, critics blamed the imperial system, in the process its examinations, for China's lack of technical knowledge and its defeat by foreign powers; the influence of the Chinese examination system spread to various neighboring East Asian countries, such as Japan, Korea, Ryūkyū, as well as Vietnam.
The Chinese examination system was introduced to the Western world in reports by European missionaries and diplomats, encouraged the British East India Company to use a similar method to select prospective employees. Following the initial success in that company, the British government adopted a similar testing system for screening civil servants in 1855. Other European nations, such as France and Germany, followed suit. Modeled after these previous adaptations, the United States established its own testing program for certain government jobs after 1883. Although, in a general way, the formative ideas behind the imperial exams can be traced back at least to Zhou dynasty times, such as imperial promotion for displaying skill in archery contests, the imperial examination system in its classical manifestation is attested to have been established in 605, during the Sui dynasty. However, the structure of the examination system was extensively expanded during the reign of Wu Zetian: the impact of Wu's use of the testing system is still a matter for scholarly debate.
During the Song dynasty the emperors expanded both examinations and the government school system, in part to counter the influence of military aristocrats, increasing the number of those who passed the exams to more than four to five times that of the Tang. Thus the system played a key role in the selection of the scholar-officials, who formed the elite members of society. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, the system contributed to the narrowness of intellectual life and the autocratic power of the emperor; the system continued with some modifications until its 1905 abolition under the Qing dynasty. Other brief interruptions to the system occurred, such as at the beginning of the Yuan dynasty in the 13th century; the modern examination system for selecting civil servants indirectly evolved from the imperial one. The operations of the examination system were part of the imperial record keeping system, the date of receiving the jinshi degree is a key biographical datum: sometimes the date of achieving jinshi is the only firm date known for some of the most prominent persons in Chinese history.
Tests had a lengthy historical background in Chinese thought, including evaluating the potential of possible people to fill positions through various contests, competitions, or interviews: as early as the Zhou dynasty promotions might be won through winning archery competitions. Much of the development of the imperial bureaucracy in the Confucian form in which it was known in times had much of its origin in the Han dynasty rule of Han Wudi. Through the Three Kingdoms and the Sui dynasty recruitment would be viewed as a bottom-up process: promotions being through preferment from the local and lower levels of government up to each successively higher level until recommendations might be offered to the emperor himself, in continuation of the Zhou idea that the lower levels of government were responsible for finding recruits for the higher ones. In the modern sense of an open examination system, the imperial civil service examinations did not take place until the Sui dynasty, when they began to recognizably take on the form of standardized tests, though under the prerogative of the Emperor.
The Tang dynasty saw most of the recruitment into central government bureaucrat offices performed by the bureaucracy itself, at least nominally by the re
Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period
The Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period was an era of political upheaval in 10th-century Imperial China. Five states succeeded one another in the Central Plain, more than a dozen concurrent states were established elsewhere in South China, it was the last prolonged period of multiple political division in Chinese imperial history. Traditionally, the era started with the fall of the Tang dynasty in 907 AD and ended with the founding of the Song dynasty in 960. Many states had been de facto independent kingdoms long before 907. After the Tang had collapsed, the kings who controlled the Central plain crowned themselves as emperors. War between kingdoms occurred to gain control of the central plain for legitimacy and over the rest of China; the last of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms states, the Northern Han, was not vanquished until 979. Towards the end of the Tang, the imperial government granted increased powers to the jiedushi, the regional military governors; the An Lushan and Huang Chao Rebellion weakened the imperial government, by the early 10th century the jiedushi commanded de facto independence from its authority.
In the last decades of the dynasty, they were not appointed by the court any more, but developed hereditary systems, from father to son or from patron to protégé. They had their own armies rivalling the "palace armies" and amassed huge wealth, as testified by their sumptuous tombs, thus ensued the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. North China Zhu Wen at Bianzhou, precursor to Later Liang Li Keyong and Li Cunxu at Taiyuan, precursor to Later Tang Liu Rengong and Liu Shouguang at Youzhou, precursor to Yan Li Maozhen at Fengxiang, precursor to Qi Luo Shaowei at Weibo Wang Rong at Zhenzhou Wang Chuzhi at Dingzhou South China Yang Xingmi at Yangzhou, precursor to Wu Qian Liu at Hangzhou, precursor to Wuyue Ma Yin at Tanzhou, precursor to Chu Wang Shenzhi at Fuzhou, precursor to Min Liu Yin at Guangzhou, precursor to Southern Han Wang Jian at Chengdu, precursor to Former Shu During the Tang Dynasty, the warlord Zhu Wen held the most power in northern China. Although he was a member of Huang Chao's rebel army, he took on a crucial role in suppressing the Huang Chao Rebellion.
For this function, he was awarded the Xuanwu Jiedushi title. Within a few years, he had consolidated his power by destroying neighbours and forcing the move of the imperial capital to Luoyang, within his region of influence. In 904, he made his 13-year-old son a subordinate ruler. Three years he induced the boy emperor to abdicate in his favour, he proclaimed himself emperor, thus beginning the Later Liang. During the final years of the Tang Dynasty, rival warlords declared independence in the provinces they governed—not all of which recognized the emperor's authority. Li Cunxu and Liu Shouguang fiercely fought, he defeated Liu Shouguang in 915, declared himself emperor in 923. Thus began the Shatuo Later Tang — the first in a long line of conquest dynasties. After reuniting much of northern China, in 925 Cunxu conquered the Former Shu, a regime, set up in Sichuan; the Later Tang had a few years of relative calm, followed by unrest. In 934, Sichuan again asserted independence. In 936, Shi Jingtang, a Shatuo jiedushi from Taiyuan, was aided by the ethnic-Khitan Liao dynasty in a rebellion against the Later Tang.
In return for their aid, Shi Jingtang promised annual tribute and the Sixteen Prefectures to the Khitans. The rebellion succeeded. Not long after the founding of the Later Jin, the Khitans came to regard the emperor as a proxy ruler for China proper. In 943, the Khitans declared war and within three years seized the capital, marking the end of Later Jin, but while they had conquered vast regions of China, the Khitans were unable or unwilling to control those regions and retreated from them early in the next year. To fill the power vacuum, the jiedushi Liu Zhiyuan entered the imperial capital in 947 and proclaimed the advent of the Later Han, establishing a third successive Shatuo reign; this was the shortest of the five dynasties. Following a coup in 951, General Guo Wei, a Han Chinese, was enthroned, thus beginning the Later Zhou. However, Liu Chong, a member of the Later Han imperial family, established a rival Northern Han regime in Taiyuan and requested Khitan aid to defeat the Later Zhou.
After the death of Guo Wei in 951, his adopted son Chai Rong succeeded the throne and began a policy of expansion and reunification. In 954, his army defeated combined Khitan and Northern Han forces, ending their ambition of toppling the Later Zhou. Between 956 and 958, forces of Later Zhou conquered much of Southern Tang, the most powerful regime in southern China, which ceded all the territory north of the Yangtze in defeat. In 959, Chai Rong attacked the Liao in an attempt to recover territories ceded during the Later Jin. After many victories, he succumbed to illness. In 960, the general Zhao Kuangyin staged a coup and took the throne for himself, founding the Northern Song Dynasty; this is the official end of Ten Kingdoms period. During the next two decades, Zhao Kuangyin and his successor Zhao Kuan
Historiography is the study of the methods of historians in developing history as an academic discipline, by extension is any body of historical work on a particular subject. The historiography of a specific topic covers how historians have studied that topic using particular sources and theoretical approaches. Scholars discuss historiography by topic—such as the historiography of the United Kingdom, that of Canada, the British Empire, early Islam, China—and different approaches and genres, such as political history and social history. Beginning in the nineteenth century, with the development of academic history, there developed a body of historiographic literature; the extent to which historians are influenced by their own groups and loyalties—such as to their nation state—remains a debated question. The research interests of historians change over time, there has been a shift away from traditional diplomatic and political history toward newer approaches social and cultural studies. From 1975 to 1995 the proportion of professors of history in American universities identifying with social history increased from 31 to 41 percent, while the proportion of political historians decreased from 40 to 30 percent.
In 2007, of 5,723 faculty in the departments of history at British universities, 1,644 identified themselves with social history and 1,425 identified themselves with political history. In the early modern period, the term historiography meant "the writing of history", historiographer meant "historian". In that sense certain official historians were given the title "Historiographer Royal" in Sweden and Scotland; the Scottish post is still in existence. Historiography was more defined as "the study of the way history has been and is written – the history of historical writing", which means that, "When you study'historiography' you do not study the events of the past directly, but the changing interpretations of those events in the works of individual historians." Understanding the past appears to be a universal human need, the "telling of history" has emerged independently in civilizations around the world. What constitutes history is a philosophical question; the earliest chronologies date back to Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt, though no historical writers in these early civilizations were known by name.
By contrast, the term "historiography" is taken to refer to written history recorded in a narrative format for the purpose of informing future generations about events. In this limited sense, "ancient history" begins with the early historiography of Classical Antiquity, in about the 5th century BCE. One of the Confucian Five Classics, the Shang Shu 尚書, has conventionally been given the English title Classic of History; this terminology is misleading as the book is a collection of speeches and anecdotes about ancient worthies, which while arranged in rough chronological order lacks any attempt to integrate them into a coherent narrative or indicate how much time has passed between two incidents. The purpose of the book is more about imparting moral lessons; the first true history of China is therefore the Spring and Autumn Annals, the official chronicle of the State of Lu covering the period from 722 to 481 BCE. It is among the earliest surviving historical texts to be arranged on annalistic principles in the world, was traditionally attributed to Confucius.
A "commentary" on the Spring and Autumn, the Zuo Zhuan attributed to Zuo Qiuming in the 5th century BCE, is considered the earliest work of narrative history in the world, covering the period from 722 to 468 BCE. It is many times longer and much more detailed and vivid than the laconic text it is purportedly commenting on, so that it is regarded as a work of history in its own right. Just as the Spring and Autumn annals has lent their name to the Spring and Autumn period they cover, the following Warring States period is named after the book Intrigues of the Warring States, compiled between the 3rd and 1st centuries BCE. Unlike the Annals, the Intrigues lack any chronological apparatus and is more of a return to the editorial style of the Classic of History; the purpose of the work is to teach the reader useful diplomatic and strategic skills rather than provide a coherent narrative of the period. The Han dynasty eunuch Sima Qian was the first in China to lay the groundwork for professional historical writing.
His written work was a monumental lifelong achievement in literature. Its scope extends as far back as the 16th century BCE, it includes many treatises on specific subjects and individual biographies of prominent people, explores the lives and deeds of commoners, both contemporary and those of previous eras, his work pioneered the "Annals-biography" format, which would become the standard for prestige history writing in China. In this genre a history opens with a chronological outline of court affairs, continues with detailed biographies of prominent people who lived during the period in question. Whereas Sima's had been a universal history from the beginning of time down to the time of writing, his successor Ban Gu wrote an annals-biography history limiting its coverage to only the Western Han dynasty, the Book of Han; this established the notion of using dynastic boundaries as start- and end-points, most Chinese histories would focus on a single dynasty or group of dynasties. The Records of the Grand Historian and Book of Han were joined by the Book of the Later Han and the Records of the Three Kingdom
Chinese surnames are used by Han Chinese and Sinicized ethnic groups in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore, Philippines and among overseas Chinese communities. In ancient times two types of surnames existed, namely xing or clan names, shi or lineage names. Chinese family names are patrilineal. Women do not change their surnames upon marriage, except in places with more Western influences such as Hong Kong. Traditionally Chinese surnames have been exogamous; the colloquial expressions laobaixing and bǎixìng are used in Chinese to mean "ordinary folks", "the people", or "commoners". Prior to the Warring States period, only the ruling families and the aristocratic elite had surnames. There was a difference between clan names or xing and lineage names or shi. Xing were surnames held by the noble clans, they are composed of a nü radical, taken by some as evidence they originated from matriarchal societies based on maternal lineages. Another hypothesis has been proposed by sinologist Léon Vandermeersch upon observation of the evolution of characters in oracular scripture from the Shang dynasty through the Zhou.
The "female" radical seems to appear at the Zhou period next to Shang sinograms indicating an ethnic group or a tribe. This combination seems to designate a female and could mean "lady of such or such clan"; the structure of the xing sinogram could reflect the fact that in the royal court of Zhou, at least in the beginning, only females were called by their birth clan name, while the men were designated by their title or fief. Prior to the Qin dynasty China was a fengjian society; as fiefdoms were divided and subdivided among descendants, so additional sub-surnames known as shi were created to distinguish between noble lineages according to seniority, though in theory they shared the same ancestor. In this way, a nobleman would hold a xing; the difference between xing and shi was blurring for women since the Spring and Autumn period. After the states of China were unified by Qin Shi Huang in 221 BC, surnames spread to the lower classes. Many shi surnames survive to the present day. According to Kiang Kang-Hu, there are 18 sources from which Chinese surnames may be derived, while others suggested at least 24.
These may be names associated with a ruling dynasty such as the various titles and names of rulers and dynasty, or they may be place names of various territories, towns and specific locations, the title of official posts or occupations, or names of objects, or they may be derived from the names of family members or clans, in a few cases, names of contempt given by a ruler. The following are some of the common sources: Xing: These were reserved for the central lineage of the royal family, with collateral lineages taking their own shi; the traditional description was what were known as the "Eight Great Xings of High Antiquity", namely Jiāng, Jī, Yáo, Yíng, Sì, Yún, Guī and Rèn, though some sources quote Jí as the last one instead of Rèn. Of these xings, only Jiang and Yao have survived in their original form to modern days as occurring surnames. Royal decree by the Emperor, such as Kuang. State name: Many nobles and commoners took the name of their state, either to show their continuing allegiance or as a matter of national and ethnic identity.
These are some of the most common Chinese surnames. Name of a fief or place of origin: Fiefdoms were granted to collateral branches of the aristocracy and it was natural as part of the process of sub-surnaming for their names to be used. An example is Marquis of Ouyangting, whose descendants took the surname Ouyang. There are some two hundred examples of this identified of two-character surnames, but few have survived to the present. Names of an ancestor: Like the previous example, this was a common origin with close to 500 or 600 examples, 200 of which are two-character surnames. An ancestor's courtesy name would be used. For example, Yuan Taotu took the second character of his grandfather's courtesy name Boyuan as his surname. Sometimes titles granted to ancestors could be taken as surnames. Seniority within the family: In ancient usage, the characters of meng, shu and ji were used to denote the first, second and fourth eldest sons in a family; these were sometimes adopted as surnames. Of these, Meng is the best known.
Occupation From official positions, such as Shǐ, Jí, Líng, Cāng, Kù, Jiàn, Shàngguān, Tàishǐ, Zhōngháng, Yuèzhèng, in the case of Shang's "Five Officials", namely Sīmǎ, Sītú, Sīkōng, Sīshì and Sīkòu.