The Twenty-Four Histories (Chinese: 二十四史; pinyin: Èrshísì Shǐ; Wade-Giles: Erhshihszu Shih) is a collection of Chinese historical books covering a period of history from 3000 BC to the Ming Dynasty in the 17th century. The whole set contains 3213 volumes and about 40 million words. It is often considered an authoritative source of traditional Chinese history and culture, and is used for research on literature, art, music, science, military affairs, geography, ethnography and other subjects.
Typically, after collecting credible sources, these canonical history records were produced in the next dynasty by officially organized editing, revising, and collating. It is officially considered as an officer's job failure for every factual error left in the published records. Therefore, compared to “personally made history“ (稗史), they are considered as “credible history“ (信史) by most professional history researchers.
Books of the Twenty-Four Histories
- Early Four Historiographies 前四史
- 《宋書》 Book of Song — Southern Dynasties, compiled by Shen Yue 沈約 in 488
- 《齊書》 Book of Qi — Southern Dynasties, compiled by Xiao Zixian 蕭子顯 in 537
- 《魏書》 Book of Wei — Northern Dynasties, compiled by Wei Shou 魏收 in 554
- Eight Historiographies of
Tang Dynasty 唐初八史
- 《梁書》 Book of Liang — Southern Dynasties, compiled by Yao Silian 姚思廉 in 636
- 《陳書》 Book of Chen — Southern Dynasties, compiled by Yao Silian 姚思廉 in 636
- 《北齊書》 Book of Northern Qi — Northern Dynasties, compiled by Li Baiyao 李百藥 in 636
- 《周書》 Book of Zhou — Northern Dynasties, compiled under Linghu Defen 令狐德棻 in 636
- 《隋書》 Book of Sui, compiled under Wei Zheng 魏徵 in 636
- 《晉書》 Book of Jin, compiled under Fang Xuanling 房玄齡 in 648
- 《南史》 History of Southern Dynasties, compiled by Li Yanshou 李延壽 in 659
- 《北史》 History of Northern Dynasties, compiled by Li Yanshou 李延壽 in 659
- 《唐書》 Book of Tang, compiled under Liu Xu 劉昫 in 945
- 《五代史》 Five Dynasties History, compiled under Xue Juzheng 薛居正 in 974
- 《新五代史》 New History of the Five Dynasties, compiled under Ouyang Xiu 歐陽修 in 1053
- 《新唐書》 New Book of Tang, compiled under Ouyang Xiu 歐陽修 in 1060
- Three Historiographies of Yuan Dynasty 元末三史
- 《元史》 History of Yuan, compiled under Song Lian 宋濂 in 1370
- 《明史》 History of Ming, compiled under Zhang Tingyu 張廷玉 in 1739
These works were begun by one historian and completed by an heir in the next generation.
- 《史記》 Records of the Grand Historian, inherited from Sima Tan 司馬談 (father) to Sima Qian 司馬遷 (son)
- 《漢書》 Book of Han, inherited from Ban Biao 班彪 (father), Ban Gu 班固 (son) to Ban Zhao 班昭 (sister)
- 《梁書》、《陳書》Book of Liang and Book of Chen, inherited from Yao Cha 姚察 (father) to Yao Silian 姚思廉 (son)
- 《北齐书》 Book of Northern Qi, inherited from Li Delin 李德林 (father) to Li Baiyao 李百藥 (son)
- 《南史》、《北史》History of Southern Dynasties and History of Northern Dynasties, inherited from Li Dashi 李大師 (father) to Li Yanshou 李延壽 (son)
- 《新元史》 New History of Yuan, compiled by Ke Shaomin 柯劭忞 in 1920
- 《清史稿》 Draft History of Qing, compiled under Zhao Erxun 趙爾巽 in 1927
In China, the Zhonghua Shuju have edited a number of these Histories. These sets (or editions) are appreciated because they have been carefully collated and edited (punctuated) by the Chinese specialists. Therefore, these editions are believed to be relatively reliable, and easy to read and understand.
- Chapter on the Western Regions Second Edition from Book of Later Han Volume 88, Reported by Ban Yong, Translated by John E. Hill.
- Xu Elina-Qian, Historical Development of the Pre-Dynastic Khitan, University of Helsinki, 2005. 273 pages. p.19,p.23