An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Jinshi 金史

Jul 11, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Jinshi 金史 "History of the Jin" is the official dynastic history (zhengshi 正史) of the Jin dynasty 金 (1115-1234) that was founded by the people of the Jurchens, ancestors of the Manchus. The history of the older, Chinese Jin dynasty 晉 (265-420) is called Jinshu 晉書.

The Jinshi was compiled under guidance of the Mongol prince Toqtoɣa (Chinese transcription: Tuotuo 脫脫) and is 135-juan long. It is part of the work of a compilation of the three histories of the dynasties that preceded the Yuan dynasty 元 (1279-1368), the Song 宋 (960-1279; Songshi 宋史), Liao 遼 (907-1125; Liaoshi 遼史) and Jin.

In 1241 Emperor Shizu 元世祖 (Qubilai Qan, r. 1260–1294) ordered the compilation of an official dynastic history of the Liao and Jin dynasties, in 1279 that of the Song dynasty. Yet the whole work only came into process in 1343 under the supervision of Toqtoɣa and Ouyang Xuan 歐陽玄, a scholar from the Hanlin Academy 翰林院. The compilation team made mainly use of the "veritable records" (shilu 實錄) of the Jin dynasty, but the material for the last decades of the Jin was also taken from private sources, like Yuan Haowen's 元好問 (1190–1257) Wangchen zabian 王辰雜編, Liu Qi's 劉祁 (1203–1259) Guiqianzhi 歸潛志, Wang E's 王鄂 (1190–1273) Runan yishi 汝南遺事 and Yang Huan's 楊奐 (1186–1255) Tianxing jinjian 天興近鑑.

This kind of privately written source material makes the Jinshi much more reliable than its sister-works, the Liaoshi and Songshi. Like the history of the "barbarian", i. e. non-Chinese Northern Wei dynasty 北魏 (386-534), the Weishu 魏書, the Jinshi has an introductory chapter reporting the prehistory with the origin of the Jurchens and their foundation of the dynasty.

Another specialty of the history of the Jin are the biographies of some fathers of emperors that are appended to the imperial annals-biographies (benji 本紀) as "royal" biographies (19 Shiji bu 世紀補). A third is that, among the tables (biao 表), a list of ambassadors to and from the Song, the empire of the Western Xia 西夏 (1038-1227), and the kingdom of Koryŏ 高麗 (Korea) is to be found (60-62 Jiaopin biao 交聘表). The other table is a list of members of the imperial house (59 Zongshi biao 宗室表).

The treatises explain the themes astronomy (20 Tianwen zhi 天文志), calendar (21-22 Li zhi 曆志), the Five Agents (23 Wuxing zhi 五行志), administrative geography (24-26 Dili zhi 地理志), hydraulic works (27 Hequ zhi 河渠志), court rituals (28-38 Li zhi 禮志), court music (39-40 Yue zhi 樂志), court ceremonies (41-42 Yiwei zhi 儀衛志), state coaches and court robes (43 Yufu zhi 輿服志), military (44 Bing zhi 兵志), penal law (45 Xing zhi 刑志), food and commodities (46-50 Shihuo zhi 食貨志), selection and appointment of officials (51-54 Xuanju zhi 選舉志), and state offices (55-58 Baiguan zhi 百官志).

The collective biographies are concerned with imperial consorts (63-64 Houfei liezhuan 后妃列傳), the imperial house (65-66, 69, 76, 80, 85, 93), relatives of empresses (120 Shiqi liezhuan 世戚列傳), persons of loyal conduct (121-124 Zhongyi liezhuan 忠義列傳), writers (125-126 Wenyi liezhuan 文藝列傳), persons of filial and brotherly conduct (127 Xiaoyou liezhuan 孝友列傳), benevolent officials (128 Xunli liezhuan 循吏列傳), cruel officials (129 Kuli liezhuan 酷吏列傳), outstanding women (130 Lienü zhuan 列女傳), eunuchs (131 Huanzhe liezhuan 宦者列傳), rebellious subjects (132 Nichen liezhuan 逆臣列傳), disloyal officials (133 Panchen liezhuan 叛臣列傳), and foreign countries (134-135 Waiguo liezhuan 外國列傳).

Here, like in the Liaoshi, only the Korean kingdom and the Western Xia empire are perceived as foreign countries. The last chapter of the Jinshi is an explanation of Jurchen language terms in Chinese (Jinguo yu jie 金國語解).

In spite of all these advantages and specialties, many errors made a thorough revision necessary. This was realized out during the Qing period 清 (1644-1911). There is another, unofficial history of the Jin empire, the Da-Jin guo zhi 大金國志.

Chen Shu 陳述 (1992). "Jinshi 金史", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 1, 460.