An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Qingshigao 清史稿

Jul 3, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Qingshigao 清史稿 "Draft to a history of the Qing" is a surrogate to an official dynastic history (zhengshi 正史) of the Qing dynasty 清 (1644-1911) that could not be issued any more after the end of the Chinese empire. The book is 529-juan long and was compiled by a team of historians headed by Zhao Erxun 趙爾巽 (1844–1927, courtesy name Cishan 次珊, style Wubu 無補).

The government of the Republic of China 中華民國 (1912-1949) in 1914 established an office for the compilation of the history of the Qing (Qingshiguan 清史館) that was only dissolved in 1927, when the compilation was nearly ended. The compiling team involved more than 100 persons under the guidance of Ke Shaomin 柯紹忞 (1850– 1933), Wang Shunan 王樹楠 (1909–2008), Wu Tingxie 吳廷燮 (1865–1947), Miao Quansun 繆荃孫 (1844–1919), Xia Suntong 夏孫桐 (1875–1941) and Jin Liang 金梁 (1878–1962).

There are 25 juan of imperial annals-biographies (benji 本紀), 135 juan of treatises (zhi 志), 53 juan of tables (biao 表) and 316 juan of normal and collective biographies (liezhuan 列傳).

Among the treatises, that of "traffic" (149-152 Jiaotong zhi 交通志)and on "diplomatic relations" (153-160 Bangjiao zhi 邦交志) are new. The other treatises cover traditional themes, but partially in a more modern terminology: astronomy (26-39 Tianwen zhi 天文志), natural anomalies (40-44 Zaiyi zhi 災異志; the former Five Agents), the new calendar (45-53 Shixian zhi 時憲志; compiled under Jesuit influence), administrative geography (54-81 Dili zhi 地理志), court rituals (82-93 Li zhi 禮志), court music (94-101 Yue zhi 樂志), state coaches and court robes (102-105 Yufu zhi 輿服志, including insignia, Lubu 鹵簿), selection and appointment of officials (106-113 Xuanju zhi 選舉志), state offices (114-119 Zhiguan zhi 職官志), food and commodities (120-125 Shihuo zhi 食貨志), hydraulic works (126-129 Hequ zhi 河渠志), military (130-141 Bing zhi 兵志), penal law (142-144 Xingfa zhi 刑法志), and an imperial bibliography (145-148 Yiwen zhi 藝文志).

Among the collective biographies that of the Mongol, Tibetan and Central Asian peoples (518-525 Fanbu zhuan 藩部傳), that of the vassal states (526-529 Shuguo zhuan 屬國傳) and of hereditary astronomers (506-507 Chouren zhuan 疇人傳) are not found in the older dynastic histories. The others are those for imperial consorts (214 Houfei liezhuan 后妃列傳), the imperial princes (215-221 Zhuwang liezhuan 諸王列傳), rebels (474-475 mainly Wu Sangui 吳三桂, Zhang Guozhu 張國柱 and Hong Xiuquan 洪秀全), benevolent officials (476-479 Xunli liezhuan 循吏列傳), Confucian scholars (480-483 Rulin liezhuan 儒林列傳), writers (484-486 Wenyuan liezhuan 文苑列傳), persons displaying loyalty (487-496 Zhongyi liezhuan 忠義列傳), persons displaying filial conduct (497-499 Xiaoyi liezhuan 孝義列傳), scholars living in seclusion (500-501 Yiyi liezhuan 遺逸列傳), diviners (502-505 Yishu liezhuan 藝術列傳), outstanding women (508-511 Lienü zhuan 列女傳), and native chieftains in southwest China (512-517 Tusi liezhuan 土司列傳).

The tables include such on imperial princes (161-165 Huangzi shibiao 皇子世表), princesses (166 Gongzhu biao 公主表), kinsmen of empresses (167 Waiqi biao 外戚表), ennobled commoners (168-173 Zhuchen fengjue shibiao 諸臣封爵世表), Grand Academicians (174-175 Daxueshi nianbiao 大學士年表), members of the State Council (176-177 Junji dachen nianbiao 軍機大臣年表), ministers (178-196 Buyuan dachen nianbiao 部院大臣年表), governors-general and directors-general of grain transport and of the Grand Canal (197-200 Jiangchen nianbiao 疆臣年表: Gesheng zongdu 各省總督, Hedu caodu> 河督漕督), provincial governors (201-204 Jiangchen nianbiao 疆臣年表: Gesheng xunfu 各省巡撫), military commanders of border regions and grand ministers (205-208 Jiangchen nianbiao 疆臣年表: Gebian jiangjun dutong dachen 各邊將軍都統大臣), ennobled native rulers (209-211 Fanbu shibiao 藩部世表, mainly Mongols and Uyghurs), and ambassadors to foreign countries (212-213 Jiaopin nianbiao 交聘年表: Zhongguo qian zhushi 中國遣駐使).

The Qingshigao is still the single most important and easily accessible source for the history of the Qing dynasty. Nonetheless, one of its shortcomings is that the compiling team consisted of former imperial officials still loyal to the fallen dynasty so that its critics, like, for example, Kang Youwei 康有為 (1858–1927), are described with less favourable words than elsewhere. Another shortcoming is that the compilers were lacking primary sources, as they had no access to the official documents in the palace archives, and instead relied exclusively on the officially issued biographies, chronicles and judicial regulations.

In 1928 the first version of the Qingshigao was printed in 1,100 copies, 700 of which had to stay in Beijing (the so-called Guannei "metropolitan" version, guannei ben 關內本).The other 400 copies were enlarged by the biographies of Kang Youwei, Zhang Xun 張勛 (both juan 473) and Zhang Biao 張彪 (1860-1927), and supplemented with Jin Liang's 金梁 (1878-1962) critical appararatus (jiaokanji 校勘記). This was the so-called "first version from outside the Capital" (guanwai yici ben 關外一次本). A second "outside" version was created by eliminating Zhang Biao's biography and adding biographies for Chen Hongju 陳黌舉 (late 19th cent.), Zhu Yun 朱筠 (1729-1781) and Weng Fanggang 翁方綱 (1733-1818). The first modern print was published in 1979 by the Zhonghua Book Company 中華書局, based on the second "outside" version, but with critical notes about the differences between the three versions.

Li Wen 李文 (1992). "Qingshigao 清史稿", 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. 2, 843.