An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Shitong xungu 史通訓故

Feb 17, 2016 © Ulrich Theobald

Shitong xungu 史通訓故 are commentaries on the famous historical critique Shitong 史通 by by Liu Zhiji 劉知幾 from the Tang period 唐 (618-907).

The Xungu was written by Wang Weijian 王維儉 (dates unknown), courtesy name Sunzhong 損仲. He hailed from Xiangfu 祥符 (close to Kaifeng 開封, Henan) and obtained his jinshi degree in 1595. His first office was magistate (zhixian 知縣) of Weixian 濰縣, then he was a secretary (zhushi 主事) in the Ministry of War (bingbu 兵部). Charged with irregularities, he was dismissed and spent twenty years as a private person, before being appointed again to an office, this time Right Assistant Censor-in-chief (you jiandu yushi 右僉都御史), and finally Right Vice Minister of Works (gongbu you shilang 工部右侍郎). He was again dismissed as a "factionalist" who criticized the dominance of the tyrant eunuch Wei Zhongxian 魏忠賢.

Wang Weijian used his time to study ancient painting and writings, mostly historiography, and was admired as a very educated and polymath, just as his contemporarian Dong Qichang 董其昌 (1555-1636). His most important contribution are the 20-juan long Shitong xungu and his revision of the Songshi 宋史, the official dynastic history of the Song dynasty 宋 (960-1279). His collected writings are called Wang Sunzhong ji 王損仲集.

The Xungu probes the commentaries of Guo Kongyan 郭孔延 on the Shitong pingshi 史通評釋 written by Li Weizhen 李維楨 (1547-1626). He adds some information on the chapter Yinxi 因習 and revises comments on the chapters Zhishu 直書 and Qubi 曲筆 of the Shitong version of Master Zhang 張. He also corrected more than 1,000 words in Guo's edition, but of these, only 119 of such corrections were made in the chapter Qubi, while the other two chapters remained untouched. Most important is that Guo's edition was affected by countless clerical errors, which Wang Weijian rectified. He also added some information from primary sources. The final version of the Xungu was still not perfect. Later on, Wang collaborated with Huang Shulin 黃叔琳 (who wrote the supplement Shutong xungu bu 史通訓故補; 1672-1756) and Pu Qilong 浦起龍 (1679-1762) on an "established" version of the Shitong (see Shitong tongshi 史通通釋) in which errors still found in the Shitong xungu were corrected.

The Xungu was privately owned by Li Shouqian 勵守謙 (jinshi degree 1745), when submitted to the compilers of the Siku quanshu 四庫全書 project.

Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, ed. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 1, 1517.
Wang Jiachuan 王嘉川 (2014). "Wang Weijian Shitong xungu bianzuan kao 王惟儉《史通訓故》編纂考", Kuofang Shifan Xueyuan xuebao (Shehui kexue ban) 廊坊師範學院學報(社會科學版), 2014 (2)