An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Xueshi 學史

Feb 5, 2016 © Ulrich Theobald

Xueshi 學史 "Learning historiography" is a theory on historiography written by the Ming-period 明 (1368-1644) scholar Shao Bao 邵寶 (1440-1523), courtesy name Guoxian 國賢, style Dingquanzhai 定泉齋 or Erquan 二泉.

Shao hailed from Wuxi 無錫, Jiangsu, and was at the end of his career Vice Minister of Revenue (hubu shilang 戶部侍郎) and then Minister of Rites (libu shangshu 禮部尚書) in the southern capital Nanjing 南京. His most important writings are Zuoxi 左觿, Jianduan eryu 簡端二余, Dingxing shushuo 定性書說, Caozheng juyao 漕政舉要 (a text on the administration of tribute grain transport) and Huishanji 慧山記, his collected writings are called Kechuntang ji客春堂集.

The 13-juan long Xueshi was written when Shao was *Vice Education Intendant (tixue fushi 提學副使) in Jiangxi. The first twelve chapters are arranged like the months in a year, the last one is called "intercalary month" (runyue 閏月, see calendar). The length of each chapter likewise systematically follows the length of each month, some consisting of 29 paragraphs, others of 30. The arrangement was inspired by a statement of the famous Neo-Confucian scholars Cheng Hao 程顥 (1032–1085) and Cheng Yi 程頤 (1033–1107; the Cheng Brothers) who said that they would "today explore one thing (ge wu 格物), and tomorrow another one".

The book deals with historical facts from the Zhou 周 (11th cent.-221 BCE) to the Yuan 元 (1279-1368) period, each discussed in one paragraph. The style is concise and dense, and his observations and comments very objectively. Some scholars even praise the high literary level of the book's language.

Wu Tingju 吳廷舉 (born 1465) submitted the book to the throne. The earliest surviving print, dating from the Chongzhen reign 崇禎 (1628-1644), states in the preface that it this was a reprint by Cao Quan 曹荃 (1661-1708) and Sun Cheng 孫澄. The author's preface is dated 1505, and the postface, written by Pu Jin 浦瑾, 1519. The text is described in the Siku quanshu zongmu tiyao 四庫全書總目提要, but not part of the series Siku quanshu 四庫全書.

Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, ed2. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 1, 1520.