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qijuzhu 起居注, imperial diaries

Jul 11, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Qijuzhu 起居注 "imperial diaries" are protocols of emperor's daily activities. For this purpose, there were scribes (shi 史) that noted down the sayings and doings of a ruler. During the Han period 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE) this task was taken over by female officials (nüguan).

The Northern Wei 北魏 (386-534) created the office of the assistant diarist (qiju lingshi 起居令史), the Tang 唐 (618-907) court employed an imperial diarist (qijulang 起居郎) who was assisted by a certain staff.

During the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) the duty to protocol the imperial activities was laid into the hands of members of the Hanlin Academy 翰林院 and the household administration (zhanshi 詹事).

Fragments from the earliest imperial diaries are surviving from the time of Emperor Wu 漢武帝 (r. 141-87 BCE) of the Han period, the Jinzhong qijuzhu 禁中起居注, and the Mingdi qijujuzhu 明帝起居注 from the early Later Han period 後漢 (25-220 CE). Imperial diaries are important sources for the policital history of China.

The book Da-Tang chuangye qijuzhu 大唐創業起居注 is not an imperial diary in the proper sense, but a chronicle.

Source:
Li Bingzhong 李秉忠, Wei Canjin 衛燦金, Lin Conglong 林從龍, ed. (1990). Jianming wenshi zhishi cidian 簡明文史知識詞典 (Xi'an: Shaanxi renmin chubanshe), 694.