The Twelve Provinces is a term used in ancient Chinese histories to refer to territorial divisions during the reigns of the mythological emperors Yao and Shun of the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors.
Records in histories
The "Annals of the Five Emperors" (五帝本紀) section of Records of the Grand Historian mentioned:
Shun felt that the land north of Ji Province was too wide, so he created Bing Province; Yan and Qi were too vast and distant, so he formed You Province out of Yan, and Ying Province out of Qi, hence there were the Twelve Provinces.
Volume 85 of the Book of Han recorded that in 30 BC Gu Yong (谷永) mentioned:
There was a great flood in Yao's time, the land was divided into the Twelve Provinces...
- (舜以冀州之北廣大，分置并州；燕、齊遼遠，分燕置幽州，分齊為營州，於是為十二州。) Sima Qian. Records of the Grand Historian, Volume 1, Annals of the Five Emperors.
- (堯遭洪水之災，天下分絕為十二州……) Ban Gu et al. Book of Han, Volume 85, Biographies of Gu Yong and Du Ye.
- (十二州謂兾、兗、豫、青、徐、荊、揚、雍、梁、幽、並、營也。) Ban Gu et al. Book of Han, Volume 85, Biographies of Gu Yong and Du Ye (including annotations by Yan Shigu).