Twenty-Four Histories

The Twenty-Four Histories (Chinese: 二十四史; pinyin: Èrshísì shǐ; Wade–Giles: Erh-shih-szu shih), also known as the Standard Histories (zhengshi 正史) are the Chinese official historical books covering a period from 3000 BC to the Ming dynasty in the 17th century. The Han dynasty official Sima Qian established many of the conventions of the genre, but the form was not fixed until much later. Starting with the Tang dynasty, each dynasty established an official office to write the history of its predecessor using official court records. As fixed and edited in the Qing dynasty, the whole set contains 3213 volumes and about 40 million words. It is considered one of the most important sources on Chinese history and culture.[1]

The title "Twenty-Four Histories" dates from 1775 which was the 40th year in the reign of the Qianlong Emperor. This was when the last volume, the History of Ming was reworked and a complete set of the histories produced.

Books of the Twenty-Four Histories

Inheritance works

These works were begun by one historian and completed by an heir, usually in the next generation.

Related works

Modern editions

In China, the Zhonghua Book Company (Zhonghua Shuju) have edited a number of these histories. They have been collated, edited, and punctuated by Chinese specialists.[4]


Only two of the Twenty-Four Histories have been completely translated into English: Records of the Grand Historian by William Nienhauser, in nine volumes, [5] and Ouyang Xiu's New History of the Five Dynasties by Richard L. Davis in 2004. [6]

In Korean and Vietnamese, only the Records has been translated. Most of the histories have been translated into Japanese.

See also



  1. Ch 49, "Standard Histories," in Endymion Wilkinson. Chinese History: A New Manual. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, Harvard-Yenching Institute Monograph Series, 2012). ISBN 9780674067158. Also see "Standard Histories" link to the Googlebook of the 2000 edition of Wilkinson.
  2. Hill, John E. (2009) Through the Jade Gate to Rome: A Study of the Silk Routes during the Later Han Dynasty, 1st to 2nd Centuries CE. BookSurge, Charleston, South Carolina. ISBN 978-1-4392-2134-1.
  3. Xu Elina-Qian, p.23
  4. Xu Elina-Qian, p.19
  5. The Grand Scribe's Records (Bloomington: Indiana Univeersity Press, 1994- )
  6. Historical Records of the Five Dynasties. (New York ; Chichester: Columbia University Press, 2004). ISBN 0231128266


External links

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