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Chushi taowu 楚史檮杌

Oct 19, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Chushi taowu 楚史檮杌 "Chronicle of Chu" is a reconstruction of a history of the ancient state of Chu 楚 compiled by an unknown author probably during the Song period 宋 (960-1279). The book was owned by the Yuan-period 元 (1279-1368) collector Wu Yan 吾衍, courtesy name Zixing 子行, style Zhenbai chushi 貞白處士, from Hangzhou 杭州, Zhejiang, who published it in 1306. Wu Yan also compiled a collection of poems called Zhusu shanfang shiji 竹素山房詩集 and a book on phonetics, the Xu guzhuan yun 續古篆韻.

In his preface to the Chushi taowu Wu says that he once acquired this book together with a similar text, the Jinshi cheng 晉史乘 (or Jinwen chunqiu 晉文春秋), a chronicle of the state of Jin 晉. Both texts were compiled on the base of Zhou- 周 (11th cent.-221 BCE) and Han-period 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE) sources with the aim to reconstruct what might have been the annals of the regional states Chu and Jin that were said to have possessed their own chronicles that were known as taowu (in the language of Chu) and cheng (in the topolect of Jin).

The arrangment of the Chushi taowu was similar to the book Yanzi chunqiu 晏子春秋, and Wu Yan assumed that both books dated from the same time, and Confucius might have made use of it for the compilation of the history Chunqiu 春秋, the later Classic.

The transmitted Chushi taowu consists of 27 chapters, each of which narrates an individual story. Most of these center around the reign of King Zhuang 楚莊王 (r. 614-591) and tell how he developed from a licentious and squandering lord not interested in politics at all to a responsible ruler who even achieved the status of hegemonial lord (ba 霸). That the book was a reconstuction can be seen when comparing its stories with those in other books like the Guoyu 國語, Zuozhuan 左傳, Shiji 史記, Shuoyuan 說苑 or Lienüzhuan 列女傳. The text has nevertheless changed to such an extent that it appears as a coherent narrative.

It is to be found in the series Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編.

Sources:
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, 1044.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1994), Zhonghua gudian wenxian da cidian 中華古文獻大辭典, Wenxue 文學卷 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 704.