An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Jiankang shilu 建康實錄

Oct 19, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Jiankang shilu 建康實錄 "Veritable Records from Jiankang" is a history of the Six Dynasties 六朝 (222~589) written by the Tang-period 唐 (618-907) scholar Xu Song 許嵩, who lived during the reign of Emperor Suzong 唐肅宗 (r. 756-762).

His 20-juan long book begins with the reign of Sun Quan 孫權 (Emperor Dadi 吳大帝, r. 222-252), the founder of the Wu empire 吳 (222-280), one of the Three Empires 三國 (220-280), with the capital Jiankang 建康 (also called Jianye 建業, modern Nanjing 南京, Jiangsu). It goes on with the Eastern Jin dynasty 東晉 (317-420), the Liu-Song 劉宋 (420-479), Southern Qi 南齊 (479-502), Liang 梁 (502-557) and Chen 陳 (557-589) dynasties. The short-lived Later Liang dynasty 後梁 (555-587) is described in an appendix.

The records are written in an annalistic style and lay stress on the localities (guji 古跡, like landscape, city wall, ponds, monasteries, palaces and imperial parks) of the southern capital. From the Liu-Song period on the style changes to a biographic style, in which the lives and careers of all important officials are described. This change of the historiographic style lowers the literary value of the book and makes it difficult, especially in the second part, to gain an overview of the Southern Dynasties period 南朝 (420~589).

The Jiangkang shilu is nevertheless important because it relies on a number of sources that are not included in the official dynastic histories. It was therefore often used by later scholars doing research on that period of time, especially because Xu Song used to comment a lot on his sources and facts that seemed to contradict each other. Numerous statements in the Jiankang shilu refer to the society of writers in the southern empires, like Jiang Zong 江總 (519-594), Xie Hun 謝混 (d. 412), Gan Bao 干寶 (286-336), Yan Yanzhi 顏延之 (384-456), Xie Lingyun 謝靈運 (385-433年) or Sun Chuo 孫綽 (320-377). It also quotes from lost texts like Pei Ziye's 裴子野 (469-530) history Songlüe 宋略.

The original book was unfortunately lost after the Song period 宋 (960-1279), but the Qing-period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Gu Guangyi 顧廣圻 (1770-1839) reconstructed it on the base of a manuscript edition owned by Zhou Yitang's 周漪塘 family in the famous private library of the Jigu Hall 汲古閣. Another manuscript version was found and printed by Gan Yuanhuan 甘元煥 (1841-1897).

In the bibliography of the official dynastic history Xintangshu 新唐書 it is listed among the "miscellanous histories" (zashi 雜史), but the bibliography Junzhai dushu zhi 郡齋讀書志 established an own category of veritable records (shilu 實錄). The bibliographic chapter in Ma Duanlin's 馬端臨 (1245-1322) encyclopaedia Wenxian tongkao 文獻通考 lists it among the imperial diaries (qijuzhu 起居注). The last two categorizations are not quite correct when considering the incoherent style of the book. In the series Siku quanshu 四庫全書, the Jiankang shilu is to be found among the "alternative histories" (bieshi 別史), a designation that is independant from the shape of the text.

Cao Daodeng 曹道衡 (1986). "Jiankang shilu 建康實錄", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Vol. Zhongguo wenxue 中國文學 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 1, 299.
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 1, 926.
Liu, Shu-fen (2015). "Jiankang shilu", in Cynthia L. Chennault, et al., eds. Early Medieval Chinese Texts: A Bibliographical Guide (Berkeley: Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley), 131-135.
Wu Feng 吳楓 (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 571.