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Songmo jiwen 松漠紀聞

Jul 3, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Songmo jiwen 松漠紀聞 "Report about Songmo" is a privately written account of the region of Songmo, which is the modern region of Manchuria (Liaoning, Jilian and Heilongjiang). It was written by the Song-period 宋 (960-1279) scholar Hong Hao 洪皓 (1088-1155), courtesy name Guangbi 光弼.

In 1129 Hong was ambassador of the Song court to the imperial court of the Jin dynasty 金 (1115-1234), which had been founded by the Non-Chinese people of the Jurchens. The Jurchen ruler tried to force Hong to serve as a minister in the Jin-dominated puppet state of Qi 齊, which was ruled by Liu Yu 劉豫 (1078-1143). Hao refused and was caught prisoner. He was sent to Lengshan 冷山, which is located near the northern capital Shangjing 上京 of the Jin empire (Huining 會寧, modern Acheng 阿城 in Heilongjiang). This region was called Songmo during the Tang period 唐 (618-907), hence the name of the book. He spent fifteen years in the Jin empire before he returned to the south. Back in the Song empire he criticised the mighty counsellor Qin Hui 秦檜 (1091-1155) and was banished to exile far in the south were he died.

Hong Hao had burnt his first draft to his report but later was able to reconstruct it. Because private histories were not allowed to circulate in the Song empire his book was never published. Around 1160 his son Hong Kuo 洪适 (1117-1184) rearranged and his report and added two juan. Even this 3-juan version was later damaged, and Hong's second son Hong Zun 洪遵 (1120-1174) was able to reconstruct only 11 chapters, in 3 juan. There are two different versions preserved today, one in the reprint series Gujin yishi 古今逸史, and one in the series Xuejin taoyuan 學津討源.

Although the book in its second version was only written down from memory the things told in it are reported from the experience of an eyewitness and are therefore an important source for the political history of the Jin dynasty and the customs of the Jurchen people.

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