Chinese Medieval chronicles in Song 宋 (960–1279) booklists: A survey

  • Maddalena Barenghi Ca' Foscari University of Venice


By the Song period (960–1279), very few chronicles compiled before the tenth century were preserved in the imperial and private book collections. Early chronicles served as sources for the compilation of dynastic histories and comprehensive accounts; later, as their transmission was no longer valued, they were largely forgotten. As it is widely known, a great deal of these texts was neither transmitted nor fully lost, as fragments survived in Song institutional and literary compendia. Thanks to these compendia, we can glance at their content and form, and make hypotheses concerning their value, readership, and early transmission. Descriptive booklists of the Song -eleventh to the thirteenth century- imperial and private collections are another valuable source of information on the content, cataloging criteria, and later reception of medieval works of a historical nature. Through a reading of the synoptic descriptions of the items listed in the biannian, “accounts arranged chronologically,” sections of book catalogs from the Song period, this article aims to cast some light on the features of these early chronicles.


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Author Biography

Maddalena Barenghi, Ca' Foscari University of Venice

Maddalena Barenghi is Associate Professor of East Asian History at the Department of Asian and North African Studies, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. Her main fields of research are the history of historiography and and intellectual history of premodern imperial China, and the Tang-Song transition. She has published on the history of book transmission, on the historiography of the Five Dynasties (907-959) and Song (960-1279) periods, and more recently on late Tang (618-907) frontier history and the history of the Shatuo Turks.

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