The Veritable Records of the Song Emperor Taizong


Chinese court officials often recorded a reigning emperor’s daily activities and words spoken in court, especially those that affected the country. These records, such as Qi ju zhu (Diaries of activity and repose) and Ri li (Daily records), were sources for the compilation of shi lu (veritable records) by a committee. Other sources consisted of materials collected from provinces, ministerial papers, and other documents. The official histories were written based on these veritable records. Such records no longer exist from before the Tang dynasty (618–907). The only surviving Tang dynasty record preserved in full is Shunzong shi lu (Veritable records of Emperor Shunzong) in four juan, written by Han Yu (768–824), which survives because it is included in Han’s collected works. This work is the only remaining Song dynasty (960–1279) set of records, but it is incomplete. No such records of the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368) have survived. The reason very few early veritable records remain is probably that once an official history was completed, these records were discarded as wastepaper. This copy records the daily activities and words of the second Song emperor Taizong (939–97). The work originally had 80 juan. According to Junzhai du shu zhi (Catalog of books at Junzhai), a catalog of the earliest existing private book collections, the complete edition was compiled by Qian Ruoshui (960–1003) and four others in 998. It recorded the years of the Taizong reign between 976 and 997. This fragmented copy has 12 juan (juan 31–35, 41–45, 77–78). The taboo words, such as xuan, lang, zhen, zheng, shu, were not printed and were left blank. The Qing historian Qian Daxin (1728–1804) pointed out in his handwritten inscription that the avoidance of taboo words proves that the copy is from the era of Emperor Lizong (1225–64). Names of scribes and proofreaders appear at the end of each juan. Any erroneous Chinese character is highlighted in yellow and the correct word is placed above it, which shows the work was done with great care.

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12 juan, 5 volumes, 26.7 x 18.8 centimeters


  • Only preface and juan 31–35, 41 are included in the WDL presentation.

Last updated: January 3, 2018