Newly Compiled Stories on the History of the Five Dynasties with Commentaries (Incomplete Copy)


One of the popular entertainments among the common people during the Northern Song dynasty (960–1127) was storytelling. Historical events were particularly popular subjects. Stories often were told with the commentaries of the storytellers and thus were called ping hua (stories with commentaries). Some ping hua were published after being polished by the literati, but not many are still in existence. The author of this work is unknown. It is a collection of popular literature containing stories from the Five Dynasties (907–60), prior to the Song dynasty. It begins with stories on Fuxi, the mythological figure reigning during the mid-29th century BC, and the legendary Yellow Emperor, who reigned about 3000 BC. It continues with the story of the Huang Chao Rebellion of around 874–84, which weakened the Tang dynasty (618–907). This is followed by another story about General Zhu Wen, who overthrew the Tang dynasty in 907. The stories thus present a lively picture of the chaotic period preceding the Five Dynasties. Stories about historical figures mostly originated from anecdotes among the common people, and the rise and fall of dynasties were described with regard to certain folk superstitions. Some historical works, such as Zi zhi tong jian gang mu (Compendium of comprehensive mirror to aid in government), also were used as sources. The first juan of this work has a slip of paper with an inscription that reads “The Stories of the Five Dynasties printed at Masha Workshop of the Song Dynasty.” The juan containing the story on the Later Liang (907–23), one of the states during the Five Dynasties, has a handwritten inscription by Dong Kang (1867–1947), a scholar and educator. According to him, this copy was originally in the Qing Cabinet collection. He later saw it at the home of Cao Junzhi, from whom he borrowed it to copy. The book then went into the collection of his friend Gusun. Dong stated that it is similar to copies of the Mashafang edition of the Song and Yuan dynasties, with simple and rich brush strokes, and that he had no doubt that it was a Song printing.

Last updated: January 3, 2018