Historic Records of the East Capital of the Northern Song


Dongdu shi lue (Historic records of the east capital of the Northern Song) is a history of the nine courts of the Northern Song (960–1127), mainly consisting of a series of biographies, beginning with Taizu Jianlong (reigned 960–63) and ending with Qinzong Jiankang (reigned 1126–27). The book is divided into 12 juan of general historical information, five juan on high official families, 105 juan of biographies, and eight juan of supplements on the non-Chinese dynasties of Liao (Khitan), Jin (Jurchen), Xi Xia (Tangut Empire), and Jiaozhi (Giao Chỉ, Vietnam), for a total of 130 juan. The author was Wang Cheng, a 12th-century official and the son of the compiler of Song shi lu (Records of the Song dynasty), who like his father collected extensive historical records to complete this work. The descriptions are brief, to the point, and appear impartial. Many writers of the later Yuan dynasty (1271–1368) used this book as a source. During the Northern Song, the capital Bianliang (present-day Kaifeng Shi, Henan Province) was called Dongdu, the east capital, as opposed to Luoyang, the west capital. This copy dates from the Ming dynasty (1368–1644). In this edition, a different character was used for the author’s name and some of the contents were revised. The book was, however, included in the bibliography, Si ku quan shu ti yao (Annotated bibliography of the Siku Collection) and became the accepted version. The woodblocks used were those of the first edition from Meishan, Sichuan Province, during the Shaoxi reign (1190–94) of the Song dynasty, but this is still considered the first Ming edition. The printing is superior and is, in fact, the very best example of Song printing blocks. At the end of the table of contents is the notation of the printer of the Song edition, which states: “Printed by the House of Cheng of Meishan, and submitted to the authorities. Duplication prohibited.” This is probably the earliest copyright statement in the history of Chinese publishing.

Last updated: July 8, 2014