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Rediscovery of Lost Classic History

2 November 2008

Chinese Han people are known as one of the most literature-wise and culture-oriented folks on earth with events in the human sphere and beyond observed and recorded faithfully, meticulously and continuously for thousands of years.

Sima Qian (司马迁 135-87?), the author of The Book of History (史记), is commonly credited with compiling the first comprehensive chronicles of Chinese history, but if you read The Classic History (尚书), the chronicle of earlier periods prior to the birth of Confucian, you'll realise there were a large number of great historians before Sima Qian.

Back to the time when Confucian and Lao Tzu lived, there were six books that were considered by Chinese scholars as the most classic texts (六经), which include:

  • The Book of Odes (诗经: Classic poetry),

  • The Book of Change (I Ching 易经: the very foundation of the Chinese culture),

  • The Rites (礼记: About how to observe appropriate social forms and ceremonies),

  • The Classic Music (乐),

  • The Spring and Autumn Annals (春秋: The critics of social ills)

  • The Classic History (尚书: A collection of documents and speeches by important historical figures during the Zhou Dynasty, the classic era of China).

However, by the time Sima Qian began to compile the records of Chinese history, all copies of The Classic History was lost as First Emperor Qin burned a huge number of books for the purpose of eliminating the historical and political views different to that of his*. Thus The Classic History which we read toady is not one passionately promoted by Confucian, but a creation of later scholars from their memories.

While Chinese historians having long resigned to finding the original text of The Classic History , a graduate of Tsinghua University living overseas recently discovered some bamboo slips with text from The Classic History written on in an ancient Chu (楚) language that was no longer in use after First Emperor Qin, and thus he purchased the slips and sent them to his old school.

The conclusion drawn by 11 top experts in the field who examined the text using both conventional and scientific methods is stunning: These are the original texts from The Classic History that Chinese scholars searched around for over 2,000 years.

And what excited them even more is the fact that this genuine History contains a large number of records previously unknown to anyone after the Qin, not even to Sima Qian, and many historical facts in the documents are contradictory to the long-held traditional beliefs, which means, the world may not only come to know pre-Qin history in details but under a new light.

A time to review and reassess Chinese history may begin now.

Han Chinese, a people of historians with accurate long memories - a scene from Beijing Olympic Opening Ceremony

Before Chinese invented paper, books in China were made of bamboo slips stringed together with silk threads.

* This kind of large scale literary persecution was tragically repeated 2,000 years late by Manchurians in which countless Chinese masterpieces regarded as a threat to Qing's genocidal alien rule were either destroyed or amended.

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It's Time to Review the History

此大汉, 壮士也!


国家不以聚集财富为利益, 而以实行道义为利益.
The prosperity of a state can not be gained through accumulating wealth; it can only be achieved by upholding the righteousness.

-- Confucian may like to say to some Han Chinese

恭近于礼, 远耻辱也.
When one treats others with respect, he keeps far from being disgraced.

-- Confucian may like to say to some Manchurians

不能正其身, 如正人何?
If one cannot rectify himself, what has he to do with rectifying others?

-- Confucian may like to say to some Chinese who mounted a loud protest again Japanese denial of the Nanjing massacre (rightly) but keep a suspicious silence over some Manchurians' applause of killings of Han Chinese.

If genocide of Han and other native Chinese people by Manchu tribes resembled and migrated to China's northeast region during Ming's time 300 years ago can be justified, then the carnage of the native Indians by the colonists should not be condemned, Australian government should never say sorry to the Aborigines, those responsible for genocide in Rwanda and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans should never be tried, and within China no murder case should ever be brought to justice as the victims and perpetrators are all Chinese nationals. Welcome to this brave world with Stone Age jungle laws!



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