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
The Book of Change (I
Ching 易经: the very foundation of the Chinese
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
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
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
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.
Cave in A Tree
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