The History of Liao, or Liao Shi (Liáo Shǐ), is a Chinese historical book compiled officially by the Mongol Yuan dynasty (1271–1368), under the direction of the historian Toqto'a (Tuotuo), and finalized in 1344. Based on Khitan's primary sources and other previous official Chinese records, it exposes the Khitan people, Khitan's tribal life and traditions, and the Liao dynasty's official history.
History of Liao of 1344 was compiled using older sources, mainly:
The Liao Shi contains 116 volumes, including 30 volumes of Imperial Annals, 32 volumes of Records of Institutions, 8 volumes of Tables, 48 volumes of Biographies and Descriptions, and 1 volume of Glossary of National Language 國語解 Guoyijie (the Khitan language), which is a list of Khitan language words transcribed in Chinese characters. it is found in Chapter 116 - 遼史/卷116.
Many Chinese scholars of the time argued that the non-Han, "barbarian" Liao dynasty did not merit its own official history, but rather posited that the Liao histories should be an addendum to the history of the Song, which was ethnically Han Chinese. This was part of the larger dispute between the Mongol court and the Chinese literati scholars, in which the Chinese political theory whereby only one dynasty could be deemed legitimate at a time clashed with the Mongol's beliefs to the contrary. Due to this dispute between two different political cultures, the Liao Shi, as well as the histories of the concurrent Jin and Song dynasties, was not officially compiled until 1343-1344, when the pro-Chinese Chief Councillor Toqto'a took up the pre-Yuan histories project again. In its final form, this project conceded to the Mongol court's desire to treat the Liao, Jin, and Song as equally legitimate dynasties. The compilation of the Liao Shi was finished in one year by imperial historians, although without undergoing any but the most minimal of proofreadings. Because of this, the Liao Shi and the other two pre-Yuan histories are known for their technical errors, lack of precision, inconsistencies in transcribing non-Chinese terms and names, and over-lapping subject matter. Scholars have noted the internal and external contractions in Liao Shi as early as the Qing period. Nonetheless, the Liao Shi provides a large amount of knowledge on Khitan's imperium's tribal politics and traditions. Since Yelü Yan's Shilu and Chen Daren's Liao Shi have been lost, Toqto'a's Liao Shi is the only extant Chinese-style historical record of the Khitan empire.
The work of collation and punctuation have been done several times, by example in the Qianlong edition, the Nanjian edition, the Beijian edition, Baina edition and the Daoguang edition.
The nowadays commonly use edition is the Zhonghua Shuju Press edited Liao Shi, under direction of the Khitan studies' specialists Feng Jiasheng and Chen Shu, and based on the Baina edition. This Zhonghua Shuju Press version and its annotations also refer to other historical sources such as the Cefu Yuangui, Zizhi Tongjian, Xu Zizhi Tongjian Changbian, Jiu & Xin Tangshu, Jiu & Xin Wudai Shi, Song Shi, Jin Shi, Qidan Guo Zhi and Liao Wenhui.
The Qing dynasty Qianlong Emperor erroneously identified the Khitan people and their language with the Solons, leading him to use the Solon language to "correct" Chinese character transcriptions of Khitan names in the History of Liao in his "Imperial Liao Jin Yuan Three Histories National Language Explanation" (欽定遼金元三史國語解 Qinding Liao Jin Yuan sanshi guoyujie) project.
Qianlong's "corrections" ended up compounding the errors and making the transcription of some foreign words even worse. Marshall Broomhall wrote that So unscientific was this work that the K'ien-lung editions of the Liao, Kin, and Yüan histories are practically useless. Emil Bretschneider demonstrated how the etymologies in the Qianlong edition were incorrect.
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