Spring and Autumn Annals
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The ''Spring and Autumn Annals'' () is an ancient Chinese chronicle that has been one of the core Chinese classics since ancient times. The '' Annals'' is the official chronicle of the State of Lu, and covers a 241-year period from 722 to 481 BC. It is the earliest surviving Chinese historical text to be arranged in annals form. Because it was traditionally regarded as having been compiled by
Confucius Confucius ( ; zh, s=, p=Kǒng Fūzǐ, "Master Kǒng"; or commonly zh, s=, p=Kǒngzǐ, labels=no; – ) was a Chinese philosopher and politician of the Spring and Autumn period who is traditionally considered the paragon of Chinese sages. Co ...
(after a claim to this effect by Mencius), it was included as one of the Five Classics of Chinese literature. The ''Annals'' records main events that occurred in Lu during each year, such as the accessions, marriages, deaths, and funerals of rulers, battles fought, sacrificial rituals observed, celestial phenomena considered ritually important, and natural disasters. The entries are tersely written, averaging only 10 characters per entry, and contain no elaboration on events or recording of speeches. During the
Warring States period The Warring States period () was an era in History of China#Ancient China, ancient Chinese history characterized by warfare, as well as bureaucratic and military reforms and consolidation. It followed the Spring and Autumn period and concluded ...
(475221), a number of commentaries to the ''Annals'' were created that attempted to elaborate on or find deeper meaning in the brief entries in the ''Annals''. The '' Commentary of Zuo'' (), the best known of these commentaries, became a classic in its own right, and is the source of more Chinese sayings and idioms than any other classical work.


History and content

The ''Spring and Autumn Annals'' was likely composed in the 5th century BC, and apart from the '' Bamboo Annals'' is the only such work to have survived from that period. By the time of
Confucius Confucius ( ; zh, s=, p=Kǒng Fūzǐ, "Master Kǒng"; or commonly zh, s=, p=Kǒngzǐ, labels=no; – ) was a Chinese philosopher and politician of the Spring and Autumn period who is traditionally considered the paragon of Chinese sages. Co ...
, in the 6th century BC, the term "springs and autumns" (''chūnqiū'' , Old Chinese *''tʰun tsʰiw'') had come to mean "year" and was probably becoming a generic term for "annals" or "scribal records". The ''Annals'' was not the only work of its kind, as many other Eastern Zhou states also kept annals in their archives. The ''Annals'' is a succinct scribal record, with terse entries that record events such as the accessions, marriages, deaths, and funerals of rulers, battles fought, sacrificial records observed, natural disasters, and celestial phenomena believed to be of ritual significance. The entries average only 10 characters in length; the longest entry in the entire work is only 47 characters long, and a number of the entries are only a single character long. There are 11 entries that read simply *''tung'' (), meaning "a plague of insects" (probably locusts). Some modern scholars have questioned whether the entries were ever originally intended as a chronicle for human readers, and have suggested that the ''Annals'' entries may have been intended as "ritual messages directed primarily to the ancestral spirits."


Commentaries

Since the text of this book is terse and its contents limited, a number of commentaries were composed to annotate the text, and explain and expand on its meanings. The ''
Book of Han The ''Book of Han'' or ''History of the Former Han'' (Qián Hàn Shū,《前汉书》) is a history of China finished in 111AD, covering the Western, or Former Han dynasty from the first emperor in 206 BCE to the fall of Wang Mang in 23 CE. ...
'' vol. 30 lists five commentaries: * The ''Commentary of Zou'' () * The ''Commentary of Jia'' () * The '' Commentary of Gongyang'' () * The '' Commentary of Guliang'' () * The '' Commentary of Zuo'' (, also known as ) No text of the ''Zou'' or ''Jia'' commentaries has survived. The surviving commentaries are known collectively as the ''Three Commentaries on the Spring and Autumn Annals'' (). Both the ''
Book of Han The ''Book of Han'' or ''History of the Former Han'' (Qián Hàn Shū,《前汉书》) is a history of China finished in 111AD, covering the Western, or Former Han dynasty from the first emperor in 206 BCE to the fall of Wang Mang in 23 CE. ...
'' and the ''
Records of the Grand Historian ''Records of the Grand Historian'', also known by its Chinese language, Chinese name ''Shiji'', is a monumental Chinese historiography, history of China that is the first of China's Twenty-Four Histories, 24 dynastic histories. The ''Records'' ...
'' provide detailed accounts of the origins of the three texts. The ''Gongyang'' and ''Guliang'' commentaries were compiled during the 2nd-century BC, although modern scholars had suggested they probably incorporate earlier written and oral traditions of explanation from the period of Warring States. They are based upon different editions of the ''Spring and Autumn Annals'', and are phrased as questions and answers. The '' Commentary of Zuo'', also known as the ''Zuo Zhuan'', composed in the early 4th-century BC, is a general history covering the period from 722 to 468 BC which follows the succession of the rulers of the State of Lu. In the 3rd-century AD, the Chinese scholar Du Yu interpolated the ''Zuo Zhuan'' with the ''Annals'' so that each entry of the ''Annals'' was followed by the corresponding passages of the ''Zuo Zhuan''. Du Yu's version of the text was the basis for the "Right Meaning of the ''Annals''" ( ) which became the imperially authorised text and commentary on the ''Annals'' in 653 AD.


Influence

The ''Annals'' is one of the core Chinese classics and had an enormous influence on Chinese intellectual discourse for nearly 2,500 years. This was due to Mencius' assertion in the 4th century that Confucius himself edited the ''Annals'', an assertion which was accepted by the entire Chinese scholarly tradition and went almost entirely unchallenged until the early 20th century. The ''Annals terse style was interpreted as Confucius' deliberate attempt to convey "lofty principles in subtle words" (; ). Not all scholars accepted this explanation:
Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; zh, t= ), or Tang Empire, was an Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907 AD, with an Zhou dynasty (690–705), interregnum between 690 and 705. It was preceded by the Sui dyn ...
historiographer Liu Zhiji believed the ''Commentary of Zuo'' was far superior to the ''Annals'', and
Song dynasty The Song dynasty (; ; 960–1279) was an Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China that began in 960 and lasted until 1279. The dynasty was founded by Emperor Taizu of Song following his usurpation of the throne of the Later Zhou. ...
prime minister Wang Anshi famously dismissed the ''Annals'' as "a fragmentary court gazette" (; ). Many Western scholars have given similar evaluations: the French sinologist Édouard Chavannes referred to the ''Annals'' as "an arid and dead chronicle". The ''Annals'' have become so evocative of the era in which they were composed that it is now widely referred to as the Spring and Autumn period.


Translations

*
part 1
an
part 2
at the Internet Archive; also with
Pinyin Hanyu Pinyin (), often shortened to just pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin Chinese in China, and to some extent, in Singapore and Malaysia. It is often used to teach Mandarin, normally writte ...
transliteration
here
. * Reprinted (1951), Paris: Cathasia. * * Watson, Burton (1989). ''The Tso Chuan: Selections from China's Oldest Narrative History''. New York: Columbia University Press. * Miller, Harry (2015). ''The Gongyang Commentary on the Spring and Autumn Annals: A Full Translation''. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.


See also

*'' Lüshi Chunqiu'' *'' Spring and Autumn Annals of Wu and Yue''


Note


References


Works cited

* * *


External links

* * *
Full text of ''Spring and Autumn Annals''
(Chinese)

Chinaknowledge.de {{DEFAULTSORT:Spring And Autumn Annals Chinese history texts Chinese classic texts Confucian texts 5th-century BC history books Chinese chronicles Works of unknown authorship Zhou dynasty texts Lu (state) Four Books and Five Classics