School of International Letters and Cultures
Chinese 500: Biography
Guides to Biographical Sources
I. Companion Guides to the Twenty-Four Histories.
A. Ershiwu shi jizhuan renming suoyin 二十五史紀傳人索引. Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe and Shanghai shudian, 1990. EAL A joint guide to both the Twenty Five Histories 《二十五史》, published jointly by the Shanghai guji chubanshe and Shanghai shudian (reprint of the Kaiming ed. of 1934) and the Twenty Four Histories《二十四史》and 《清 史稿》, published by Zhonghua shuju, in Beijing. This is a comprehensive index to all biographical materials from the standard histories, including the “Hereditary Houses” 世家 section of the Records of the Historian 《史記》and the names listed in Pei Songzhi’s commentary to the Records of the Three Kingdoms 《三國志》. Some 1200 pages in length, the work has a 4-corner system index that lists entries in both editions:
B. To individual histories. These works are important because they index every single occurance of a person's name in the text. Far more comprehensive than the former. They follow a similar arrangement, except that the location is given as:
juan number 93/2669 page number
- 1. Zhong Hua 鍾華, comp. Shi ji renming suoyin 史記人名索引. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1977.
- 2. Wei Lianke 魏連科, comp. Hanshu renming suoyin 漢書人名索引. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1979.
- 3. Zhang Chenshi 張忱石, comp. Jinshu renming suoyin 晉書人名索引. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1977.
- 4. Chen Zhong’an 陳仲安, Tan Liangyi 譚兩宜, and Zhao Xiaoming 趙小鳴, comps. Beichao sishi renming suoyin 北朝四史人名索引. 2 Vols. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1977.
- 5. Zhang Wangqi 張萬起, comp. Xin Jiu Tangshu renming suoyin 新舊唐書人名索引. 3 Vols. Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1977.
- 6. Cui Wenyin 崔文印 and Zeng Yifen 曾貽芬, comps. Liao shi renming suoyin 遼史人名索引. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1982.
- 7. Cui Wenyin 崔文印, comp. Jinshi renming suoyin 金史人名索引. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1980.
- 8. Li Yumin 李裕民, comp. Mingshi renming suoyin 明史人名索引. 2 Vols. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1982.
II. General Biographical Concordances and Dictionaries
A. Brief entries and general information.
These works have, in large, been completely superseded, although some information is occasionaly found that warrants a look, particularly in the case of the second.
Giles, Herbert A. A Chinese Biographical Dictionary. New York: Paragon Book, 1962. (Taipei: Literature House, 1964). Rpts. of 1898 edition.
- Still the only work of its kind, it gives brief information on 2579 persons, but does not list sources. Also there are occasional errors.
- 2. Fang Yi 方毅 et al., comps. Zhongguo renming da cidian 中國人名大辭典. Shanghai: Shangwu yinshuguan,
B. Works on dating historical figures and finding biographical information not in histories.
- 1. Jiang Liangfu 姜亮夫, comp. Lidai renwu nianli beizhuan zongbiao 歷代人物年里碑傳綜表. Shanghai: Shangwu yinshuguan, 1937. Revised in 1961 and republished in Taiwan by Shijie shuju as Lidai renwu nianlu tongpu 歷代人物年里通譜, this work draws on the biographical material from funerary inscriptions to date the birth and death of eminent persons reliably. The 1961 edition utilizes important information from the Library of Congress and other places. The index (stroke-radical) gives the birth date. All persons are listed chronologically by date of birth, so you must search through the text for the person. There15 registers on the page, and they are arranged thusly:
- 2. Yang Dianxun 楊殿珣, comp. Zhongguo lidai nianpu zonglu中國歷代年譜總錄. Beijing: Shumu wenxian chubanshe, 1980. This ambitious work contains 3,015 different nianpu concerning 1,829 different people; gives a list of 277 works consulted and of nianpu mentioned but not seen. Includes an index of titles and names, arranged by stroke-radical. Givesimportant editorial information (for instance dates of birth not noted elsewhere).
- 3. Peng Zuozhen 彭作楨, comp. Gu jin tong xingming da cidian 古今同姓名大辭典. Shanghai: Shanghai shudian, 1983. Rpt. Beiping: Haowang shudian, 1936 ed. A dictionary of same names from high antiquity to the Republican period. Treats 56,700 people who have 403 surnames and 1,600 given names in common. This is exclusive of a newly added waibian section.
C. Finding names other than surnames and given names.
- 1. Chen Naiqian 陳乃乾, comp. Shiming biehao suoyin 室名別號索引. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1957. Rpt. of Shanghai: Kaiming shudian, 1934 ed.; published in Taibei under the title, Bieshu juchu ming tongjian 別署居處名通檢. Shijie shuju, 1963.
- Collects 5,000 studio and geographical hao used by writers.
- 2. Chen Deyun 陳德芸, comp. Gu jin renwu bieming suoyin 古今人物別名索引. Guangzhou: Lingnan daxue chubanshe, 1937. Rpt.Taibei: Yiwen yinshuguan, 1965; undated Shanghai: Shanghai shudian photoreproduction.
- Lists nearly 40,000 people and some 60,000 names. Lists zi , hao , posthumous names, reverential names, studio and residence names, suspect names, temple names of emperors, pen names of calligraphers and painters, and pen names of writers. This is the one to add to your personal collections.
Please note: most of the dynastic biographical dictionaries also have lists of zi and hao; using a general source such as these above should not be considered a substitute for checking individual catalogues.
D. Taboo names.
1. Taboo names represent a special problem. They have developed over the years as an important factor in classical texts. Generally, younger generations or any person in an inferior position may not, whether discussing past or present, use the name of rulers or of any elder generation. If one has to use a character that is taboo, one must alter the character in significant ways. This is especially a problem if using Qing editions, since the early literary inquisitions of the Qing were ruthless in ferreting out taboo names. Some of the problems can be avoided by simply understanding a few of the basic rules.
There are three basic strategies: 1. “Changing the character” (改字法), 2. “Omitting a stroke” (缺字法) , and 3. “Leaving a blank space” (空字法).
- Changing the character: In this instance, one either uses a synonym or a homophone to replace a taboo character. This is the oldest method, used as far back as the Qin, with a fine example from the Basic Annals of The First Emperor of Qin in the Records of the Historian. (《史記·秦始皇帝本紀》). It is noted there that the Qin changed the official name of the First Month from zhengyue 正月to duanyue 端月because the character zhèng 正was the same sound as 政, which was the emperor's personal name. Similarly, the personal name of the Martial Emperor of Han 漢武帝 was Che 徹, so the Han changed the title of the highest rank of the twenty ranks of enfeoffment from chehou 徹 侯to tonghou 通侯.
- Omitting a stroke: This practice began during the Tang-Song era and flourished thereafter. For example, Tang Taizong's 唐 太 宗 name was Li Shimin 李 世 民 and they changed the character 世 to 卅. Likewise, for Confucius personal name, Qiu, they omitted a single stroke, changing 丘 to 丘.
- Leaving a character blank: This is accomplished by one of several methods. First, one can simply omit the character and leave a blanks space; one can also leave a box □; one can replace the character with the word, mou 某, “something;” or one can write directly into the text, hui 諱, “taboo.” For instance, in the “Basic Annals of Xiao Wen” in the Records of the Historian (《史記•孝文本紀》), it remarks, “Son, a certain name, is the eldest, he is pure and substantial, compassionate and benevolent, we request that you establish him as the Heir-Apparent” 子某最長純厚慈仁請建以為太子, in which the personal name of the later Emperor Xiao Jing, Qi, 啟, is omitted. In a similar fashion, the Tang scholars who compiled the Documents of the Sui 隋書 wrote Wang Shichong's name 王充 instead of 王世充. People who are insensitive to these changes (including classical scholars) have misconstrued his name as Wang Chong.
1. Public Taboos (公諱) are those that violate the names of emperors, sages, or any revered name in the public domain. Names that violate these taboos are dealt with in several ways.
- Changing surnames (改姓):One changes surnames in historical texts so that they do not violate the current taboos. For instance, the personal name (ming 名) of Mingdi of the Eastern Han was Zhuang 莊 so Ban Gu 班固, when writing the History of the Han漢書changed Zhuangzi's name to Yanzi 嚴子, which is noted in Yan Shigu's commentary, “Yanzi is Zhuangzhou” 嚴子莊周也. Likewise, the names of the Western Han scholars, Zhuang Ji and his son, Zhuang Zhu were changed to Yan Ji 嚴忌 and Yan Zhu嚴助. The Song scholar official, WenYanbo 文彥博 comes from a family originally surnamed Jing 敬. But, during the Latter Jin dynasty, his family changed their surname to Wen to avoid the personal name of Shi Jingtang 石敬瑭, the founding emperor. During the Latter Han dynasty, they reverted to their original surname of Jing, but had to change again to avoid the personal name of Zhao Jing, the grandfather of Zhao Kuangyin 趙匡胤, founder of the Song.
- Changing personal names (改名): This was accomplished by either changing one's personal name, or adopting one's style name or sobriquet. In the latter years of the Western Han, Kong Mang 孔莽 changed his name to Kong Yun 均 to avoid the name of Wang Mang 王莽, usurper of the Han throne. In the History of the Han, “Biography of Kuai Tong” (《漢書·蒯通傳》) we read, “Kuai Tong shared the same taboo name with the Martial Emperor” 蒯通本與武帝同諱, and in Yan Shigu's commentary it notes, “His original name was Che but later historians, writing in retrospect, changed it into Tong” 本名為徹其後史家追書為通.
- Changing official titles (改官名): This practice began in the Western Han and includes both official bureaucratic titles and ranks of enfeoffment. In the Western Han the Marquis of Che was changed to the Marquis of Tong. In the Sui, Wendi changed many titlesto avoid the taboo of his father's name, Zhong 忠. Inner Retainer (“one who serves in the Center”=an eunuch) Shizhong侍中 is changed to “receiver of commands” 納言 and “Grand Secretary” Zhongshu 中書 is changed to “Inner Scribe” 中史. Likewise, the name of the “Office of Citizens” Minbu 民部 of the Six Boards was changed to “Office of Households” 戶部 during the Tang in order to avoid the personal name of Li Shimin 李世民.
- Changing place names ( 改地名): Some rather famous place names have been changed over the years. In the Western Han, the name of Hengshan Commandery 恆山郡 was changed to Changshan Commandery 常山郡 to avoid the personal name of Liu Heng 劉恆 , Emperor Wen of the Han. In the 3rd year of the Huanglong reign of the state of Wu in the Three Kingdoms period, wild race sprouted and grew in a place called Ju County 舉縣; considering this a lucky omen, the court changed the name of the district to Jiahe 嘉禾. Later, SunHao, Sun Quan's grandson ascended the throne and changed the name to Jiaxing 嘉興to avoid his father, Sun He's, personal name. In the Western Jin perid, the site of present Nanking was called Jianye 建業 and was later changed to Jianye 建鄴. In the year Jianxing 1, Sima Ye 司馬鄴 took the throne and the name was changed to Jiankang 建康.
- Changing reign titles ( 改年號): Reign titles are often rewritten in historical sources if they conflict with the name of a current emperor. For instance, the famous Tang reign Zhenguan 貞觀 had the first character altered to zhen 真 in order to avoid the personal name of Renzong of the Song, Zhao Zhen 趙禎. (Cf. the change of the name of the northern peoples, the Jurchen, from 女貞 to 女真.
2. Family Taboos (家諱) are those that violate the names of any male ancestor within three generations. This practice is a feature of the writings of literati and scholars. The famous Han historian, Sima Qian, consistently changed the character tan 談in the Shiji 史記to tong 同in order to avoid his father's given name, Sima Tan. The father of the Han historian, Fan Ye 范曄, was named Fan Tai 泰. In the History of the Later Han , Fan changed the name of Guo Tai 郭泰 to in Guo's biography, or called him by his style name, Linzong 林宗. Du Fu's father was named Du Xian 杜閑, and the character 閑 does not occur anywhere in Du Fu's works. Wang Anshi's 王安石 father was named Yi 益, and in his famous treatise on etymology, the Explanation of Characters, Wang omits the word yi from his work. In a similar manner, Su Shi 蘇軾changed the generic title of xu 序 (“Preface”) to xu 敘 in his collected works to avoid the taboo name of his grandfather, Su Xu. The Tang had the further prohibition that a person could not serve in the government in a post that contained a word in its title that was the same as a person's father or grandfather. For instance, no person whose father's or grandfather's name contained the character chang 常 could serve in the Taichang 太常, or court of imperial sacrifice.
E. Some specific Biographical Dictionaries.
1. Zhu Shijia 朱士嘉. Song Yuan fangzhi zhuanji suoyin 宋元傳記索引. Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1986. Rep. of 1963 ed. Lists biographical entries for 3, 949 people in 33 different Song and Yuan local gazetters. Indexed by stroke count and by four-corner system.
2. Chen Gaohua 陳高華. Song Liao Jin huajia shiliao 宋遼金畫家史料. Beijing: Wenwuchubanshe, 1984. Rep. of 1963 ed.
- Biographical materials on 87 of the 800-plus known painters of this period. Extremely thorough biographical account; also includes poems, records, and other sources written to or about the person.
3. Wang Zhaowen 王肇文. Song Yuan kangong xingming suoyin 宋元刊工姓名索引. Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1990.
- Divided into two sections: 1) index to the names of book producers in the Song and Yuan, and 2) a short introduction to editions used to cull the names. The index includes the names of persons, the books they produced, the editions they resulted in, and a key to part 2. Part 2 is a list of book titles, the names of compilers and editors, the editions, and the format of editions. Superb work for doing any kind of textual work in the Song and Yuan.
4. Chen Gaochun 陳高春. Zhongguo yuwenxue jia cidian 中國語文學家辭典. Zhengzhou: Honan renminchubanshe, 1986.
- \List nearly 2,000 linguists, commentators, phonologists, collators and philologists and some 5,500 of their works. The dictionary is arranged chronologically, past to present. It includes a list of works of these people and a thorough index. The index to surnames and given names is broken into two parts: one is alphabetical, based on pinyin, the other a stroke-count index; “other names”—style names, sobriquet, studio names, etc., are inexed in a third table, by stroke-count. A final table, of works on linguistics through the years, is arranged by total stroke count of the first character of the title.
5. Shandong daxue wen she zhe yanjiusuo山東大學文史哲研究所, ed. Zhongguo lidai zhuming wenxuejia pingzhuan 中國歷代著名文學家評傳. 5 Vols. Jinan: Shandong jiaoyu chubanshe, 1984.
- While selective, this set gives good, basic information on the lives and works of important writers. A fortunate happenstance may put all basic information in your lap and save you lots of time.
6. Tan Zhengbi 譚正壁, ed. Zhongguo wenxuejia da cidian 中國文學家大辭典. Hong Kong: Wenshi chubanshe,
- 1961. Rpt. of 1930's ed. This is the standard dictionary for looking up literary figures. It is quite detailed on dates, official careers, pertinent historical facts, extant texts, etc. Add to your personal library
7. Suzhou daxue tushuguan 蘇州大學圖館, ed. Zhongguo lidai mingren tujian 中國歷代名人圖鑑. 2 vols.
- Shanghai: Shanghai shuhua chubanshe, 1989. UCB EAL DS734 .C612 1989 A collection of 1133 portraits of historical figures. While their stated criteria were reliability, artistic quality, and verisimilitude, one must question the earlier portraits. There are some that are quite accurate, particularly for the Ming and later.
F. Some specific Biographical Dictionaries. Tang and Song:
1. Fang Jiliu 方積六 and Wu Dongxiu 吳冬秀, eds. Tang Wudai wu-shi-er zhong biji xiaoshuo renming suoyin 唐五代五十二種筆記小說人名索引. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1992. UCB EAL Z3108.L5.F36 1992 An index to 47 Tang and Five Dynasties collections, and 2 Song editions that incorporate Tang dynasty works in their text. It also indexes selections from the Taiping guangji《太平廣記》, the Leishuo《類說》, and the Shuofu《說孚》. Four-corner index with stroke-radical key to the four corner system.
2. Fu Xuanzong 傅璇琮, Xu Yimin 許逸民, and Zhang Chenshi 張忱石, eds. Tang Wudai renwu zhuanji ziliao zonghe suoyin 唐五代人物傳記資料總合索引. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1982. UCB EAL DS749.4 F8
- Index to names of Tang personages in 86 different works. Also has an index to style-names (字) and sobriquet (號). Arranged by four-corner index with stroke-radical key to four corner system.
3. Wang Deyi 王德毅, et al., eds. Songren zhuanji ziliao suoyin 宋人傳記資料索引. 6 vols. Taipei: Dingwen shuju, 1974. Rpt. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1988.
- Comprehensive index to names of Song personages. Lists all contemporary and later sources of biographical information; sometimes provides titles of modern works on the person or on his or her work. Also has an index to style-names (字) and sobriquet (號). Arranged by four-corner index with stroke-radical key to four corner system. Indispensible to Song specialists.
4. Wang Deyi 王德毅, ed. Song huiyao jigao renming suoyin 宋會要輯稿人名索引. Taipei: Dingwen shuju, 1974.UCB EAL DS751.S87 1988
- Comprehensive index to all names of Song personages listed in this collection of Song dynasty administrative documents. Sometimes names that cannot be found elsewhere can be found here.
5. Hong Ye 洪業, ed. Sishiqi zhong Songdai zhuanji zonghe yinde 四十七種宋代傳記總合引得. Harvard-Yenching Institute Sinological Index Series, no. 34. Beiping: Harvard Yenching Index Series Press, 1939; Rpt. Tokyo: Tôyô bunko,1959.UCB EAL
- Index to 47 historical sources from the Song; excellent supplement to the standard index to the Song History.
6. Aoyama Sadao 青山定雄, ed. Sôjin denki sakuin 宋人傳記索引. Tokyo: Tôyô bunko,1968.UCB EAL
- An index to some 8,000 Han Chinese who lived during the Song. Includes information from funerary inscriptions, biographies, inscriptions, chronological biographies, household records, and stelae, drawn from Song sources and for Song persons who lived during the Five Dynasties and Yuan, as well. Also includes information from local gazetteers published during the Yuan. Includes women and Taoists and Buddhists.
7. Kinugawa Tsuyoshi 衣川強, ed. Sô Gen Gakuan Sô Gen Gakuan hoi jinmei jihô betsumei sakuin 宋元學案宋元學案補遺人名字號別名索引. Kyoto: Kyôtô daigaku jimbun kagaku kenkyûjo,1974.UCB EAL
- An index to all names, style names, and sobriquet of persons mentioned in the 100 chapter Song Yuan xue’an and Sung Yuan xue'an buyi, two Qing dynasty collections of biographies of eminent Neo-Confucian scholars; includes a finding list for both the original Qing edition and that reprinted in the Sibu beiyao.
8. Lee Mei Ching-ying, comp. Index des Noms Properes dans les Annales Principales de l'Histoire des Song. Publications de la Faculté des lettres et Sciences Humaines de Paris-Sorbonne, Série «Textes et Documents», no. 12.Paris: Presses Universitaires des France, 1966. UCB EAL DS748.5 M4
- An index to proper names in the “Basic Annals” 本紀 section of the Song History. Largely superseded by the 宋史人名索引, listed above.
9. Franke, Herbert, comp. Sung Biographies. 4 vols. Münchener ostasiatische Studien, Band 16. Wiesbaden:Franz Steiner Verlag, 1976. UCB EAL DS751.5 S96 1976
- Essays in English, German, and French on prominent Song figures. Incomplete in many ways, but but contains some very good biographies (especially those by Chan Hok-lam and George Hatch). Vol. 4 is a separate volume on painters.
- 10. Umehara kaoru 梅原郁 ed. Zoku Shiji tsûgan chôhen jinmei sakuin 續資治通鋻長編人名索引. Kyoto: Hôyû shoten,1978. UCB EAL
- Index to names in the Song historical work, Xu Zizhi tongjian changbian.
11. Umehara kaoru 梅原郁 ed. Ken’in irai keinen yôroku jinmei sakuin 建炎以來繁年要錄人名索引. Kyoto: Dôhô shoten,1983.UCB EAL
- Index to names in the Song historical work, Jianyan yilai xinian yaolu. Conquest Dynasties
1. Kinugawa Tsuyoshi 衣川強 and Umehara kaoru 梅原郁 ed. Ryô Kin Gen jin denki sakuin 遼金元人傳記索引. Kyoto: Kyôtô daigaku jimbun kagaku kenkyûjo,1974.UCB EAL
- An index to all approximately 3500 biographies from some 130 different works; includes biographies of all sorts. Also includes non-Han people.
2. Chen Gaohua 陳高華, ed. Song Liao Jin huajia shiliao 宋遼金畫家史料. Beijing: Wenwu chubanshe, 1984.UCB EAL
- Biographical information on approximately 85 painters; extracted from standard biographical sources, including collected works, poems, etc.
3. Kinugawa Tsuyoshi 衣川強, ed. Sô Gen Gakuan Sô Gen Gakuan hoi jinmei jihô betsumei sakuin 宋元學案宋元
學案補遺人名字號別名索引索引. Kyoto: Kyôtô daigaku jimbun kagaku kenkyûjo,1974.UCB EAL An index to all names, style names, and sobriquet of persons mentioned in the 100 chapter Song Yuan xue’an and Sung Yuan xue'an buyi, two Qing dynasty collections of biographies of eminent Neo-Confucian scholars; includes a finding list for both the original Qing edition and that reprinted in the Sibu beiyao.
4. Kinugawa Tsuyoshi 衣川強 and Umehara kaoru 梅原郁 ed. Ryô Kin Gen jin denki sakuin 遼金元人傳記索引. Kyoto: Kyôtô daigaku jimbun kagaku kenkyûjo,1974.UCB EAL
- An index to all approximately 3500 biographies from some 130 different works; includes biographies of all sorts. Also includes non-Han people. A reliable index that has (for the Yuan) been superseded by the following.
5. Wang Deyi 王德毅 ed. Yuanren zhuanji ziliao suoyin 元人傳記資料索引. 5 vols. Taipei: Xinwenfeng chuban gongsi ,1979. Rpt. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1982. UCB EAL DS748.5 W37 1979
- Comprehensive index to Yuan persons; they also include late Jin and some early Ming figures. Lists all contemporary and later sources of biographical information; sometimes provides titles of modern works on the person or on his or her work. Also has an index to style-names (字) and sobriquet (號). Arranged by four-corner index with stroke-radical key to four corner system. Indispensible to Yuan specialists.
6. DeRachewiltz, Igor and Nakano Maeno, eds. Index to Biographical Materials in Chin and Yuan Literary Texts. 3 vols. Canberra: Australian National University, 1969. UCB Main DS3.A2A88.D7
- Excellent index to sources in extant Jin and Yuan sources.