Book of Wei

Book of Wei

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The Book of Wei is a classic Chinese
History of China
Chinese civilization originated in various regional centers along both the Yellow River and the Yangtze River valleys in the Neolithic era, but the Yellow River is said to be the Cradle of Chinese Civilization. With thousands of years of continuous history, China is one of the world's oldest...

 historical writing compiled by Wei Shou
Wei Shou
Wei Shou , born in Xingtai, Hebei, was a Chinese author. He wrote the Book of Wei, composed in 554, an important Chinese historical text.-References:*Cao, Daoheng, . Encyclopedia of China, 1st ed....

 from 551 to 554, and serves as an important historical text describing the Northern Wei
Northern Wei
The Northern Wei Dynasty , also known as the Tuoba Wei , Later Wei , or Yuan Wei , was a dynasty which ruled northern China from 386 to 534 . It has been described as "part of an era of political turbulence and intense social and cultural change"...

 and Eastern Wei
Eastern Wei
The Eastern Wei Dynasty followed the disintegration of the Northern Wei, and ruled northern China from 534 to 550.In 534 Gao Huan, the potentate of the eastern half of what was Northern Wei territory following the disintegration of the Northern Wei dynasty installed Yuan Shanjian a descendant of...

 from 386 to 550.

In compiling the work, Wei Shou was criticized for showing partiality to ancestors of political allies and intentionally defamatory to or entirely ignoring ancestors of political enemies. Detractors of the work referred to the book as 穢書, (Hui Shu), nearly pronounced as 'Wei Shu', but meaning "Book of Filth". From a modern historical view point, the book had glaring problems, as it took glorification of the Northern Wei to an extreme, intentionally misstating history of her predecessor state Dai
State of Dai
Dai was a state of the Xianbei clan of Tuoba, during the era of Sixteen Kingdoms in China. It existed from 310 to 376 AD, with its capital at Shengle ....

, which was a vassal of Western Jin
Jìn Dynasty (265-420)
The Jìn Dynasty , was a dynasty in Chinese history, lasting between the years 265 and 420 AD. There are two main divisions in the history of the Dynasty, the first being Western Jin and the second Eastern Jin...

, Later Zhao
Later Zhao
The Later Zhao was a state of the Sixteen Kingdoms during the Jin Dynasty in China. It was founded by the Shi family of the Jie ethnicity...

, Former Yan
Former Yan
The Former Yan was a state of Xianbei ethnicity during the era of Sixteen Kingdoms in China.Initially, Murong Huang and his son Murong Jun claimed the Jin Dynasty -created title "Prince of Yan," but subsequently, in 352, after seizing most of the former Later Zhao territory, Murong Juan would...

, and Former Qin
Former Qin
The Former Qin was a state of the Sixteen Kingdoms in China. Founded by the Fu family of the Di ethnicity, it completed the unification of North China in 376. Its capital had been Xi'an up to the death of the ruler Fu Jiān. Despite its name, the Former Qin was much later and less powerful than...

, but which the book characterized as a powerful empire that those states were vassals of. It further characterized all other rival states as barbaric and made unsubstantiated accusations against their rulers. Further, it retroactively used the sinicized surnames introduced by Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei
Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei
Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei , personal name né Tuoba Hong , later Yuan Hong , was an emperor of the Chinese/Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei....

 in 496 to apply to events long before, making it difficult for readers to know what the actual names of historical personages were. In addition, Wei Shou was criticized in that, as an official of the Eastern Wei and its successor state Northern Qi
Northern Qi
The Northern Qi Dynasty was one of the Northern dynasties of Chinese history and ruled northern China from 550 to 577.-History:The Chinese state of Northern Qi was the successor state of the Chinese/Xianbei state of Eastern Wei and was founded by Emperor Wenxuan...

, he included the sole emperor of Eastern Wei, Emperor Xiaojing
Emperor Xiaojing of Eastern Wei
Emperor Xiaojing of Eastern Wei , personal name Yuan Shanjian , was the only emperor of the Chinese/Xianbei dynasty Eastern Wei – a branch successor state to Northern Wei...

, among his imperial lists while intentionally omitting the three emperors from the rival state Western Wei
Western Wei
The Western Wei Dynasty followed the disintegration of the Northern Wei, and ruled northern China from 535 to 556.After the Xianbei general Yuwen Tai killed the Northern Wei emperor Yuan Xiu, he installed Yuan Baoju as emperor of Western Wei while Yuwen Tai would remain as the virtual ruler...

 after the division of the Northern Wei in 534. However, he was credited with harmonizing highly confusing and fragmented accounts of historical events from the state of Dai to the early period of Northern Wei and creating coherent accounts of events.

The book contain 114 volumes when written, but by the Song Dynasty
Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

 some volumes were already missing. Later editors reconstructed those volumes by taking material from the History of the Northern Dynasties dated to the 7th century.

Footnotes