Looking for the original texts of "史記 (Shiji)" of 司馬遷 (Sima Qian) in ENGLISH
Thread poster: Minoru Kuwahara
I'm currently reviewing translations in English done by English-native translators from theses in Japanese written by 14 Japanese historians.
The theme is focused on the era of 前漢 (Western Han) when the emperor 武帝 (Wu Di) reigned and set forth 張騫 (Zhang Qian) to Xiyu (西域) with a mission to seek a military alliance with the Greater Yuezhi (月氏), and it also looks at the association of the dynasty with the nomadic tribe 匈奴 (Xiongnu) referred in extractions from 史記 (Shiji).
As a reviewer of this project, I'm asked to browse to see if there is an English version of Shiji available in any form online. Upon searching on Wikipedia, I noticed the name of a translator, Burton Watson, who is apparently the firstly known translator of this history book into English, but I cannot find prominent resources on the Internet so far.
I truly appreciate if any ones here would best advise.
| | Kevin Yang
Local time: 12:19
English to Chinese
| I am not certain who did the translation, but it is free to download. || Jan 24, 2007 |
Hi, Minoru Kuwahara,
Interesting project! I hope you will not lose hair by working on such a project. I did not believe anyone would be able to translate it. For my own curiosity, I did a search online, and found many sites, but the display is very slow due to the damaged under-sea cable is still being repaired. I was able to find one interesting site where offering the translations of many Chinese classic masterpieces, among which Shi-Ji is also listed there. I am downloading it myself and will see how it is like. I am not certain who did the translation, but it is free to download. Here comes the link:
In the left pane under "下载地址", there are several server links. I tried the first one at 重庆, the downloaded zip file was a damaged one. It looks like you will need to try one by one until you get the good translation file.
[修改时间: 2007-01-24 07:56]
| Contact Robert Reynolds in Taiwan || Jan 24, 2007 |
Hi 桑原 さん,
There is a scholar working in Taiwan whose name is Robert Reynolds. He participates in the project of translating Shiji and there have been seven volumes published. He might be able to provide you the translations of the corresponding quotes from Shiji. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
| Some findings || Jan 24, 2007 |
Hi 桑原 さん,
I checked everything which has to do with Xiongnu in Shi Ji. There are biographies and accounts, all translated by Burton Watson in his "Records of the Grand Historian : Han Dynasty II":
Shi Ji 109, The Biography of General Li
Shi Ji 110, The Account of Xiongnu
Shi Ji 111, The Biography of General Wei
Shi Ji 123, The Account of Dayuan
The last one "The Account of Dayuan" is actually an account of the Greater Yuezhi (月氏). I have found a somehow complete translation of Burton Watson:
Another somehow incomplete translation is to be found at
I hope this helps.
P.S. A question for you, if I may ask: Does your first name mean "the ripe corn," something like "稔", "穫", "穰", "實" or "実"?
If you are looking for the Account of Xiongnu, it is translated also in the following book.
In "II. THE QIN AND HAN DYNASTIES", part "12. The World Beyond China. From Sima Qian's Historical Records", page 54.
Someone whose name is not to be mentioned here sent me the following. It might be of help to you.
The Xiongnu are descended from the rulers of the Xia dynasty....They live among the northern barbarians, moving to follow their flocks. They primarily raise horses, oxen, and sheep, but also keep unusual animals like camels, asses, mules, and wild horses. They move about in search of water and grass, having no cities, permanent dwellings, or agriculture. Still, they divide their territory into regions. They have no written language, so make oral agreements. Little boys are able to ride sheep and shoot birds and mice with bows and arrows. When they are somewhat older they shoot foxes and rabbits for food. Thus all the men can shoot and serve as cavalry.
It is the custom of the Xiongnu to support themselves in ordinary times by following their flocks and hunting, but in times of hardship they take up arms to raid. This would appear to be their nature. Bows and arrows are the weapons they use for distant targets; swords and spears the ones they use at close range. When it is to their advantage, they advance; when not they retreat, as they see no shame in retreat. Concern for propriety or duty does not inhibit their pursuit of advantage. Everyone, from the ruler on down, eats meat and dresses in leather or felt. The strongest eat the best food; the old eat the leftovers. They honour the young and strong and despise the old and weak. A man whose father has died marries his stepmother; a man whose brother has died marries his brother's wife. They only have personal names, no family names or polite names, and observe no name taboos....
Over a thousand years elapsed from the time of [their founder] Shunwei to Modun. Sometimes they expanded; sometimes they shrunk; they split up and scattered. Thus it is impossible to give an orderly genealogy for them. Under Modun the Xiongnu reached their apogee, subjugating all the other northern barbarians and coming into conflict with China to the south. Their political organization since that time can be described as follows. The top leaders are the left and right wise kings, Luli kings, generals, commandants, administrators, and Gudu lords....These leaders have under them from a few thousand to ten thousand horsemen. There are twenty-four chiefs altogether, each titled a "ten thousand horsemen." All of the major offices are hereditary. The three clans of the Huyan, Lan, and later the Xubu are the nobility....
Each year in the first month all the chiefs, large and small, assemble at the Shanyu's court to make sacrifices. In the fifth month there is a great assembly at Long Fort, where they make sacrifices to their ancestors, to heaven and earth, and to gods and spirits. In the fall, when the horses are fat, there is a major assembly at Dai Forest, where the people and animals are assessed and counted.
According to their laws, anyone who draws his sword a foot is killed. Those who commit robbery have their property confiscated. For minor offences people are flogged and for major ones executed. No one stays in jail awaiting sentence more than ten days, and there are never more than a few prisoners in the whole country.
Every morning the Shanyu leaves the camp and bows to the sun as it rises; in the evening he bows to the moon. At a feast, the honored seat is the one to the left or the one facing north. They favour the days wu and ji in the ten-day week. In seeing off the dead, they use inner and outer coffins, gold and silver ornaments, and clothes and furs, but do not construct mounds or plant trees over the grave or put on mourning garments. Sometimes up to several hundred or several thousand favored subordinates or concubines follow their master in death.
In making decisions, the Xiongnu take note of the stars and moon; when the moon is full, they attack; when it wanes they retreat. In battles, those who decapitate an enemy are given a cup of wine and whatever booty they have seized. Captives are made into slaves. Consequently, when they fight, they all compete for profit. They are good at setting up decoys to deceive the enemy. When they see the enemy, eager for booty, they swoop down like a flock of birds. If surrounded or defeated, they break like tiles or scatter like mist. Anyone who is able to bring back the body of someone who died in battle gets all of the dead man's property.
Translated by Patricia Ebrey
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| | Minoru Kuwahara
Local time: 05:19
English to Japanese
| WOW I was forgetting to say thank you! || May 9, 2007 |
Now I'm positing this message in intention of saying ******big thank you****** for all of you who gave hints about my doubts and searches, including some of you who led me to valuable references privately.
We could somehow make deliverables with every effort we made. The documents were for Silk Road Simposium held in Nara two years back. It was hard and exhausting to do all this reviewing, however, interesting enough as a subject. Your information did get worth even simply in that regard.
Sorry, I was completely forgetting to make this thank you reply in the course of hectic situations these weeks!
Wish you all very nice day,
PS. To Wenjer's question, yes, my first name is written as 稔, that is, "ripeness of crops" as the first meaning.