Ssu-Ma Ch’ien

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= Chinese historian during the Han dynasty, also called "Sima Qian": "most noted for his authorship of the Shiji (“Historical Records”), which is considered to be the most important history of China down to the end of the 2nd century." [1]


Wrote one of the first histories 'of the world', as he knew it, i.e. China and its border regions.


"Sima Qian (Szu-ma Chien; 司馬遷 c. 145 or 135 BC – 86 BC) was a Chinese historian of the Han dynasty. He is considered the father of Chinese historiography for his work, the Records of the Grand Historian, a Jizhuanti-style (纪传体) general history of China, covering more than two thousand years from the Yellow Emperor to his time, during the reign of Emperor Wu of Han. Although he worked as the Court Astrologer (Chinese: 太史令; Tàishǐ Lìng), later generations refer to him as the Grand Historian (Chinese: 太史公; taishigong or tai-shih-kung) for his monumental work."



"Ssu-ma Chien wrote the first comprehensive history of China, the 'Shih chi' meaning 'Historical Record'. Ssu-ma Chien initiated a remarkable tradition of historical writing. He organized China's history around the idea that each dynasty began with a virtuous ruler chosen by Heaven, and then by degrees lost its initial virtue until Heaven lost patience and withdrew its mandate from the last unworthy ruler." [2]


  • Watson B. (1958). Ssu-Ma Ch’ien: Grand Historian of China. 221 pp. New York: Columbia University Press.

"Excellent interpretation of the ancient Chinese philosopher Ssu-Ma Ch’ien. Does the Tao operate in history, what are the stages in history? For Ssu-Ma Ch’ien, it was the sage-king that intervened when the Tao degenerated. History and future are thus cyclical with the rise and fall of the Tao. When wisdom and learning separate, then society degenerates."