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Chunqiu shiyu

Chunqiu shiyu (Chinese: 春秋事語; pinyin: Chūnqiū Shìyǔ) is an early Chinese text written on silk which was unearthed in 1973 from the Tomb no. 3[1] (dated 168 BCE) at the Mawangdui site in Changsha, Hunan, China. The tomb was that of a young man, presumed to be a relative and perhaps the son of Lì Cāng (利蒼), who was the chancellor of the Kingdom of Changsha and first Marquis of Dài (軚).

The manuscript was unearthed in 1973 along with a large number of other documents on silk and bamboo slips, including the Yijing and Laozi, as well as military, medical, and astronomical manuscripts. Chūnqiū shìyǔ records historical events from the Spring and Autumn period and partially preserves over 2000 characters.

The first half of the name of the document refers to the period covered, Chūnqiū 春秋 meaning Spring and Autumn, while the second half of the title, shìyǔ (事语), is a historiographer’s narrative, one type of the ‘yǔ’ (語) narrative genre of the period.[2]

The calligraphy of the document is similar to that on some bamboo books, a form transitional between the Qin seal script of the Eastern Zhou and Qin dynasty periods, and the clerical script of the Han dynasty. This, plus the fact that it does not treat as taboo the name of the Han dynasty founder Liu Bang, means that it was probably produced around the mid to late 3rd century BCE, before Liu took the throne in 202 BCE.[3][4]


  1. ^ Galambos, Imre (1996). The origins of Chinese medicine: The early development of medical literature in China on
  2. ^ 赵争 Zhào, Zhēng Ph.D. dissertation abstract entitled 早期"事语"类文献形态及其流变研究 The Research on the Form & Evolvement of primeval “Shi yu”, Shanghai University listed on .
  3. ^ Pines, Yuri (2002). Foundations of Confucian Thought: Intellectual Life in the Chunqiu Period, 722-453 B.C.E. University of Hawaii Press, ISBN 0-8248-2396-6; ISBN 978-0-8248-2396-2
  4. ^ 陳昭容 Chén, Zhāoróng (2003) 秦系文字研究 ﹕从漢字史的角度考察 Research on the Qín (Ch'in) Lineage of Writing: An Examination from the Perspective of the History of Chinese Writing. 中央研究院歷史語言研究所專刊 Academia Sinica, Institute of History and Philology Monograph. ISBN 957-671-995-X. (in Chinese)

Further reading

  • Qiu Xigui (2000). Chinese Writing. Translation of 文字學概論 by the late Gilbert L. Mattos (Chairman, Dept. of Asian Studies, Seton Hall University) and Jerry Norman (Professor Emeritus, Asian Languages & Literature Dept., Univ. of Washington). Early China Special Monograph Series No. 4. Berkeley: The Society for the Study of Early China and the Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley. ISBN 1-55729-071-7. (in English)