January 18, 2022
Sima Qian (k. 145 BC or k. 135 BC – k. 86 BC), pen name Zi Chang (子長), was a Chinese historian who lived during the early Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220). He is considered to be the father of Chinese history with the Chronicles, a Chinese historical collection written in the style of the Tale of the Century. The Chronicle covers more than two thousand years of Chinese history, starting from the rise of the legendary Emperor and the formation of the first polity in China to the time of Sima Qian, during the reign of Emperor Wu. Not only is the history of the first known in ancient China, the Chronicle also serves as a template for the historical record of subsequent Chinese dynasties and throughout the entire Chinese cultural region. including the countries of Korea, Vietnam, and Japan) until the 20th century. The first person who initiated the work to completely rewrite the entire history of China was Sima Tan (司馬談), Tu's father. Ma Thien; but he only finished the preliminary sketch before his death. After inheriting his father's position in the imperial court, Sima Thien decided to fulfill his father's will to complete and produce this monumental historical work. However, in 99 BC, he became a victim in the Ly Lang case when he stood up for this general even though the Han court considered Li Lang to be the cause of his defeat against the Xiongnu. When forced to choose between the death penalty or the eunuch, he accepted the death penalty so that he could finish his historical work. Although mainly remembered for his historical record, the surviving works show that Sima Thien was also a gifted poet and writer. In addition, he was also instrumental in building the Thai So Calendar, an official agricultural calendar issued in 104 BC.