April 26th, 2009
Update: I attempted a little polishing based on saiweng’s superb comment. Thanks saiweng.
Another update: Saiweng is proving awesome in his comments. Thanks saiweng.
So according to 新京报/The Beijing News, some books that have been lost for 2000 years have been rediscovered. Yeah, I saw that and thought the same thing. Clearly this warrants further investigation:
Lost for 2000 years, Book of History reappears
Book of History? Well, I flipped through nciku looking for a standard translation of 尚书. The immediate result was useless for an English translation, but in the Chinese-Chinese side did inform me of an alternate name: 书经. That got me the English title Book of History and a more detailed Chinese explanation. It’s also called simply 《书》. Anyway, TBN’s Guo Shaofeng informs us:
Several copies of the Book of History have reappeared having been lost for over 2000 years. Yesterday, head of the Center for Excavated Texts Research and Protection, Tsinghua University [CETRP] Professor Li Xueqin announced that during research of the “Qinghua Bamboo Slips” music and poetry of King Wu of Zhou were also discovered, filling an historic gap in learning.
Wah. Looks like I’ve bitten off way more than I can chew. First of all, couldn’t find an English name for “清华大学出土文献研究与保护中心“. Then there was “周武王的乐诗“. Clearly there are big gaps in my own knowledge, but it would also be nice if dictionaries and the internets actually helped me when I asked them. Clearly the Red Hot Chilli Peppers aren’t helping, either. Perhaps I should swap them for some Tang Dynasty? Nah, nowhere near old enough for these Western Zhou types I’m wrestling with here.
Through donations from alumni, Tsinghua added this set of bamboo slips to its collection last July, calling it the “Tsinghua Bamboo Slips”. Having been appraised by 11 authoritative scholars and experts, this set of bamboo slips should date from the Warring States period and involve core content of China’s traditional culture and are a major discovery rarely seen before.
“前所罕见“? I’m really not having much luck this morning.
Yesterday Li Xueqin said that after several months of preliminary research, it has finally been decided that there are 2388 Tsinghua Bamboo Slips.
Li Xueqin said that it can be confirmed that the “Tsinghua Bamboo Slips” are books. “If we classify them according to the four traditional categories, most are Classics and Histories, the most prominent being the Book of History.” Most copies of the Book of History were lost to the burnings of books of the Qin period. Several copies of the Book of History have already appeared among the “Tsinghua Bamboo Slips”, some of which, some of which have been handed down, but they have many differences in wording, to the point of having different titles, among which 16 titles don’t appear in the modern Book of History.
It’s still not getting any easier. I’m still having to guess too much. “篇题“?
Li Xueqin said that because at the time books were all hand-copied, differences naturally arose in the copying process. From the latter years of the Western Han up to today, the debate over the “new and old texts” of the Book of History has not ended. Hopefully the “Tsinghua Bamboo Slips” can let people see the true character of the “genuine” Book of History lost for over 2000 years.
My brain hurts. “今古文“?
So scanning through it I thought, yeah, I get this, I could translate it, and it’s been so long since I translated anything…. Then I sat down to do it, and there are so many phrases I just can’t get my head around, and I can’t find anywhere near enough help either online or in dead tree dictionaries. Guess I shouldn’t have attempted it. Oh well, I’ll put it out there in the hope somebody can come along and help me make more sense of this.
Oh wait, I forgot the subtitle…. nah, forget it. Oh, and there’s a brief introduction to the Book of History and followed by a little exposé the first of those books that Tsinghua managed to put back together. But if you’ll excuse me, the main article gave me enough trouble, and I hear lunch calling.
Update: so polished a little thanks to saiweng, but I’m still not confident. What else up there needs improving?