Dear Friends and Colleagues,
one year ago I started this blog and opened it with a bulky book: the compilation of the chapters on the Xiongnu in the two most ancient Chinese Standard Histories, the Shiji and the Hanshu. I gave it a layout composed of the best Western translations, placed side by side and vis-à-vis the Chinese original text (i.e. in parallel columns).
Such an arrangement was clearly a novum as all translations into Western languages (Russian, French, English, German) had always been published without the Chinese text and hence without the possibility of checking the translations, sentence by sentence.
This now is possible. And so I took the liberty of carefully amending the latest and naturally best translation in such a way that it comes as close to the Chinese original text as possible (all translations I reproduced in cursive, my few corrections in upright script).
And there was another novum : I had made it a point to include those classic Chinese commentaries which had become an integral part of the Shiji and the Hanshu. The oldest blockprint edition of the Shiji which I had been able to look up in the National Library in Beijing, in October 2004 with the kind help of Prof. Chao Huashan, did not yet reproduce these important and very copious commentaries (originally they had been separate books), but they were included and embedded into the main text at least since Ming times.
It had been difficult for me to understand why no Western translator had ever bothered to also translate these classic Chinese comments in toto - they were referred to sporadically, or not at all.
Hence, in my compilation I included these Chinese notes without any translation. In this way, the defect became better known and in due time I was able to convince a well-known American sinologist (whom I had met here in Berlin during the symposium Tocharisch Maitrisimit, organized by the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften, section Turfanforschung, April 2008) to reconsider the matter : Professor Victor H. Mair, of Pennsylvania University, Philadelphia/USA.
In September 2009, I received from there the first-ever English translation of the 215 classic Chinese notes in Shiji 110 and the 237 like notes in Hanshu 94A. They had been done by a well-educated couple amongst the Chinese students of Prof. Mair, Wang Xiang & Wen Jing.
As soon as I finish revising these precious renditions, I shall be able to add English translations to the classic Chinese notes in my compilation on THE XIONGNU.
Already, two very inconspicuous classic Chinese notes in Shiji 110 have been of great help to me. They enabled me to solve one dispute amongst students of Yuezhi (*Rudsi/Arsi) history : the date of their Great Exodus from the Hexi Corridor, just West of the Yellow River in Far Eastern Asia.
It was this westward migration of 166 BCE which transposed the Yuezhi from their old habitat, firmly anchored in the Eastern (Xiongnu-Han) Oikumene, to a new one in the Western (Greek-Roman) Oikumene - two worlds which until that time had know little to nothing about each other.
In their new surroundings the Yuezhi were total strangers. They very naturally strove for a new (Western) identity and became the New Kangju, the New Sogdians, the New Tocharians, the New Bactrians, and finally also the New Indo-Scythians. Under all these guises they were likewise shrewd conquerors, accomplished merchants and devout patrons of Buddhism - and other Asian religions …
Click the link The Great Exodus.pdf below to see :
- my New Year’s card 2010 (text / sketch in the box);
- a discussion of the topic on the following 8 pages .