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Heavenly Patterns

Abstract : The ‘Tianwen zhi’ 天文志 (Heavenly Patterns Treatise) is a repetitive and fractured genre. Much of the contents from one treatise to another are the same, and the treatise’s typical division into a history, a star catalogue, and an annals of observed phenomena make it difficult to read as a whole. To approach the question of Li Chunfeng’s 李淳風 (602–670) hand in shaping the Sui shu 隋書 ‘Tianwen zhi’, this study avails itself to collation. Isolating what contents Li’s Sui shu treatise shares word for word with the Jin shu 晉書, Song shu 宋書, and Han shu 漢書, I focus on the handful of passages that Li Chunfeng has added, excised, and rearranged on the basis of his sources. In doing so, several patterns emerge, the most notable among them being that Li has taken Shen Yue’s 沈約 (441–513) regressivist history of ‘heaven’s form’ (tianti 天體) cosmology in the Song shu and rearranged it, without acknowledgement, into a progressivist argument against its author. This and other evidence of Li Chunfeng’s editorial hand serves as a reminder of how what we often treat as a reference work should be read more carefully as a piece of historiographical argumentation.
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Daniel Patrick Morgan. Heavenly Patterns. Monographs in Tang Official Historiography: Perspectives from the Technical Treatises of the History of Sui (Sui shu), 2019. ⟨halshs-01404116⟩



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