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History of Liao, or Liao Shi (simplified Chinese: 辽史traditional Chinese: 遼史pinyin: Liáo Shǐ; "Dynastic History of the Liao Dynasty") is a Chinese historical book compiled officially in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) founded by the Mongols, under the direction of the great historian Tuotuo, and finalized in 1343.[1] Based on Khitan's primary sources and other previous official Chinese records, it exposes the Khitan people, Khitan's tribal life and traditions, and Liao Dynasty's official history.[1]

History of Liao of 1343 was compiled using older sources, mainly:

  • the Shilu (Veritable Records), completed in the Khitan Liao Dynasty (907-1125) under Yelü Yan's direction;
  • the Liao Shi, compiled in the Jurchen Jin Dynasty under Chen Daren's direction, though never published;
  • and several other sources such as the Zizhi Tongjian (1080's), Qidan Guozhi and other descriptions of the Khitans in the previous dynastic histories (Wei Shu, Sui Shu, ...).

The Liao Shi contains 116 volumes,[1] including 30 volumes of Imperial Annals, 32 volumes of Records of Institutions, 8 volumes of Tables, 48 volumes of Biographies and Descriptions, and 1 volume of Glossary of National Language.

Some Chinese scholars of the time argued that Khitans being formerly non-Chinese barbarians, their Liao Dynasty didn't deserve to get a compiled standard official history.[1] Due to the dispute over whether Liao Dynasty should be considered a legitimate dynasty, the Liao Shi was not officially compiled until 1342-1343, when the Chancellor Tuotuo of the Yuan Dynasty finally decided to treat both Liao, Jin, and Song dynasties as legitimate dynasties. The compilation of the Liao Shi was finished in one year[1] by highly skilled imperial historians, but without elaborate proofreading and textual criticism.[1] Because of this double time and support lacking context, the Liao Shi is known for its technical errors, lack of precision and over-lapping. It has been argued that the Liao Shi's editors had not the suitable context to provide a deep analysis, and audacious comments.[1]

Nevertheless, the Liao Shi provide a large amount of knowledge on Khitan's tribal life and traditions. Since the Yelü Yan's Shilu and the Chen Daren's old Liao Shi are no longer available,[1] Tuotuo's Liao Shi is the only know historical book that systematically and largely records Khitans-relate facts, and focused only on this issue.

The work of collation and punctuation have been done several times,[2] by example in the Qianlong edition, the Nanjian edition, the Beijian edition, Baina edition and the Daoguang edition.
The nowadays commonly use edition is the Zhonghua Shuju Press edited Liao Shi, under direction of the Khitan studies' specialists Feng Jiasheng and Chen Shu, and based on the Baina edition. This Zhonghua Shuju Press version and its annotations also refer to other historical sources such as the Cefu Yuangui, Zizhi Tongjian, Xu Zizhi Tongjian Changbian, Jiu & Xin Tangshu, Jiu & Xin Wudai Shi, Song Shi, Jin Shi, Qidan Guozhi and Liao Wenhui.[2][3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Xu Elina-Qian, p.22
  2. ^ a b Xu Elina-Qian, pp.22-23
  3. ^ 遼史, 脱脱, 中华书局, 1974.


  • Xu Elina-Qian, Historical Development of the Pre-Dynastic Khitan, University of Helsinki, 2005. 273 pages. 2.1 Introduction to the Sources on the Pre-dynastic Khitan (pp.19-23) > The Liao shi, p.22-23
  • Liao Shi (LS) 遼史 (Dynastic History of the Khitan Liao Dynasty): Tuotuo 脱脱 et al. eds. Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju 中华书局, 1974


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