Taiping Guangji

The Taiping Guangji (Chinese: 太平廣記), sometimes translated as the Extensive Records of the Taiping Era, or Extensive Records of the Taiping Xinguo Period, is a collection of stories compiled in the early Song dynasty under imperial direction by Li Fang. The work was completed in 978 and printing blocks were cut but it was prevented from publication on the grounds that it contained only xiaoshuo (fiction or "insignificant tellings") and thus "was of no use to young students." It survived in manuscript until it was published in the Ming dynasty.[1] It is considered one of the Four Great Books of Song (宋四大書). The title refers to the Taiping Xinguo era (太平興國, "great-peace rejuvenate-nation", AD 976–984), the first years of the reign of Emperor Taizong of Song.[2]

Taiping Guangji
Traditional Chinese太平廣記
Simplified Chinese太平广记
Literal meaningTaiping ("great peace") extensive records
Cover of a 1566 edition of Taiping Guangji

The collection is divided into 500 volumes (; Juǎn) and consists of about 3 million Chinese characters. It includes about seven thousand stories selected from over three hundred books and novels from the Han dynasty to the early Song dynasty, many of which have been lost. Some stories are historical or naturalistic anecdotes, each is replete with historical elements, and were not regarded by their authors as fiction, but the topics are mostly supernatural, about Buddhist and Taoist priests, immortals, ghosts, and various deities. They include a number of Tang dynasty stories, especially chuanqi (tales of wonder), that are famous works of literature in their own right, and also inspired later works. [1]

In the 17th century, the vernacular novelist and short story writer Feng Menglong produced an abridged edition, Taiping Guangji Chao (太平廣記鈔), reducing the number of stories to 2,500 in 80 volumes.[3]

Pu Songling was said to have been inspired by Taiping Guangji; the short story "A Sequel to the Yellow Millet Dream" parallels one of Taiping's stories.

Famous storiesEdit

  • The Tale of Li Wa by Bai Xingjian
  • Huo Xiaoyu's Story by Jiang Fang — this story has been translated by Stephen Owen to English in Anthology of Chinese Literature, Beginnings to 1911 (1996)
  • The Tale of Liu Yi translated as The Dragon King's Daughter by Yang Xianyi and Gladys Yang.


Several collections of translated Taiping Guangji stories were published in English and other western languages,[4] but the text was never fully translated into those languages. The Taiping Guangji translations tracking page in Wikipedia shows that about 125 English translations were made for Taiping Guangji stories so far, making less than 2% of the total number of Taiping Guangji stories.

Three full translations into modern Chinese were published so far:

  • By Zhou Zhenfu (Editor, 周振甫) in 1993. (ISBN 9787534808975)
  • By Ding Yucheng, Wang Shi and Yu Qinghua (丁玉琤,王石,于清华) in 1995. (ISBN 9787543418721)
  • By Shi Ming (石鸣) in 2007. (ISBN 9787540312275)

What seems to be a Google Translate machine translation into English of the Shi Ming Chinese translation was published as a soft-copy in 2019.[5]

Stories out of Taiping Guangji are still being actively translated into English, Hebrew and modern Chinese, and are published in several blogs on a regular basis.[6] There is also a Taiping Guangji Translations tracking page in the Hebrew Wikipedia, linking to all English and Hebrew story translations available on the web.


  • Allen, Sarah M. (2014), Shifting Stories: History, Gossip, and Love in Narratives from Tang Dynasty China. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • Charles E. Hammond, "T'ang Legends: History and Hearsay" Tamkang Review 20.4 (summer 1990), pp. 359–82.
  • Idema, Wilt and Lloyd Haft (1997). A Guide to Chinese Literature. Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, The University of Michigan. ISBN 0892641231..
  • Cheng, Yizhong, "Taiping Guangji" ("Extensive Records of the Taiping Era "). Encyclopedia of China (Chinese Literature Edition), 1st ed., via archive.org.
  • Kurz, Johannes. "The Compilation and Publication of the Taiping yulan and the Cefu yuangui", in Florence Bretelle-Establet and Karine Chemla (eds.), Qu'est-ce qu'écrire une encyclopédie en Chine?. Extreme Orient-Extreme Occident Hors série (2007), 39–76.


  1. ^ a b Idema (1997), p. 56-57.
  2. ^ "Collections Online | British Museum". www.britishmuseum.org.
  3. ^ Theobald, Ulrich. "Taiping guangji 太平廣記 (www.chinaknowledge.de)". www.chinaknowledge.de. Retrieved 2022-05-28.
  4. ^ For example ISBN 9787119110660 (or ISBN 9787119050881) and ISBN 9781624666322.
  5. ^ ASIN: B07N42WL4G, see in Amazon
  6. ^ For Ongoing English translations see Ofer Waldman's Strange tales blog which is dedicated to Taiping Guangji, or Geoff Humble's Zhiguai translations blog which is more general.