Book of Han

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  • Written: Ban Gu, 1st c. CE
  • Chinese/Japanese: 漢書 (Hànshū / Kanjo)

The Book of Han, also sometimes referred to as the History of the Earlier Han or the History of the Former Han, was a formal history of the Early Han Dynasty (prior to the dynastic interruption of the reign of Wang Mang). Written by Ban Gu sometime in the first century CE, it drew upon the style and approach of Sima Qian's Shiji ("Historical Record") and set a precedent for the form of later official dynastic histories.

The Book of Han is also the earliest written record to make mention of the Japanese islands and their people. The islands are mentioned only very briefly however, in a description indicating their location beyond the Sea of Lelang (i.e. Korea), and that the people, divided into more than one hundred countries, occasionally send tribute.


  • Albert M. Craig, The Heritage of Chinese Civilization, Third Edition, Prentice Hall (2011), 45.
  • David Lu, Sources of Japanese History, New York: McGraw-Hill (1973), 4.