Sima Qian is regarded as the father of Chinese historiography. The tomb and the ancestral temple of Sima Qian(司马迁Sīmǎ Qiān) are located on the hillock of south Zhichuan Town in Hancheng City, Shaanxi Province.


Sima Qian (145BC-?) was born in Xiayang in the Western Han Dynasty (206BC-25AD). He was a famous historiographer and litterateur. He wrote Shi Ji(The Records of the Great Historian), which has 130 articles and over 520,000 characters. It created the first general history style in China, and it has far-reaching influence on the development of the historiography and literary in later ages. Mr. Lu Xun, a famous contemporary Chinese writer, had highly praisedShi Jias the peak of poetic perfection in historiography, and rhymeless Li Sao(The Poem on Departure). After the death of Sima Qian, he was buried in his hometown, with the tomb facing the Yellow River on the east, and learning against Liangshan Mountain on the west. The Jushui River rushes down to the north directly, and the Zhishui River surges eastwards. The two rivers both empty into the Yellow River.

The offspring set up the ancestral temple near the grave. Through the continuous repairs in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the Song Dynasty (960-1279), and the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), it was developed into a large-scale architectural complex of ancestral temple and tomb.

The ancestral temple of Sima Qian has four hathpaces, and the hathpaces are connected together by stone steps. Layer upon layer, it has 99 steps altogether. There is a wooden memorial archway in front of each hathpace. From bottom to top, there are three memorial archways. The last hathpace was the tomb of Sima Qian, and it is Sima Qian's cenotaph built in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). In front of the tomb stands a stele engraved with characters meaning The Tomb of Tai Shi (an official who holds astronomy and calendar) in the Han Dynasty written by Bi Ruan, an imperial inspector of Shaanxi Province in Qianlong's reign in the Qing Dynasty. There is an old cypress on the grave. It is said it was planted in the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD). There are the sacrificial hall and the imperial sleeping palace on the third hathpace of the ancestral temple, and Sima Qian's statue is placed inside it. The statue has a square face and long beard, with the two eyebrows extending to the temples. It should be the work of a person in modern times. The halls and the temple gate are all the architectural structures of the Song Dynasty, and are rare in Shaanxi Province. In the ancestral temple there are also many steles scripted by personalities and scholars who had visited here in the past dynasties.

Many tourists go to visit the tomb and the ancestral temple to pay their respects to Sima Qian.