Duanlin Ma

Portrait of Duanlin   Ma

Mă Duānlín (simplified Chinese: 马端临, traditional 馬端臨, Ma Tuan-Lin in French transliteration) (c. 1245, Leping, Jiangxi– c.1322) was a Chinese historian and encyclopaedist who completed between 1273 and 1317, during the Yuan Dynasty, the comprehensive Chinese encyclopedia Wenxian Tongkao in 348 volumes.

The son of Southern Song Minister of the East Ma Tingluan, who had an extensive collection of historical documents, Ma Duanlin was a disciple of historian Cao Jing. After the death of his father, Ma Duanlin was called to serve the Yuan dynasty and later played an important role in reviving the educational system of China. The Ma family name is famous in Chinese history, including the wife of Zhu Yuanzhang (13281398), the first emperor of Ming Dynasty (13681644), military man Ma Yuan in Eastern Han Dynasty (AD 25 – 220), official Ma Tingluan and his historian son Ma Duanlin in Southern Song Dynasty (11271279).

Along with the works of two other historians of the Song dynasty (9601279), Zheng Qiao (1104 – 1162) and Sima Guang (1019 – 1086), his contribution is considered one of the greatest institutional histories ever written on China and, as such, was a model for many later historians.

His compilation on foreign peoples” includes descriptions of Champa, Funan and Chenla by Chinese emissaries and traders.

Photo: A statue of Ma Duanlin in modern China