A Chinese Bestiary: Strange Creatures from the Guideways by Richard E. Strassberg

By Richard E. Strassberg

Китайский Бестиарий: Мифические существа в древнекитайском трактате Шань Хай Цзин («Каталог гор и морей»). Трактат, описывающий реальную и мифическую географию Китая и соседних земель и обитающие там создания, традиционно приписывается легендарному Великому Юю. A chinese language Bestiary offers a desirable festival of legendary creatures from a distinct and enduring cosmography written in old China. The Guideways via Mountains and Seas, compiled among the fourth and primary centuries b.c.e., includes descriptions of 1000's of amazing denizens of mountains, rivers, islands, and seas, in addition to minerals, plants, and drugs. The textual content additionally represents quite a lot of ideals held by means of the traditional chinese language. Richard Strassberg brings the Guideways to existence for contemporary readers through weaving jointly translations from the paintings itself with details from different texts and up to date archaeological unearths to create a lavishly illustrated consultant to the imaginitive international of early China. not like the bestiaries of the past due medieval interval in Europe, the Guideways used to be now not interpreted allegorically the unknown creatures defined in it have been considered as genuine entities discovered in the course of the panorama. The paintings used to be initially used as a sacred geography, as a guidebook for tourists, and as a publication of omens.

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Example text

It’s like the winter’s being cold and the summer’s being warm; this is the normal pattern. But there are times when suddenly in the summer it turns cold and in the winter it turns warm—how can we say there isn’t a pattern for this! e. of hybrid monsters and ethnographical oddities believed to dwell in India. These texts underwent several metamorphoses and continued to be transmitted in Europe through the Middle Ages, surviving in pseudoscientific form into the Enlightenment. Its concept of “India” was highly mythical, not only denoting that land but places beyond it as well.

A I N T R O D U C T I O N 1 5 particularly influential event was the rediscovery of the historical chronicle The Bamboo Annals and the pseudohistorical itinerary The Chronicle of King Mu. e. as he encountered various gods and non-Chinese peoples, including the Queen Mother of the West [nos. 65, 275]. e from an aristocrat’s tomb dated c. e. and were also edited by Guo Pu, who used them in his commentary to support the factuality of the Guideways. Yet another text about strange creatures circulating during this era was the Master Lie (Liezi, c.

The Guideways is represented by three editions: a palace edition with Guo Pu’s commentary, the Wu Renchen edition, and the Wang Chongqing edition. Wang’s edition fares the worst: both his commentary and the illustrations are dismissed in two lines, the latter denigrated as inauthentic creations by later commercial artists. Wu’s is given a qualified approval. It was one of the works reprinted, although without Wu’s illustrations, which Ji Yun also considered spurious. The entry on the palace edition provided the opportunity to discuss traditional historiographical issues.

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