By Richard E. Strassberg
Seventy six b/w plates, 37 b/w illustrations A chinese language Bestiary provides a desirable competition of legendary creatures from a distinct and enduring cosmography written in historic China. The Guideways via Mountains and Seas, compiled among the fourth and primary centuries b.c.e., comprises descriptions of enormous quantities of wonderful denizens of mountains, rivers, islands, and seas, besides minerals, plants, and medication. The textual content additionally represents a variety of ideals held via the traditional chinese language. Richard Strassberg brings the Guideways to existence for contemporary readers via weaving jointly translations from the paintings itself with info from different texts and up to date archaeological unearths to create a lavishly illustrated advisor to the creative international of early China. not like the bestiaries of the overdue medieval interval in Europe, the Guideways was once no longer interpreted allegorically; the unknown creatures defined in it have been considered as real entities came across through the panorama. The paintings was once initially used as a sacred geography, as a guidebook for tourists, and as a e-book of omens. this day, it really is considered as the richest repository of old chinese language mythology and shamanistic knowledge. The Guideways could have been illustrated from the beginning, however the earliest surviving illustrations are woodblock engravings from a unprecedented 1597 variation. Seventy-six of these plates are reproduced the following for the 1st time, and so they offer a superb instance of the chinese language engraver's paintings throughout the overdue Ming dynasty. this pretty quantity, compiled by way of a well known professional within the box, offers a desirable window at the options and ideology of an old humans, and should satisfaction experts and common readers alike.
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Extra resources for A Chinese Bestiary: Strange Creatures from the Guideways Through Mountains and Seas
Late 1st cent. ). The Guideways was now considered an occult text that had been espoused by members of an eclectic philosophical school called Techniques and Calculations (Shushujia). The works in this category were distinguished from the more orthodox, canonical texts of the Ru-Confucian tradition, for the members of this school had by now been relegated to the lesser ranks of specialist practitioners. According to the bibliographer’s note, the 190 books in this category all represent lost traditions of knowledge from the Zhou dynasty and are further subdivided into six specialties: astronomy and astrology; calendrical calculation; Five Agents cosmology; milfoil and tortoise-shell divination; other methods of divination; and determinations of forms.
After its military defeat, Chu continued to be a major cultural and political force well into the Han dynasty, whose imperial family also originated from this region. Thus, though conclusive proof is still lacking, there is some reason to regard Chu as the place where a critical shaping of the Guideways may have occurred, even though its content could also reflect the worldview of a more northern or western state such as Qin. Unfortunately, there is so far no clear indication of what precise form the text took during the Zhou dynasty, and there are no direct references to it among the other early surviving texts, despite instances of similar content.
31 However, developments beginning in the Eastern Zhou and accelerating during the Warring States period suggest that the actual commitment of this information to an organized, written form may have been carried out in connection with others. In a centuries-long process that ultimately undermined the political authority of shamanistic culture, the power of the central Zhou court unraveled as new aristocrats and local clans assumed control in the feudal states and competed with one another for dominance.
A Chinese Bestiary: Strange Creatures from the Guideways Through Mountains and Seas by Richard E. Strassberg