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 provides a desirable competition of legendary creatures from a different and enduring cosmography written in historic China. The Guideways via Mountains and Seas, compiled among the fourth and primary centuries b.c.e., includes descriptions of thousands of wonderful denizens of mountains, rivers, islands, and seas, besides minerals, vegetation, 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 lifestyles 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 resourceful global of early China. in contrast to the bestiaries of the overdue medieval interval in Europe, the Guideways used to be no longer interpreted allegorically the unknown creatures defined in it have been considered as genuine entities stumbled on during the panorama. The paintings was once initially used as a sacred geography, as a guidebook for tourists, and as a publication of omens.
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Additional info for A Chinese Bestiary: Strange Creatures from the Guideways Through Mountains and Seas
It has been noted that the tendency in the West since the ancient Greeks has been to create evolutionary schemes that project such di erences into earlier, less civilized times or onto less technologically advanced, “primitive” peoples. ’ ”43 That is, fact and fantasy combined in works such as the Guideways to distribute a diverse population of strange creatures throughout a vast, sacred geography where they dwell in the eternal present of mythological time. Although historical events and genealogical sequences may be included, this kind of ordering is essentially beyond linear temporality and is subordinated to the repetitive rhythms of natural processes, myth, and ritual.
Even during its gradual decline in the Warring States period, it still expanded eastward. 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.
More significant is his defense of the fundamental credibility of the Guideways. In contrast to Ji Yun, Bi argued that the book was not at all concerned with discussing the strange, for if the language were understood figuratively, even the most fantastic descriptions could be seen to refer to actual creatures or foreign peoples. 95 This was also the essential stance of Hao Yixing’s more comprehensive Guideways through Mountains and Seas with Supplementary Commentaries (Shanhaijing jianshu, preface 1804), for Hao also criticized the classification of the text as a “minor narrative” and furthermore supported the authorship of Yu the Great.
A Chinese Bestiary: Strange Creatures from the Guideways Through Mountains and Seas by Richard E. Strassberg