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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 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 enormous quantities of amazing denizens of mountains, rivers, islands, and seas, in addition to minerals, plant life, and medication. The textual content additionally represents a variety of ideals held through the traditional chinese language. Richard Strassberg brings the Guideways to lifestyles for contemporary readers via weaving jointly translations from the paintings itself with details from different texts and up to date archaeological reveals to create a lavishly illustrated advisor to the innovative 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 unfamiliar beings defined in it have been considered as genuine entities chanced on through the panorama. The paintings used to be initially used as a sacred geography, as a guidebook for tourists, and as a e-book of omens.

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Extra info for A Chinese Bestiary: Strange Creatures from the Guideways Through Mountains and Seas

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93 Ji Yun’s opinion, which carried the imprimatur of the Qing court, appeared to denigrate the text from a historiographical point of view, while his classification of it among “minor narratives” further supported the alternative reading earlier suggested by Hu Yinglin. 94 The Complete Works of the Four Libraries project was finished before the two great Qing dynasty editions of the Guideways appeared, which summed up the traditional scholarship of the text. Both were compiled by scholars who were opposed to the judgment of Ji Yun and the other editors of the Complete Works and were designed to reassert Guo Pu’s belief in the essential factuality of the text.

41 Most of these texts were clearly collective e orts by many scholars and in some cases were compiled under o‹cial sponsorship. They tended to bring together both existing texts and oral traditions, often organizing their data for handy reference by using cosmological frameworks such as numerical systems, the lunar calendar and the four seasons, and spatial structures. The Guideways, China’s earliest surviving cosmography, reflects this last tendency by being organized according to a central region surrounded by territories and seas extending in the four directions.

Such a distinction would grow in Chinese literature and lead some scholars in later centuries to also challenge the Guideways as an accurate description of the world. 53 Omenology had long played a role in Chinese politics, but it became particularly important during this period as imperial governments sought to interpret sightings of strange creatures as signs of heaven’s will. O‹cials and private scholars who pursued the ideals of “universal learning” and “knowledge of things,” a broad field of inquiry that often focused on natural phenomena and curiosities, regularly reported the appearance of anomalies to the court from as far away as distant provinces to support partisan positions as well as to promote themselves as men of sagely vision.

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A Chinese Bestiary: Strange Creatures from the Guideways Through Mountains and Seas by Richard E. Strassberg


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