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

By Richard E. Strassberg

Seventy six b/w plates, 37 b/w illustrations A chinese language Bestiary provides a desirable festival of legendary creatures from a special 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 hundreds of thousands 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 lifestyles for contemporary readers by means of 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 global of early China. in contrast to 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 upon through the panorama. The paintings used to be initially used as a sacred geography, as a guidebook for tourists, and as a publication of omens. this day, it's considered as the richest repository of historical 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 version. Seventy-six of these plates are reproduced right here for the 1st time, they usually supply a very good instance of the chinese language engraver's artwork through the overdue Ming dynasty. this pretty quantity, compiled via a well known professional within the box, offers a desirable window at the suggestions and ideology of an old humans, and should pride experts and common readers alike.

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

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Lü (Lüshi chunqiu, c. ), the glossary Approaching Refinement (Erya, c. 3rd cent. ), “The Tributes of Yu” (Yugong, late Warring States), the mythical itinerary The Chronicle of King Mu (Mutianzi zhuan, Warring States–c. 4th cent. ) and, later, the summary Daoist compendium Master of Huainan (Huainanzi, c. 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.

However, the e ect of committing hitherto esoteric orally transmitted knowledge to writing enabled nonspecialists among the literate elite to practice many of these techniques as well as to freely develop them in new directions. Inevitably, the prestige of elite wu-shamans eroded. e. the Ru-Confucian school and its canon of classical texts had become established as the orthodox ideology of the imperial state. Its members, drawn largely from gentry families, filled the expanding bureaucracy of 8 I N T R O D U C T I O N the central government, which gradually extended its control into local areas.

Lack of the proper recipe can make a large tree fall when there is no wind, or a high rock fall for no apparent reason, striking and killing people. It can confuse such travelers or drive them madly onward so that they fall into ravines. Lack of preparation may cause you to meet with tigers, wolves, or poisonous insects that will harm you. 66 In his edition of the Guideways, he championed it as an important aid in the intellectual and spiritual search of his age. His ideal reader should be an independent thinker unfazed by contemporary opinion who belongs to a select group of cognoscenti.

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