By Richard E. Strassberg
Seventy six b/w plates, 37 b/w illustrations A chinese language Bestiary offers a desirable festival of legendary creatures from a special 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 thousands of amazing denizens of mountains, rivers, islands, and seas, besides minerals, flowers, and medication. The textual content additionally represents a variety of ideals held by way of 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 unearths to create a lavishly illustrated advisor to the ingenious international of early China. not like the bestiaries of the overdue medieval interval in Europe, the Guideways used to be now not interpreted allegorically; the unfamiliar beings defined in it have been considered as genuine entities stumbled on in the course of the panorama. The paintings was once initially used as a sacred geography, as a guidebook for tourists, and as a publication 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, they usually supply an exceptional instance of the chinese language engraver's artwork through the past due Ming dynasty. this gorgeous quantity, compiled via a widely known expert within the box, presents a desirable window at the options and ideology of an old humans, and may pride experts and normal readers alike.
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Extra info for A Chinese Bestiary: Strange Creatures from the Guideways Through Mountains and Seas
The grand bibliographical project known as the Complete Works of the Four Libraries (Siku quanshu, 1773–1782) sponsored by the Qing court gathered more than ten thousand books known in China at that time, reprinting 3,461 of the most important ones while suppressing others deemed to be seditious. The catalogue of descriptive notes produced by one of the chief editors, Ji Yun (1724–1805), evaluated the acceptable works and expressed an orthodox judgment of them reflecting the highest contemporary standards of scholarship and taste.
The imperial court bibliographer Liu Xiang (c. ) identified a mysterious body found bound and shackled in a cave in Shang Commandery (modern Suide, Shaanxi) as that of the Minister of Erfu [no. ), who succeeded him as court bibliographer and edited the first known version of the text, wrote in his preface to it: “The emperor was greatly surprised. Since then, many court scholars have particularly esteemed the Guideways through Mountains and Seas and the Ru-Confucian erudites have all studied it.
280–c. ) criticized the use of deity imagery in calendrical calculation. The early Daoists of the Master Zhuang (Zhuangzi, late 3rd–1st cent. e) refashioned mythology in literary fables to argue for impersonal natural laws and mystical approaches to statecraft. Later scholars of the Ru-Confucian school not only followed Confucius in distancing themselves from discussing strange phenomena, but, as in the case of Xun Qing (c. 335–c. ), they were also skeptical of those who claimed to know the workings of heaven.