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., comprises descriptions of countless numbers of wonderful denizens of mountains, rivers, islands, and seas, in addition to 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 via weaving jointly translations from the paintings itself with info from different texts and up to date archaeological reveals to create a lavishly illustrated consultant to the innovative global of early China. not like the bestiaries of the past due 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 during the panorama. The paintings was once initially used as a sacred geography, as a guidebook for tourists, and as a booklet of omens. this day, it's 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 right here for the 1st time, they usually supply a very good instance of the chinese language engraver's paintings throughout the overdue Ming dynasty. this gorgeous quantity, compiled via a well known expert within the box, presents a desirable window at the concepts and ideology of an old humans, and may satisfaction experts and common readers alike.
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Extra info for A Chinese Bestiary: Strange Creatures from the Guideways Through Mountains and Seas
The original caption in Latin states: “Men fifteen feet high and ten broad, who have ears like winnowing fans: at night they lie on one and cover themselves with the other. Their bodies are milk-white. At sight of a man they spread out their ears and flee swiftly” (James , 57). They can be compared to the People Who Hold Up Their Ears [no. 246] and the Pendant-Ears People [no. 328]. 83v. and the Pendant-Ears People [no. 328]. Similarly, there are also people with a single leg, men with dog’s heads, a headless people with faces on their torsos, and people whose heels are reversed.
Because his edition only survives through that of the scholar and commentator Guo Pu (276–324) three centuries later, modern scholars are still seeking to uncover Liu Xin’s precise role. He may have stitched together several separate cosmographies into one book, noted variant versions of these texts, reorganized the chapters, and perhaps interpolated additional material. In addition, he probably translated the ancient graphs from their archaic styles into the simpler, more standardized calligraphic forms that had evolved during the Han dynasty.
E. on behalf of Emperor Wu of the Western Han (r. ). 51 This attitude reflected the beginning of a bifurcation between various genres of narrative with highly fabricated content on the one hand and o‹cial historiography, with its more stringent criteria for factuality, on the other. 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.
A Chinese Bestiary: Strange Creatures from the Guideways Through Mountains and Seas by Richard E. Strassberg