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 old China. The Guideways via Mountains and Seas, compiled among the fourth and primary centuries b.c.e., includes descriptions of hundreds of thousands of wonderful denizens of mountains, rivers, islands, and seas, in addition to minerals, vegetation, 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 existence for contemporary readers through 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 innovative global of early China. in contrast to the bestiaries of the past due medieval interval in Europe, the Guideways was once now not interpreted allegorically; the unfamiliar beings defined in it have been considered as real entities came across 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 historic chinese language mythology and shamanistic knowledge. The Guideways could have been illustrated from the beginning, however the earliest surviving illustrations are woodblock engravings from an extraordinary 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 through the past due Ming dynasty. this gorgeous quantity, compiled by way of a widely known professional within the box, offers a desirable window at the suggestions and ideology of an historic humans, and should pride experts and common readers alike.
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Additional resources for A Chinese Bestiary: Strange Creatures from the Guideways Through Mountains and Seas
Reinvigorated by the more metaphysically inclined ideology of NeoConfucianism, some intellectuals continued to evince an interest in the Guideways. This interest reflected not only the perennial desire to comprehend strange phenomena but the challenge to render such things intelligible in terms of the more rational spirit of the age. Large collections of classical short stories both old and new, such as the Extensive Records of the Taiping Era (Taiping guangji, printed 981) and Yijian’s Accounts (Yijianzhi, 1161–1198), contained narratives that expanded the conventions of the Han and Six Dynasties anomaly accounts.
I have certainly seen this in the case of the Guideways. For, how can one completely describe the vastness of the universe, the abundant forms of life, the benevolent sustenance of yin and yang, the myriad distinctions between things, the admixture of essences bubbling over in conflict, wandering souls and strange divinities who take on form, migrate to mountains and rivers, and adopt beautiful appearances as trees and rocks? Yet, Coordinating their diverse tendencies, they resonate as a single echo: Perfecting their transformations, they blend into one image.
Its borders had extended west into Ba-Shu (modern Sichuan), north into the Central Plains area (modern Shaanxi and Henan), east to Wu-Yue (modern Jiangsu and Zhejiang), northeast into Qi and Lu (modern Shandong), and southward into the ManBarbarian areas (modern Hunan and Jiangxi). This area covered each of the five directions, and its government would have had particular need for a cosmography consistent with the framework of the Guideways. Although Chu maintained certain common cultural features with other Chinese states and the central Zhou court, it nevertheless also increasingly became di erentiated from them.