By Richard E. Strassberg
Seventy six b/w plates, 37 b/w illustrations A chinese language Bestiary offers a desirable competition of legendary creatures from a different 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 thousands of amazing denizens of mountains, rivers, islands, and seas, besides minerals, plants, and drugs. 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 by means of 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 inventive global of early China. in contrast to the bestiaries of the overdue medieval interval in Europe, the Guideways was once now not interpreted allegorically; the unfamiliar beings defined in it have been considered as real entities discovered during the panorama. The paintings was once initially used as a sacred geography, as a guidebook for tourists, and as a publication of omens. at the present time, it really is considered as the richest repository of historical chinese language mythology and shamanistic knowledge. The Guideways can 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, and so they supply a very good instance of the chinese language engraver's paintings through the overdue Ming dynasty. this gorgeous quantity, compiled by way of a widely known expert within the box, offers a desirable window at the options and ideology of an historic humans, and may pride experts and basic readers alike.
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Additional info for A Chinese Bestiary: Strange Creatures from the Guideways Through Mountains and Seas
This fact was remarked upon by the Jesuit Matteo Ricci (1552–1610), who reported back to his European correspondents on aspects of Chinese life. 88 Furthermore, the Chinese had become aware of even more gods 2 2 I N T R O D U C T I O N and demons from the Tibetans and Central Asians as a result of the earlier Mongol conquest, while Christianity had begun its contacts with the imperial court and among the people in certain cities and trading areas. On the other hand, there was also a minor, though noticeable trend toward iconoclasm among some Confucian scholars who believed that representing gods in temples interfered with a direct comprehension of the moral Way (Dao).
On the other hand, there was also a minor, though noticeable trend toward iconoclasm among some Confucian scholars who believed that representing gods in temples interfered with a direct comprehension of the moral Way (Dao). 89 But such attempts at visual purification were of limited e ect and in no way diminished the general interest on all social levels in continuing to obtain knowledge about strange creatures. Among the earliest Ming scholars to closely reexamine the text of the Guideways was Yang Shen (1488–1559).
The Guideways was now considered an occult text that had been espoused by members of an eclectic philosophical school called Techniques and Calculations (Shushujia). The works in this category were distinguished from the more orthodox, canonical texts of the Ru-Confucian tradition, for the members of this school had by now been relegated to the lesser ranks of specialist practitioners. According to the bibliographer’s note, the 190 books in this category all represent lost traditions of knowledge from the Zhou dynasty and are further subdivided into six specialties: astronomy and astrology; calendrical calculation; Five Agents cosmology; milfoil and tortoise-shell divination; other methods of divination; and determinations of forms.
A Chinese Bestiary: Strange Creatures from the Guideways Through Mountains and Seas by Richard E. Strassberg