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 distinct and enduring cosmography written in historical 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, vegetation, and drugs. 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 through 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 resourceful 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 real entities came across in the course of the panorama. The paintings used to be initially used as a sacred geography, as a guidebook for tourists, and as a publication of omens. at the present time, it truly is 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 a unprecedented 1597 variation. Seventy-six of these plates are reproduced the following for the 1st time, and so they offer an exceptional instance of the chinese language engraver's paintings in the course of the overdue Ming dynasty. this pretty quantity, compiled by means of a well known expert within the box, presents a desirable window at the concepts and ideology of an historical humans, and may satisfaction experts and basic readers alike.
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Extra info for A Chinese Bestiary: Strange Creatures from the Guideways Through Mountains and Seas
Although historical events and genealogical sequences may be included, this kind of ordering is essentially beyond linear temporality and is subordinated to the repetitive rhythms of natural processes, myth, and ritual. These books were continually evolving as new intelligence about the world was gathered. Those used in the major feudal states must have particularly grown in scope, detail, and organization, creating totalizing visions that mirrored their political aspirations to achieve hegemony and national reunification.
In vain do they cling to their hearts from the past. 71 Such individualistic responses by the poet eschewed the hermeneutics of the scholarly commentator in favor of an escape to an exotic world full of amazement whose strange creatures could stimulate the creative imagination. 72 Following the success of Guo Pu’s edition, no new commentaries were written for more than a thousand years. Nevertheless, the text continued to circulate at imperial courts as well as among scholars, Daoists, and various other kinds of occult practitioners 1 8 I N T R O D U C T I O N F I G U R E 3 .
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. The Guideways, China’s earliest surviving cosmography, reflects this last tendency by being organized according to a central region surrounded by territories and seas extending in the four directions.
A Chinese Bestiary: Strange Creatures from the Guideways Through Mountains and Seas by Richard E. Strassberg