Chinese Myths and Legend

Publishdate date: 2013-07-01
Price: 52.1RMB


About The Book

In this vast universe, Earth, a beautiful and unique planet, is home to human beings. During the early stages of our civilization, our ancestors read the world with imagination. Before the creation of written language, a legendary history was recorded and inherited orally. Later recorded in books of folklore, these myths of ancient gods and heroes have enabled us to glimpse the dawn of civilization and the age of barbarism. Myths, or stories about gods, are products of people’s imaginations and interpretations of nature, society, and humanity in the early stage of human history. As an inevitable cultural phenomenon, myths are the result of ancient man’s interpretation of, adaptation to, and transformation of nature. Due to a lack of scientific knowledge, ancient people had to turn to imagination to understand nature. When they were threatened by nature, they depended on the power of gods to transform it. Ancient people were not powerful enough to fight nature, so they created gods to help them. They even deified and demonized their fellow human beings. In ancient Chinese legends, gods and immortals are always written or spoken of together.


Chapter Ⅰ 
Literature and Bibliographies Related to Myths and Legends 

Section Ⅰ Literature and Bibliographies Related to Myths and Legends and Their Features 
Section ⅡMyths, Legends and History 
Section Ⅲ The Evolution and Change of Myths and Legends 
Section Ⅳ The Transmission from “Harmony between Humans and Nature” to “The Dominance of Man” 
Chapter Ⅱ 
The Creation of the Universe and Origin of All Things 

Section Ⅰ The Universe and Chaos 
Section ⅡTianzhu (Pillars Supporting the Sky) and Diwei (Ground Corners) 
Section Ⅲ The Sun, Moon and Stars 
Section Ⅳ Meteorology and the Natural Cycle of Day and Night 
Chapter Ⅲ 
The Origin of Mankind and A Realistic Life 

Section Ⅰ The Origin of Mankind and the Legend of Human Ancestors 
Section ⅡTribal Legends and Tribal Ancestors 
Section Ⅲ Clan Wars and National Fusion 
Section Ⅳ Inventions and the Origin of CMlization 
Chapter Ⅳ 
Mythical Heroes and National Belief 

Section Ⅰ Disasters and Missions 
Section Ⅱ Struggles against Nature 
Section Ⅲ Symbolization and Heritage of the National Spirit 
Section Ⅳ Heroic Worship and National Belief 
Chapter Ⅴ 
Cultural Symbols of Myth and Legend 

Section Ⅰ The Basis and Foundation of National Culture 
Section Ⅱ The Origin of Culture and Art and the Source of Their Development 
Section Ⅲ National Customs 
Author’s Note 
A Brief Chronology of Chinese History

About The Author

Fang Ming, born in 1964, is professor of Beijing Language and Culture University, director of the Institute of Chinese culture, and doctoral tutor of Chinese ancient literature. He mainly engaged in literature research of the Qin, Han, Wei and Jin dynasties. His main works include The Literary History of Warring States, From Warring States: the Literary Thinking History of Qin and Han Dynasties, The Traditional Classical Poetry Theory in Pre-Qin Dynasties and so on.


Documents Related to Myths and Legends in Early Ages Chinese myths and legends are scattered among many ancient Chinese documents and wait to be discovered. Without knowledge of the documents that record Chinese myths and legends, one would find it extremely hard to discover the myths and legends in so much material. Among all the ancient Chinese documents, The Classic of Mountains and Rivers is the most valuable for mythological studies. Being called “the origin of myths” by later generations, it is the ancient document that records the largest number of myths in the pre-Qin period. For example, stories about Xihe giving birth to the sun, Changxi giving birth to the moon, Kuafu racing with the sun, Jingwei trying to fill up the sea with pebbles, Gun giving birth to Yu, Xingtian fighting against Emperor Huang, and Emperor Huang fighting against Chiyou are all from The Classic of Mountains and Rivers. But most ancient Chinese considered it a geographical book detailing the real conditions of the world. Few people realized it was a book that recorded geographical knowledge in the form of myths. This book records many myths and legends. The Classic of Mountains and Rivers, with rich content and bizarre descriptions, records many monsters, strange people and things. In the chapter about the north, there is the god of thunders who has a man’s head, a dragon’s body, and a potbelly; the god of wood who has a man’s face, a bird’s body, and rides two dragons; and the god of Zhongshan who has a man’s face and a snake’s body that is thousands of li long. In the chapter about the west, there is a country where people have only one arm (Fig. 1-1), one eye, and one nostril; a country where people have one arm and three eyes and ride flying carts; and many other strange countries. In The Classic of Mountains and Rivers, there are countless strange things. Many myths in this book are only fragments, but some of them already have clear outlines. These stories comprise a magical world. 130918.indd 1 2016-05-13 13:10:26 2 Fig. 1-1 “The One-Arm Country”, The Classic of Mountains and Rivers: The Book on Haixi (Jiang’s version) (copied by Zeng Shucong) There are many countries overseas. One is called the One-Arm Country and located in the north of the Country of Three Bodies. In this country, people have only one arm, one eye, and one nostril. In the picture, people ride yellow horses which have tiger stripes and one hand-shaped fore-hoof.

Behind these imaginative and strange stories lie the culture, traditions, and ideals of the early ages of the human society. They also reflect the ancient Chinese exploration of the world. Huainanzi is also called Huainan Honglie or Liuanzi. It is a book written by scholars organized by Liu An (Fig. 1-2), the King of Huainan in the Western Han Dynasty. In terms of mythological value, this book ranks only after The Classic of Mountains and Rivers. This book contains a huge number of myths, for example, the 36 foreign countries, the Kunlun Mountains, and the nine states and eight poles. The greatest contribution of this book is its preservation of the most famous four Chinese myths: Nüwa mending the sky, Gonggong hitting the Buzhou Mountain, Hou Yi shooting the sun, and Chang'e flying to the moon. These four myths are mentioned by many books before Huainanzi, but only in passing. In Huainanzi, the stories are told in detail. The Biography of Emperor Mu, or The Travel Journal of Emperor Mu, is a document containing myths from the Western Zhou Dynasty. This book (Fig. 1-3) is mainly about Emperor Mu’s journey to the country ruled by Western Queen Mother, and the welcome banquet she hosted. During this journey, Emperor Mu, accompanied by the elite of Zhou, rides a horsedrawn cart driven by Zaofu (Fig. 1-4), and Boyao serves as the guide. This 130918.indd 2 2016-05-13 13:10:26 3 and Legends Chinese Myths Fig. 1-2 Liu An, the King of Huainan of the Western Han Dynasty, illustration from Qianque Reference Book on Outstanding Personalities (Volume 1) Liu An, thinker and writer of the Western Han Dynasty, lived in Feng County of Jiangsu Province. He liked reading books and provided accommodation to thousands of visiting scholars, who compiled books such as Huainanzi. Taking Daoism as a guiding principle, Huainanzi records various theories from different schools. When illustrating philosophies, it often refers to supernatural beings. In this way, Huainanzi preserves some myths and legends.




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