By Richard E. Strassberg
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Additional info for A Chinese bestiary: strange creatures from the guideways through mountains and seas = [Shan hai jing]
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.
There are intriguing parallels between some of these figures and foreign tribes in the Guideways such as people with large, heavy ears that they must carry (fig. 4), who may be compared to the People Who Hold Up Their Ears [no. 246] 2 0 I N T R O D U C T I O N F I G U R E 4 . ). 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).
1582) allegory, The Journey to the West (Xiyouji, printed 1592), which contained numerous demons challenging the spiritual progress of the heroes as I N T R O D U C T I O N 2 1 they journeyed to India. Other late-Ming novels such as Epic Tales Since Creation (Kaipi yanyi, c. 83 The immense popularity of fiction among all classes began to alter the reception of the Guideways from that of a geographical work to a collection of ancient narratives. This change is suggested by the perceptive literary critic and textual scholar Hu Yinglin (1551–1602), who was one of the first to write about the generic characteristics of “minor narratives” (xiaoshuo).
A Chinese bestiary: strange creatures from the guideways through mountains and seas = [Shan hai jing] by Richard E. Strassberg