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Mythical Monsters

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Keira Kensington
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« Reply #885 on: March 27, 2010, 08:30:44 pm »

There is no country so conservative as China, no nation which can boast of such high antiquity, as a collective people permanently occupying the same regions, and preserving records of their polity, manners, and surroundings from the earliest date of their occupation of the territory which still remains the centre of their civilization; and there is none in which dragon culture has been more persistently maintained down to the present day.
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Keira Kensington
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« Reply #886 on: March 27, 2010, 08:30:53 pm »

Its mythologies, histories, religions, popular stories, and proverbs, all teem with references to a mysterious being who has a physical nature and spiritual attributes. Gifted with an accepted form, which he has the supernatural power of casting off for the assumption of others, he has the power of influencing the weather, producing droughts or fertilizing

p. 213
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Keira Kensington
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« Reply #887 on: March 27, 2010, 08:31:06 pm »

rains at pleasure, of raising tempests and allaying them. Volumes could be compiled from the scattered legends which everywhere abound relating to this subject; but as they are, for the most part, like our mediaeval legends, echoes of each other, no useful purpose would be served by doing so, and I therefore content myself with drawing, somewhat copiously, from one or two of the chief sources of information.
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Keira Kensington
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« Reply #888 on: March 27, 2010, 08:31:22 pm »

As, however, Chinese literature is but little known or valued in England, it is desirable that I should devote some space to the consideration of the authority which may be fairly claimed for the several works from which I shall make quotations, bearing on the Chinese testimony of the past existence, and date of existence, of the dragon and other so-called mythical animals.
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Keira Kensington
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« Reply #889 on: March 27, 2010, 08:31:44 pm »

Incidental comments on natural history form a usual part of every Chinese geographical work, but collective descriptions of animals are rare in the literature of the present, and almost unique in that of the past. We are, therefore, forced to rely on the side-lights occasionally afforded by the older classics, and on one or two works of more than doubtful authenticity which claim, equally with them, to be of high antiquity. The works to which I propose to refer more immediately are the Yih King, the Bamboo Books, the Shu King, the ’Rh Ya, the Shan Hai King, the Păn Ts’ao Kang Muh, and the Yuen Kien Léi Han.
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Keira Kensington
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« Reply #890 on: March 27, 2010, 08:32:01 pm »

As it is well known that all the ancient books, with the exception of those on medicine, divination, and husbandry, were ordered to be destroyed in the year B.C. 212 by the Emperor Tsin Shi Hwang Ti, under the threatened penalty for non-compliance of branding and labour on the walls for four years, and that a persecution of the literati was commenced by him in the succeeding year, which resulted in the burying alive in pits of four hundred and sixty of their number, it may be reasonably objected that the claims to high antiquity which some of the Chinese classics put forth,

p. 214
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Keira Kensington
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« Reply #891 on: March 27, 2010, 08:32:11 pm »

are, to say the least, doubtful, and, in some instances, highly improbable.

This question has been well considered by Mr. Legge in his valuable translation of the Chinese Classics. He points out that the tyrant died within three years after the burning of the books, and that the Han dynasty was founded only eleven years after that date, in B.C. 201, shortly after which attempts were commenced to recover the ancient literature. He concludes that vigorous efforts to carry out the edict would not be continued longer than the life of its author—that is, not for more than three years—and that the materials from which the classics, as they come down to us, were compiled and edited in the two centuries preceding the Christian era, were genuine remains, going back to a still more remote period.
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« Reply #892 on: March 27, 2010, 08:32:30 pm »

THE "YIH KING" OR "YH KING."
The Yih King is one of those books specially excepted from the general destruction of the books. References in it to the dragon are not numerous, and will be found as quotations in the extracts from the large encyclopædia Yuen Kien Léi Han, given hereafter. This work has hitherto been very imperfectly understood even by the
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« Reply #893 on: March 27, 2010, 08:32:42 pm »

Chinese themselves, but the recent researches of M. Terrien de la Couperie lead us to suppose that our translations have been imperfect, from the fact that many symbols have different significations in the present day to those which they had in very ancient times, and that a special dictionary of archaic meanings must be prepared before an accurate translation can be arrived at, a consummation which may shortly be expected from his labours. I find in my notes, taken from the manuscript of a lecture given before the Ningpo Book Club in 1870, by the Rev. J. Butler, of the Presbyterian Mission, that "the way in which the dragon came to represent the Emperor and the Throne

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Keira Kensington
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« Reply #894 on: March 27, 2010, 08:32:56 pm »

of China * is accounted for in the Yih King as follows:—The chief dragon has his abode in the sky, and all clouds and vapours, winds and rains are under his control. He can send rain or withhold it at his pleasure, and hence all vegetable life is dependent on him. So the Emperor, from his exalted throne, watches over the interests of his people, and confers on them those temporal and spiritual blessings without which they would perish." I abstain from dwelling on this or any other passages in the Yih King, pending the translation promised by M. De la Couperie, the nature of whose views on it are condensed in the note † attached, being extracts from his papers on the subject.

p. 216
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« Reply #895 on: March 27, 2010, 08:33:33 pm »

THE ANNALS OF THE BAMBOO BOOKS.

These are annals from which a great part of Chinese chronology is derived. Mr. Legge gives the history of their

p. 217

discovery, as related in the history of the Emperor Woo, the first of the sovereigns of Tsin, as follows:
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Keira Kensington
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« Reply #896 on: March 27, 2010, 08:33:48 pm »

"In the fifth year of his reign, under title of Hëen-ning * [=A.D. 279], some lawless parties, in the department of Keih, dug open the grave of King Sëang of Wei [died B.C. 295] and found a number of bamboo tablets, written over, in the small seal character, with more than one hundred thousand words, which were deposited in the imperial library."
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« Reply #897 on: March 27, 2010, 08:34:23 pm »

Mr. Legge adds, "The Emperor referred them to the principal scholars in the service of the Government, to adjust the tables in order, having first transcribed them in modern characters. Among them were a copy of the Yih King, in two books, agreeing with that generally received, and a book of annals, in twelve or thirteen chapters, beginning with the reign of Hwang-te, and coming down to the sixteenth year of the last emperor of the Chow dynasty, B.C. 298."
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« Reply #898 on: March 27, 2010, 08:34:33 pm »

The reader will be conscious of a disposition to reject at once the account of the discovery of the Bamboo Books. He has read so much of the recovery of portions of the Shoo from the walls of houses that he must be tired of this

p. 218
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Keira Kensington
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« Reply #899 on: March 27, 2010, 08:34:44 pm »

mode of finding lost treasures, and smiles when he is now called on to believe that an old tomb opened and yielded its literary stores long after the human remains that had been laid in it had mingled with the dust. From the death of King Sang to A.D. 279 were 574 years."
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