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The Three-Bodied Shun and the Completion of Creation1

  • Robert G. Henricks (a1)


Students of ancient China learn early on the story of Yao and Shun . The great emperor Yao (traditional reign dates, 2356–2255 B.C.) chose the virtuous Shun as his replacement over his own son Tan Chu . Shun was the model of filial piety: when his parents and brother tried to kill him a number of times, he saw the fault as his own and tried all the harder to win their love and approval.



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2 See Allan, Sarah, The shape of the turtle: myth, art, and cosmos in early China (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1991), 5860. Boltz, William implies much the same in his article ‘Kung Kung and the Flood: reverse euhemerism in the Yao Tien’, T'oung Pao, Lxvii, 3–5, 1981, 141153.

3 Shan-hai ching, 18.469 (chapter 18, 469). All Shan-hai ching references in this article are to K‘o’s, YüanShan-hai ching chiao-chu (Shang-hai: Ku-chi, 1980.)

4 Shan-hai ching, 15.367.

5 Also nao , a ‘mother monkey’, but as Wu Ch’i-ch’;ang observes, k'uei and nao are the same exact character, save for the fact that nao is missing the ‘horns’ that are found on top of the k’uei. See Ch’i-ch’ang, Wu, ‘Pu-tz’u suo-chien Yin hsien-kung hsien-wang san-hsü-k’ao ’ Yenchinüeh-pao 14 (Dec, 1933), p. 10. In English, see Sarah Allan, The shape of the turtle, 51–2, for a discussion of proposed transcriptions.

6 Shan hai ching, ‘Ta-huang tung-ching’, 14.361.

7 I Shuo-wen chieh-tzu chen-pen 5B.14a (SPPY ed.). ‘It's like a dragon with one leg. … and in appearance has horns, hands, and a human face.’

8 See Shan-hai ching, ‘Ta-huang nan-ching’, 15.381, and ‘Ta-huang hsi-ching’, 16.404.

9 ‘Hai-nei ching’, 18.466. I will say more about this below.

10 ‘Ta-huang tung-ching’, 14.355: ‘There are the multicolored birds … it is only Ti Chün who descends and befriends them’ (… ).

11 Shih-chi 3, ‘Yin pen-chi’, vol. 1, p. 91. All references to the Shih-chi in this article are to the Chung-hua shu-chü edition, first published in 1959. It is not clear who the ‘three’ are in the passage, but it presumably refers to Ti K’u and his two wives. That Ti K’u and Ti Chün are one and the same has long been recognized. In English, see Allan, Sarah, The shape of the turtle, 3335. One piece of evidence on this is the following line: ‘When Ti K’u was born he was god-like and strange. He himself said that his name would be Chün .’ (From the Ti-wang shih-chi as cited in chüan 9 of the Ch’u-hsüeh chi [vol. 1, 197, in the Chunghua shu-chū edition of 1962[). Also, the character k’u appears to derive from one of the ways in which chün is written in the oracle bones . On this point see, for example, Ch’i-ch’ang’s, Wu ‘Pu-tz’u suo-chien’, pp. 89.

12 Lü-shih ch’un-ch’iu 6.6a (SPPY ed.), ‘ Yin-ch’u

13 Yang K’uan made eight arguments to show that ‘Ti Chün, Ti K’u and Ti Shun were the Shang-ti of the Yin and Eastern Yi peoples,’ in his masterful ‘Chung-kuo shang-ku-shih taolun ’ (see vol. 7A, 239–44, in Ku-shih pien , Shanghai: Ku-chi, 1982 ed.). For Yüan K‘o’s views on the matter, see p. 344 in his Shan-hai ching chiao-chu, and pp. 199–202 of his Ku shen-hua hsüan-shih (Peking: Jen-min wen-hsüeh, 1982). However, there is not universal agreement on this. For a variant view, see, for example, Sarah Allan, The shape of the turtle, 57–62. Allan argues that Yao and Shun are transformations, respectively, of Ti (or Shang-ti) and Ti Chün; Ti Chün was simply ‘the first Shang ancestor’ (p. 57). In favour of the Ti Chün = Ti position, I would underscore one of Yang K‘uan’s arguments, that in the Hsieh birth stories, Ti K’u and T’ien (‘ Heaven’) are interchangeable, and we are agreed these days that T’ien was the supreme god of the Chou peoples while Ti or Shang-ti was that of the Shang.

14 Wu Ch’i-ch’ang,‘Pu-tz’u suo-chien’, 7. Yuan K’o (Shan-hai ching chiao-chu, 344) notes two other forms: and . Actually, Wu Ch’i-ch’ang presented a total of 20 graphs in his article, but characters 12–20 in his list are now normally deciphered in different ways.

15 Huai-nan-tzu 7.2a (SPPY ed.). Note that in some of the graphs the figure clearly has three toes or claws.

16 Shih No. 303 (Mao-shih yin-te, p. 82) Karlgren translates: ‘Heaven ordered the black bird to descend and bear Shang’ (Karlgren, Bernhard, The Book of Odes, Stockholm: Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, 1950, 263.).

17 That it is the ‘black bird’ (hsüan-niao )or ‘swallow’ (yen ) of Shang myth that becomes the fabulous ‘phoenix’ has been noted a number of times. Like the swallow, the phoenix is a sign of ‘new life’, of spring. See, for example, Yang K’uan, ‘Chung-kuo shang-ku-shih taolun’, 385–9. The two—black bird and phoenix—are used interchangeably in the ‘Li-sao’ and ‘T’ien-wen’ of the Ch'u-tz'u. Also, in the Shan-hai ching passage noted above (note 10,‘Ta-huang tung-ching’, 14.355), the birds below that Ti Chüa befriends are ‘multicoloured’ like the phoenix.

18 Schafer, Edward, The divine woman: dragon ladies and rain maidens in T’ang literaure (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973), 99100.

19 As Bodde points out the ‘P’an-ku’ myth of creation, first attested in the third century A.D., is ‘China's only clearly recognizable creation myth’ (Bodde, Derk, ‘Myths of ancient China’, 59 in his Essays on Chinese civilization, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981.) But part of the problem in finding a myth of creation in early Chinese sources has been the mistaken understanding of what constitutes a ‘myth of creation’: myths of creation explain how the world came into being in the way that we know it in our culture; they do not normally assume that in the beginning nothing existed. A common theme in myths of creation is that in the beginning there was nothing but water; another theme, in the beginning Heaven and Earth were merged together, and ‘creation’ begins with their separation. Both of these themes were known in ancient China. For good reviews of ‘types’ of creation stories, see, for example, Long's, Charles H.Alpha: the myths of creation (New York: George Braziller, Inc., 1963), or Sproul's, BarbaraPrimal myths: creation myths around the world (New York: Harper Collins, 1979).

20 This may need to be revised in light of findings below: ‘separation of Heaven and Earth’ and ‘shooting down the superfluous suns’ seem to be two ways of solving the same problem.

21 Huai-nan tzu, ‘Pen-ching’, 8.5b–6b.

22 For confirmation that Yi was ‘sent down’ (chiang) from the sky, see Ch’u-tz’u ‘T’ien-wen ’, 3.11b, p. 164: ‘Ti sent down Yi of the Yi to wipe out the evil for the people down below.’ (Page references to the Ch’u-tz’u in this article are to the Taiwan printing [Chungwen Press] of Takeji Sadao's Soft Sakuin, Ch’u-tz’u pu-chu Ch’u-tz’u so-yin .)Also, Shan-hai ching 18.466, already noted, says that: ‘Ti Chün bestowed on Yi a crimson bow … to protect and deliver the world below.’

23 Kao Yu says this in his notes: ‘Ya-yü is the name of an animal whose shape is like that of a dragon's head. Some say that it is similar to the fox. It is a fast runner and eats people: it is in the western regions. Chisel Tooth is also the name of an animal. Its teeth are three feet long and they are shaped like chisels and stick out below his chin, and he holds in his hands a spear and a shield. The Nine Ying are water and fire goblins and demons that cause people harm. “Great Wind” means the Wind Earl, who can destroy people's houses and inns. Feng-hsi means the Big Pig. Ch’u people call a tun (pig) hsi (pig). The Long Snake means a large snake, the kind that can swallow an elephant and spit out its bones three years later’. And he continues, ‘Yi was a great archer, and Yao had Yi shoot and kill him (Chisel Tooth). Ch’ou-hua is the name of a marsh in the south’ ‘In the lands of the Northern Barbarians there's a Bad Fortune River.’ ‘Yi, at Blue Mound marsh, subdued and restricted [the Great Wind], so that he couldn't cause any harm. One source says that he attached a cord to his arrow and shot and killed him. Blue Mound is the name of a marsh in the east.’ ‘Tung-t’ing is the name of a marsh in the south; Mulberry Grove is the grove on Mulberry Mt. where T’ang prayed about the drought.’

That some of these monsters, at least, stand for watery chaos might be corroborated by the odd tale of Yi's shooting the River Earl (Ho-po) in his knee. (For which see the Ch’u-tz’u, ‘T’ienwen’, 3.11b, p. 164, including Wang Yi's commentary.)

24 T’ing-jui, Ho, A comparative study of myths and legends of Formosan Aborigines (Taipei: The Orient Cultural Service, 1971), 33.

25 By Wang Yi (c. A.D. 89–C. 158) in his commentary to the Ch’u-tz’u, ‘T’ien-wen’, 3.9b, p. 160.

26 T’ing-jui, Ho, A comparative study, 363367.

27 On this see Allan, Sarah, ‘Sons of Suns: myth and totemism in early China’, BSOAS, XLIV 2, 1981, 290326. Allan concludes that the Archer Yi myth was invented by the Chou to account for the fact that—from their point of view, as opposed to that of the Shang—there was only one sun in the sky. My position is just the reverse. I think it quite likely that the Shang, like the Yi, originally had this myth, while the Chou people did not.

28 For possible ancient links between the Yi and the native folk of Taiwan, see, for example, Pulleyblank's, E. G. ‘The Chinese and their neighbors in prehistoric and early historic times’, 435440, in Keightley, David N. (ed.), The origins of Chinese civilization (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983).

29 Ho T’ing-jui (A comparative study, 37) seems to imply that a first archer may not succeed in killing the extra suns in other versions of the story as well. He says ‘the expedition [to track and shoot down the suns] is completed within two generations, and only one person among the group survives and returns home.’

30 This piece is generally considered by scholars to be ‘authentic’; i.e. most scholars feel the ‘Lü-hsing’ actually dates from the time of King Mu. On the dating of the documents in the Shu, see Shaughnessy's, Edward L. entry ‘Shang shu (Shu ching )’, 376389 in Loewe, Michael (ed.), Early Chinese texts: a bibliographical guide (Berkeley: SSEC and IEAS, 1993).

31 Shang-shu K’ung-chuan , ‘Lü-hsing’', 12.6a–7b; Karlgren, The Book of Documents, 74–6. I have taken the liberty of removing some of Karlgren's parenthetical remarks, and I have romanized words using the Wade-Giles system to be consistent with the rest of this paper. Henri Maspero was, perhaps, the first Western scholar to read the ‘Lü-hsing’ as a cosmogonic myth. For his interpretation—not all that different from my own—see his article Légendes mythologiques dans le Chou king’, Journal Asiatique, ccrv 1924, 94100. I quote from p. 100. ‘It seems that, among the Chinese traditions about creation, one of the least among them (perhaps that of Yü since his name and his dance remain attached to it), acknowledged that Shang-ti sent down from heaven the heros and humans, the earth—uncultivated, chaotic, and swampy—-was the domain of a race of winged monsters—the Miao, or San-miao—which it was necessary to destroy or chase away in order to permit humans to take their place.’.

32 The monster Ch’ih-yu is best known for the battles he fought with Huang-ti , the ‘Yellow Emperor’. For the key sources on this, see pp. 128–43 in Yüan K’o, Ku shen-hua hstüanshih. For his fiercesome visage, see the rubbing of a Han wall-relief published in Bodde, Derk, Festivals in Classical China (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1975), 123. The Miao, or San-Miao (Three Miao), are the villains in many a myth from ancient China. They always end up being banished or killed. We assume they were non-Chinese ‘barbarians’ related in some way to the present Miao minority in southern China.

33 The role shamans would play as mediators is much clearer in another version of this myth that survives in the Kuo-yu (‘Ch’u-yü hsia ’ 18.1a–2b). Both Chinese accounts of the myth, and the connection of the myth with shamanism in general, have already been discussed by Bodde (‘Myths of ancient China’, Essays on Chinese civilization, 65–70).

34 But note that li and li were not strictly homophones in archaic Chinese: lt was *liar and li was *lia. Archaic pronunciations noted throughout this paper are primarily those established by Karlgren. I have taken these from A pronouncing dictionary of Chinese characters (Hong Kong: Chinese University of Hong Kong Press, 1973).

35 Mao-shih yin-te, 82; tr. by Karlgren, , The Book of Odes, 264265.

36 Shih 245 (Mao-shih yin-te, 62–3; Karlgren, , The Book of Odes, 200202.

37 Yang K’uan, ‘Chung-kuo shang-ku-shih tao-lun’, 365–93. I will comment below on connections between this Yi and both Hsieh and Shun.

38 Ch’u-tz’u, ‘T’ien-wen’, 3.11a, p. 163. There is not universal agreement, however, on whether this Yi— or —is the same as Archer Yi. Our sources also speak of a ‘Lord Yi of Yu-ch’iung’ , a feudal lord in early Hsia dynasty times who usurped the throne and served briefly as the Son of Heaven. On the problem of the two Yi's see, for example, Yüan K’o, Ku shenhua hsüan-shih, 266–68, who firmly distinguishes Lord Yi from the archer who shot down the nine suns. But for a different opinion, see David Hawkes, tr., The Songs of the South, 140.

39 Mencius, 3A.4 (p. 20); translation is by D. C. Lau, Mencius, 102.

40 Note that the two Yi's were not homophonic in archaic Chinese, however: reconstructed pronunciations are *iěk and *ηer. But this should not be surprising: while may be a name, is a title—‘the archer’. In fact, it is somewhat misleading to translate as ‘Archer Yi’ as most of us do. Archaic pronunciations for the other Yi's we discuss in this paper are and *ngia.

41 Ho T’ing-jui, A comparative study, 49. Motif A625.2 in Stith Thompson's folklore index is ‘Why the sky receded upward; it was pushed up by the wings of a bird (birds).’ See Thompson, Stith, Motif-index of folk-literature (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 19551958).

42 ibid., 54–5.

43 For the P’an-ku myth, see Bodde, ‘Myths of ancient China’, 58–62. Incidentally, if in the bones meant not a sky god, but the first born of the sky and the land, this might account for the ‘crouched’ form of this figure. He is squatting or crouching because the sky is initially too low.

44 Shaughnessy (‘Shang shu [Shu ching]’, 378) concludes that: ‘On the basis of its language and thought, the text would appear to date no earlier than the late Spring and Autumn period.’

45 Allan, Sarah, The shape of the turtle, 59.

46 For Allan's analysis of the ‘Yao-tien’ see The shape of the turtle, 58–62.

47 All passages cited in this part of the paper are from the Karlgren translation.

48 This feature in the ‘Yao-tien’ ought to help with the issue of dating. When were these correlations of the seasons and directions first used?

49 Note, too, that the number of suns and moons determines the length of the week and the year. For the Shang, with their 10 suns and 12 moons, a week was 10 days' long, and their year, like ours, was 12 months' long (with the exception of those years which included a 13th ‘intercalary’ month).

50 William Boltz, ‘Kung Kung and the flood,’ 147ff.

51 Again, Boltz's point, ‘Kung Kung and the flood’, 148. The ultimate identity of the names Huan Tou and Tan Chu has been argued for a long time. See, for example, K’uan, Yang, ‘Chungkuo shang-ku-shih tao-lun’, 304. In at least one early source, Huan Tou is written , close indeed to Tan Chu . Both names could stem from the Chinese hun-tun ‘chaos’. On Fang Ch’i-the name literally means ‘dispeller of order’. Another possibility—Fang Ch’i is the Ch’iung Ch’i who was banished by Shun according to the Tso chuan (Duke Wen, 18th year, 176). In the Tso chuan, the ‘four evil ones’ banished by Shun are Chaos , Ch’iung Ch’i, T’ao Wu , and T’ao T’ieh .

52 Karlgren has ‘(below =) in a low position’. This is commonly understood to mean that Shun was common folk, not aristocracy. But I think it simply means that he was down here in the world; not a god from on high.

53 Shih-chi 1, ‘Wu-ti pen-chi’, vol. 1, 33.

54 Mencius, 5A.1 (p. 34); translation by D. C. Lau, Mencius, 138.

55 That Yao, like Ti Chün on whom he is modelled, had a total of ten sons, not nine, is noted twice in the Lü-shih ch’un-ch’iu (1.10b and 22.7b). Commentators explain this in a number of ways: thus Kao Yu feels the evil Tan Chu was simply left out of the number mentioned in Mencius. For a discussion of the matter see Lü Ssu-mien's ‘T’ang, Yü, Hsia shih-kao 271–73 in Ku-shih pien, vol. 7C.

56 ‘Inversion’ as a feature commonly found in variant versions of myths has been brought to our attention by Claude Lévi-Strauss. See, for example, pp. 240–2 in his The raw and the cooked: Mythologiques, vol. 1. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983, tr. from the French by John, and Weightman, Doreen).

57 What I am suggesting might be schematized in the following way:

Part I.: (1) celestial bodies in order + seasons and directions (Yao)

Part II.: (1) celestial bodies in order + seasons and directions (symbolically- Shun)

(2) new—water cleared and land divided

Part III.: (1) celestial bodies in order (Hsieh)

(2) water cleared and land divided (Yü)

(3) new—agriculture (Hou Chi) + arts of civilization

58 K’uan, Yang, ‘Chung-kuo shang-ku-shih tao-lun’, 365369.

59 Shih-chi 1, ‘Wu-ti pen-chi’, vol. 1, 32.

60 Mencius, 5A.2 (p. 35); translated by D. C. Lau, Mencius, 139.

61 Shih-chi 1 ‘Wu-ti pen-chi’, vol. 1, 3234.

62 The Cheng-yi commentary (p. 35) says: ‘This means that Shun secretly dived down into the well and bored a hole in its side and emerged from another well.’ It then cites the T’ung-shih as saying: ‘He emerged from another well.’

63 Lieh-nü chuan l.lab (SPPY ed.). The translation here is by O'Hara, Albert Richard, The position of woman in early China (according to the Lieh Nü Chuan ‘The biographies of eminent Chinese women’), (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1945), 1415.

64 The text is , which is actually ‘Shun dived down and emerged.’

65 From Hung Hsing-tsu's sub-commentary to the ‘T’ien-wen’, 3.15b, 172.

66 The translation is tentative. The original is: . Another possibility—following K’o, Yüan (Ku shen-hua hsüan-shih, pp. 244245) in reading the ch’üeh as ch’ü would be: ‘Take off your clothes; dressed as a bird, go do this task.’ This nicely parallels their next statement which in the original is: . The Cheng-yi commentary to the Shihchi, by the way, cites the T’ung-shih as its source for the same events. It says that his two wives (the two daughters) told him to wear ‘bird clothes’ and ‘dragon clothes’.

67 The Shih-chi says that after Shun had entered the well Ku-sou and Hsiang threw dirt into the well filling it up, but Shun escaped through a hidden or secret hole.

68 e.g. see Shang shu K’ung-chuan 1.4b, where the commentary reads: ‘Shun's father had eyes, but he was unable to distinguish good from evil.’

69 Shang shu K’ung-chuan 1.4b where the sub-commentary has . The ‘Yao-tien’ calls Shun ku-tzu ‘son of a blind man’, which could be ‘son of antiquity’, or the ‘ancient child’ (e.g. ).

70 The Lü-shih chՙun-chՙiu, ‘Ku-yüeh , 5.10b says: ‘The Shang people tamed the elephant and with it ruled tyrannically over the Eastern Yi.’

71 Chՙu-tz'u 3.15b, ‘T'ien-wen’, 172.

72 For Yüan K’o's discussion of the ‘myth’ of Shun in its original form, see his Ku shen-hua hsüan-shih, 241–3, and 246–8. Also see his notes to the ‘Hai-nei ching’, in Shan-hai ching chiao-chu, 459–61.

73 See, for example, the Ti-wang chias cited in the Chi-chieh commentary to Shih-chi 1, vol. 1, 45.

74 Wang Ch’ung , Lun-heng , ‘Ou-hui ’, 3.3a (SPPY ed.).

75 From Kuei-meng's, Lu (T’ang dynasty) Fu-li chi (Ssu-k’u ch’üan-shu, vol. 1083, 401, in the 1987 Shanghai: Ku-chi edition). Ch’en Meng-chia notes this line. For Ch’en's discussion of Hsiang as the elephant, see his Shang-tai ti shen-hua yü wu-shu ’, Yenching hsüeh-pao, 20, 1936, 498499.

76 Shih-chi 1, ‘Wu-ti pen-chi’, vol. 1, 34.

77 T’ing-jui, Ho, A comparative study, 9499.

78 Story 129 as cited by Ho, 297–8. Stories 127–37 on pp. 294–306 are all on this theme.

79 Thus Mencius says ‘The Emperor sent his nine sons, and two daughters, together with the hundred officials, taking with them the full quota of cattle and sheep and provisions, to serve Shun in the fields … the Emperor was about to hand the Empire over to him. But because he was unable to please his parents, Shun was like a man in extreme straits with no home to go back to … none of these things [wives, wealth, to be Emperor] was sufficient to deliver him from the anxiety which the pleasure of his parents alone could relieve’ (Mencius, 5A.1, 34; translation is by Lau, D. C., Mencius, 138139). Also, relevant—in these stories the mistreated child is often not fed; in the story of Shun, he is constantly anxious about feeding his parents.

80 K’uan, Yang, ‘Chung-kuo shang-ku-shih tao-lun’, 368369 makes much the same point.

81 Mao-shih yin-te, 82; translation is by Karlgren, , The Book of Odes, 265.

82 Ch’i-ch’ang, Wu, ‘Pu-tz’u so-chien’, 1617.

84 Mao-shih yin-te, 82; Karlgren, , The Book of Odes, 263.

85 Mao-shih yin-te, 82; Karlgren, , The Book of Odes, 265.

86 Worth noting—the ‘Yi’ of Yi-chün may be phonetically related to Yi , ‘the archer’. Reconstructed archaic pronunciations of the two characters are: (ηer) and (ηiar) (here using the reconstructions in Akiyasu's, TōdōKanwa daijiten [Tokyo: Gakushukenkyusha, 1978]).

In his commentary to the ‘Ta-huang nan-ching’ (Shan-hai ching, 10.364) Kuo P’u says: ‘Shu-chün is the same as Shang-chün.’ And for Yi-chün—we have Lo Pi's comment in Lu-shih , ‘Hou Chi , 11.17a (SPPY ed.): ‘Yi-chün was enfeoffed in Shang. This was Shangchün.’ That Shang-chün = Hsieh is not my opinion alone. Ch’en Meng-chia and Yang K’uan both reached the same conclusion. See K’uan's, Yang ‘Chung-kuo shang-ku-shih tao-lun’, 370.

87 Shan-hai ching 18.469. Chՙiao-chՙui , my ‘arts and crafts’, is a person's name in the ‘Yao-tien’, and Yuan K’o takes it that way here as well. Nonetheless, the parallelism with similar lines in the passage argues for reading the phrase as an accomplishment.

88 Shih-chi 1, ‘Wu-ti pen-chi’, vol. 1, 44.

89 Shan-hai ching, 10.364.

90 Though Yüan K’o's suggestion is also appealing. He relates Shun's name to the act of ‘taming’ (hsün-fu ) the elephant. (Shan-hai ching chiao-chu, 459–61.) (Karlgren's reconstructed archaic pronunciation of hsün is .) This is probably also the best place to note the close connections we find between Shun and Yi who was also a ‘tamer’. In the ‘Yao-tien’, we remember, it is Yi that Shun appoints to be his ‘forester’ ( ); and this same Yü is used for the name of Shun's reign. And in the ‘Ch’in pen-chi ’ in the Shih-chi, Yi (there Po Yi ) is said to have married a woman named Yao —Shun's surname—and he is said to have ‘helped Shun tame and train the birds and the beasts’ of which ‘many were trained and submitted’ (Shih-chi 5, vol. 1, 173:, ).

91 Han-fei tzu chi-shih (Taipei: World Book Co., 1963), vol. 2, ch. 15, ‘Nan-yi ,’ vol. 2, 795. Translation is by Liao, W.K., The complete works of Han Fei Tzu: a classic of Chinese political science, vol. 2 (London: Arthur Probsthain, 1959), 142.

92 Shih-chi 1, ‘Wu-ti pen-chi’, vol. 1, 3334.

93 Again, translation by Karlgren, , The Book of Odes, 265.

94 K’uan, Yang, ‘Chung-kuo shang-ku-shih tao-lun’, 236.

95 Shan-hai ching, ‘Ta-huang pei-ching’, 17.430.

96 But note that the winged dragon, like the Demon of Drought, is unable to make it back up to the sky. The Shan-hai ching (‘Ta-huang pei-ching,’ 17.427) also records: ‘After the winged dragon killed Ch’ih-yu, he went on to kill K’ua-fu, then he went to the south and lives there. That's why there is a lot of rain in the south.’

97 Shan-hai ching, 14.345.

98 15.367.

99 12.320.

100 See note 8 above for the relevant passages.

101 15.367, noted above.

102 Ch’i-ch’ang, Wu, ‘Pu-tz’u so-chien’, 1114.

103 K’o, Yüan, Ku shen-hua hsüan-shih, 243248.

104 Allan, , The shape of the turtle, 57.

105 I think there is a very real possibility that it is Hsieh who turns into Shen-nung , the ‘Divine Farmer’, in Chou texts. Both have close ties to the plough, and Shen-nung is singled out as ‘the one who first tasted the herbs’ (yao ); it is ‘herbs’, remember, that keep Shun from getting drunk in the third attempt on his life. Another connection—Shen-nung is known as ‘Liehshan shih ’ (Mr. Burning Mountain); in Mencius, 3A.4 (noted above), Yi ‘burns the mountains’ (lieh-shan) for Shun.

106 On the birth of Hou Chi, see Shih 245 (Mao-shih yin-te, 62–3). Karlgren (The Book of Odes, 200) translates on Chiang-yüan, Hou Chi's mother: ‘… that she might no longer be childless; she trod on the big toe of God's footprint.’

107 Yang K’uan argued that Hsieh as Shu-chün, in the demon of drought passage noted above, ‘chases away’ the drought in the fashion of Yi. But that is not exactly true. Shu-chün cannot do his thing—begin agriculture—until the drought is ‘removed’, but it is Huang-ti that does the removing. He also thought it likely that originally Hsieh controlled the waters in the fashion of Yü, but that his role in such matters was lost or forgotten once Yü of the Chou came onto the scene. See K’uan, Yang, ‘Chung-kuo shang-ku-shih tao-lun’, 365372.

In Yang K’uan's favour, however, are a number of things that might testify to an original identity of Hsieh and Yi (who I have tried to argue is the same as Yi ). Thus, the names Yi and Hsieh , in archaic pronunciation, are phonetically close: for Yi Karlgren has *iěk, Chou Fa-kao has jiek, and Tōdō Akiyasu has iek; for Hsieh, Karlgren has , Chou has sji`at, and Tōdō, Akiyasu has set. The vowels are similar, and both words have ju-sheng endings. In addition, Yang K’uan argues convincingly that the character yi is simply another way of writing yen , ‘swallow’, and it was the swallow or ‘black bird’ that dropped the egg consumed by Chien-ti that led to the birth of Hsieh. Remember, too, that the sound of the swallow, according to the Lü-shih chՙun-ch’iu was ‘yi-yi ’. See K’uan, Yang, ‘Chung-kuo shang-kushih tao-lun’, 381382. Yüan K’o (Ku shen-hua hsüan-shih, 322–27) also identifies Yi with the black bird.

The possibility that Hsieh or Yi was indeed the ‘three-bodied one’, therefore, cannot be ruled out.

108 On Yü as a celestial being who ‘comes down’ to the world to do his work, see Ch’u-tzՙu, ‘T’ien-wen’, 3.10a, 161. David Hawkes (The Songs of the South, 129) translates: ‘Yu laboured with all his might. He came down and looked on the earth below’ .

109 This is an appealing possibility for a number of reasons, including the fact that it might explain why Shun has things in common not only with Hsieh, but also with Yi , especially as Yi , on which see above, notes 90 and 105.

110 And how many of them fail to make it back up to the sky when their work is complete? Note that Mo-tzu presents Kun (Po Kun ) as ‘Ti's eldest child’ . See Mo-tzu, ch. 9, ‘Shang-hsien chung ,’ 11, line 60.

111 Yao and Shun are mentioned in the Analects in the following passages: 6:30 (p. 11), 8:18 (p. 15), 8:19 (p. 15), 8:20 (p. 15), 12:22 (p. 24), 14:42 (p. 30), 15:5 (p. 31), and 20:1 (p. 41).

112 The word shun , meaning ‘Hibiscus’ occurs in one song; Shih 83, Mao-shih yin-te, 17. Karlgren translates: ‘There is a girl with me in the carriage, her face is like an Hibiscus flower’ (The Book of Odes, 55).

113 The ‘Yüeh-ming’, in fact, is only found in the ‘Old Text’ version of the Shu and is one of the chapters thought to be forged in the fourth century A.d. (See Shaughnessy, Edward L., ‘Shang shu [Shu ching]’, 376389.) For a thorough account of what was known about Yao and Shun in pre and post-Confucian texts, see Shan, Ting, Chung-kuo ku-tai tsung-chiao yü shen-hua k’ao (Shang-hai: Wen-yi , 1988 [first published in 1961]), 227247.

114 To be thorough, I should say more about Shun's wives—Yao's daughters—as the goddesses of the Hsiang River or Lake Tung-t’ing, and the legend that the two women were Shun's companions on a tour of inspection in the south when he died. But Edward Schafer has written extensively about this (The divine woman), and I share his conclusion that the Hsiang goddesses and Yao's two daughters were originally distinct (Schafer, , The divine woman, 39). As for the connection between them, the ‘Mistress of the Hsiang’ (Hsiang fu-jen ), like Shun's wives, is identified as ‘God's child’ (Ti-tzu ) in the Chՙu-tzՙu (2.9a, p. 111).

115 Translated by Karlgren, Bernhard, The Book of Documents, pp. 18, cited by courtesy of the Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities (B.M.F.E.A.). I have altered Karlgren's original in the following ways. 1) To be consistent with the rest of this paper, all Chinese names herein are romanized using the Wade-Giles system. 2) Words and phrases in parentheses in the Karlgren translation have in some cases been omitted, and in some cases merged with the rest of the text sans the parentheses markers. 3) I have added occasional translations of names and terms and explanatory comments; these are set off with brackets. 4) Division of the text into Parts I., II., and III. relates to my own analysis of the text and is not part of Karlgren's original translation.

1 An earlier, Chinese version of this paper is to be published in the proceedings of the International Sinological Conference held in Haikou, Hainan, January 5–9, 1995, under the title ‘Shun san-shen yll shih-chieh ch'uang-tsao chin wan-ch'eng


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