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Ancient Chinese Widsom: Chinese Mythology & Thirty-Six Stratagems

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Page: 128
Publication Date: 05/2020
ISBN: 9787532780907
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Fictional or semi-fictional stories and practical concepts are like yin and yang, the two fundamental principles of ancient Chinese philosophy. Although apparently contradictory, the two coexisting aspects are often complementary, interconnected and interdependent in Chinese culture.

In this book, we present just such yin and yang, namely, “Chinese Mythology” and the “Thirty-Six Stratagems.”

The mythology here describes ancient beliefs in origins, ancestors, history and deities. It explains how the universe was created and how human beings came into existence. Many elements of mythology were later adapted or assimilated into the three major belief systems in China: Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism.

On the other hand, the “Thirty-Six Stratagems,” a term first used in China more than 1,500 years ago, were originally a collection of strategies or practical ruses for warfare. But today, many Chinese people apply them to politics, business, sports as well as daily living habits.


About the author

Born in Shanghai in 1949, ZHANG Ciyun (Peter) is the founding Editor-in-Chief of Shanghai Daily, a leading regional English-language daily newspaper on the Chinese mainland. He is also a prolific translator and writer.

Mr. Zhang graduated from Jilin Normal University in China, majoring in English language, and later from Stanford University in the United States with a master’s degree in journalism.

Starting from 1980, he had worked in several news agencies in China and helped bring into existence four English-language newspapers, including China Daily and Shanghai Daily.

Table of Contents

Chinese Mythology

 

盘古开天地

Pangu creates the world

女娲造人

Nuwa makes man

女娲补天

Nuwa mends the sky

伏羲的故事

The works of Fuxi

神农的故事

Hail the ‘Divine Farmer’

精卫填海

Jingwei tests the sea

燧人钻木取火

Saved by Fire Fetcher Suiren

夸父追日

Kuafu chases the sun

嫘祖的故事

Tale as smooth as silk

仓颉造字

Birth of a language

后羿射日

Sun-birds bake Earth

嫦娥奔月

Restless Chang’e flees

鲧盗息壤

Gun steals Magic Soil

大禹治水

Yu harnesses flooding

瑶姬的故事

Goddess Peak of Wushan Mountain

牛郎织女

The cowherd and the girl weaver

愚公移山

Moving mountains

钟馗的故事

The Demon Queller

十二生肖

Zodiac animals

 

Thirty-Six Stratagems

 

瞒天过海

Deceiving the heavens to cross the sea

围魏救赵

Besieging Wei to save Zhao

借刀杀人

Killing with a borrowed knife

以逸待劳

Waiting at ease for a worn-out enemy

趁火打劫

Looting a house when it’s on fire

声东击西

Distracting your enemy with s feint

无中生有

Creating something out of nothing

暗度陈仓

A ruse to divert your enemies

隔岸观火

Sit on your hands and watch others fight

笑里藏刀

Hiding a dagger behind a smile

李代桃僵

Sacrificing the less valuable

顺手牵羊

Pilfering a goat in passing

打草惊蛇

Startling the snake, or not

借尸还魂

The ploy of incarnation

调虎离山

Luring the tiger out of the mountain

欲擒故纵

Letting up on your pursuit

抛砖引玉

Throw out a brick to attract a piece of jade

擒贼擒王

Capture your enemy's leader first

釜底抽薪

Remove the burning firewood

浑水摸鱼

Fishing in turbid waters

金蝉脱壳

Ruse of the golden cicada

关门捉贼

Shut the door to catch the thief

远交近攻

Make allies before attacking a neighbor

借道伐虢

Defeating one enemy at a time

偷梁换柱

Swapping good wood for bad

指桑骂槐

The tactic of not directly naming names

假痴不癫

Feign inaction before an all-out offensive

上屋抽梯

Cutting off escape routes

树上开花

Defending with ‘blossoms’

反客为主

Guest outstaying welcome

美人计

Beaten by womanly wiles

空城计

An empty fortress strategy

反间计

Sowing distrust in enemy camp

苦肉计

Hurting oneself in order to hurt the enemy

连环计

Multi-ploy scheme at play

走为上计

When everything fails, retreat

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Sample pages of Ancient Chinese Widsom: Chinese Mythology & Thirty-Six Stratagems (ISBN:9787532780907)
Sample pages of Ancient Chinese Widsom: Chinese Mythology & Thirty-Six Stratagems (ISBN:9787532780907)
Sample pages of Ancient Chinese Widsom: Chinese Mythology & Thirty-Six Stratagems (ISBN:9787532780907)

瞒天过海

Deceiving the heavens to cross the sea

 

This scheme about deceit and disguise is usually listed as number one of the well-known “Thirty-Six Stratagems.”

 

Here, the “heavens” meant originally the “emperor,” since a ruler of an empire was always referred to as “the Son of Heaven” in Chinese history.

 

Li Shimin (599-649 AD) was the second emperor of the Tang Dynasty and was known as a great military commander. Once he led more than 300,000 men to conquer a land on the other side of a sea. But when they arrived at the shoreline, the emperor got cold feet from looking at the billowing sea waves.

 

However, Li’s aides didn’t want him to abandon the conquest and Xue Rengui, one of the most famous generals of that time, decided to use a scheme to deceive the emperor and lead him to cross the sea without his knowing it.

 

So, Xue and other officials went to see the emperor and told him that a local rich man had volunteered to provide large quantities of food and fodder for the imperial troops. The rich man had invited the emperor to attend a ceremony near the sea to accept his present

the next day.

 

The emperor was very happy and decided to see the rich man himself. When Li and his troops came to the coast next day, they saw thousands of houses covered with bright and colorful curtains.

 

The rich man escorted the emperor into a large, carpeted house and began to entertain him with a sumptuous banquet.

 

The emperor enjoyed the delicious food and fine wine until suddenly the house began to rock and dishes and bowls all fell off

the table. By lifting the curtains and looking outside, the emperor found that he was actually aboard a large boat with thousands of

other boats and they were already on the high seas.

 

Then Xue and other officials told the emperor the truth. To help dispel the emperor’s reluctance to cross the sea, they had disguised boats as houses and now they were only a short moment away from the opposite coast and it was too late to return.

 

So, how would the emperor, himself a great military commander, be deceived by such a trick? The reason is quite simple. The emperor might not be familiar with the sea, but he knew too well the common houses. He might be wary about getting on to the sea, but he walked into a house with little suspicion.

 

Therefore, the best way to disguise one’s true objective is to hide it under something too common to invite any doubt.

 

Ancient Chinese Widsom: Chinese Mythology & Thirty-Six Stratagems
$15.72