The Civilizations of Chu: An Introduction

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Table of Contents
Chapter One Civilization in the Midstream of the Han River1

Ⅰ. Lead-in questions3

Ⅱ. The text3

1. Dinosaur Egg Fossils at Qinglong Mountain4

2. Turquoise at Yungai Temple (云盖寺)6

3. Yunxian Man on Quyuan River (曲远河)9

Ⅲ.Questions for discussion12

Ⅳ. Sources12

Ⅴ. Material for further reading12

1. He Shi (an excerpt from Han Feizi)12

2. Wan bi gui Zhao (an excerpt from Records of the Historian)13

Chapter Two Shennongjia: A Mystery19

Ⅰ. Lead-in questions21

Ⅱ. The text22

1. Natural Beauty in Shennongjia22

2. The Origin of Shennongjia26

3. Haven for Relict Vegetation and Endangered Animals27

4. The Mystery of Savages28

Ⅲ. Questions for discussion30

Ⅳ. Sources30

Ⅴ. Material for further reading31

1. Huai Nan Zi (an excerpt)31

2. The Book of Master Baopu (excerpts)32

3. Huangdi Neijing (an excerpt)34

Chapter Three A Brief History of the State of Chu37

Ⅰ. Lead-in questions39

Ⅱ. The text40

1. Bi lu lan lv—The Beginning of the State of Chu40

2. Wen ding zhi xin—Early Expansion42

3. Yi ming jing ren (一鸣惊人)—Rise to Power46

4. Chu cai Jin yong (楚材晋用)—The Frustration of an Empire48

5. Qian jin shi gu—Chu’s Heyday53

6. Zong heng bai he — Decline of Chu58

7. Nan feng bu jing—Fall of Chu63

Ⅲ. Questions for discussion65

Ⅳ. Sources65

Ⅴ. Material for further reading66

1.Shijing/The Book of Songs (excerpts)66

2. History of the Former Han Dynasty (an excerpt)68

Chapter Four Tao Te Ching and Taoism (Philosophy in the State of Chu)71

Ⅰ. Lead-in questions73

Ⅱ. The text74

1. The Lao-Zhuang Thought /Lao Tzu and Chuang Zi74

2. Taoism77

3. Wudang Mountains81

4. The Legend of Yellow Crane Tower84

Ⅲ.Questions for discussion87

Ⅳ. Sources87

Ⅴ.Material for further reading88

1. Tao Te Ching (excerpts)88

2. The Book of Zhuang Zi (excerpts)91

3. “Yellow Crane Tower”93

4. “Chuang Tzu, The Monist”94

Chapter Five Literature in the State of Chu95

Ⅰ. Lead-in questions97

Ⅱ. The text98

1. Shijing and Chuci98

2. An Introduction to Lisao101

3. Artistic Achievements in Lisao106

Ⅲ.Questions for discussion109

Ⅳ. Sources109

Ⅴ. Material for further reading109

1. Lisao (excerpts)109

2. “Heavenly Questions” (an excerpt)113

3. “Hymn to the Fallen”113

Chapter Six Artistic Achievements in the State of Chu115

Ⅰ. Lead-in questions117

Ⅱ. The text118

1. Guqin Pavilion and Gao shan liu shui119

2. Jin sheng yu zhen (金声玉振)120

3. Painting, Sculpture and Chu-Style Lacquer Ware124

Ⅲ. Questions and topics for discussion129

Ⅳ. Sources130

Ⅴ. Material for further reading130

1. The Story of the Stone (excerpts)130

2. Records of the Historian (an excerpt)135

Chapter Seven People of the Three Gorges137

Ⅰ. Lead-in questions139

Ⅱ. The text140

1. The Three Gorges (长江三峡)140

2. The Three Gorges Dam142

3. The Ba People (巴人)144

4. Celebrities of the Three Gorges145

Ⅲ. Questions for discussion146


Ⅴ. Material for further reading147

1. “Alarm at First Entering the Yangtze Gorges”147

2. “Early Departure from Baidi City”148

3. “Sze yueh”149

4. “Thinking of My Late Wife”150

5. Synopsis of Prescriptions of the Golden Chamber (an excerpt)150

Chapter Eight Industrialization and Commercialization in Wuhan and the 1911 Revolution153

Ⅰ. Lead-in questions155

Ⅱ. The text156

1. The Second Opium War (1856—1860)156

2. Hankou Opened as a Business Port157

3. Zhang Zhidong and Hanyang Iron & Steel Factory159

4. Wuchang Uprising163

Ⅲ. Questions for discussion168

Ⅳ. Sources168

Ⅴ. Material for further reading169

The Yi King/The Book of Changes /Classic of Changes (excerpts)169

Afterword(后 记)173
Sample Pages Preview

Many readers find it hard to make a good understanding of Tao Te Ching, The Book of Zhuang Zi and Chuci.
As is clear to many people, Chinese culture, in its course of evolution, saw the rise and fall of many regional cultures, and among these is the culture of the state of Chu. Since the early men of Chu lived in a mountain named Jing in the midstream of the Han River, “Chu” is often mentioned together with“Jing”, thus Jing-Chu or Chu-Jing. The Civilizations of Chu: An Introduction is meant to provide the reader with a brief account of the cultural achievements made by people who lived in what was the territories of the state of Chu by, firstly, citing the core sections in the classics thereof, secondly, presenting the latest research findings of experts in corresponding fields, and, thirdly, advancing our views on some of the topics discussed.
Developed mainly by the men of Chu who came to inhabit more than half of the present 31 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the Central Government (Hubei, Henan, Hunan, Anhui, Jiangsu, Shaanxi, Zhejiang, Shanghai, Jiangxi, Shandong, Guangdong, Guangxi, Yunnan, Chongqing, Guizhou and so on), Chu culture takes on several features.
Comprehensiveness: In literature Ch’u Tz’u (Chuci), together with The Book of Songs, serves as the dual ancestry of poetry in China; in philosophy Tao Te Ching is probably the most famous book of philosophy in the East; in art, the music produced by playing the chime bells, the drawings on Chu-style lacquer ware, pieces of embroidery on silk products, sculptures like root carvings, and Chu-style architecture have captured public fancy; in science, bronze casting and astronomy are well-known. Chu culture had reached such a high degree of sophistication that it is by no means whatsoever inferior to the civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome.
Profundity in Thought: Rich in abstract thinking, the poems of Qu Yuan and the writings of Zhuang Zi are time-honored classics, and Lao-tzu’s book has been acclaimed the second most translated book in the whole world. Obviously the“barbarous” men of Chu had caught up with the civilized northerners in language art and in philosophical ideas. Since the dynasties of Shang and Zhou are considered to be the classical age in Chinese history, the people of Chu certainly made a big share of contribution to the formation of Chinese culture as a whole. As a result, the cultural achievements in Chu determined the cultural orientation in the early Han dynasty, which is reflected in the Historial Records by Sima Qian.
Romanticism: Powerful feelings are expressed and heavy reliance on the imagination is manifest in Lisao—the poet traveling in the celestial realm with supernatural beings—and in the creation of fengs (phoenixes); idealization of nature, and reliance on subjectivity are to be found in the writings of Zhuang Zi; fascination for the remote, the supernatural, and the unusual can lead to a sense of wonder; individualism is exemplified in the lifestyle of Zhuang Zi , Qu Yuan, and others.
Openness: In the course of expansion, the men of Chu incorporated other cultures in their own. Having been civilized (their connection with the Xia dynasty), they moved southwards and, surrounded by the barbarous, they chose to live at first in the woods, but different ideas were assimilated into their culture; rooted deeply in Taoism which was mixed with shamanism, Chu culture is eclectic in that the Chu people began to embrace Confucianism, the ideology of the hostile northerners, in the late seventh century B.C.
The list could go on.
Great civilizations such as those of Chu deserve the study of generations of people. It is our sincere hope that this book can be of some help to readers of Chinese classics both at home and abroad.
Peng Jiahai
Jan 23,2020
The Civilizations of Chu: An Introduction