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RELG 253 (161)

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Religious Studies
RELG 253
Victor S?gen Hori

Myth and History in Ancient China Myth vs History Myth a) Stories that people tell about where they came from, their significant personalities, etc Why myths are similar across cultures? b) False stories History Supposed to be facts Winston Churchill: "History is written by the winners" The past is written to justify the present Northrop Frye "If it tells a story, it's a myth" The news is a list of random accidental events Chinese conception of history History tells a moral story Story a virtuous person or a dynasty who falls Mandate of Heaven Looks down on the Earth and finds a virtuous person to watch after When following generations lose virtue, Heaven's wrath comes in 5000 years of history 2852 BCE 3 sovereigns and 5 emperors 3 dynasties 2205 BCE Xia (Hsia) 1766 BCE Shang 1115 BCE Zhou (Chou) Myth of Pangu Myth of origin Pangu separates Heaven and Earth after 18 000 years Problem Doesn't appear before 3rd century CE Reason why it's important in Western textbooks To be compared to the Bible's Genesis Nature of creation Creator is imminent in the Creation Western God is transcendent Pangu IS the universe Ying and Yang Yin = dark and female elements Yang = light and male elements Nothing is completely one or the other Mythology Sun = red bird with 3 legs Moon = frog Phoenix = people of China Dragon = emperor of China Three Culture Heroes and Five Sage Kings Culture Heroes Fuxi (Fu Hsi) and Nüwa (Nügua) Fuxi = male Nüwa = female Dragon tails intertwined (for intercourse) Holding instruments to help the carpenters draw straight lines Standards of social life Taught humans the regulations for how to live Fuxi Means "gourd" Taught humans agriculture Has horns Invented trigrams Stack of 3 lines (full or broken) 8 variations Hexagrams = 2 trigrams For divination Nüwa She took mud and created the first human being Many different legends Shennong (Shen Neng) Divine farmer Horns
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