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察當今天去地甚高，古天與今無異。當共工缺天之時，天非墜於地也。女媧，人也，人雖長，無及天者。夫其補天之時， 何登緣階據而得治之？豈古之天，若屋廡之形，去人不遠，故共工得敗之，女媧得補之乎？如審然者，女媧〔已〕前，齒為人者，人皇最 先。人皇之時，天如蓋乎？
含氣之類，無有不長。天地，含氣之自然也，從始立以來，年歲甚多，則天地相去，廣狹遠近，不可複計。儒書之言，殆有所見。 然其言觸不周山而折天柱，絕地維，消煉五石補蒼天，斷鰲之足以立四極，猶為虛也。何則？山雖動，共工之力不能折也。豈天地始分之時 ，山小而人反大乎？何以能觸而折之？
日南之郡，去雒且萬里。徙民還者，問之，言日中之時， 所居之地，未能在日南也。度之複南萬里，日在日〔南〕之南，是則去雒陽二萬里，乃為日南也。今從雒地察日之去遠近，非與極同也， 極為遠也。今欲北行三萬里，未能至極下也。假令之至，是則名為距極下也。以至日南五萬里，極北亦五萬里也。極北亦五萬里，極東西亦皆五萬里焉。 東西十萬，南北十萬，相承百萬裏。
Chapter XIX. On Heaven (T`an-t`ien).
In the books of the Literati 1 we find the statement that Kung Kung2 struggled with Chuan Hsü3 for the empire, and that out of anger that he was defeated, he knocked against the Pu Chou Mountain, 4 thereby causing the break-down of the "Pillar of Heaven" and the délabrement of the confines of the earth. But Nü Wa5 melted multicoloured stones, and therewith plastered up the blue sky, and cut off the legs of a sea-turtle, which she erected at the four extremities of the universe. However, heaven was not complete in the north-west, therefore sun and moon moved, 6 and there was a piece of the earth missing in the south-east, hence all the rivers flowed to the ocean. 7 This is a very old tradition, believed by most people. 8 Well educated persons will think it strange, but they have nothing to say against it, or if they have, they are unable to settle the question. They may also be afraid, lest the thing should be really true, and therefore dare not discuss it seriously. According to the laws of nature and from a human point of view, it is all idle talk.
If a man fighting with another for the empire, out of anger that he did not win, knocked against the Pu Chou Mountain, and caused the pillar of heaven to break, and the confines of the earth to be smashed, if his strength was like that, he would have no opponent on earth. With such a force he could engage three armies, and the soldiers would be to him like ants, and their weapons like blades of grass. Why should he, resenting his defeat, strike against Mount Pu Chou?
There is nothing harder and heavier than a mountain. The strength of ten thousand men pushing would not be able to move even a small mountain, and Mount Pu Chou must have been a big one. If it was really the "Pillar of Heaven," it would be a difficult thing to break it. If it was not, then it cannot be admitted that by knocking against the Pu Chou Mountain the "Pillar of Heaven" was broken.---Chuan Hsü in his fight against Kung Kung might have mustered all the soldiers on earth and all the multitudes peopling the land within the seas, he would not have been a match for him. How should Kung Kung not have been victorious?
Moreover, is heaven air or a body? If it be air, it cannot be different from clouds and mist. Then there could be no pillar which might be broken. Since Nü Wa repaired it with stones, it must be a body. If it be so in fact, then it is something like gems and stones. The substance of stones is heavy, a single pillar would not be a sufficient support for a thousand Li. Not even the peaks of the Five Mountains 9 could prop heaven as pillars.
When Mount Pu Chou was struck, did it support heaven? The mountain was broken by Kung Kung. At that time heaven ought to have fallen down. How could it be raised again, once collapsed, and how could the four poles be erected with cut off legs of a sea-turtle? Some one might say that a sea-turtle was a monster of olden times with immense legs, and that its legs therefore could be erected as the four poles.
Now Pu Chou is a mountain, a sea-turtle an animal. Originally a mountain was serving as pillar of heaven. Kung Kung broke it, and it was replaced by the legs of an animal. Bones become putrified, how could they long stand upright? If the legs of a sea-turtle could support heaven, the body of the turtle must have been of such enormous dimensions, that it would not have had room enough between heaven and earth. How could Nü Wa have killed it, though she was a saint? If she was able to do it, how did she manage it? Provided that the legs could be used as the pillars of heaven, their skin must have been as hard as stone and iron; swords as well as halberds would have been ineffective against it, nor could a sharp arrow, shot from a strong cross-bow, have pierced it.
We see that at present heaven is very high and far distant from the earth. The heaven of to-day is the same with that of antiquity. When Kung Kung damaged it, heaven did not fall down upon the earth. Nü Wa was human; a man may be very tall, he never will reach up to heaven. When Nü Wa was repairing it, on what steps did she climb up, and on what did she stand, while doing her work? Was the heaven of olden days perhaps like the roof of a hall, and not far distant from men, so that Kung Kung could destroy, and Nü Wa repair it? If this was actually so, there would have been many Nü Wa's. Of people living prior to Nü Wa the Human Emperors10 were the oldest. Was at the time of the Human Emperors heaven like a canopy?
The commentators of the Yiking say that previous to the separation of the primogenial vapours there was a chaotic and uniform mass, and the books of the Literati speak of a wild medley, and of air not yet separated. When it came to be separated, the pure elements formed heaven, and the impure ones earth. According to the expositors of the Yiking and the writings of the Literati the bodies of heaven and earth, when they first became separated, were still small, and they were not far distant from each other, so much so, that heaven might well have reclined on the Pu Chou Mountain, and that Kung Kung could smash, and Nü Wa repair it.
All beings filled with air grow. Heaven and earth contain air, which develops spontaneously. A great many years have elapsed since their first beginning. Hence it is impossible to calculate the distance between heaven and earth now, whether it be wide or narrow, far or near. What the scholars write about it may so far be correct, the statement, however, that Kung Kung knocked against Mount Pu Chou, broke the "Pillar of Heaven," and smashed the borders of the earth, that with liquified multicoloured stones the blue sky was repaired, and that the legs of a sea-turtle were cut off, and set up as the four poles, is all the same untenable. Even though a mountain might be moved, Kung Kung's force would not suffice to break it. Were at the time, when heaven and earth first separated, the mountains small and men great? How else could they have knocked against a mountain, and broken it?
The repairing of heaven by means of five kinds of stones may at least be discussed. These stones might have worked like mineral drugs curing a disease. 11 But the cutting off of the legs of a sea-turtle and putting them up at the four poles, cannot be mentioned in earnest. It is a long time since Nü Wa. Do the four poles look like the legs of a turtle?
In Tsou Yen's12 book there is a notice to the effect, that there are nine divisions of the Empire viz. the nine divisions forming the tributary land of Yü. The Nine Circuits of Yü are so to speak but one continent. If in the "Tribute of Yü"13 Nine Circuits are mentioned, they are the present Nine Circuits of the Empire. They are situated in the south-east of the earth and bear the name of Ch`ihhsien14 or Shên-chou15 (China). But there are eight continents besides. Each continent is hemmed in by the Four Seas, which are called Pai-hai.16 Beyond the Nine Continents there is still the Great Ocean. 17 ---
This statement is extraordinary and bewildering to the hearers, but they are unable to make out, whether it be correct or not. Thus it is being handed down by books, which are read, or repeated by word of mouth. Reality and fiction are equally transmitted to posterity, and the world does not distinguish between truth and untruth. People become perplexed, and a discussion is very difficult.
Tsou Yen's knowledge did not surpass that of Yü. When Yü controlled the deluge, Yi acted as his assistant. 18 While Yü was regulating the water, Yi noted all things. He explored the expanse of heaven, and penetrated to the farthest limits of the earth. He distinguished what was beyond the Four Seas, 19 and thoroughly investigated the region within the Four Mountains. 20 In the thirty five States he enumerated all the beasts and birds, plants, trees, minerals, stones, waters, and earths, but he did not say that there are still nine continents besides.
Liu An, prince of Huai Nan21 invited scientists like Wu Pei and Tso Wu. His palaces were full of such men, who wrote books on the Taoist doctrine. In the chapter where he treats of the things of the world and the shape of the earth, 22 he speaks of prodigies and the wonders of foreign lands, he also talks of the peculiarities of the thirty-five countries, but does not mention the existence of Nine Continents.
Tsou Yen did not travel as far as Yü and Yi on earth, and his experience was not greater than that of either Wu Pei or Tso Wu. His talents were not those of a sage, and he did not learn things by a special revelation from heaven. How then could he make such statements? Examined by the light of Yü's "Mountain Book" 23 and of Huai Nan's chapter on the shape of the earth, his words are utterly wrong.
The Grand Annalist 24 says:---"In the `Chronicle of Yü' 25 it is said that the Yellow River has its fountain-head in the K`un-lun, which is three thousand and five hundred Li 26 high. There where sun and moon hide in the K`un-lun, it is full of splendour. On the mountain there is the Jade Spring and the Flower Lake. 27 Now, after Chang Ch`ien went as envoy to Bactria,28 he traced the springs of the Yellow River, but did he see what the Chronicle relates about the K`un-lun? In what it says about the nine divisions, mountains, and rivers the Shuking may be near the truth, 29 of the wonderful things to be found in Yü's Chronicle and the `Mountain Book.' 30 I dare not express myself."
"I dare not express myself" means that there is no truth in them. Every one has heard about the height of the K`un-lun, the Jade Spring, and the Flower Lake, but, when Chang Ch`ien went there personally, he found that these things did not exist. In the "Tribute of Yü" mountains, rivers, and wonderful things, precious metals and stones occurring in the Nine Circuits are all enumerated, but there is no reference to the Jade Spring or the Flower Lake on the K`un-lun. In the opinion of the Grand Annalist the reports of the "Mountain Book" and the "Chronicle of Yü" are inventions.
In all things which are difficult to know, it is not easy to find out the truth.
The pole is the centre of heaven. At present the world lies south from the pole of Yü, therefore the heavenly pole must be in the north, heaven must be high there, and more people living in that region. According to the "Tribute of Yü" the east is washed by the ocean, and the west covered with "flying sand." These must be the extreme limits of heaven and earth.
When the sun pricks, his diameter measures a thousand Li. Now, if the sun is observed at his rise from Yin and Chih hsien31 in K`uei-chi on the eastern sea-shore, his diameter appears to be no more than two feet, which proves that the sun is still very far. Consequently there must be more land eastward. This being the case, the assertion about the pole being in the north and about the extension of heaven and earth is not made at random. 32 In this way the statements of Tsou Yen cannot be controverted, and what the "Chronicle of Yü" says on mountains and seas, and Huai Nan Tse's lucubrations on the shape of the earth appear unreliable.
Tsou Yen holds that at present the "land under heaven" 33 lies in the south-east of the earth, and is called Ch`ih hsien or Shên chou. Now, the heavenly pole is the centre of heaven. If at present the "land under heaven" were situated in the south-east of the earth, the pole ought to appear in the north-west. Since in fact it is straight north, the world at present lies south of the pole. In regard to the pole the world cannot lie in the south-east, hence Tsou Yen's statement to this effect is wrong.
If it were in the south-east, it would be near to the sun's rising place, and the light of the rising sun ought to appear bigger. Now, whether looked at from the Eastern Sea or from the Gobi, the size of the sun remains the same. Although the points of observation be ten thousand Li distant, it makes no difference in the size of the sun. That shows that at present the world occupies but a small part of the expanse of the earth.
Loyang is the centre of the Nine Circuits. 34 Viewed from Loyang the north-pole appears direct north. The shore of the Eastern Sea is three thousand Li distant from Loyang. Seen from there the pole is likewise in the north. By analogy we may safely assume that viewed from the Gobi the pole will also appear in the north. The Eastern Sea and the Gobi are the eastern and western borders of the Nine Circuits, ten thousand Li distant from one another, nevertheless the pole appears always north. The earth must therefore be very small and occupying a narrow space, since one never gets away from the pole.
The principality of Annam (Jih Nan i.e. the South of the Sun) is ten thousand Li distant from Loyang. People who had emigrated there, and came back, when asked, have said that, when the sun culminates, his resting-place cannot be in Annam. If we go ten thousand Li further south, the sun there must reach his south-point. Then the south-point of the sun would be twenty thousand Li distant from Loyang. Now, if we measure the distance of the way made by the sun from Loyang, it cannot be the same, as if we measure from the north-pole, because the pole is still very far from Loyang. Let us suppose that we went thirty thousand Li north. Even then we would not arrive under the pole. But provided we did, then we could say that we had reached the place just beneath the north-pole. Since from there to the south-point there would be fifty thousand Li, there must be fifty thousand Li north of the pole likewise, and under these circumstances there would also be fifty thousand Li from the pole eastward and westward in either direction. One hundred thousand Li from north to south, and one hundred thousand Li from east to west multiplied would give a million square Li. 35
Tsou Yen opines that between heaven and earth there are nine continents like China. At the Chou period the Nine Circuits measured five thousand Li from east to west, and from north to south also five thousand Li. Five times five gives twenty-five, one continent therefore would contain twenty-five thousand square Li, which would be the size of China. 36 Twenty-five thousand Li multipiled by nine would give two hundred and twenty-five thousand square Li. Tsou Yen's figure 37 may appear too high, but computation and a thorough investigation show us that, on the contrary, it is too low. 38
The Literati say that heaven is air, and therefore not far from man. Consequently it immediately knows, whether they are right or wrong, and whether they possess secret virtues or vices, and also responds to them. This is regarded as a proof of its vicinity. But, if we examine the question critically, we find that heaven's body is not air.
Men are created by heaven, why then grudge it a body? Heaven is not air, but has a body on high and far from men. According to private traditions heaven is upwards of sixty-thousand Li distant from the earth. 39 Some mathematicians reckon the entire circumference of heaven at 365 degrees. Thus the world all round is divided into degrees, and its height measures a certain number of Li. If heaven were really air, air like clouds and mist, how could then be so many Li or so many degrees? Besides we have the "twenty-eight constellations," which serve as resting-places to sun and moon, just as on earth the couriers lodge in postal stations. The postal stations on earth correspond to the solar mansions on heaven. Hence the statement found in books that heaven has a body is not baseless. To him who considers the question, as we have done, it becomes evident that heaven cannot be something diffuse and vague.
1. In Huai Nan Tse. Cf. p. 89.
2. A legendary being of prehistoric times.
3. A mythical emperor.
4. The Pu Chou Mountain forms part of the K`un-lun, which latter is also called "Pillar of Heaven" (T`ien-chu).
5. The sister of the mythical emperor Fu Hsi.
6. To wit from east to west.
7. The ocean is in the east of China.
8. Cf. Lieh Tse V, 5v.; where this old tradition is told with almost the same words.
9. The Five Sacred Mountains of China:---Tai-shan in Shantung, Hêng-shan in Hunan, Hua-shan in Shensi, Hêng-shan in Chili, and Sung-shan in Honan.
10. These are still believed to have been preceded by a dynasty of sovereigns of Heaven, and of sovereigns of Earth, all fabulous beings.
11. Supposing heaven to be a spirit or a human-like living being.
12. A scholar of the 4th cent. B.C. who wrote on cosmogony and geography. See p. 19.
13. The well known chapter of the Shuking.
14. Literally the "Red Region," .
15. The "Divine Circuit," .
16. Minor Seas, .
18. Cf. p. 330.
19. The Four Seas supposed to surround the habitable land i.e. China.
20. The Four Sacred Mountains:---Tai-shan, Hêng-shan, Hua-shan and Hêng shan in the East, South, West, and North of ancient China. The Sung-shan in the Centre is omitted. See above p. 251.
21. The Taoist philosopher Huai Nan Tse cf. p. 335.
22. Chap. IV of Huai Nan Tse's work.
23. The "Mountain Book" = Shan-king forms the first five chapters of the "Mountain and Sea Classic" = Shan-hai-king, which tradition ascribes to Yü and his minister Yi, but it is probably not earlier than the 4th or the 3d cent. b.c.
24. Shi-chi chap. 123, p. 19v.
25. This book is now lost.
26. The Shi-chi has 2,500 Li.
27. and . The Shi-chi writes:---"the Sweet Wine Spring and the Jasper Lake": and .
28. Chang Ch`ien started on his famous expedition in 122 b.c.
29. These subjects are treated in the chapter entitled the "Tribute of Yü."
30. The Shi-chi writes:---The Shan-hai-king.
31. Chih = must be a misprint, for such a character is not to be found in the dictionaries. We ought to read Mou = . Yin and Mou were two districts of the K`uei-chi circuit comprising Chekiang and parts of Anhui and Fukien under the Han dynasty. Yin was in the south-east of Mou, both situated in the present Ningpo prefecture. (Cf. Kanghi's Dict.)
32. Tsou Yen's assertion.
33. I. e. the habitable land or China.
34. Loyang is considered the centre of the world i. e. China.
35. Wang Ch`ung is a better theorist than arithmetician. The square of 100,000 is 10,000 millions, not 1 million. Wang Ch`ung supposes the earth to be an equilateral, rectangular square.
36. The same mistake. The square of 5,000 is 25 millions. 25 million square Li, about 8 million square kilometer is approximately the area of the Eighteen Provinces or China Proper.
37. 225,000 square Li (225 millions), which number is based on Tsou Yen's hypothesis that there are nine continents as large as China.
38. Wang Ch`ung has calculated a million square Li (10,000 millions). The area of our Earth measures about 510 million square kilometer, not 2,500 millions (= 10,000 million square Li) as results from Wang Ch`ung's calculation.
39. Huai Nan Tse says 50,000 Li.
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|Published by The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, © Copyright 2003 by Anne Kinney and the University of Virginia|