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且龍之所居，常在水澤之中，不在木中屋間。何以知之？叔向之母曰：“深山大澤，實生龍蛇。”傳曰：“山致其高 ，雲雨起焉。水致其深，蛟龍生焉。”傳又言：“禹渡於江，黃龍負船。”“荊次非渡淮，兩龍繞舟。”“東海之上，有Ａ丘欣，勇而有力，出過神淵 ，使禦者飲馬，馬飲因沒。欣怒，拔劍入淵追馬，見兩蛟方食其馬，手劍擊殺兩蛟。”由是言之，蛟與龍常在淵水之中，不在木中屋間明矣。
慎子曰：“蜚龍乘雲， 騰蛇遊霧，雲罷雨霽，與蚓蟻同矣。 ”
春秋之時，龍見於絳郊。魏獻 子問於蔡墨曰：“吾聞之，蟲莫智於龍，以其不生得也。謂之智，信乎？”對曰：“人實不知，非龍實智。古者畜龍，故國有豢龍氏， 有禦龍氏。”
獻子曰：“是二者，吾亦聞之，而不知其故。是何謂也？”對曰：“昔有飂叔〔安〕有裔子曰董父，實甚好龍，能求 其嗜欲以飲食之，龍多歸之。乃擾畜龍，以服事舜，而錫之姓曰董，氏曰豢龍，封諸鬲川，鬲夷氏是其後也。 故帝舜氏世有畜龍。
世俗言龍神而升天者，妄矣。 世俗之言，亦有緣也。短書言：“龍無尺木，無以升天。”又曰“升天”，又言“尺木”，謂龍從木中升天也。彼短書之家， 世俗之人也。見雷電發時，龍隨而起，當雷電〔擊〕樹木之時，龍適與雷電俱在樹木之側，雷電去，龍隨而上，故謂從樹木之中升天也。實者雷龍同類 ，感氣相致。
Chapter XXIX. On Dragons (Lung-hsü).
When in midsummer during a thunder-storm lightning strikes a tree or demolishes a house, it is a common saying that Heaven fetches the dragon, which is believed to hide in the tree, or to be concealed in the house. The lightning striking the tree, or demolishing the house, the dragon appears outside. On its appearance, it is seized upon by the thunder, and carried up to Heaven. The unintelligent and the learned, the virtuous and the wicked are all agreed upon this, but trying to get at the truth, we find that it is idle talk.
Why should Heaven fetch the dragon? Provided that the dragon be a spirit and Heaven's envoy, as a virtuous minister is the deputy of his sovereign, then it ought to report itself at a fixed time, and would not have to be fetched. If, on the other hand, the dragon sneaks away, and does not come back, it does not behave like a spirit, and would be of no use to Heaven.
According to the dragon's nature its real abode is Heaven. Being there it certainly must have offspring. There would be no reason, why it should be on earth again. If there are rising and descending dragons, the latter class might bear its offspring on earth, and Heaven fetch it, when grown up. People call a tempest an expression of Heaven's anger, but in fetching the scion of a dragon it cannot be angry.
Further the dragon generally lives in ponds, not in trees or houses. Whence do we know that? Shu Hsiang's1 mother said: "In the depths of mountains and in vast marshes dragons and snakes really grow." 2 And in books we read, "Where the mountains are highest, the rain clouds rise, and where the water is deepest, the different species of dragons are born." 3 The annals go on to say that, when Yü crossed the Yangtse, a yellow dragon carried his boat on its back, 4 and that, when Ching Tse Fei went over the Huai, two dragons swam round his ship. Near the Eastern Sea 5 there lived Lu Chiu Hsin, a bold and strong man. When he once passed the Spirit Pool, he ordered his charioteer to give his horse to drink there, but when it drank, it sank down. Lu Chiu Hsin got angry, drew his sword, and went into the pool in pursuit of his horse. He then beheld two dragons just in the act of devouring his horse. Sword in hand, he slew the two dragons. 6 Hence it is evident that the dragons called "chiao"7 and the others always live in the water of pools, and not on trees or in houses.
Living in deep water dragons belong to the same category as fish and reptiles. Why should fish and reptiles ascend to Heaven, and what could Heaven use the dragon for, if it fetched it up? If the Spirit of Heaven should ride on the dragon, a spirit is something diffuse and incorporeal. Entering and departing, it needs no aperture, neither would it require a dragon to ride upon. Should the genii mount the dragon, then Heaven would fetch it for their sake. But the genii are imbued with the fluid of Heaven, and their bodies are so light, that they can fly up like wild geese. Therefore, why should they ride upon dragons?
People in general say that Huang Ti ascended to Heaven on a dragon. This statement is as inane as the other, made now-adays, that Heaven fetches the dragon. If the dragon is said to rise to Heaven, it implies a dragon spirit, because only a spirit can soar on high, this being in fact a characteristic feature of spirits.
Among the creatures produced by Heaven and Earth man being the noblest, the dragon must be inferior. If the noblest are not spirits, can the inferior be so? Let us suppose that the nature of dragons be such, that some of them are spirits, the others not, and that the spirits rise to Heaven, while those that are not spirits, cannot: are turtles and snakes likewise partly spirits and partly not, and can the turtle spirits and the snake spirits ascend to Heaven?
Moreover, what essence is the dragon endowed with, that it should alone be a spirit? Heaven has the four constellations of the Blue Dragon, the White Tiger, the Scarlet Bird, and the Black Tortoise. Earth also has dragons, tigers, scarlet birds, and turtles. The essence of the four constellations pouring down, produces those four animals. The tiger, the scarlet bird, and the turtle not being spirits, wherefore should the dragon alone be a spirit?
Man ranks first among the naked creatures, as the dragon is the foremost of the scaly animals. Both take the first place among their kindred. If the dragon is believed to ascend to Heaven, does man rise to Heaven likewise? If under the above respect the dragon is on the same level with man, but alone credited with the faculty of ascending to Heaven, the dragon must be supposed to be a spirit.
The world also says that the sages being spirits, have the gift of prophecy, as they say that the dragon spirits are able to soar to Heaven. The divination of the sages thus being accounted for, it is but natural that the special talent of the dragon should be found in its power to rise to Heaven.
That which amidst Heaven and Earth is vague and unsubstantial as the vapours of cold and heat, wind and rain, has the nature of a spirit. Now the dragon has a body, having a body, it moves about, moving about, it eats, and eating, it has the nature of other creatures. According to the organisation of Heaven and Earth whatever possesses a body, moves about, and eats, cannot be a spirit. How so?
The dragon has a body. One finds in books the statement, that out of the three hundred scaly animals the dragon is the first. Being the first of the scaly animals, how can it be without a body?
Confucius said that the dragon fed in limpid places, and lived there, that the tortoise fed in limpid places, and lived in the mud, and that the fish fed in the mud, and lived in clear water. He did not attain to the dragon himself, but was neither equal to the fish, he was only to be compared to the tortoise, which takes the middle rank.
The Shan-hai-king8 relates that beyond the four seas there are men riding on dragon snakes. As a rule, dragons are pictorially represented with a horse's head and a snake's tail. Hence they must be hybrids between the horse and the snake.
Shên Tse9 informs us that the flying dragons mount the clouds, and that the soaring serpents ramble through the fog. When the clouds disperse, and the rain ceases, they are like earthworms and ants.
Han Fei Tse10 teaches that the dragon is a reptile, which obeys a call, and allowes itself to be patted and mounted. But under its throat it has a protruding scale over a foot long. If a man knocks against it, the dragon always kills him.
In short, the dragon is compared with earthworms and ants, and it is further said to be a reptile, which can be patted and mounted. It must therefore have something in common with snakes and horses.
It is reported that when Chou11 used ivory chopsticks, 12Chi Tse13 burst into tears. He wept, commiserating his excesses. There being ivory chopsticks, there must have been jade cups also. These jade cups and ivory chopsticks were certainly used to hold and to seize dragon liver and unborn leopard. 14 Dragon liver was eatable, but a dragon hard to be found. This being the case, the emperor would frown upon his subordinates. That would bring them into distress, therefore Chi Tse's sympathy.
If the dragon were a spirit, its body could not be killed, and its liver not be eaten. The livers and the unborn young of birds and animals are not the same. Dragon liver and unborn leopard being specially mentioned, man must have eaten them, and thereby learned to appreciate their excellent taste.
During the epoch of Spring and Autumn, 15 a dragon appeared in the outskirts of Chiang.16 Viscount Hsien of Wei17 interrogated T`sai Mê18 saying, "I heard say that of all creatures none is as intelligent as the dragon, which therefore cannot be caught alive. Is it true what they say about its cleverness?" The other replied, "Those that say so, really do not know. As a fact, the dragon is not intelligent. Of old, dragons were domesticated, therefore the empire had its families of Dragon Keeper (Huan Lung) and its Master of the Dragons (Yü Lung)." 19
Viscount Hsien observed that of these two he had heard also, but did not know their origin, and why they were called so. Ts`ai Mê said, "In olden time there was Shu Sung20 of Liao.21 One of his distant descendants, Tung Fu was very fond of dragons. He could find out their tastes and likings, so as to be able to supply them with food and drink. Many dragons came to him, and were thus bred by him. With them he waited upon Shun, who bestowed upon him the family name of Tung, and the clan-name of Dragon Keeper (Huan Lung), and invested him with Tsung-ch`uan. The Tsung-J family were his descendants. Thus dragons were reared at the time of the emperor Shun."
"During the Hsia time K`ung Chia22 was obedient to God, who presented him with a team of dragons from the Yellow River and the Han, there being a male and a female from each. K`ung Chia was at a loss how to feed them, for no member of the Huan Lung family was to be found. But among the remains of the T`ao T`ang23 family, which had perished, was one Liu Lei, who had learned the art of rearing dragons from the Huan Lung family. With that he served K`ung Chia, and was able to give food and water to the dragons. The Hsia ruler was so pleased with him, that he conferred upon him the clan-name of Master of the Dragons (Yü Lung). He took the place of the descendants of Shih Wei." 24
"When one female dragon died, he secretly had it chopped up, and offered the meat to the ruling emperor of the house of Hsia as food. The emperor had it cooked, and asked for more. Then Liu Lei became frightened, because he could not procure it, and emigrated to Lu-hsien.25 The Fan family were his descendants."---
Viscount Hsien asked, why there were no dragons to-day. Ts`ai Mê replied, "Such animals have their officials, who know their treatment, and think of them day and night. When they suddenly lose their post, the dragons die. The cashiered functionaries do not feed them any more. As long as the competent officials do their duty, there are always animals coming to them, but, when they are neglected, they lie down listless, and their production is stopped." 26 ---
Thus we may say that dragons can be reared and eaten. What can be eaten, is certainly not a spirit. When the proper officials are not at hand, nor men like Tung Fu and Liu Lei, the dragons abscond, and hide themselves, and appear but rarely. When they once come out, they also ride on the clouds, a course, man can never take, and are then regarded as spirits. As long as there are the proper officials, or the proper men, the dragon is like an ox. Why should they be spirits?
Taking into consideration what the Shan-hai-king says, the evidence of Shên Tse and Han Fei Tse, the usual pictorial representations, the despair of Chi Tse, and the information given by Ts`ai Mê, we see that the dragon cannot be a spirit, nor rise to Heaven, and it is evident that Heaven does not fetch it with thunder and lightning.
The common belief that the dragon is a spirit, and rises to Heaven, is preposterous. But there is a reason for it. In light literature we meet with the statement that without a tree one foot high the dragon cannot ascend to Heaven. They speak of ascending to Heaven, and of a tree one foot high, implying that the dragon rises to Heaven from within the tree. The authors of this sort of literature are uncultured people. They have observed that at the same time, when the thunder rolls and the lightning flashes up, the dragon rises, and when thunder and lightning strike a tree, the dragon happens to be close to the tree, just like thunder and lightning. When they are gone, the dragon rises on high likewise. Therefore they pretend that it ascends to Heaven from within the tree. As a matter of fact, the thunder and the dragon are of the same kind, and mutually attract one another, when set in motion by the forces of nature.
The Yiking says that the clouds follow the dragon, and the wind the tiger. It is further stated that, when the tiger howls, the wind passes through the valley, and that the variegated clouds rise, when the dragon gambols. 27 There is a certain manner of sympathy between the dragon and the clouds, and a mutual attraction between the tiger and the wind. Therefore, when TungChung Shu28 offered the rain sacrifice, he put up an earthen dragon with a view to attract the rain.
When the summer is at its height, the sun reigns supreme, but the clouds and the rain oppose it. The sun is fire, clouds and rain being water. At the collision with water, fire explodes, and gives a sound, which is the thunder. Upon hearing the sound of thunder, the dragon rises, when it rises, the clouds appear, and when they are there, the dragon mounts them. The clouds and the rain are affected by the dragon, and the dragon also rides on the clouds to Heaven. Heaven stretches to the farthest distance, and the thunder is very high. Upon the clouds dispersing, the dragon alights again. Men seeing it riding on the clouds, believe it to ascend to Heaven, and beholding Heaven sending forth thunder and lightning, they imagine that Heaven fetches the dragon.
The scholars of to-day reading the Yiking and the historical records, all know that the dragon belongs to the same class as the clouds. They adhere to the common gossip without knowing, what it means. Besides they look upon the light literature as an authority. Thus they say that Heaven fetches the dragon.
Heaven does not do that, nor does the dragon rise to Heaven. When Lu Chiu Hsin slew the two serpents, he dragged them out with his hands by the tail, but the moment they were out of the pool, a thunder-bolt fell. Serpents are a species similar to dragons. When serpents or dragons make their appearance, clouds and rain arrive, upon their arrival there is thunder and lightning. If Heaven really fetched the dragon for its own use, what benefit would it have from dead serpents?
Fish, though living in the water, yet follow the clouds and the rain flying, and riding on them ascend to Heaven. The dragon belongs to the class of fish, it rides on thunder and lightning in the same way as the fish fly. For following the clouds and the rain, fish are not considered to be spirits, the dragons alone are called spirits because of their riding on thunder and lightning. This common belief is contrary to truth.
All the creatures in the world have their peculiar vehicles:--- The water serpents ride on the fog, the dragons on the clouds, and birds on the wind. To call the dragon alone a spirit, because it is seen riding on the clouds, would not be in accordance with its real nature, and would only detract from its skill.
But the reason why the dragon is looked upon as a spirit is, because it can expand and contract its body, and make itself visible or invisible. Yet the expansion and contraction of the body and its visibility and invisibility do not constitute a spirit.
Yü Jang29 swallowed charcoal and varnished his body, so that he got ulcers, and nobody recognised him. Tse Kung30 burned off his beard, and took the semblance of a woman, so that nobody knew him. When the dragon transforms itself and absconds, men are also unable to perceive it, such is its skill in metamorphosing and hiding itself.
Much in the nature of creatures is spontaneous:---The rhinopithecus 31 knows the past, 32 magpies foresee the future, 33 and parrots can talk. These three peculiarities may be compared to the transformations, which are in the nature of dragons. If by astuteness one could become a spirit, Yü Jang and Tse Kung would be spirits.
Confucius said, "The roving animals can be ensnared, the flying birds be shot with an arrow. As regards the dragon, I do not know, whether it can ride on the wind and the clouds, and thus rise on high. To-day I saw Lao Tse. Should he perhaps be like a dragon?" 34
Provided that the dragon rises, mounted on a cloud, and, when the cloud disperses, comes down again, then the class of creatures, to which it belongs, might be ascertained, and all about its celestial and terrestrial state known. Yet they say that Confucius did not know. A sage like Confucius ignored the nature of dragons. How much less can common people know, whose learning is deficient, who are biassed in favour of the marvellous, and whose minds are unable to decide, what is possible and what not. That they should call the dragon a spirit, which rises to Heaven can therefore be no matter for surprise.
1. A minister in Chin, 6th cent. b.c.
2. Quoted from the Tso-chuan, Duke Hsiang 21st year (Legge, Classics Vol. V, Pt. II, p. 491). The mother of Shu Hsiang spoke these words in a figurative sense, with reference to Shu Hsiang's half-brother, and his beautiful mother, a concubine of her husband. Cf. p. 302.
3. A parallel passage, worded a little differently, occurs in Hsün Tse.
4. This fact is recorded in the Lü Shih ch`un-ch`iu and in Huai Nan Tse VII, 8v. Vid. also Lun-hêng Bk. V, p. 4 (Yi-hsü).
5. The Yellow Sea, east of China.
6. This story is narrated in the Han-shih-wai-chuan 150 b.c. and the Po-wuchih, where the hero is called Tsai Chiu Hsin however.
8. The "Mountain and Sea Classic," the oldest geographical work of the 4th or the 3rd cent. b.c.
9. The Taoist philosopher Shên Tao of the 5th cent. b.c., of whose works only fragments are left.
10. Cf. p. 170.
11. Chou Hsin, the last emperor of the Shang dynasty.
12. Ivory chopsticks are very common in China now, and no luxury.
13. Viscount Chi, one of the foremost nobles under Chou Hsin, 12th cent. b.c.
14. Dragon liver and unborn leopard would seem to have been considered great delicacies.
15. The historical period comprised by the Ch`un-ch`iu (Spring and Autumn) between 722 and 481 b.c.
16. A principality in Shansi.
17. A feudal lord under Duke Ch`ou of Chin in Shansi, 530-524 b.c., whose successors became marquises, and at last kings of Wei.
18. The grand historiographer.
19. The family names Huan Lung and Yü Lung, which literally mean Dragon Keeper and Master of the Dragons, have probably given rise to this queer story.
20. The Lun-hêng calls the man Shu Sung. In the Tso-chuan his name is Shu An.
21. A small State.
22. The emperor K`ung Chia 1879-1848 b.c.
23. T`ao T`ang was the princedom of the emperor Yao in Shansi, whose descendants took their clan name therefrom.
24. A noble who flourished under the Shang dynasty.
25. The modern Lu-shan-hsien in Honan.
26. This conversation between Viscount Hsien and T`sai Mê on the rearing of dragons in ancient times is literally culled from the Tso-chuan, Duke Ch`ao 29th year. Cf. Legge, Ch`un-ch`iu Pt. II, p. 731.
27. Yiking Book I, Ch`ien hexagram (No. 1). See also p. 279 Note 2.
28. A scholar of the 2nd cent. b.c. See p. 39.
29. A native of the Chin State, 5th and 6th cent. b.c. He twice made an attempt upon the life of Viscount Hsiang of Chao to avenge the death of his master, the Earl of Chih, whom Hsiang had slain. Both attempts failed. The second time he disguised himself in the way described here.
30. A disciple of Confucius.
31. A kind of monkey in western China.
32. This probably means that monkeys have an excellent memory.
33. Magpies are believed to know, whether the next year will be very stormy, for in that case they build their nests near the ground. Moreover, they announce future joy, hence their popular name "birds of joy."
34. A quotation from the Biography of Lao Tse in the Shi-chi chap. 63, p. 2v.
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|Published by The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, © Copyright 2003 by Anne Kinney and the University of Virginia|