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By Mark Edward Lewis;

Explores how the flood myths of early China supplied a template for that society’s significant social and political associations.

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A story in the “Shun dian” relates that when Yao was considering employing Shun: “He placed him in a great forest [lu , also glossed “mountain forest”]. ”57 When this story was incorporated into a Shi ji passage translated below, the links of Shun with the realms administered by the forester official were made even more explicit. In this account Shun’s entering the wilderness is the final and most difficult test by which he proved himself fit to become Son of Heaven. 59 The identification of Shun as a man of the wilds in the Shi ji forms part of an extended narrative relating a series of achievements by which he progressively imposed order on ever widening spatial units: Then Yao gave his two daughters [to Shun] as wives to observe his virtuous power in relation to the two women.

The former is rejected, and the latter for nine years attempts to tame the flood but in the end fails. 33 The second chapter deals with the work of Shun, to whom Yao yielded the throne, and it touches on the theme of the flood only briefly. However, it is noteworthy that the theme of the creation of an orderly space through the fixing of the directions is once again central to the text. ” Over the course of the year Shun makes a tour of inspection to each of the four great directional peaks, where he assembles the lords of each region to fix the seasons, months, and days.

Yu thus restored the divisions fixed by the earlier sages, and as in the “Yu gong” made the land suitable for human habitation. While the theme of Yu’s according with the nature of water and other objects figures prominently in the philosophical uses of the flood myth, Mitarai Masaru has pointed out that not all accounts of his work insist on Yu’s practice of dredging channels to allow water to follow its own tendencies. He cites three counterexamples. ” Second, a late section of the Shan hai jing states: “Yu blocked up [yin ] the flood and killed Xiang You [a nine-headed serpent minister of Gong Gong discussed in the next chapter].

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