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Today, among other things, I learned that when carp leap up waterfalls, they sometimes turn into dragons.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 11th, 2006 04:19 am (UTC)
I've heard that they do (but do you hear the source? I love knowing where I can cite this sort of information). And, although this is an update from medieval Japan, I do suspect there might be similar information in China: after 100 years, your household appliances gain sentience, and also after a 1000 years in the ocean followed by the mountains, snakes also can turn into dragons.
Mar. 11th, 2006 11:33 am (UTC)
They had a source on display. Along with an illustration, it was in the absolutely enormous encyclopedia collected under the Yongzheng Emperor. I can get you a better citation than that for it. From where it was collected for the encyclopedia, however, I can't tell you. I'm planning on buying the catalog so can really get you specific information on the encyclopedia volume then. (I might wait a month first though, in case it's on sale in the final week of the show.)

I love the idea of household appliances gaining sentience after (only) 100 years!
Mar. 11th, 2006 11:55 pm (UTC)
In 1997 I read a similar story in a book of Chinese folklore, only there it was wooden things like spoons that would become haunted (they were called mei if my memory is right)--I never did track down that book again, alas.

Rambelli on his book on vegetal Buddhas supported the argument that this was yet another way that Buddhist monks would sell their services. Even today, you can go to graves and "funeral" services for a few various items, like dolls, brushes or needles (to cite the most famous ones), where you can give thanks to the item for its use and make sure that it won't bear you a grudge and curse you.

But even before the Tsukimogami ekotoba story, which is seen as kind of a starting point for the belief in the growing sentience of inanimate objects in the late 14th and 15th centuries, you have a biwa (lute) that would only let certain people play it and saved itself from a palace fire; sutras that would curse those who copied a character wrong; stones that possessed the emperor, giving him sickness because they didn't care for how they'd been treated in architecture (building or landscape, I'd have to confirm again); and swords that appeared as people in dreams to give their wielders tips. (Well, okay, this last one's from a text that's thought to be composed between 1360 and 1410 or so, so about the same.)

I do love my studies. I mean, this is the background work for my dissertation!
Mar. 12th, 2006 12:12 am (UTC)
You work on such fabulous material! I love reading your anecdotes. Stone-abuse and its results certainly give credence to the importance of geomancy though!

I know the catalog reproduces the waterfall-leaping carp image; but I don't think it had a close-up of the material I would really, really love to examine in further detail. Several of the long procession-recording scrolls had huge numbers of shop stalls set up along the route in the background. Some of the were rather ambiguous, but many were quite specific - books, apothecaries - and one of them - so exciting! - show big hunks of presumably cured meat hanging from the back of the stall. I'd love to have detailed reproductions of all of those images.

Funny, I could take-or-leave many modern day shopping expeditions but they enthrall me in their historical versions.
Mar. 11th, 2006 09:13 pm (UTC)
Wrong emperor. It was the Kangxi Emperor's project. My mnemonic is the exhibition's rooms - the first several thematic, the last three organized by emperor.
Mar. 11th, 2006 11:45 pm (UTC)
Either way, it's a project before the Qianlong emperor (of the ideology, the official library building and book banning projects, etc.) which does say something. Hm. I'll have to ask my Chinese history profs if there are any studies on the supernatural during this period, as opposed to just stories of loyalty and the twice-serving officials. XD
Mar. 12th, 2006 12:08 am (UTC)
Yes, it was the Qianlong emperor's grandfather's project.
Mar. 11th, 2006 05:39 pm (UTC)
It's interesting that Chinese dragons are altogether so much more _watery_ than western ones, isn't it? And I, too, love the idea of sentient toasters...
Hello - I just wanted to introduce myself. I came across your LJ via
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It's interesting that Chinese dragons are altogether so much more _watery_ than western ones, isn't it? And I, too, love the idea of sentient toasters...
Hello - I just wanted to introduce myself. I came across your LJ via <lj-user="oursin"> and was immediately taken with your posts (we also have some interests and academic background in common). I'd like to "friend" you, if that's okay...?
Mar. 11th, 2006 05:40 pm (UTC)
sorry about the garbled html - I'm still learning these LJ tags...
Mar. 11th, 2006 11:02 pm (UTC)
Hello! It's good to meet you. You are quite welcome to "friend" me. I've reciprocated.

We certainly do have a number of things in common. DWJ and Sheri Tepper are also particular favorite authors of mine as well. Also, although I've only read one of her books, I did once see Emma Bull in concert at Arisia, playing, among other things, pieces written by Neil Gaiman. I was reminded of this the other night during the closing credits of Mirrormask, the song for which was a Gaiman/McKean collaboration.

Also, thanks for posting the LOTR musical review. it's good to finally read one! I gave up hunting for them after not finding any in the first few preview days.
Mar. 12th, 2006 04:42 am (UTC)
My pleasure! As mentioned, now I'm tempted to travel back to Toronto... the LoTR musical does sound rather wonderful.. How lovely to hear Emma Bull in concert - was that "Cat Dancing"? - her rock group? I've enjoyed her books immensely, especially War for the Oaks, Freedom and Necessity (with Steven Brust) and Finder, which was perhaps my favourite. Neil Gaiman is another person whose work I'm rather fond of (quite apart from the fact that I think he's rather dishy), and I have wondered about Mirrormask...
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )