TRANSLATION AND COMMENTARY OF THE CH'U SILK MANUSCRIPT

BY NOEL BARNARD

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CONCLUDING REMARKS


With the individual characters, phrases, sentences, and measures thus clarified so far as the present approach permits - we obtain a reasonably undistorted and fairly reliable impression of the content and the nature of the entire text. Unfortunately, however, the full significance of the compilation is not easily ascertainable; to return to the metaphorical expressions in the introductory section of this Chapter - the restoration of skeletal remains, even if they may be partially strung with firm muscular material, must inevitably fall short of the characteristics of the original flesh-clad figure. As implied in the distribution patterns of mutilated graphs, descendantless graphs, and particles in Figures 21 to 24, a strict application of the transcription disciplines employed in this survey will leave open many gaps. These can often be filled in by highly speculative interpretations but such approaches are of limited value; numerous cases in earlier published studies have been reviewed critically in the preceding pages. There will always be a temptation to read more into an archaeological text of this kind than the remnant characters - where understood - really permit.

Upon reading through the connected translation which follows shortly, it will soon be appreciated that further risks of misinterpretation are present. These derive directly from the skeletal nature of the translation. The mind tends to disregard the unknown sense and function of missing words and phrases which are indicated by groups of four dots ( .... ) for each character; in bridging these gaps the meaning of the extant characters (where known) assume a greater degree of contextual significance than they may originally have had. Similarly, in the case of the Chinese texts - the archaic reconstruction, the direct transcription, and the modern character transcription - each version succeeds in creating impressions of meaning over and above that of the characters whose sense and function in the general context are reasonably clear. Instead of the meaningless symbol: .... , employed in the English translation, the descendantless graphs, particles, and mutilated character remnant strokes, exert influences upon the mind of the specialist reader leading thus towards essentially subjective interpretations in many instances.

Proceeding then to the corpus of traditional literature and, in particular, to such items as the Ch'u-tz'u, Shan-hai-ching, Yueh-Zing, Lu-shih Ch'un-ch'iu, Huai-nan- tzu. etc., comparisons may be made with seemingly parallel phrases and sentences. exercise is an important one but rather too often the ambiguities of the archaeological text with its missing characters, descendantless graphs, etc. result in proposed interpretations which, upon critical review, may be discovered to be considerably open to question. This approach is, nonetheless, very useful in establishing the degree of reliability that may be claimed in respect of traditional records of the same data as that recorded in the archaeological document. Understandably the Chinese scholar generally seeks to explain the archaeological record in terms of the transmitted literary data; in my view, there is more to be gained in the opposite approach. We should treat the two major groups of data - archaeological and traditional - strictly as primary and secondary sources. Priority should quite definitely be allowed to the former in terms of the degree of reliability attending provenance details; the latter should, on all occasions of survey conducted jointly with archaeological documentation, serve only in a subsidiary role.

In the third volume of the present series of CSM Studies ( Monographs on Far Eastern History No. 6) an illustration of this aspect of the historian's approach is presented in my appraisal of the relevance of the Shan-hai-ching and other traditional text data to the Twelve Peripheral Figures. It is, however, not my intention to attempt to apply the approach to the CSM text as a whole at the present stage. Such a task would be a major undertaking and would best be planned as an entirely separate venture. In the present volume, I have simply attempted to establish a definitive transcription of the archaic text with minimal attention to the task of translation and its necessary preoccupation with relevant traditional source materials. In Chapter 4 a further essential step towards the ultimate aim of translation in more or less definitive form is undertaken: my survey of the nature of metre and rhyme in the Ch'u Silk Manuscript text.

The connected translation which now follows will, accordingly, serve to indicate approximately what the document is about. We may expect further progress over the next few years - if the current resurgence in archaeology in China continues without serious interruption. Many of the descendantless graphs which now are of uncertain meaning and function, for instance, will doubtless appear in archaeological documents soon to be discovered. Intercomparative study will gradually lead to their clearer definition and this in turn will partly clarify the meanings of other problematic characters, phrases, and sentences. As the reader will have observed amongst Figures 27 to 45, those comprising listings of common phrases and sentences viewed collectively become more meaningful than they do when studied separately. In the study of ancient Chinese archaeological documents such methods of induction have a good potential and should be more widely applied than has usually been the case.


CONNECTED TRANSLATION


TEXT A

It is said that in former times .... (= Heaven) .... (= verb?) Hsien- Tou to set out from .... -Tsou and reside in Yuan-.... . His .... .... . .... .... .... (as) if, vaguely and secretly, without display .... . .... (as) if, .... .... (= verb?), the wind and the rain thereunto. Thereupon sought Ch'ieh Yu. ....-tzu's son stated: If .... (= verb?), then give birth to sons. The Four .... (Seasons?) thence .... (= verb?), Heaven .... thence respect (?), .... (= participate?) [and] transform .... (= style?) .... . On behalf of .... [and] on behalf of the myriad [creatures?], so as to control .... .... , censure Heaven .... .... . then above and below my (?) .... . If the Hills and the Plains should not .... , then command the Hills and Streams, to return (?) .... .... .... , .... .... .... .... , in order to effect its .... so as to .... (= verb?) the Hills and the Plains [and] the [Rivers] Lung, Yu, Shui, and Man. Before there was the Sun and Moon, the Four Gods mutually .... (= verb?), thereupon .... (= verb?) in order to function as the year - these being the Four Seasons. The eldest is known as Ch'ing-Han; the second is known as Wei-....-Chan; the third is known as ....-Huang-Yao; the fourth is known as ....-Mo-Han. After one thousand and one hundred years, the Sun and the Moon .... born, the Nine Provinces did not .... (= verb?), the Hills and the Plains .... (= verb?) .... (= grief?); the Four Gods .... act (?), as to returning to Heaven .... , .... guard .... it. The .... of the Green Trees, the Red Trees, and Yellow Trees, the White Trees, and the Black Trees; Yen Ti thence commanded Chu-Jung to take [= along with] the Four Gods, to descend and stabilize the Three Heavens, .... contemplate .... stabilize return (?) exhaust (?). He [i.e. Yen Ti] said: If there were not the Nine Heavens then there would be great disaster (?), therefore do not .... .... Heaven. The divine Ti Chun thence established the movements of the Sun and the Moon. Kung Kung .... .... , the Ten Days and the Four Seasons; .... the Four (?) Gods thereupon intercalated (the months) of the Four .... . Do not meditate upon (?) the Hundred Gods. The Wind and the Rain .... .... . Recklessly acted thereupon .... (= verb?), the Sun and the Moon so as to .... (= verb?) mutual .... meditate (?). There is the Night, the Morning, the Day, and the Evening.

TEXT B

.... (particle) .... .... (= verb?) the sun, the moon thence will gain and retreat, and will not obtain its .... . Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter .... (= not?) have .... (= their?) regularity. When the Sun, the Moon, the Stars, and the Constellations confuse and .... (= muddle?) their movements, the [process of] gaining and retreating .... (= becomes muddled?) .... [thus] the grasses and the trees will lack regularity [of growth?] .... ; .... [....] .... .... , Heaven and Earth will .... (= verb?). The T'ien-p'ou will be about to move and to descend to its .... region. The Hills and the Plains - their .... (= verb?) have depth (?) their (?) .... ; this is known as .... . The year .... within a month; the month, the first day .... .... . When lightning and .... (= another of the elements) devastate the earth with rain, it will not do to engage in one's duties of office. The heavenly rain .... .... this .... (= verb?). When a month is intercalated, it (= some action) must not be put into practice. In the first month, the second month, and the third month - this ..... .... (= derangement?) and in the end will not .... (= receive?), .... .... their lands. In the fourth month and the fifth month, this is spoken of as the confusion of regularity [in the movements of heavenly bodies?]. Do not .... (= verb?) .... .... .... year. The Western Countries will have [cause for] regret; should the [movements of the] Sun and the Moon have already become confused, then there will be .... (= a decline?) .... . The Eastern Countries will have [cause for] regret; .... .... then troops, .... [= deflect?] from their sovereign. In all cases of years [with occasions of] a slower motion of the moon, if .... .... .... , .... States .... .... . .... .... conduct [or, exercise (control over)] the grasses and the trees; the ordinary people .... (particle) .... (= verb?), return (?) to the regularity of the .... . (It is) the Three Seasons (that) put this into operation. In a year [with occasions of] a slower motion of the moon, the Three Seasons .... .... , .... (= verb?) it in order to .... descend. This month, with .... , .... on behalf of it .... (= verb?). In the twelfth .... (= month?), .... (= particle) .... a slower motion of the moon, rises from Huang-yuan, earth .... without .... (= verb). Arising .... .... accord, effects [upon those] beneath it misfortune. The [movements of the] Sun and the Moon .... (= verb?) in confusion, the Stars and the Constellations will not be in harmony. Should [the movements of] the Sun and the Moon have already become confused, then by the close of the year .... (= verb?), the seasonal rainfall will come and go, and there will be no regularity. Respectful (= humble?) people not yet aware [of this], .... will regard [it] as thence (= as a norm). Do not move (= disturb?) the multitudes of the people. .... (particle) .... (= verb?) the Three Constancies, ....-return (?) rise and fall, .... (particle) .... Heaven's regularity. The Multitudes of Gods and the Five Cheng - [when] the Four .... lack auspicious omens - will establish constancy and will cherish the people. [When] the Five Cheng thus become clear, then may offerings be made to the [Multitudes of] Gods. This is termed te-t 'e . The Multitudes of the Gods thence te ( = verb?). [Yen] Ti stated: "Ah! .... (= verb?) it .... (particle)! Do not fail in any way (to show) reverence." When Heaven creates blessings the gods respect it; when Heaven creates .... (= peace?) the gods cherish it. .... respect .... (particle) .... (= verb?). Heaven depicts such compassion, feelings .... (particle) Heaven .... (= verb?); the lower people's .... (= prayers?) - they are to be respected and not .... (= verb?). The people must not employ .... .... . The Hundred Gods, the Hills and the Streams, the Man and the Yu do not .... (= verb?), .... put into effect the people's sacrifices. [When] not .... (= verb?), [Yen] Ti will take steps to .... (= verb?); with disorder .... (= verb?) it, put into effect. The people then will have food in abundance and will not experience suffering amongst themselves. [If they] do not see the Plains .... (= verb?) then will .... (= decline?) reach its zenith. (If) the common people are not aware [of this], the year will then be without .... , the sacrifices .... then will .... (= verb?), the people will seldom have .... , earthly affairs must not follow evil.


TEXT C (The Twelve Gods)

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