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Deciphering historical geography in Shan Hai Jing: looking for figure of Yan Huang in fog of legends

Shan Hai Jing is an epic poem of Huaxia people. Because writings of ancient Chinese were written on oracle bones, bronze, and bamboo plates, early China did not have long epics such as those of Greece, Lianghe, and India. The legends of ancient China are often only a few words long, and Shan Hai Jing is a summary of these legends. This article attempts to decipher "Xishan Jing", "Hai Nei Xi Jing", "Foreign Xi Jing" and "Da Huang Xi Jing", this content is almost a quarter of content of "Shan Hai Jing", mainly records of ancient Yongzhou, geography and legends of Bashu area.

Firstly, position of mountains and rivers in "Xishan Jing"

The geographic range in Shan Hai Jing generally does not match geographic range known to people during Warring States period. The east longitude series mainly describes area around Shandong Peninsula; north longitude series mainly describes areas around Shanxi, Hebei and Liaoning; Bashu area. Each of above parts has four chapters, but there is only one "Zhongshan Jing" describing area around Yiluo River in central part. The scale of expression in "Shan Hai Jing" is same as in "Yu Gong", which is geographical knowledge of Warring States period. Sima Qian compared them and said, "Because Yu Benji and Shan Hai Jing are monsters, I dare not speak."

Deciphering historical geography in Shan Hai Jing: looking for figure of Yan Huang in fog of legends

The clues in Shan Hai Jing are mostly related to mountains and hydrology. Let's look at mountains first. Combining four chapters of Xishan Jing, Hainei Xijing, Overseas Xijing and Dahuang Xijing, we can conclude that main mountain ranges here are Huashan, Lupanshan, Baiyushan and Chongwushan. Among them, Mount Hua is actually Qinling Mountains today. The rivers in Wenhua Mountains have two main directions, one "the north flows into Wei" and other "the south flows into Han River". Huashan, Nanshan (Mount Zhongnan) and Mount Sizhong are among peaks, among which Mount Sizhong is birthplace of Han River. This mountain range is undoubtedly Qinling Mountains.

Deciphering historical geography in Shan Hai Jing: looking for figure of Yan Huang in fog of legends

The main mountains in "Xishan Jing"

The second is Mount Lupan. The river system in this mountain range mainly flows into Yellow River, Wei River and Jing River, for example, "the bath water flows out, and east flows into river", "Chu water flows out, and south flow flows into Weihe River." Yellow River, Wei River and Jing River. It also records that "the Jing River flows out of Yan and east flows into Wei", showing that this is birthplace of Jing River. The mountain is today's Lupan Mountain. At 2,942 meters above sea level, Mount Migang, highest peak of Mount Lupan, is located on Loess Plateau in southern Ningxia.

Deciphering historical geography in Shan Hai Jing: looking for figure of Yan Huang in fog of legends


Mount Baiyu is a large mountain in shape of Yellow River. The rivers in mountains mostly "flow west into Luo", "the east flows into rivers", and there is also a record that "Jingshui flows out of Yan, and southeast flows into Wei". It can be seen that mountain and Mount Lupan should be connected. Based on its location, it should be on Ordos Plateau and in northern part of Shaanxi province, where Wuding and Yanhe rivers flow east into Huanghe, and near Dingbian there are rivers that flow into Weihe and Jinghe rivers. In addition, there is also Luo River "flowing into river north", which may be river flowing north into Huang He in ancient Ordos.

The most famous mountain range in west is Chongwu Mountain, which has many legendary and famous peaks, such as Buzhou Mountain, Kunlun Mountain, Tien Shan Mountain and so on. Among them, Mount Kunlun is home to many rivers. It flows into waters of Pantian. Yangshui flows out, and southwest flows into waters of Zhoutu. black water flows out and flows west to Dazhu." In ancient times, people knew geographical conditions of Qinghai very well. They knew that Yellow River originated in Qinghai, but didn't know about it until Han Dynasty. Mount Kunlun here should be current Mount Bayan Khar.

Deciphering historical geography in Shan Hai Jing: looking for figure of Yan Huang in fog of legends

Bayan Harshan: source of Yellow River, Yangtze and Lancang

As for other Buzhou Mountains, Tianshan Mountain, Sanwei Mountain, etc., I don't know which mountain they belong to, but they are all located in Qinghai area. Many rivers in these mountains "flow west into quicksand" and flow west into desert, which is very much in line with Qinghai's geographic conditions.

In addition to Heshui, Weihe and Jinghe, there are three other important rivers in Xishanjing: Heishui, Ruoshui and Chishui. Among them, Heishui and Chishui are two parallel rivers, both flowing south into South China Sea. According to conclusion, these two rivers are Jinsha River and Lancang River, respectively. The ancients did not know that upper reaches of Yangtze River is Jinsha River, but they believed that source of Yangtze River is Minjiang River, so they believed that Jinsha River flows into sea alone. And Ruoshui is indeed Ruoshui River, which today flows into the Badain Jaran Desert.

Deciphering historical geography in Shan Hai Jing: looking for figure of Yan Huang in fog of legends
2. Ancient Legendary Figures in Shan Hai Jing

The legend of Yellow Emperor in Shan Hai Jing is mainly found in Xi Jing series. For example, "Xishan Jing" fixes area of ​​activity of Yellow Emperor - Kunlun Hill. The "Overseas Western Classics" mentions "Xuanyuan Kingdom" of Yellow Emperor, and famous story of battle between Xingtian and Yellow Emperor is also recorded here. Dahuangxijing writes Xuanyuantai and Yanzhou, while Liezi Huangdi Pian says, "The country of Huaxu is west of Yanzhou and north of Taizhou." It can be seen that area around Qinghai is zone of activity of Yellow Emperor clan.

Kunlun in sea is located in northwest, capital under emperor. The void of Kunlun has a radius of eight hundred li and a height of ten thousand ren. On it is Muhe, length of which is five fathoms, and circles are five. In front of him are nine wells with jade as a threshold. There are nine gates ahead, and gates are guarded by enlightened beasts, where all gods are. ——"Hai Nei Xi Ching"

Some deeds of Xia Dynasty also appeared. "Dahuangxijing" "Yu attacked Mount Gonggong", it is seen that Daiyu once attacked Gonggong here. Legend has it that highest mountain here is called Mount Buzhou, which was destroyed by Gonggun. Houqi also appears in Western Classics series. Overseas Western Classics and Dahuang Western Classics record history of Xia Houqi's Nine Moves. "Da Huang Xi Jing" has a record that "Cheng Tang defeated Xia Jie at Zhangshan, restrained him and cut plow in front of Jue."

The Field of Great Joy was opened here by Empress Xia for nine generations, riding two dragons and covering three layers of clouds. The left hand holds shadow, right hand holds ring and Pei Yuhuang. In north of Mount Dayun. One is desert of great heritage. The realm of three bodies begins in north after Xia, with one head and three bodies. —— "Foreign Western Classics"

Across Southwest Sea, south of Chishui and west of Shifting Sands, there are people who ride two green snakes and two dragons named Xiahokai. Open three concubines to sky and get next "Nine Debates" and "Nine Songs". This Tianmu Zhiye is two thousand Renren high, and Kai Yande starts song "Nine Movements". —— "The Great Wild West"

Deciphering historical geography in Shan Hai Jing: looking for figure of Yan Huang in fog of legends

Xia Houqi

Ancestral Deeds of Zhou people also featured in Western Classics series. Dahuangjing preached: “There is a country during Western Zhou Dynasty, family name is Ji and Shigu. There is a man named Fang Geng, whose name is Shujun< /u>. Emperor Jun gave birth to Hoji, and millet descended from valleys. Millet is called Taixi and Shujun was born. Shujun sowed one hundred grains on behalf of his father and millet, and began to cultivate. “The Zhou people are a famous agricultural nation whose ancestors are Houji and Shujun. Here is history of their farming. The Zhou people are descendants of Yanhuang and Xia people, so they also have surname Ji. And Beidi is a tribe with surname Ji, which has not yet taken up agriculture. It is written in Dahuangxijing that “there is a Beidi country. The grandson of Yellow Emperor is called Shijun, and Shijun gave birth to Beidi.” In Spring and Autumn Period, there were many Beidi people with surname Ji.

Deciphering historical geography in Shan Hai Jing: looking for figure of Yan Huang in fog of legends

In addition to Yanhuang ethnic groups, there are many other well-known ethnic groups in Western Classics series, among which Queen Mother of West is worth noting. The Xishan Jing records that “it is called Yushan, which is residence of Queen Mother of West. The Queen Mother of West is human-like, with a leopard tail and tiger teeth, and howls well. , with fluffy hair and in a hoop. Goddesses living in Kunlun mountains are recorded in Gui Zang and Bamboo Book Chronicles. The "Biography of Mu Tianzi" records legend that King Mu of Zhou visited world and visited Queen Mother of the West.

Deciphering historical geography in Shan Hai Jing: looking for figure of Yan Huang in fog of legends

Portrait of "Queen Mother of West" from Han Dynasty

The ancient legendary characters recorded in Western Classics series also include Zhuanxu, Gonggong, Nuwa, Yangdi, etc. But only a few words. For example, there are records about Zhuanxu: "There is a country named Shushi, son of Zhuanxu", "There is a fish that wilts, and name is a female fish. Zhuanxu comes to life after death. The wind comes from north." ", sky reaches a large spring, and snake turns into a fish. It is a fish. Wife. Zhuanxu comes to life after death." Yan's name is Lingyun, she gave birth to Baihuren, who can rise and fall in sky, "summoned intestines of Niuwa, turned into a god, and lived in wilderness of Liguang, lived across road." Chunli's entry “Zhuanxu gave birth to an old man, and old man gave birth to Chongji Li, and emperor ordered Chun to be sacrificed to heaven, and Li Qiong to descend to earth. To descend to earth means to be born, to be at western pole and walk steps of sun, moon and stars, etc.

3. Interpretation of Western Classic series

According to above content, we can conclude that geographical area indicated in Western Classics series is probably located in Qinghai, Gansu, Ningxia and Shaanxi, and ethnic groups involved are mainly composed of yanhuang. If we compare this information with archeology, molecular anthropology and linguistics, we can get information about migration of Huaxia people in ancient times.

Deciphering historical geography in Shan Hai Jing: looking for figure of Yan Huang in fog of legends

According to molecular anthropology and linguistic studies, Han people are an offshoot of Qiang nationality. About 50,000 years ago, modern humans began to enter Chinese mainland from Yunnan and Burma. Currently, earliest late Homo sapiens sites found in China are Lijiang and Lujiang people, both of which had a yellow appearance 50,000 years ago. Features of human skeleton. Entering China, it began to split into two branches: one from coast and turned into a baiyue, and other from interior and turned into a baipu. Baipu split into two parts again: one part advanced along Yangtze River and became Miao Mang, and other part moved north along Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and finally reached area of ​​Gansu known as "Xianqiang". The Tibetans are a branch that entered Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau.

Deciphering historical geography in Shan Hai Jing: looking for figure of Yan Huang in fog of legends

East Asian Migration Route

The Qiang people arrived in Gansu region and began to separate. One branch entered Weihe River basin, developed agriculture and became an agricultural nation, forerunner of Huaxia people. The family of Yellow Emperor, surnamed Ji, belonged to a branch of Western Qiang, they were mainly nomads and lived in Qinghai and Loess Plateau, and Beidi was their descendant. "Dahuangxijing": "There is a country of Beidi, grandson of Yellow Emperor is called Shijun, and Shijun was born in Beidi." The site of Simao has been discovered on Loess Plateau, which may be center of activity for Yellow Emperor's clan.

Deciphering historical geography in Shan Hai Jing: looking for figure of Yan Huang in fog of legends

Emperor Yang, whose surname is Jiang, developed agricultural industry. Guoyu writes: "The Yellow Emperor did this with Jishui, and Emperor Yang did this with Jiangshui." "Shuowen" believes that "Jiang Shennong lives in Jiangshui, and he thinks it is his last name." The ancient "Qiang" and "Jiang" are actually same word. "Shuowen" notes: "Qiang men are Qiang, and Qiang women are Jiang." According to a textual study in Shui Jing Zhu, Jiangshui where Emperor Yang lived is Qishui under Qishan Mountain: "Qishui passes through Jiang City as Jiangshui." During Western Zhou Dynasty, "Rong Jiang" still lived in upper reaches of Weihe River. "Guoyu" writes: "War in Qianmu, Wang Shi was defeated by Rong Jiang." According to ancient legends, Yandi family of Shennong created agriculture that matched this geographic distribution. The site of Dadiwan was discovered today in upper reaches of Weihe River, and is probably place where Yan people lived.

Deciphering historical geography in Shan Hai Jing: looking for figure of Yan Huang in fog of legends

Bronze knife found at Majiayao site: earliest bronze item in China

Knowing origin of Yanhuang, one can understand why corresponding records of Xia Dynasty also appeared in Dahuangjing. Xia people are descendants of yanhuang people, that is, qiang people. Xinyu Shushi says: "Yes Yu came from Xiqiang." "Historical Chronicles of Six Kingdoms": "Yu Xing in Xiqiang". "Spring and Autumn Annals of Wuyue Yuewang Wuyu Gaiden": "Gong married Yuxin family, ... gave birth to Gaomi (Yu) and lived in Xiqiang." The "Theory of National Salt and Iron Diseases" also says, "Yu left Xiqiang." I think these entries are clear enough that there is no need to discuss them further.

Deciphering historical geography in Shan Hai Jing: looking for figure of Yan Huang in fog of legends

Wuhao led an army of 13,000 to attack Bujia on Qiang side

The Zhou people are descendants of Xia people. They claim to be Xia people. Because they are good at agriculture, people of Shang Dynasty call them "Zhou". "Zhou" is form of farmland in oracle bone inscription. The Zhou people were also a nation of intermarriage of Yan and Huang. Their paternal line had surname Ji, and their mother's name was Jiang. The Historical Records of Zhou Ben Ji states that “Zhou Houji was called Qi. The Tai family named Jiang Yuan." The ancestor of Zhou family was Qi. Because he was well versed in agriculture, he served as Huoji Agricultural Official of Xia Dynasty, and his descendants always inherited this official position. After fall of Xia dynasty, Zhou people lost their official positions and fled among Rong and Di. In fact, people of Zhou and Rong and Di were from same clan. The people of Shang Dynasty continued to fight against Fang kingdoms in west, which were called "Qiang", meaning shepherds. Later, Zhou people resumed settlement and agriculture in upper reaches of Weihe River, and then began to develop and grow.

Deciphering historical geography in Shan Hai Jing: looking for figure of Yan Huang in fog of legends

Understanding this, we can understand why deeds of Yellow Emperor, Xia people, and Zhou people appear in Shan Hai Jing series of Western classics.

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