Fushi in Chinese Mythology: The One Who Teaches
The earliest myths contain the Ten Legendary Kings, gods who guided people by their prehistoric beginnings (roughly 3000–2197 B.C.). These early rulers had been demigods, or half god and half human, who lived among the many people and taught them the foundations of civilization. They may develop into the shapes of animals or stay in their half-god, half-animal state. Eventually, they retired to the heavens when their time on earth expired.
Fushi was the primary ruler of this magical interval. Many students imagine that his story is predicated on an precise monarch who lived someday between 2953–2736 B.C.
However, whether or not he was based mostly on an actual individual or not, Fushi is a beloved determine in mythology who taught survival expertise to early people. These embrace utilizing fireplace, fishing, searching, writing, and fortune-telling. In some tales, Fushi is described as having the physique of a human. In different tales, he has the top of a human and the physique of a snake. In many tales he’s the husband of Nuwa, and collectively they’re the bearers of civilization.
In the story, Fushi introduces the trigrams, that are patterns made with quick and lengthy sticks. People threw down six sticks after which interpreted the patterns they shaped. In the start, the interpretations of the trigrams had been handed down orally, then had been lastly written down centuries later between 1059–249 B.C. Today, the collected trigrams are often known as the I Ching [ee jihng], or The Book of Changes. Even in historic instances, this guide was thought of so necessary that it was one of many few Chinese texts spared in the guide burning of 213 B.C. Many people nonetheless learn this guide to uncover its philosophy, in addition to to profit from its prophecies.
In mythology, Fushi is credited with introducing writing, which was was invented to enhance upon the traditional tally system of tying knots. However, its creation has additionally been attributed to T’sang Chieh, a palace file keeper who lived round 2500 B.C. Some of the earliest Chinese writing consisted of straightforward traces and muvie symbols that may very well be scratched simply onto stones, turtle shells, and animal bones. By 1600 B.C., the writing system was fairly superior; its symbols are discovered on quite a few bronze vessels from that interval. During the Qin dynasty (221–206 B.C.), Chinese writing turned systematized and complex. Many of the symbols from that period intently resemble the Chinese writing characters used right now.
Fushi watched the brand new people stumbling about. These people didn’t have the supernatural powers of gods, the energy of tigers, or the velocity of leopards. They didn’t have the protecting armor of turtles, the leathery conceal of water buffaloes, or the thick fur of foxes. People had skinny pores and skin, tender flesh, sparse hair, and moved about somewhat slowly. They had good hearts and cheerful laughter, however they had been simply frightened and discouraged. Fushi determined to assist the brand new people.
First, Fushi taught people how to twist plant fibers collectively to type ropes of all widths and lengths. With the thinner ropes, he wove fishing traces and nets so people may plunge the water’s depths to discover food. With the thicker ropes, he braided robust bridges, then strung them across excessive chasms so people may cross from one mountain peak to one other in search of food.
When lightning set bushes on fireplace, as so typically occurred, the people trembled and hid in caves. To entice the people to come out, Fushi twirled collectively two willow sticks to begin a hearth. He confirmed the people how cooked meat and fish had been extra digestible and tempting than uncooked meat and fish. The people quickly found that fireplace may additionally hold them protected and comfortable all through the chilly nights. Ferocious animals feared its licking flames, and biting bugs averted its sooty smoke.
In the spring, Fushi formed younger branches over an open fireplace, then cooled them into curvy bows. He scraped, smoothed, and dried slender sticks into arrow shafts. Then Fushi led the people on hunts for deer, wild boar, and migrant birds. He guided them in gathering up black mushrooms of the forests, wild grasses of the plains, and bitter cresses rising alongside the banks of trickling streams. He taught them how to increase sheep, goats, geese, and geese. Fushi warned people solely to take what they wanted and by no means to waste food or kill senselessly.
To hold monitor of the food they grew and exchanged, people tied fancy knots formed like butterflies, flowers, and diamonds. But they typically forgot what every knot meant and argued and fought amongst themselves, so Fushi invented a writing system by scratching small footage and numbers onto shells and bones. Each image stood for a phrase. People copied the curving shapes of phrases onto turtle shells, bamboo sticks, and animal bones to remind themselves of their money owed.
Fushi knew that he couldn’t keep on earth eternally to assist the people make up their minds each time they had been in hassle. When they didn’t know which path to take or which means to flip, Fushi taught them how to seek the advice of the oracle. First, he took a turtle’s shell and copied its eightsided edges in the grime. Then, on every edge, he drew three traces, or a trigram.
On the sting, Fushi drew three straight traces to characterize heaven.
On the alternative edge, he drew three damaged traces to characterize earth.
Water had one stable center line between two damaged traces; fireplace, its reverse, had one damaged center line between two stable traces.
A damaged line beneath two stable traces signaled wind and wooden; one stable line beneath two damaged traces signaled storm and thunder.
Two damaged strokes beneath a stable line confirmed mountain; two stable strokes beneath a damaged line confirmed lake.
Then Fushi confirmed people how to use these trigrams. He discovered a yarrow plant and pulled off its feathery leaves and tiny yellow flowers, in order that solely the straight stalks remained. He broke the straight stalks into quick items and lengthy items. He combined them up and threw items on the bottom six instances, arranging them in rows. The quick items stood for damaged traces; the lengthy items stood for stable traces. Fushi taught people how to interpret the which means of the sticks.
He gathered up the stalks and threw down new stalks of yarrow many times. No matter what sample of quick and lengthy sticks appeared, they at all times resembled two trigrams, equivalent to earth/water, wind/fireplace, thunder/lake.
Each time, Fushi taught people the which means of the patterns. Some patterns would possibly imply the people had been protected; others would possibly warn them of impending hazard. Some patterns suggested them to keep in place; others suggested them to transfer. Some urged them to assault, and a few urged them to yield in battle. By studying the patterns of the sticks, the people may unlock their fortunes and make decisions about their actions.
The people had been delighted with their information and felt prepared to populate the earth. But Fushi knew higher. He realized that discovering food, making instruments, elevating animals, maintaining information, and making decisions weren’t sufficient.
He anxious that the people would grow to be boastful and egocentric. Fushi needed them to keep humble and study from their previous, to bear in mind their successes and failures by telling tales. To assist the storytellers, and to contact their hearts, he gave them his final present, the present of music.
Fushi taught the people how to make a Chinese lute, a pípa. Its melodic notes had been a pleasure to hear, and its lovely curves had been a pleasure to behold. The pípa may mimic the sound of wind blowing in opposition to bushes, water flowing over rocks, and horses’ hooves clopping ahead in battle. Fushi taught the people how to use the pípa to inform unforgettable tales.
Each time the people plucked a tune, the nonetheless air in the sound field of the pípa sprang to life. Each time they strummed the strings, sleeping feelings and silent ideas welled up in their hearts and minds. Playing the pípa crammed the people’s our bodies with pleasure, calmed their most savage emotions, and eased their deepest sorrows.
When his time on earth was over, Fushi bade goodbye to his people and ascended to the heavens, hoping that they might share their knowledge with one another and proceed to dwell in peace.