Drawing on the myths of the past

By Fang Aiqing | China Daily | Updated: 2019-07-03 08:00
The cover of the picture book Shan Hai Jing (Classics of Mountains and Seas) illustrated by Chen Siyu.

Many of the well-known ancient myths and legends, like Kuafu chasing the sun, Jingwei's reclamation, and Kings Gun and Yu taming the flood, were written down in the book, to some extent conveying some of the moral spirit that the ancient Chinese people were striving for, namely lofty ambition, resolute determination in the face of hardship, fearlessness and selflessness.

People nowadays will not have the chance to glance at the earliest versions of Shan Hai Jing, nor the original illustrations of the earliest surviving version-which was annotated by Jin Dynasty (265-420) scholar Guo Pu.

Scholars of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, such as Yuan Ke, Hu Wenhuan, Wu Renchen and Ma Changyi, continued the research, annotations and illustrations.

There was also a graphic version drawn in Japan during the Edo period (1603-1867).

Chen's picture book was, at first, part of her graduation project at Tsinghua back in 2006 and was later expanded to include more than 100 illustrations between 2013 and 2014.

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