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Chinese Literature
Xuanyuan bianzhu 仙苑編珠 "Stringed-up Pearls from the Garden of Immortals"


The Xuanyuan bianzhu 仙苑編珠 "Stringed-up pearls from the Garden of Immortals" is a collection of stories of immortals allegedly compiled by the late Tang period 唐 (618-907) writer Wang Songnian 王松年, who was a Daoist master living on Mt. Tiantai 天臺山. The text is based on earlier collections of biographies like Liu Xiang's 劉向 Liexianzhuan 列仙傳, Ge Hong's 葛洪 Shenxianzhuan 神仙傳, Tao Hongjing's 陶弘景 Dengzhen yinjue 登真隱訣 and Zhengao 真誥, or the Yuanshi shangzhen zhongxian ji 元始上真眾仙記 (also called Zhenzhongshu 枕中書). It includes short biographies of 132 Daoists that are written according to a pattern created by the encyclopedia Mengqiu jizhu 蒙求集註, with four-syllable versed in rhymes. Two verses constitute one semantic entity. The whole book consists of 155 "chapters" or paragraphs, each of which includes a commentary as part of the basic text. The commentary quotes from ancient Daoist biographies as well as from various other texts attributed to Daoism, Buddhism or Confucianism. Some statements are not derived from texts, but are based on hearsay. The biographies include mythical persons like the Yuanshi tianzun 元始天王, the Heavenly Emperor 天皇, Fu Xi 伏羲 and the mythical creator Pan Gu 盤古, but mainly historical persons until the end of the Tang period. The Xianyuan bianzhu provides a lot of material on stories about immortals not to be found in other texts. The book was relatively wide-spread, but various bibliographies note a different number of juan "scrolls". The present version is divided into 3 juan. The texts of these versions seem to be indentical, and the number of juan only a question of arrangement. The Xianyuan bianzhu is included in the Daoist Canon Daozang 道藏.

Source: Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, vol. 2, p. 2311. Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe.
Chinese literature according to the four-category system

May 2, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail