An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Shenyijing 神異經

Nov 28, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Shenyijing 神異經 "Classic of the deities and the extraordinary" is a collection of phantastic stories traditionally attributed to the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) Daoist master Dongfang Shuo 東方朔. The book is only quite short, and the stories of strange events are arranged geographically in nine chapters, in a pattern very similar to that used in the Shanhaijing 山海經 "Classic of mountains and seas". But contrary to the latter, the 47 paragraphs of the Shenyijing does provide very few geographical information but concentrates on the phantastic stories of immortals, deities, and supernatural beings, like the Lord of the East (Dongwanggong 東王公), the winged tiger Qiong Qi 窮奇, Mt. Kunlun 崑崙 as the pillar of Heaven (tianzhu 天柱), or the "Jade Hen" from Mt. Fusang 扶桑山.
According to the imperial bibliography Jingjizhi 經籍志 in the official dynastic history Suishu 隋書, the Shenyijing was written by Dongfang Shuo and commented by the Jin period 晉 (265-420) scholar Zhang Hua 張華. Both statements are probably incorrect because the book is not listed in the Han period bibliography Qilüe 七略, nor is any commentary mentioned in Zhang Hua's biography in the history Jinshu 晉書. The book might have been compiled during the Southern Dynasties period 南朝 (420~589) because the flowery literary style is very similar to Southern Qi 南齊 (479-502) and Liang period 梁 (502-557) writings.
The Shenyijing is included in the reprint series Han-Wei congshu 漢魏叢書, Gezhi congshu 格致叢書, Longwei mishu 龍威秘書, Shuofu 說郛, Wuchao xiaoshuo 五朝小說, Shuoku 說庫 and the Siku quanshu 四庫全書. In 1990 the Shanghai guji press 上海古籍出版社 published a modern annotated version in a joint edition together with the books Mu Tianzi zhuan 穆天子傳, Hainei shizhou ji 海內十洲記 and Bowuzhi 博物志.

1. 東荒經 Donghuang The eastern wilderness
2. 東南荒經 Dongnanhuang The southeastern wilderness
3. 南荒經 Nanhuang The southern wilderness
4. 西南荒經 Xinanhuang The southwestern wilderness
5. 西荒經 Xihuang The western wilderness
6. 西北荒經 Xibeihuang The northwestern wilderness
7. 北荒經 Beihuang The northern wilderness
8. 東北荒經 Dongbeihuang The northeastern wilderness
9. 中荒經 Zhonghuang The central wilderness
Li Shaoyong 李少雍 (1986). "Shenyijiing 神異經", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo wenxue 中國文學, vol. 2, p. 713. Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe.
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe, vol. 2, p. 2165.