From “Humble Things” to the “Great Dao

A Philosophical Reading of Ancient Chinese “Cricket Books” (Xishuai Pu 蟋蟀譜)

Authors

  • YANG Xiaobo Zhejiang Yuexiu University, Shaoxing, China

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.4312/as.2024.12.2.171-191

Keywords:

cricket, cricket-fighting, cricket books, Chinese cricket culture, Chinese philosophy

Abstract

China’s distinctive cricket culture—related to the insect, not the game—has given rise to a unique genre of texts known as “cricket books” (xishuai pu 蟋蟀譜). These texts, serving as instructional manuals for cricket-fighting, fall under the branch of pulu (譜錄) in traditional Chinese bibliography. Beyond scientific and technological merits, this genre has profound aesthetic and philosophical significance. Nurtured by the highly developed urban leisure culture of the Song dynasty, it embodies a philosophy of leisure. During the Ming dynasty, cricket books ultimately attained the esteemed title of “Classics” (jing 經) due to their profound philosophical resonance and embodiment of Confucian values. This article undertakes a philosophical exploration of these texts, aiming to unveil the embedded interpretative framework of Dao-Qi (道-器) in their examination of the colouration (se 色) and physiognomy (xiang 相) of crickets. This framework represents a fusion between Confucianism and Daoism: while Daoism embarks on a journey of transcendence from the very bottom (the most minute and humble things under Heaven, or weiwu 微物) to the very top (the “Great Dao”), Confucianism strives to bridge these two extremes through the emotion (qing 情) inherent in human hearts. This fusion can be aptly characterized as a philosophy of “emotion towards things” (ai wu 愛物). Moreover, this article addresses the challenges posed by modern society to traditional Chinese cricket culture, articulating concerns about the survival and revival of these time-honoured traditions in today’s technology-driven world.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

References

Bai, Feng 白峰, ed. 2013. Xishuai gupu pingzhu 蟋蟀古譜評註 (Ancient Chinese Cricket Books: Texts and Annotations). Shanghai: Shanghai kexue jishu chuban she.

———. 2017. Douxi xiaoshi 鬥蟋小史 (A Brief History of Cricket-Fighting in China). Guilin: Guangxi shifan daxue chuban she.

———. 2018. Dingse fenlei xishuai pu 定色分類蟋蟀譜 (Colour Classification Manual for Crickets). Guilin: Guangxi shifan daxue chuban she.

Bouwer, Johan, and Marco van Leeuwen. 2017. Philosophy of Leisure: Foundations of the Good Life. London: Routledge.

Chen, Tianjia 陳天嘉. 2013. “Zhongguo chuantong xishuai pu yanjiu 中國傳統蟋蟀譜研究 (A Study of Traditional Chinese Cricket Books).” Zhongguo dianji yu wenhua 中國典籍與文化 (Chinese Classics & Culture) 85 (2): 146‒54.

Li, Zehou 李澤厚. 2008a. Shiyong lixing yu legan wenhua 實用理性與樂感文化 (Pragmatic Reason and a Culture of Optimism). Beijing: Shenghuo dushu xinzhi sanlian shudian.

———. 2008b. Lishi bentilun & Jimao wu shuo 歷史本體論·己卯五說 (Historical Ontology and Five Essays from 1999). Beijing: Shenghuo dushu xinzhi sanlian shudian.

———. 2016. “A Response to Michael Sandel and Other Matters.” Translated by Paul J. D’Ambrosio, and Robert A. Carleo III. Philosophy East and West 66 (4): 1068‒147.

Liu, Zhao 劉釗, and Feng Kejian 馮克堅, eds. 2019. Jiaguwen Changyongzi zidian 甲骨文常用字字典 (Dictionary of Commonly Used Characters in Oracle Shell and Bone Inscriptions). Beijing: Zhonghua shuju.

Mou, Licheng 牟利成. 2018. Yindun de shehui: Wenhua shehuixue shijiao xia de zhongguo douxi 隱遁的社會:文化社會學視角下的中國鬥蟋 (The Hidden Society: A Study on Chinese Cricket-Fighting from the View of Cultural Sociology). Beijing: Shehui kexue wenxian chuban she.

Needham, Joseph. 1954. Science and Civilisation in China. Vol 1: Introductory Orientations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Rillich, Jan, Birk Rillich, and Paul A. Stevenson. 2019. “Differential Modulation of Courtship Behavior and Subsequent Aggression by Octopamine, Dopamine and Serotonin in Male Crickets.” Hormones and Behavior 114 (8): 1‒8.

Wang, Shixiang 王世襄, ed. 2013. Xishuai pu jicheng 蟋蟀譜集成 (A Comprehensive Collection of Ancient Chinese Cricket Books). Beijing: Shenghuo dushu xinzhi sanlian shudian.

Downloads

Published

6. 05. 2024

How to Cite

Yang, Xiaobo. 2024. “From “Humble Things” to the “Great Dao”: A Philosophical Reading of Ancient Chinese ‘Cricket Books’ (Xishuai Pu 蟋蟀譜)”. Asian Studies 12 (2): 171-91. https://doi.org/10.4312/as.2024.12.2.171-191.

Similar Articles

11-20 of 279

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.