It’s no secret that many cultures have their own version of the supernatural. But did you know that some of those creatures were created long before we even had words for them? That’s right: The manuscript featured in this post is believed to be one of the earliest depictions of Chinese mythology—and it may have also been a major source of inspiration for other Asian countries with supernatural creatures. So let’s get ready to dive into all sorts of different myths and legends, shall we?
A Chinese manuscript dating back to the 14th century features some of the early drawings of supernatural creatures in Chinese mythology, including kirin and fox spirits.
The supernaturally-themed scroll is a copy of an earlier work, dating back to the 14th century. It features some of the earliest drawings of supernatural creatures in Chinese mythology, including kirin and fox spirits.
The manuscript is written in Chinese characters on paper (a medium known as xuan paper). The text itself consists of 23 columns with lines running horizontally across each page; there are no illustrations in this section. The second part contains 14 pages with hand-painted illustrations depicting various types of supernatural creatures such as dragons and phoenixes; these pages also feature calligraphic text which provides descriptions for each creature depicted within them
The manuscript was acquired by the University Library of Heidelberg in Germany in the late 19th century.
The manuscript is in relatively good condition, considering its age. It was acquired by the University Library of Heidelberg in Germany in the late 19th century from a private collector. This makes sense given that it was written during China’s Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), which ended some 300 years before European explorers began traveling to Asia and bringing back exotic specimens for display at home.
It includes 44 hand-painted illustrations.
This manuscript contains 44 hand-painted illustrations. Each page contains a poem describing a supernatural creature, some of whom have been known for centuries but also some that are believed to have been created during this time period.
They were created by an anonymous artist who drew on earlier works by Japanese artists who brought their own versions of these mythical creatures to China during their travels.
The manuscript was created by an anonymous artist who drew on earlier works by Japanese artists who brought their own versions of these mythical creatures to China during their travels.
Each page contains a poem describing a supernatural creature, some of whom have been known for centuries but also some that are believed to have been created during this time period.
The poems are written in Chinese, which is why they were not translated until recently.
Stay tuned for more about supernatural creatures coming soon!
In the next few weeks, we will be exploring more about the supernatural creatures found in this manuscript. As you can see from the first post, there are many more than just dragons and phoenixes! Stay tuned for more information on these fascinating creatures and others like them.
In addition to this blog series, I’ve also digitized our copy of The Supernatural Creatures of 14th Century China Manuscript so that anyone can read it online for free! It has been translated into both English and Chinese (traditional characters). If you would like access or have any questions about how to use it please contact me at sean@bibliophile1019@gmailcom
We hope that you enjoyed learning about some of the earliest depictions of supernatural creatures in China. We will be back soon with more information on these mythical beasts and their origins!