Cambridge Chinese Classics

To study, practice and promote Chinese classics

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Term Card - 2013 Easter

"Chinese Mythical Origins and Zhou Yi"

Saturday 4th May, by Hong Ge and Xiaoke Yang

1) Chinese Mythical Origins: Come find out about Genesis within Chinese myths and legends. Hear stories about how Giants and supernatural beings created the Heavens and Earth, and gave themselves to be part of the Earth. Also, learn about the origins of certain Chinese beliefs and ancient cosmology.
2) I Ching, or Zhou Yi is one of the oldest and most mysterious book in China. What is this book about, divination, philosophy, or something else? Through a brief introduction and reading of the Qian gua (the sky), we try to catch a glimpse of this ancient book.


"Shang Civilization"

Saturday 18th May, by Mingjie Xu

Following the previous session last Saturday on Chinese mythical origins, the English Reading Group this week will explore the history of the Shang Dynasty(商代). The Shang Dynasty was the earliest Chinese dynasty that could be verified from its own records and the dynasty was dated between about 17th and 11th century BC. The Shang people had created an unprecedented great civilization which was characterized by decent bronze vessels (which symbolize Chinese Bronze Age civilization) and oracle-bone inscriptions (which were the origin of Chinese characters). In the first slot, I will introduce briefly the history of the Shang Dynasty, in particular addressing two questions: how wonderful the Shang civilization was and why it is so significant in Chinese history. The second slot will focus on reading an original text, The Ode of Lie Zu(《烈祖》), excerpted from the Book of Odes (《诗经》). The Ode of Lie Zu, although composed several hundred years after the collapse of the dynasty by Shang descendants, can still remind us of the greatness of the Shang civilization.


"Western Zhou"

Saturday 1st June, by Xiaoke Yang and Hao Liu

1) We will start this week's reading session with a brief history of the Western Zhou period (1046–771 BCE), which was the first half of the Zhou Dynasty of ancient China and began when King Wu of Zhou overthrew the Shang Dynasty. Like many other dynasties in China, the Western Zhou was successful in its early years but gradually lost power. The fate of the Western Zhou was sealed by a defeat by the barbarians, and the Zhou Dynasty was forced to move eastwards, embarking on one of the most dynamic, albeit chaotic, eras in China, the Eastern Zhou period.
2) Tao Te Ching, or Laozi is a core and fundamental Taoism text. Starting with "The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao" and finished by "The Way of Heaven is to benefit others and not to injure, the way of the sage is to act but not compete", this 5000-character text conveys abundant and profound ideas like Dao, De, Wu Wei, Emptiness and so on. Through the reading of some selections from the Tao Te Ching, we will have a taste of these ideas.



"History and Fantasies from Eastern Zhou"

Saturday 15th June, by Yu Ye and Yi-Ren Tang

1) The rise of feudal lords in Eastern Zhou and the first hegemonies. (Yu Ye)
I will be continuing on the theme of Zhou dynasty and this week will focus on the decline in royal power. Eastern Zhou dynasty is arguably one of the most original and eventful periods in Chinese history, and we will be taken through a time where the central power is gradually transferred to feudal lords.
2) 'Once upon a time, I, Zhuang Zi, dreamt I was a butterfly...' (Yi Ren Thng)
Come explore with us the famous ‘Dream of the Butterfly’ episode of Zhuang Zi, a philosophical and literal masterpiece that alludes to deep, poignant Taoist insights and observations about the nature of the world. Using two different translations, we examine the differences between how Western intellectuals such as Herman Hesse and Jorge Luis Borges have perceived this episode, while restoring historical and linguistic authenticity through an alternative translation that is closer to Zhuang Zi’s original intents.