What I lost in translation at both ends of the Great Divide.

And what I found for making that attempt to bridge the chasm.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"The Sky is black, the Earth is Yellow & the Universe is Vast" - Thousand Character Classic 千字文 – Line 1


天地玄黄, 宇宙洪荒。
tiāndì xuánhuáng, yǔzhòu hónghuāng。

(sky) (earth) (black) (yellow)

This has been interpreted as the sky is black and the earth yellow. It is interesting to note that 天地 also means heaven and earth and that 玄黄 can also mean the same thing. 玄黄 can also mean dark yellow. 天地玄黄 was changed to 天地远黄 in the Qing dynasty when was changed to yuǎn out of respect to the Qing emperor 玄桦 Xuánhuà.

宇宙 (universe) (vast) (desolate)

Evelyn Lip said that in ancient writings such as the Huai Nan zi 淮南子, “ refers to everything around, above and below while represents both the past and present. In other words, the universe encompasses everything, ever-changing and fluctuating”. 洪荒 together also means primordial time. Thus, in the beginning the universe was created out of a vast, chaotic state.

1 comment:

  1. I love the Qianzi wen. But the Kangxi emperor's personal name was Xuányè 玄燁 not Xuánhuà.