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Novels and Operas   /   Performance themes   /   My performances   /   Dialogue between a fisherman and a woodcutter 首頁
Qin in Xi You Ji 1
(Journey to the West, a novel by Wu Cheng'en) 2
 
古琴與西遊記
吳承恩作
No illustration as yet 3
Xi You Ji, first published in the 1590s, tells of a monk named Xuanzang, also called Tripitaka,
4 going to India ("the West") to collect Buddhist sutras. He is accompanied on this trip by the three anthropomorphic characters "Monkey5", "Pigsy6" and "Sandy7".

The subject of one of the 100 chapters8 is a Dialogue between a fisherman and a woodcutter. This is also the subject and title of one of the most famous qin melodies. 9

The novel also specifically mentions the qin in seven chapters, usually in one of the poems. In two chapters it mention the qin in two places. Below left are the original Chinese quotations;10 the translations at right are by W.F. Jenner.11 As can be seen, Jenner renders "qin" variously as "lute", "guitar", "zither", "qin", "qin zither" and "music".

 9. 
 
興到攜琴上翠微。
 
Or carry my lute (qin!) up the emerald hills. (Jenner: Chapter 10;
Part of the Dialogue between a fisherman and a woodcutter)
17.   潺潺流水咽鳴琴, Whose gurgling waters sing like a guitar (qin!),
30. 
 
跌傷琴瑟逃生。
澗泉滴滴奏瑤琴。
Trampling on zithers (qin se) as they ran away. (Also mentions pipa, translated "lute")
Waterfalls tumbled with the sound of lutes.
53. 
 
卻見那真仙撫琴,只待他琴終,
急起身,下了琴床,
who was playing his qin zither, and waited till he had finished before saying,
He sprang to his feet, stepped down from the low table on which he was playing the qin
64.   博弈調琴講道書。 For chess and music (qin!) and books on the Way,
91.   鶴來松下听琴。 Cranes come to hear the lute (qin!) beneath the pines.
96.   有書畫琴棋, Were calligraphy, paintings, a lute (qin!) and chess,

 
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Journey to the West (西遊記 Xi You Ji)
ICTCL Hsi-yu Chi has details of this famous novel; see also in Wiki; its links at the bottom include one to an online .pdf version of Jenner's translation, but another one is currently better formatted. A number of websites have the Chinese original; the one used here is at www.millionbook.net/gd/w/wuchengen/xyj/index.html.

35587.609 西遊記 Xi You Ji refers to two publications:

  1. The present story, derived from folk tales dating at least from the Song dynasty and the subject of a Yuan opera of the same title by 吳昌齡 Wu Changling.
  2. A travelogue, full title 長春真人西遊記 Changchun Zhenren Xiyou Ji, said to date from the 13th century. It has been translated into English by Arther Waley as "The Travels of an Alchemist. The Journey of the Taoist Ch'ang-Ch'un from China to the Hindukush at the Summons of Chingiz Khan. Recorded by His Disciple Li Chih-Ch'ang" (李志常 Li Zhichang; his master, Changchun, was 丘處機 Qiu Chuji [Wiki]). This story is discussed in Wiki; Waley's translation was originally included in The Broadway Travelers, discussed in the German Wiki.

According to Wikipedia the similarity of the two titles has sometimes led people incorrectly to attribute Wu Cheng'en's novel to Chang Chun.
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2. Wu Cheng'en 吳承恩 (ca. 1500 - 1582)
See Wiki. The novel was originally published anonymously and there is considerable debate as to the actual author.
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3. Image
At present the only relevant images are related to the theme of the qin melody (also: folk art image).
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4. Tripitaka (三藏 Sānzàng): Xuán Zàng 玄奘 (c. 602–664)
This character from the novel is named after a real monk, Xuán Zàng (Wiki), who actually did go to India in search of the Tripitaka, i.e., Buddhist scriptures (Wiki), including the Heart Sutra; hence, the monk himself is also sometimes called Sanzang/Tripitaka. The original Xuan Zang is also the subject of an Indian classic comic book, where he is called Hiuen Tsang.
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5. Monkey (孫悟空 Sūn Wùkōng)
See in Wikipedia.
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6. Pigsy (豬八戒 Zhū Bājiè)
See in Wikipedia.
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7. Sandy (沙悟凈 Shā Wùjìng)
See in Wikipedia.
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8. Chapter 9 or Chapter 10?
There is some inconsistency between the Chinese and English versions on the contents of chapters 9 and 10. Jenner has it in Chapter 10, but in some Chinese editions the original of what Jenner has as Chapter 9 is an attachment to Chapter 8, so that there the dialogue forms Chapter 9. By the second reference, in Chapter 17, the English and Chinese numbers are in agreement.
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9. Dialogue between a fisherman and a woodcutter (漁樵問答 Yu Qiao Wen Da)
The qin melody does not go into personalities, but in the Xi You Ji dialogue the participants have names: the fisherman is 張稍 Zhang Shao, the woodcutter is 李定 Li Ding. The conversion is also called 漁橋閑話 Yu Qiao Xianhua.
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10. Chinese text
The Chinese text used here can be found online at www.millionbook.net/gd/w/wuchengen/xyj/index.html; the dialogue between the fisherman and woodcutter comes from Chapter 9.
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11. Translation by W. F. Jenner of Journey to the West
This translation, published by Collinson Fair in 1955, seems to be the earliest (almost) complete English translation.
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