PRELIMINARY CHAPTER. — ORIGINAL RECORD OF THE THREE SOVEREIGNS
T‘aihao, or P‘aohsi, of the surname Fêng, superseding Suijên, succeeded Heaven as King. His mother, named Huahsü, trod in the footprint of a giant at Thunder lake, and bore P‘aohsi at Ch‘êngchi. He had a serpent's body, a man's head, and the virtue of a sage.
Looking up he contemplated the forms exhibited in the heavens, and looking down he observed the patterns shown on the earth: he observed also around him the ornamental markings of the birds and beasts, and the different suitabilities of the soil. As to what was near he found things for consideration in his own person, and as to the remote in things in general. He first delineated the eight Trigrams in order to show fully the virtus of the gods, and to classify the qualities of the myriads of things. He worked out a system of recording by tablets in lieu of knotted cords, and marriage rites were then first instituted, a pair of skins being given as wedding presents.
He made nets to teach men how to snare animals and to fish. He kept beasts for sacrificial purposes in his kitchen. There being a dragon omen, he enrolled dragons among his officers, and they were styled dragon leaders. He made the thirty-five-stringed lute.
His capital was in Ch‘ên. In the East he built a fêng monument on Mount T‘ai. Having reigned eleven years he died. His posterity in the 'Spring and Autumn' period (721-480 B.C.) were Jên, hsü, Hsü, chü, and Ch‘uanyü, who all, one after the other, bore the surname Fêng.
Nükua, also of the surname Fêng, had the body of a serpent, the head of a man, and the virtue of a holy man. He came to the throne in the room of Fuhsi, under the title Nühsi. He made no hand-drums, and only fashioned the reed organ.
In his last year one of the princes named Kung kung, whose duty it was to administer the criminal law, became violent and played the tyrant. He did not rule properly. He also fought with Ch‘uyung and was not victorious, when, falling into a rage, he butted with his head against the Incomplete mountain, and brought it down. The pillar of heaven was broken and a corner of the earth was wanting. Nükua then fused five-coloured stones to repair heaven, cut off the feet of a tortoise to establish the four extremities of earth, collected the ashes of burnt reeds to stop the inundation, and so rescued the land of Chichow. After this the earth was at rest, the heaven made whole and the old things were unchanged.
Nükua died, and Shênnung began his reign. The blazing god, Shênnung, was of the Chiang family. His mother, named Nütêng, was Yukua's daughter and Shaotien's wife. Influenced by a sacred dragon, she brought forth the blazing god with a man's body and an ox's head. He grew up on the banks of the Chiang river, whence he derived his surname.
He named his officers by the help of fire. He cut down trees to make agricultural implements, bending timber into the shape of plough handles and spades, and taught the people the art of husbandry. As he was the first to give lessons in agriculture he was styled 'divine husbandman.'
Then sacrifices were offered at the close of the year, and red thongs used for garlanding plants and trees. He was the first to taste the different herbs, and the first to make use of them for medicinal purposes. He also made the five-stringed lute. He taught people how to hold mid-day markets, when they bartered their wares and retired, everyone having got what he wanted. He reduplicated the eight Trigrams, and thus obtained sixty-four symbols.
He first of all had his capital at Ch‘en, and then dwelt at Ch‘üfou. After reigning 120 years he died, and was buried at Ch‘angsha. Shênnung originally came from Liehshan (burning mountain), and also Lishan.
Shênnung took for his consort the daughter of Peng Shui 'Rushing water,' named T‘ingpa, who bore a son, the Emperor Ai (alas), who had a son, Emperor K‘o (conqueror), who had a son, Emperor Yü-wang (elm net). There were altogether eight generations, lasting 530 years, after which Hsien-yüan arose.
His descendants were Chou, Fu, Kan, hsü, Hsi, Lu, Ch‘i, Chi, I, hsiang, Shen, and lu, who were all of the Chiang tribe, and princes, or else one of the presidents of the four mountains. Under the Chou dynasty a great prince, the chief of Shen, was a loyal minister of the king, the state Hsü and Ch‘i were the leaders of the princes of the Middle Kingdom. Now the bounties conferred by the holy men were great and extensive, so their reigns were glorious and long, and their progeny numerous.