The Divine Woman

Dragon Ladies and Rain Maidens in T’ang Literature

by Edward H. Schafer; foreword by Gary Synder

This important exploration of Chinese mythology focuses on the diverse and evocative associations between women and water in the literature of the T’ang dynasty as well as in the enormous classical canon it inherited. By extension, it peers from medieval China back into the mists of ancient days, when snake queens, river goddesses, and dragon ladies ruled over the vast seas, great river courses, and heavenly sources of water, deities who had to be placated by shaman intercessors chanting hymns lost even by the T’ang. As with his other notable works, Professor Schafer’s meticulous researches into the material culture of the past, coupled with a delightful writing style, allow us to better appreciate the literature of the T’ang by clarifying important contemporaneous symbols of fertility, mutability, and power, including the wondrous and ubiquitous dragon.

Edward H. Schafer was Agassiz Professor of Oriental Languages at the University of California, Berkeley. His scholarship was devoted to the T’ang dynasty, from the eighth to the tenth centuries, which saw the greatest cultural flowering in Chinese history. Relying on the literature of that period written by the Chinese themselves, Professor Schafer tried to reconstruct how they thought, dreamed, and regarded the world around them. His books, including The Vermilion Bird, Shore of Pearls, The Empire of Min, Pacing the Void, and others, bring the era to life for modern readers. With this new edition of The Divine Woman, first published by the University of California Press in 1973, Floating World Editions continues its program of reissuing all the out-of-print works of this great sinologist when possible incorporating the author’s corrigenda.

264 pp, 5.5 x 7.25, Soft
ISBN: 978-1891640-48-3
Chinese culture / Literature