Lofty Principles of Dream-Interpretation

(C^en S^i-yuan : Encyclopaedia of Dreams ) [I.5]


pp. 66-77 – I.5 "Disciple of Emptiness"

p. 68, n. 2 dreams by the Yellow Emperor Xuan-yuan


its content



"It can only be reached by spirit-wandering. ... Twenty-eight years later, the world was well governed".

Master Lie


he said to Tian-lao "I dreamt that two dragons held out a white diagram and presented it to me". while awake, "he went to Cuigui River, where a large perch bore a white diagram with vermilion graphs written on lan-flower leaves".

Yellow River Diagram Offered as an Aid to the Emperor

Fen Hou (‘wind graph’)

"dreamt that a great wind blew away all the dust in the world.

Annals of the Thearchs and Kings

Li Mu (‘power herder’)

He also dreamt that someone picked up a crossbow weighing [about 2 tonnes] and drove a herd of ten thousand sheep."

" " "

"he wrote The Book of Dreams in eleven chapters." {cf. the counting of sheep in order to fall asleep}

p. 68, n. 3 dreams by Yao



"had dreams of clambering up to heaven, and Tang licked heaven when he reached it."

History of the Eastern Han Dynasty from the Don-guan Pavilion

"dreamt of ascending Mount Tai by riding on a green dragon."

"a dream manual", quoted by "a commentary"

p. 68, nn. 3-4 dreams by S^un





"dreamt that he was beating a drum."

"a dream manual", quoted by "a commentary"


"dreamt that his eyebrows grew as long as his hair".

Annals of the Thearchs and Kings

p. 69, n. 5 dreams by Yu the Great



on "Mount Heng, he dreamt of a boy in embroidered red clothes who called himself the "Emissary of the Black Yi Tribe by the Green River."" while awake, he "climbed a long, winding path and discovered a rock where he obtained a book written with jade graphs on gold slips that disclosed the principles of curbing floods. ... The title of the book was The Guideways Through Mountains and Seas."

Spring and Autumn Annals of Wu and Yue

"dreamt that he washed himself in the Western River."

Annals of the Thearchs and Kings

"he dreamt that he sailed on a boat across the moon."

Bo & Kon’s Encyclopaedia

p. 69, n. 7 dreams by kings Jie & Z^ou



"Jie dreamt that a malevolent whirlwind destroyed his palace, and

"a dream manual", quoted by "a commentary"

Zhou dreamt that a great bolt of lightning struck his head."

" " " "

p. 69, n. 8 dreams by king Wen of the Z^ou



"dreamt that the sun and moon illuminated his body."

Annals of the Thearchs and Kings

"dream of an excellent man with a dark complexion and whiskers who was riding on a dappled horse with vermilion hooves. He urged me, ‘Turn the government over to the old man of Zang. ...’ " [the old man was fishing]

Master Z^uan

"dreamt of a woman who blocked the road and wept, "I am the daughter of the Eastern Sea who is to be married to the Western Ocean. ... There is bound to be a great storm when I proceed ... ." ... For the next three days and nights, there was indeed a tempest".

A Record of Manifold Things

p. 69, n. 9 dream by Jian Tai-gon, fishing at Pan stream before meeting king Wen



"dreamt at night that the god of the Supporting Star in the Northern Dipper gave him the idea of ... the future."

Central Omens in the Documents of Antiquity

pp. 69-70, n. 10 dreams by Gon-fu Zi (Confucius)




69, n. 10

"Today I dreamt of our late lord."

Compendium of Mr. Lu:

70, n. 10

"had a dream at night of a red vapor among three sophora trees in Fengpei. He drove his carriage forward and saw that a boy had injured the left [front] leg of a lin-beast."

History of the Liu Song Dynasty


"dreamt that a red whirlwind arose by a gate of three sophora trees in Fengpei. He called Yan Hui and Zixia to come and observe it. They saw a red snake change into gold, ... which was a sign of the rise of the future Emperor ... in Fengpei."

prince Yi of Xian-don : Master of the Golden Tower

p. 70, nn. 11-12 dreams by queens






Nu:-jie, during the era of the Yellow Emperor

"there was a star as great as a rainbow which fell down to the Flowery Island." she "dreamed that she received it." "she subsequently gave birth to Shaohao."

Annals of the Thearchs and Kings


Tai-si [a queen – see also p. 89, n. 9:2]

"dreamt that catalpa trees from the Zhou courtyard changed into pines, junipers, and oaks."

Documents of the Z^ou Dynasty

p. 70, n. 13 dream by mother of Yi Yin



"dreamt that someone told her, "When water issues forth from the mortar, you should flee east." The next morning ... she fled ... eastward. When she looked back at her village, it lay completely submerged under deep water."

Wan C^on : Judicious Discussions

p. 70, n. 14 dreams by Z^en-zai the mother of Gon-fu Zi



"dreamt that the divine Black Emperor sent an emissary who ordered her to set forth, saying, "You will give birth in Kongsang." ... Later, she gave birth to Confucius in Kongsang."

A Chart of the Life of Gon-fu Zi

"she dreamed about the green dragons ... . There were also ... a goddess offering dew, five elders assembled in the courtyard, and a qilin-beast spitting forth jade writing."

Records from the Treasure Cabinet

pp. 71-75, nn. 18-28 dreams recorded in Zuo’s Narratives



interpretation & comparative

71, n. 18

The duke Pin of Jin "dreamt of a yellow bear that entered the door of his residence."

"In the past, Yao sacrificed to Gun at Feather Mountain, and Gun’s spirit changed into a yellow bear that entered Feather Abyss. This was actually where the altar of Xia was".

" "

Before he became the duke Z^ao of Son, "De dreamt ... that he, De, had become birds that assembled on top of Qi. Their beaks were over the south gate and their tails were over the Pawlonia Gate."

{cf. [Persian] SimurG, 30 birds as a unitary being}

71, n. 19

"Lu: Qi dreamt that he had shot at the moon and struck, but when returning he got stuck in the mud."

"the royal Zhou surname Ji denoted the sun while the moon meant ... the king of Chu."

" "

The earl S^en "dreamt that he had crossed the Huan River where someone gave him jade and pearls, which he ate. When he cried, his tears became jade and pearls that overflowed onto his body."

{was this an instance of "casting pearls before swine"?}

72, n. 21

"Duke Wen of Jin dreamt that the ruler of Chu had pinned him to the ground and was sucking out his brains."

{cf. Tudeus eating the raw brains of Melanippos (GM 106.j).}

" "

The duke Z^uan of Wei "dreamt that he ... saw someone who had ascended the Kunwu Observatory. The man [said,] "I have climbed up Kunwu, where unbroken melon vines grow. ...""

{cf. Muslim characterization of >al-Lahh as a "melon".}

72, n. 22

"a low-ranking concubine named Yanji ... dreamed that an emissary from heaven gave her a lan-flower, saying "... this will be your son, for the lan is the most fragrant flower in the state." ... She gave birth to the future Duke Mu, who was named Lan."

{cf. /Narkissos/, as a flower-name for a man -- the flower hath, according to Pausanios 9:31:9, a "sweet scent" (N).}

73, n. 24

"Xun Yan ... dreamt that ... Duke Li of Jin ... struck him with a dagger and his head fell off in front of him. He knelt down and put it back on. Holding up his head with both hands, he ran off and saw the spirit-medium Wu Gao of Gengyang."

{cf. Gawain and the Green Knight, wherein the Green Knight re-established his own cut-off head.}

74, n. 26

S^u-sun Mu-zi "dreamt ... pressing down on him ... a dark-skinned man with a hunchback, deep-set eyes, and a snout. He called ..., "Ox, help me!""

Niu ‘Bull’ was the son of a woman with who Mu-zi had had sexual intercourse; this woman of Gen-zon praesented to Mu-zi a pheasant. {/Pheasant/ is < /Phasianos/, of river Phasis (GM 151.h) where fiery-breathed bulls ploughed (GM 152.g).}

74, n. 27

"Duke Jing of Jin dreamt of a great demon whose unbound hair reached down to the ground. The demon beat his chest and danced about ... . He destroyed the outer gate of the palace and the doors to the residential quarters and came in. The duke was terrified and went into his bedchamber, but the demon broke through this door as well." The duke became sick and "dreamt that the illness had become two boys," who hid "between the heart and the diaphragm."

the spirit-medium from San-tian expounded, "You will not live to eat millet from the new harvest." "But just as he was about to eat it, he had to go to the privy, which he fell into and died." {cf. [Hellenic] myth wherein it was prophesied that a king would not eat the grapes of the next harvest; when he was about to eat them, he was killed by wild swine.}

GM = Robert Graves : The Greek Myths. 1955.

N =

dreams from other sources




70, n. 17

Gon-fu Zi said, "The other night, I dreamt that I was sitting peacefully between two pillars in a hall."

"Tan Gon" in the Book of Ritual

73, n. 24

"Zhao Dun dreamt that Shu Dai was grasping hold of his waist and sobbing in great despair. After a while, he laughed, clapping his hands and singing."

Historical Records

76, n. 30

The king Gao-zon of the S^an "dreamt that the supreme god Di provided him with an excellent assistant. He then ... had an excellent portrait made so that the man could be searched for throughout the world."

"The Charge to Yue" in Documents of the S^an Dynasty

76, n. 32

"my dream ... was of black bears and brown ones,

Of vipers and other snakes."

poe:m "Beck" in Lesser Odes

" "

"The herdsman then dreamt

Of locusts turning into fish

Of flags with tortoises and snakes becoming flags with birds."

poe:m "No Sheep?" in Lesser Odes


Richard E. Strassberg (transl.) : Wandering Spirits : Chen Shiyuan’s Encyclopedia of Dreams. U of CA Pr, Berkeley, 2008.