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I don't recommend trying to read through the original—the rushed-Scottish-typographer take on Goguet's 18th-century French transcriptions of the Chinese characters might cause an aneurysm—but going through the first edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica there's this passage:

On the ſummit of the mountain [Buzhou (不周山)], ſays an author, are to be ſeen the walls of Juſtice. The ſun and the moon cannot approach them; there is no difference of ſeaſons there, nor viciſſitudes of days and nights. This is the kingdom of light on the confines of [the Queen Mother of the Weſt (西王母)]. A ſaint (a great man) went to make a tour beyond the bounds of the ſun and moon: he beheld a tree, and upon that tree a bird, who made fire come out of it by picking it. He was ſurpriſed at this; he took a branch of this tree, and from thence ſtruck fire; from whence they called this great perſonage [Fred Flintſtone (燧人)].

Does anyone here have any idea what the origin of this story would've been and which classical or medieval author is being alluded to? Any attempt to find it out even with the pinyin and Wade–Giles forms of the names gets absolutely buried under the number of intro-to-Chinese-myth landing pages that discuss the separate stories of Suiren-&-fire and Gonggong-&-Nüwa without ever mentioning that there was a story involving Suiren on Mount Buzhou himself.

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  • Separately, this stack could really use some more detailed tags than one blanket "literature" one. Pointing people to the real sources for Chinese mythology would be a helpful thing to handle and crosslink. It's all a muddled soup across a dozen romanization schemes in translation, whereas within Chinese the Ming, Qing, and modern scholars have usually cleared things up a lot better.
    – lly
    Commented Dec 17, 2022 at 16:10

1 Answer 1

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most likely, it’s quoted from 太平御覽 火部二

that, it claimed the book “拾遺記” by 王子年, had such record:

又曰:申彌國去都萬里,有燧明國不識四時晝夜。其人不死,厭世而升天。國有火樹,名燧木,屈盤萬丈,雲霧出於中間,折枝相鉆,則火出矣。后世聖人,變腥臊之味,游日月之外 ( make a tour beyond the bounds of the ſun and moon),以食救萬物,乃至南垂,目此樹表 (beheld a tree, and upon that tree),有鳥 (a bird) 若鸮,以口啄樹,粲然火出 (who made fire come out of it by picking it)。聖人 (A ſaint) 感焉 (was ſurpriſed at this),因取小枝以鉆火 (he took a branch of this tree, and from thence ſtruck fire) ,號燧人氏 (from whence they called this great perſonage),在庖羲之前,則火食起乎茲矣。

isn’t it more interesting to have numerous romanisations, that one need to do hard, to find the original chinese texts 😸

have fun :)

edited

or, 太平御覽 皇王部三 has similar text:

王子年《拾遺錄》曰:遂明國,有大樹,名遂,屈盤萬頃。后世有聖人游日月之外,至於其國,息此樹下,有鳥啄樹,粲然火出,聖人感焉,因用小枝鉆火,號燧人氏

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  • ... so these are the main sources for the Suiren story and the Buzhou part of it with the walls/fortress of Justice is just something completely unrelated (besides being mythic and in the west) and got pasted in by the French or the Jesuits they were leaning on?
    – lly
    Commented Dec 18, 2022 at 13:55

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