Come join First Saturday PDX for a mesmerizing introduction to an early Chinese vision of how the universe came to be.
A third-century poet in China named Chenggong Sui (231-273) wrote a 144-line poem called “Poetic Exposition on Heaven and Earth (Tiandi Fu)” which he claims is the first rhapsody of its kind, beginning with the murkiness of primal chaos, then separating into yang and yin, and finally fragmenting: on one hand, the sun, moon, planets and constellations and on the other, the rivers, mountains and creatures on earth. In the process of surveying early Chinese cosmology, astronomy, and geography, Chenggong Sui speculates on how religious and scientific thought about the cosmos evolved. Dr. Brashier will walk us through the formation of the cosmos, illustrating the poem’s verses with contemporaneous images from Han burials and excavated relics.
About the speaker: Ken Brashier 白瑞旭 , Professor of Religion and Humanities at Reed College, received his BA from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar, his MA from Harvard, and his PhD from Cambridge. Author of Ancestral Memory in Early China (Harvard University Asia Center, 2011) and Public Memory in Early China (Harvard University Asia Center, 2014), he is currently studying the idea of purgatory in late imperial China. In 2006, he was recognized as the national "Outstanding Baccalaureate Colleges Professor of the Year" by the CASE/Carnegie Foundation, but his chief goal in life remains a futile attempt to get his two cats to respect him.