炎帝神農傳說  Legend of Shennong
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所屬名錄: 第二批國家級名錄

編號: I-49

申報地區或單位: 湖北省隨州市、神農架林區

Inscribed list: National List, Second Batch

Inventory no.: I-49

Nominating unit(s): Hubei Province, Suizhou City, Shennongjialin Forestry Reserve

炎帝神農傳説,或神農氏,是一系列有關中國神祇神農氏的傳說,他被人們尊敬為一名史前中國時期神祕的賢能領䄂。

他的名字「神農」意指「神聖的農夫」或「農業之神」。普遍傳說描述他是一個頭上長有牛角的傳奇人物,水晶般透明的肚子,𥚃面能夠看見他的內臟。他亦是各種農業工具及思想的創建者,包括鋤頭、灌溉、農曆及二十四節氣。同樣地,他亦有教導中國人關於中草藥的知識。傳說他在森林和山中遊走,摘了草藥或植物後親自品嚐他們,以測試其特性。他的透明肚能夠讓他看到植物的效果,然後他會把它們的效用或毒性記錄下來。在《淮南子》中,神農氏一天嘗了多至七十種草藥。

根據《史記》及《搜神記》,神農亦有一支紅色的神鞭,它能夠幫助神農辨認毒草及瞭解其特性。中國史上第一本中藥百科全書《神農本草經》是根據神農氏的草藥研究成果。但是這本書的最早版本卻在西漢時期出現,因此可指這本書在神農氏歿後才完成編輯。

有一次,神農吃了一片小葉後,他發現那片葉子在他的胃部及腸部移動,看似巡查周邊,所以他名這植物為「查」,意指巡查,後來它成為了「茶」。其他版本則認為當一棵茶樹起火後,燃燒中的茶葉被風吹落神農氏盛著沸水的煲中,因此神農成為茶的發明者,而他認為茶是針對多種毒藥的解毒劑。

不幸地,傳說中的神農氏為研究犧牲自己性命,他吃了鉤吻(中文或稱斷腸草)的部分後毒發身亡。

神農氏亦有很多傳説,其他關於神農氏的傳説講述了他的女兒 — 女娃。在《山海經》中,它記載了女娃在東海游泳時不幸遇溺的故事。她死後,靈魂化為一隻名為精衛的鳥兒,並用碎石、嫩枝和樹枝填滿東海。

湖北神農架林區是傳說中神農為研究而嚐百草的地方,那地區的樹林及沿崖充滿植物種類繁多。神農架意指神農的樓梯,亦因為神農為研究修築樓梯而得名。今天,它為一個孕育了猴子、蛇或鹿的生態系統提供了一個家,而有些人亦會攀山採藥。與神農氏有關的文物及遺產亦在神農架林區設立。

The legend of the Flame Emperor (Yandi) who is known as Shennong, are a series of myths about this Chinese deity, who is venerated as a mythical sage ruler of prehistoric China.

 

His name Shennong means “Divine Farmer” or “Agriculture God.” Popular folklore depict him as a legendary figure with a pair of bull’s horns upon his head, a stomach as transparent as a crystal, which revealed all his internal organs of his body.  He is attributed as the inventor of various important tools and ideas related to agriculture, such as the hoe, irrigation, and the Chinese calendar whose 24 solar terms revolves around agricultural activity. Equally as significant, he is also considered to have taught the Chinese about Chinese medicinal plants.  It is said he travelled around the forest and the mountains, picking herbs and plants to test their properties, ingesting it himself.  His transparent stomach allowed him to see the effects of the plant, and after that, he would record their beneficial or poisonous properties. As recorded in Huainanzi (), there was a time when Shennong ingested up to 70 poisonous plants in a day.

 

According to Records of the Grand Historian and Sou Shen Ji, Shennong also possessed a crimson whip for beating the plants, which somehow enabled him to identify toxic ones and to understand their properties. The contents in the first Chinese pharmacopoeia, Shennong Ben Cao Jing, is attributed to Shennong’s research on herbs. However, the earliest record of this work dates to the Western Han dynasty, therefore it was compiled long after Shennong’s death.

 

One time, when he ingested a small leaf, he noticed that it seemed to move around in his stomach and intestines, seemingly like on an inspection, so he named the plant “cha” (查), which means “to patrol” in Chinese. The plant then became known as “cha” (茶), a homophone. In another version of the story, a tea bush caught fire, and the wind carried some of the burning leaves through the air and into Shenong’s cauldron of boiling water. Thus Shennong is credited for discovery tea, and tea was viewed by him as an effective antidote to many poisons. 

 

Unfortunately, legend has it that Shennong gave up his life in the name of research, as he died after ingesting a type of plant known as Gelsemium elegans, known in Chinese literally as “the intestine-breaking herb.”

 

There are other legends about this mythic figure. Another well-known legend is about his daughter, whose name was Nuwa (). In the literature Shan Hai Jing, it recounts a story, in which Nuwa tragically drowned at the East Sea while swimming. Her spirit was later transformed into a bird named Jing Wei (), and it used the stones, twigs and branches from the west to fill the East Sea up.

 

The Shennongjialin Reserve in Hubei is alleged to be the place where Shennong found and tasted over a thousand herbs for his medicinal studies, as the area is rich in plant species, in the forest and on the cliffs. Shennongjia, meaning Shennong’s ladder, earned its name when Shennong supposedly constructed a ladder to climb up the steep slopes. Today, it is still the home of a vibrant ecosystem with a wide variety of animal species such as monkeys, snakes, and deer, while people still hike up the cliffs to pick rare and precious herbs. Several monuments and heritage sites related to Shennong have been constructed in Shennongjialin.

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