Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/321

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293
Collectanea.

fit into a depression about three inches square in one of the covers of a kind of portfolio which holds two volumes of outline pictures to be made from the blocks. Each picture, with its explanation, is on the lower half of a page, the upper half being left blank, possibly to allow a key to the picture to be filled in if desired. The blocks are all in pairs, except one rhomboid, and include semicircles and curved pieces, and their straight sides are all exactly proportional. From them over two hundred story-pictures can be made, many of which relate to the three national religions, Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism. The Chinese boy thus learns impartially the myths of each religion, in his kindergarten, and seeks during after life to get the benefit of all of them, while at his funeral probably both Buddhist and Taoist priests will read prayers. Many of the pictures are reproduced, with explanations, in Professor I. T. Headland's The Chinese Boy and Girl, so that it is not necessary to say more about them here.

The first picture given to the child for making with the "Fifteen Magic Blocks" is the "dragon-horse of Fuh-hi." According to the tale told him, which is mentioned by Confucius, about 4,800 years ago, the divine rulers who had governed the world for untold years were succeeded by Fuh-hi, the ancestor of the Chinese people. Heaven helped him by sending up from the waters of the Yellow River a dragon-horse carrying on its back a scroll with fifty-five spots representing the ying and yang or male and female principles, which were used by Fuh-hi to make the pa kwa or eight trigrams shown in Fig. 8 of the plate, and now in very common use as a charm. From these trigrams and the movements of the heavenly bodies Fuh-hi prepared the system of written characters by which he replaced the older method of keeping records by knotted cords (quipus). The eight trigrams are possibly a record of all possible throws with three divining sticks with two different sides (such as the split bamboo roots, &c., still in use). The eight trigrams, with the sixty-four further combinations possible by taking two of them together, and with certain explanations said to be given by Fuh-hi and two later sages, together with a commentary said to be by Confucius, form the Yih-king, the most honoured of all the Chinese classics. The Yih-king is constantly used, in a similar manner to the Bible in rural England, to obtain oracles by chance selection. Importance is, however, attached by the Chinese not, as in the West, to the particular sentence chanced upon,