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HUANG DI 4




The different dialogue partners are evidence of different primary compilations
too; at least they refer to an origin of “their” texts in different traditions
or schools of learning. In the Su wen, the dialogues between Huang
Di and Lei Gong in particular are to be distinguished from the other dialogues
and must be considered a layer of their own.2 The sixty-one discourses
with Qi Bo and Gui Yuqu portray Huang Di as an eager student with little
knowledge of the subjects he inquires about. Only in the seven dialogues
with Lei Gong does Huang Di act as sovereign teacher.3
Huang Di is occasionally named as the ancient Chinese culture hero who
bestowed the knowledge of medicine on the Chinese people. Such statements
may be justified with the final seven Lei Gong chapters, Su wen 75 through
81. The vast majority of Su wen discourses throw a different and contradictory
light on the role of Huang Di. The first lines of Su wen 1 quote the first
chapter of the Shi ji of 90 b.c.4 The editors who superimposed the dialogue
structure on the Su wen texts thereby deliberately identified Huang Di as the
mythical ancestor ruler of all the tribes inhabiting central China in the distant
past.
In former times there was Huang Di.
When he came to life, he had spirituality and magic power.
While he was [still] weak, he could speak.
While he was [still] young, he was quick of apprehension.
While he grew up, he was sincere and diligent.
When he had matured, he ascended to heaven.5



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