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Zhou Shu


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I try to  read the historical text Zhou Shu. I cannot use the modern chinese translation as my level is too low and  I don't want to invest time in the modern language.

I translated  one sentence from 卷49 列傳第41 異域上:

Thus, among ordinary living creatures, men are few whereas birds and animals numerous; among heaven and earth, China is limited and there are many unrefined deserts.

Feel free to correct any mistake.

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This site is a must for anybody interested in classical Chinese texts: Chinese Text Project

It's one of the oldest and most useful Chinese sites on the Internet.


Here's the index for the 尚書 (Book of Shang)

including the Book of Zhou《周書》. The text here is bilingual, with James Legge's English translation.


You can find James Legge's translations in various formats in several other places, including the Project Gutenberg. Internet Archive and the Sacred Books of the East series. Here's the link for volume 3 of Legge's Confucian Classics:


You'll have to get used to weird pre-pinyin transliterations, but the Chinese Text Project uses pinyin.


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I don't know much about this text but ctext seems to have two different entries for Zhou Shu - The one Luxi has indicated, and this one where raoulzakil's entry can be found.  The translation seems fine to me, except for the last part which I'd have a few issues with: I'm not sure about translating 中土 as "China", there is probable a more appropriate agreed upon term, but something like 'central plains' might be better.  This also means it makes more sense when talking about it being "limited" as "China is limited" and "The central plains have limits" mean two completely different things.  I'm not sure where you get "deserts" from, as my impression was more of "numerous open spaces".


Anyway, I'm no expert, and the general meaning of your translation seems pretty accurate.  Did you have any specific questions?

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I thank both of you for your replies.

Actually there are 2 Zhou dynasties; the sentence above is from Northern zhou. The text is found in ctext.org as well but I couldn't find its translation.

The preceding sentence doesn't make any sense to me: 天地至大日月

Any clue?

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26 minutes ago, raoulzakil said:

The preceding sentence doesn't make any sense to me: 天地至大日月

Any clue?

My classical is very rusty but it looks to be something along the lines of "What is covered by heaven and Earth is great to the extreme, what is lit by the Sun and Moon is wide to the extreme." That would seem to work with a following 然則

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Sorry about the earlier confusion. A pity there is no bilingual text for this 周書. At least the Ctext site has an embedded dictionary, don't know whether you noticed. Clicking the small blue rectangle to the left of the text opens a page with an embedded word for word popup dictionary. It may not be quite right for classical Chinese but may help in some way.


This site may also be useful, it has an English translation of the places and peoples names in each chapter page - that should save a lot of time searching.
Book of Zhou 《周書》 Chinese text with matching English vocabulary 


4 hours ago, somethingfunny said:

I'm not sure about translating 中土 as "China"


In the ChinaX mooc, 中土 was translated as 'central areas' (as opposed to the areas outside the Central Plains, populated by barbarians).

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8 hours ago, Jim said:

"What is covered by heaven and Earth is great to the extreme, what is lit by the Sun and Moon is wide to the extreme."



good one. more hints on chinese classic concept of earth and heaven: 天圆地方, it means the earth is a flat square, all creature lives on it, the sky is like a bowl up side down, cover the earth, and meet at the boundary. So stay in the central is a crucial, or you could be OUT of earth and heaven, LOL. 

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