Artifact 021 - Morning Mushrooms
rating: +1+x

Number: 021

Kind: Mèi

Source: Zhāojūn is an insect with the colour of green jade, which has the shape of a moth, yet is smaller than that. It is born when the morning dew drops to leaves, and dies at sunrise. Because its size is small and it does not live past sunrise, it is known as zhāojūn, "morning mushroom". It writes on leaves with its feet and one can read words from it. Zhāojūn live on leaves, making their nests among the weeds like a country. When dissected, one can see covered pavilions and palace rooms, railings and windows. They make mechanical contraptions that can work forever. Though they only live between dawn and dusk, by passing on through generations, this kind of work can also be done.

File: In the writings of Zhuāngzǐ, it is said: "The small understanding cannot compare to the great understanding; the short-lived cannot compare to the long-lived. And how do we know this? The zhāojūn knows not the dawn and dusk; the huì​gū1 knows not the spring and autumn. They are short-lived."

History: In the first year of Zǐyīng2, when I was living in the mountains, I saw a nation of zhāojūn, and I thought them strange. So I picked one of its leaves and placed them up high, to inspect it. When I looked, I discovered there were two nations fighting on the leaf, on the flat open space on its surface. There were hundreds of soldiers, and they all died. Though they were armed to the teeth, they did not have high aspirations! And at that moment, they were all ready to die. Why could they not share, such that they can raise their sons and daughters, and feed all of the people on their lands? This is what Zhuāng Zhōu said about "the small understanding".

In the fourth year of Xiánpíng3, there was a man, Disciple4 Mèngdié, of great elegance. Once, he arrived at a forest and had lost his way. Then he saw a huge tree in the forest, filled with zhāojūn. There were houses neatly arranged, and there were streets crossing each other, horse-carts passing through them, as if it were a city. Seeing the strange sight, he heard a voice quiet as a mosquito: "Is that a man?" The man was shocked and looked closer, and saw one of the zhāojūn. He said: "You are insects, how are you able to speak like men?" And it replied: "A woodcutter taught us." The man found this strange. He placed his ear to the tree, and heard myriad voices, all coming from the zhāojūn. The man said: "Zhāojūn are born and would die in a single morning. How do you carry forward your methods of building and speaking to the next generation?" The zhāojūn replied: "Our kind has had scripture and canon for years. What is there to be afraid of in passing it on?" The man said: "You are born and will die in a single morning, is that enough to learn?" The zhāojūn laughed and said: "I hear humans, too, study for decades. Even if I am soon to die, I will be continued by my descendants tomorrow." The man thought it wise and sighed. "Alas! Humans, zhāojūn, are all short-lived!" A guest of mine has talked about these things, but I don't know if this is real or not. I leave this to the future generations to decide.

There was a young child who saw a nation of zhāojūn, and used a wooden stick to disturb the nation for fun. The zhāojūn panicked and sent out their armies and machines in the thousands for war, and fled when they were defeated, setting up on high platforms such as small mosquitoes, grains, and weeds. There was a person with a high crown, wearing clothes of spider silk, climbed up the high platform and worshiped; the people admired from two sides. The child picked it up, sending the nation into chaos. Some say that gods were angry at his disloyalty, and made the one on the high platform a sacrifice. Later, the child got bored of it and left the leaf alone.5

Commentary: Abnormality Historian: How great the zhāojūn are, for how much they know! Between dawn and dusk, they wrote scriptures and constructed pavilions, how strange it is. Some said, "The zhāojūn understand little." Seeing only the leaves as their world, their narrow partitions as their nations, is understanding little; however, today's people, believing the Nine Provinces6 to be their boundless world, and posing as a flourishing, great country, are also short-lived and of little understanding!

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License