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Aesop's Fables in Ancient China // 古代中國的《伊索寓言》

Pages 207 - 230


At the beginning of the twentieth century, many expeditions were carried out in the Tarim Basin located in the northwestern part of China (East Turkestan). The remnants of the manuscripts of Aesop's fables were found by Albert von Le Coq in the second German expedition in Gaochang (or Chotscho) in the Turfan area during 1904 to 1905. According to archaeologists' research, they can be dated back to the period between the eighth and twelfth centuries and can be subdivided into Iranian and Old Turkish sources. One of the Iranian fables, “The Father and His Sons” told by Mani, the founder of Manichaeism, is especially noteworthy. A similar story was recorded in the mid-sixth century Wei shu (“Book of Wei”) and was subsequently adopted by the Mongolians in the Menggu mi shi (“The Secret History of the Mongols”). By exploring the historical background of the transmission of this fable and looking into the Chinese historical records of Manichaeism, this paper aims to prove that not only this Aesopian fable entered China around the mid-sixth century in the form of history, but that other fables might have spread during the eighth century, when Manicheans were active in the Tang empire. This means that Aesop's fables circulated in China some one thousand years earlier than when Matteo Ricci first integrated Aesop into his sermons.

二十世紀初期,很多遠征隊來到位於中國西北方,塔里木盆地上的東土耳其斯 坦進行探勘。於1904 到1905 年間,德國第二支遠征隊的勒科克在吐魯番地區 的高昌發現《伊索寓言》手抄稿的殘片。根據考古學家們的研究,這些殘片約 為八到十二世紀之間寫成,其內容可細分為伊朗和古土耳其來源。在伊朗來源 的手抄稿中有一段摩尼教主所說的〈父親與爭吵的兒子們〉的寓言特別值得注 意。類似的故事被記錄在中國六世紀中期寫成的史書《魏書》裡,後來在十三 世紀時又被蒙古人引用到《蒙古秘史》中。藉由探索此寓言傳播的歷史背景, 以及中國歷史上摩尼教的相關記載,這份研究報告致力於證明不單是這個伊索 寓言在六世紀中期以歷史的形式傳入中國,八世紀中期以後,摩尼教在中國鼎 盛時,在唐代疆域裡活躍的摩尼教徒也可能傳播了其他的寓言給大眾。如此一 來,伊索寓言傳入中國的確切時間,比起耶穌會教士利瑪竇在中國傳教時首次 將寓言融合到他的傳道故事裡,早了將近一千年。

Institute of Chinese Literature and Philosophy, Academia Sinica, Taiwan 台灣中央研究院中國文哲研究所

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