古人真会玩系列之三:东晋流觞曲水 Ancient Chinese Pastimes 3: Eastern Jin Dynasty – Wine, Poetry and Philosophy

又名: #酒会上的人生终极问题

上次在宋代茶馆喝了茶,今天我们要到东晋和名门望族们喝酒。但这酒,不光是那么喝,还要有一丁丁仪式感。

Having sampled tea prepared meticulously by our Song Dynasty masters, now it’s time to go back further in time and attend a wine-drinking session with the nobility of the East Jin dynasty in the third century A.D.However, let’s not drink it all in one gulp. The East Jin nobles knew just how to create the right kind of atmosphere for their wine-drinking sessions.

把你的高脚杯和芝士拼盘收起来吧。我们今天要去的不是个西式高档party, 而是中国东晋的时期名流们的聚会。这场聚会历史上非常有名,但我先不剧透,待会儿你就自己知晓了。

And it has nothing to do with wine glasses or cheese platters. Today, we will attend an outdoor party that will go down in history as one of the most famous gatherings in Chinese history. That is all I will say — you will find out soon enough.

来,根据我的指示,在时光机的控制器里输入以下资料。时间:公元353年农历三月三日地点:会稽山阴兰亭

Now, let us key in the following details into the control panel of our time machine.

Year: 353 A.D, Third Day of the Third Month

Place: Kuaiji, Shanying, Orchid Pavilion

“又是三月三?” 你问。 “上次和唐代小姐姐们出去野餐,也是三月三日。”

还记得我们上次说过吗?三月三在古代是个重大节日。在远古时期,人们会相伴到水边沐浴,洗去累积了一个冬天的尘垢,据说能洗去身上的邪气,达到祈福的目的。(其实就是闷在家里太久了出去透透气,疫情下的你们懂的)

“The Third Day of the Third Month again?” You ask. “We had a picnic with some Tang Dynasty ladies on the Third Day of the Third Month too!”

Well, remember what I mentioned last time? This date marked a very important festival in Ancient China. A very long time ago, people would perform ceremonial baths, in hopes of warding off evil and bringing good fortune. (Any excuse just to get a breath of fresh air after holing up at home the entire winter — as anyone who is enduring a Covid lockdown would know)

而到了魏晋南北朝,人们不再结伴下水沐浴了,而是以祭祀、宴饮、春游等雅事延续这古老的传统。

By the time of the Eastern Jin Dynasty, communal bathing was no longer the norm. Instead, people kept this tradition going by organising excursions and picnics near water sources.

“叮!” 时光机到了。来,戴好你的巾,整理下衣袖,我们出发咯!

今天的天气特别好,四周群山环绕,熙和的暖风迎面吹来,穿过一片茂盛的竹林,前方传来潺潺流水声。只见前头有一条小溪,溪边坐满了四十来人。他们身上穿着都是当代的时尚精品 – 头上裹着窄小的头巾,身上穿着的是宽袍大袖。

So here we are. Put on your head wrap and adjust your sleeves. Now let’s disembark!The weather is simply perfect. Tall mountains surround the area, and a warm breeze blows invitingly. Let us cross this bamboo thicket — do you see the stream ahead? The party has assembled. And look at just how they are fashionably dressed — in loose, flowing robes and tight hair wraps.

来,别顾着欣赏美景,见过宴会诸人。这是谢安,这是孙绰,这是王羲之…别,别激动,等下还有机会一览大神的书法真迹的。

大家依序坐下,只见在旁伺候的童子们在酒杯中盛满了酒,把酒杯放入小溪里,任其漂流。水杯跟着水流转动,一旦停在哪人面前,哪人就提起酒杯,作诗一首,一饮而尽。

Let us exchange greetings our fellow guests — this is Xie An, this is Sun Zhuo, and this is Wang Xizhi…hold your horses. You will get a chance to admire his calligraphy later, I promise.

Now, take a seat and let me explain the rules of the party. You see, we won’t be served wine directly by the servants. See how they are placing cups of wine into the stream? The cups will float downstream. When a cup pauses before you, pick it up and compose a poem. Then drink it up.

什么,喝酒开趴还要作诗?没办法,诗歌做为一种社交媒介,不会作几首诗都不敢到这种高大上的场合露几手,这门槛越高,才能显示自己的出身和修养呀。既然我们是穿越过来的,九年义务教育也没教这些,就只管喝多点酒谢罪,别和他们较量吧!

一杯一杯酒下肚,大家的诗也做了差不多了,今天玩得好开心,反正诗也写不出来,要不就拿这些纸折纸船玩玩儿…(古人云:浪费纸!)

But what if poetry isn’t my thing? You see, the Ancient Chinese elites had to know a thing or two about poetry in order to mingle in high society. However, since we are time-travellers with limited knowledge of Classical Chinese, they wouldn’t expect us to compose at their level —let’s just drink a bit more to make up for it.

Uhm, and even if we aren’t writing any poems, I don’t think it is a good idea to waste paper, an expensive commodity, by making paper boats…

这时,谢安转身对王羲之说,“大家都做了那么多诗,你就来给他们的诗写个序吧!” 王羲之礼貌性地推辞不果,便缓缓提起笔,思索片刻,洋洋洒洒地写下这几个字,

Just then, Xie An turned to Wang Xizhi and said, “We have composed a good number of poems today. It’s only fitting that you should write a preface for the poems composed today.” Wang Xizhi picked up his brush, pondered for a moment, and began to write with deft strokes,

“永和九年,岁在癸丑,暮春之初…”

“In the ninth year of Yonghe, at the beginning of late Spring…”

“是日也,天朗气清,惠风和畅。仰观宇宙之大,俯察品类之盛”

今天天气真好呀,风也很暖和。抬头看天空,看宇宙多么大呀!低头看天下万物是多么繁多呢!

“The weather is fine today, and the breezes are pleasant. I look up and admire the expanse of the universe, and cast my gaze downwards at the variety of things in the world…”

“所以游目骋怀,足以极视听之娱,信可乐也”

放任目光四处游览,感觉心胸开阔不少。 视觉上的,听觉上的娱乐都满足了,真让人快乐呀!

“Our gaze drifts and our minds wander. We take pleasure in the sights and sounds, it is a joy indeed!”

写着写着,他陷入了哲思。这人生苦短,哪怕今天诸位聚在一起,享受这片刻的欢愉,但终究逃不出衰老和死亡的自然规律。这生与死,难道真像庄子说的那样,是一样的吗?这长寿与短寿,难道真是同等事情吗?

At this point, his thoughts wander off on a philosophical trajectory. Life is short and conditioned to suffering. We enjoy each others’ company — but who knows what the morrow will bring? The philosopher Zhuangzi claimed that death and life is but two aspects of the same phenomena. But how true were his claims?

想起平日读的文章,引起古人感慨的事情,也能引起我们的共鸣。哪怕时代变了,遭遇的事情不同了,可是牵索人类的那些终极问题,还都是一样的呀。

Wang Xizhi thought of the essays he read. The writers were long gone — yet, the issues that concerned them troubled him too. Times change, but the concerns of mankind were ever the same…

这好好的饮酒作乐,怎么就突然说起生死大事了呢?这还需要说起东晋的时代背景。简单八个字 — 政权更迭,内忧外患。西晋政权因为八王之乱崩塌,游牧民族建立的政权造成极大的威胁,西晋皇室和士族们往江南一带迁移。贵族们尚能觅得一刻安宁,百姓们却无处可躲,只能在烽火中苟且偷生罢了。

Hey, I thought we were supposed to be merry. What’s with that sudden metaphysical bent?

Well, let’s just consider for a moment how chaotic Wang Xizhi’s time period was. The Western Jin dynasty collapsed as a result of internal and external threats. Warlords vied for power, while nomadic tribes gained enough traction to establish new political regimes.

These threats, internal and external, drove the Western Jin ruling class to escape southwards, establishing the Eastern Jin dynasty. The elites enjoyed momentary peace— yet, the awareness of their precarious situation loomed in the back of Wang Xizhi’s mind, even in a joyful setting as this one.

“眼看他起朱楼,眼看他宴宾客,眼看他楼塌了” 这不确定性极大的环境中,务实的儒家思想给不了人们心里的慰藉,人们对于生死问题极大关注,玄学流行于一时。王羲之提出的想法,正是当最热的议题之一。

Verses from the Ming dynasty play, “The Peach Blossom Fan” aptly captures his frame of mind: “I saw him building a mansionI saw him feasting with guestsBut I saw too, how his mansion collapsed”

The uncertainty faced by Wang Xizhi and his contemporaries drove them to rekindle an interest in Daoist thought. Daoism was concerned with questions the ever pragmatic Confucianists were reluctant to consider. The questions raised by Wang Xizhi in his essay were topics hotly debated by his contemporaries.

生,是否和死只是一体两面的事?

如果人们最后都会死,那么这些片刻的欢愉,这些良辰美景,又该如何去正视?

这宇宙如此浩瀚,万物如此繁多,人又如何找到自己的定位?

又如何以最好的方式渡过一生?

Is life and death but two faces of the same coin?

If death is inevitable, and if happiness is fleeting, what attitude should we keep?

And how do we find our place in this vast universe, as one among the multitude of things?

这些尖锐的问题,你一时也找不到答案。 它们曾困扰你,但生活琐事极多,你也无暇多想,只能关注眼下能及之事,仿佛这样就能给无常的人生赋予一点次序。

You feel some sympathy for Wang Xizhi. Like him, these questions had troubled you before. However, you have chosen to leave them aside as more pressing matters compete for your attention. Or perhaps, you were trying to install a sense of control as you focus your energy on immediate concerns.

“你们后人看到这篇文章,想必也会被我的话所打动吧?” 王羲之望向我们,问道。

“Perhaps you, our descendants, will be moved by my words.”

Wang Xizhi says to us.

你看着他,笑而不语。 生死大事,你不知。 但你很明确地知道,这场聚会,这篇《兰亭集序》,必能留传百世,绝卓千古。

You meet his gaze and return a smile.

The matters of life and death are beyond comprehension.

But there’s one thing you know for sure —This gathering, thanks to the “Preface of Poems Composed at the Orchid Pavillion” (Lan Ting Ji Xu) will be remembered and talked of for generations to come.

#古人真会玩#画说文史#插画#流觞曲水#兰亭集序#artXhistory#xlnyeongart

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