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1000 - 500 BCE: The Chinese Book of Odes praises cannabis

A poem from the Shih Ching, handwritten by the Qianlong Emperor, along with a painting.The ancient Chinese Shih Ching (Book of Odes), is a compilation of songs composed between 1000-500 BCE; an anthology compiled from the works of various anonymous authorship.

Hemp is mentioned seven times in the Book Of Odes. One poem states that to soak hemp to remove the glue is a woman's task. Another poem says, "The pond at the East Gate, can be used to soak the hemp." Four variations for ma are given in the first dictionary, Shuo-wen chieh-tzu, compiled by Hsu Shen in the Eastern Han period. The Chi-chiu-pien, a primer composed in the first century BCE for teaching and writing, lists rice, millet and hemp in one sentence. Government records of the Han period show that a roll of rough to medium hemp cloth cost about 300-400 cash, and plain silk cost slightly more than medium hemp fabric.[1]

The various collected works of the Shih Ching are generally associated with specific chronological periods, such as the Zhou Dynasty, and/or associated with the specific states of that time period; however, many uncertainties exist, especially as to dates of the earliest poems. According to tradition, the method of collection of the various Shijing poems involved the appointment of officials, whose duties included documenting verses current from the various states which constituting the empire. Out of these many collected pieces, also according to tradition, Confucius made a final editorial round of decisions for elimination or inclusion in the received version of the Shijing.

 

1.  Hsu, Cho-yun: Han Agriculture; 1980, Univ. Washington Press.
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