Chapter 1: Annotations

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重生/Rebirth (title of this chapter) refers to the concept of reincarnation and rebirth common in Chinese spirituality, most of which is derived from Chinese Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism.

魏无羡/Wei Wuxian (courtesy name of main character) is translated to “no envies” in Chinese – I didn’t translate the surname since it’s the given name that has meaning. There is a reference to the concept of irshya in Buddhism, which is further elaborated upon in this article on jealousy and envy in Buddhism. In Chinese culture, names are gifts from parents to children, so special thought would have gone into finding a name that would suit Wei Wuxian – his parents would have hoped he could live a life free of the shackles of envy and covetousness, and this to some degree shows in his characterization in MDZS. The usage of courtesy names is linked to the Book of Rites.

乱葬岗/Burial Mounds (common use, literally translated to chaotic grave mound) is a specific term in Chinese used to describe a mass grave where bodies are not buried properly, where the sheer amount of unclaimed, unburied corpses becomes like a hill. In Chinese tradition, ancestors are venerated after their death as part of life after death beliefs linked to Buddhism and Confucianism.

修真界/cultivation world refers to cultivation as a way to build a path towards a desired outcome (in this case building spiritual abilities, spiritual energy, eventual immortality) – this is common in xianxia novels with roots in Qigong.

仙侠/xianxia as mentioned above re: xianxia novel genre refers to the Taoist concept of gods (xian) and heroes (xia) which describes an individual who is brave, chivalrous, and righteous.

夷陵老祖/Yiling Laozu, Wei Wuxian’s title (conferred by others) refers to Yiling district, which is located in Hubei. Laozu can be translated as Grandmaster, but it refers to a founder of a cultivation path who is venerated as a semi-deity or legendary figure – Laozu is not a common title bestowed to just anyone.

云梦江氏/Yunmeng Jiang sect, 兰陵金氏/Lanling Jin sect, 姑苏蓝氏/Gusu Lan sect, 清河聂氏/Qinghe Nie sect have references to real life locations in China: Yunmeng is located in the Hubei Province, Lanling is in the Shandong Province, Qinghe is in Hebei, and Gusu is in Suzhou. 岐山温氏/Qishan Wen sect’s Qishan is in Shaanxi.

魏婴/Wei Ying as Wei Wuxian’s birth or given name can be translated to “child” or “childlike” (only the given name and not the surname is translated for the meaning), which might have some reference to Laozi’s Tao Te Ching where an excerpt references the childlike perception of nature.

宗主/Sect Leader refers to sects as xianxia world organizations – here’s a fandom wiki for sects as a concept in general.

白眼狼/white-eyed wolf refers to a derogatory term used in Chinese culture used to describe ungrateful people or ingrates.

魏某/Wei Wuxian referred to with a different suffix after his surname – in this context it is used in place of someone else’s given name to show dissatisfaction, but it can also be used in place of one’s own given name to refer to oneself with an intensified emotion like sarcasm, or to show politeness (according to Wiktionary). If you referred to yourself with this suffix, it is similar to lowering your status in comparison to the person you’re speaking to.

邪术/demonic cultivation, literally translated to crooked skill or ability – also can be translated to black magic, sorcery or dark art if you’re looking for phrases with western connotations for ease of understanding (according to Wiktionary).

现世报/karmic retribution within this lifetime refers to the Buddhist concept of karma and karma in other religions including Taoism.

阴虎符/Yin Tiger Seal refers to the notorious talisman/amulet that Wei Wuxian carries to channel and store resentful energy – the word 符 can be translated into talisman, seal, symbol, charm etc according to Wiktionary.

仙门之中/among cultivators, the 仙门 part of the phrase is translated directly to “god/immortal door”, but in this context it refers to “the way of doing things, school, sect, school of thought, tradition” according to Wiktionary.

修炼/cultivation refers to meditation, practice of asceticism or cultivation practice (often encountered in Taoism) according to Wiktionary. Here is the Wikipedia section on physical cultivation in Taoism.

邪魔歪道/demonic cultivation refers to the cultivation path Wei Wuxian adopts later in life – it is described as a crooked path; not straight in terms of virtue according to Wiktionary.

死无全尸/death without a complete body bears a reference to a taboo surrounding death and funeral rites – in Chinese folk culture the belief is that a loved one’s body must remain intact and that burial brings peace to the deceased, hence the preference for inhumation/interment. It is a big deal that Wei Wuxian’s body was not found after his death, and also a big deal that Nie Mingjue’s body was cut into pieces and scattered, because their souls will not be at peace or they will have difficulty reincarnating etc if their bodies are not laid to rest correctly and in one piece(s). An example of how seriously Chinese folk culture took having the body in one piece during interment is when eunuchs are buried with their removed organs upon death, as their belief was that their masculinity would be restored in the afterlife.

天怒人怨/the wrath of both man and the heavens refers to a Confucian and Taoist concept related to the celestial aspect of the cosmos – in this case, to offend both men and the heavens relates to the gravity of the sin that Wei Wuxian committed with his unorthodoxy (or at least the judgement of the people around him and how they perceived his actions).

善恶终有报/you get what you deserve refers to both Confucian and Taoist principles surrounding dualism in cosmology – literally translated, this phrase means if you do good or if you do bad, you will eventually get what you deserve.

残魂/soul, but specifically soul remnants or remnants of the soul – it is divided into 残, which refers to remains or that which is left behind and 魂, which refers to the part of the soul that ascends to heaven upon death. If Wei Wuxian’s soul remnants could not be summoned, there was a high likelihood he was dragged out of the cycle of reincarnation or unable to ascend to heaven, and thus unable to rest in peace due to the violent nature of his death.

魂魄/soul, but specifically the types of souls described in traditional Chinese philosophy and religion.

召魂/summoning, refers to summoning rituals done for the soul, linked to souls as described in traditional Chinese philosophy and religion as mentioned above (historical example in this link).

元神复位/the soul is pieced together again refers to the complete soul (hun and po) in traditional Chinese religion, where if the soul is complete the deceased can continue on to the afterlife or reincarnation as well as be summoned back.

人间/the cultivation world is usually translated as the human world or the mortal world, linked to the division between the heavens and the human world in Taoism.

诅咒/curse – it is rolled together as “wrath” in the English translation (here is the Wiktionary link)

石兽/stone beasts are linked to stone lions used in traditional Chinese architecture as guardian statues – while the stone guardian statues mentioned in the text may not refer specifically to stone lions (as there are certain traditions and customs that have to be fulfilled), stone statues as guardians of a specific place is a common concept in most architecture. Further notes on cosmological concepts in Chinese architecture here.

神魂俱灭/soul destroyed, again referencing the notes on soul completeness mentioned above.

云覆手雨/to make a mess of the heavens references a line from a poem by Du Fu (specific reference baidu link here) called An Ode to Friends In Need/贫交行.

奉在神坛之上/revered like a god forever in the English translation, literally translated to “being put on the altar” refers to ancestral and deity worship in traditional Chinese culture, closely linked to Confucian philosophy and Taoist/Buddhist religion practices in China.