19th century ivory statuette of Shennong. As here, he is usually
portrayed wearing a robe decorated with leaves from medicinal
(the Divine Farmer) was one of the mythological bearers of culture
at the beginning of civilization. Han historians and mythmakers
desscribe his most fundemantal task as having led humanity out
of a state of hunting and savagery, away from eating raw flesh,
drinking blood, and wearing skins, toward an argrarian utopia.
One second century BCE source (The King of Huanan) reads:
ancient times people ate grasses and drank from rivers; they
picked fruit from trees and ate molluscs and beetles. At that
time there was much suffereing from illness and poisoning. So
the Divine Farmer taught the people for the first time how to
sow and cultivate the five grains."
The Land of the Heavenly Dragon edited by Professor Edward