The Tui Bei Tu (推背圖, lit. 'back-pushing graphics') is a book said to contain prophecies for the future of China. It is truthfully a Piece of Eden and one of the many Isu artifacts said to be scattered across China. Early in the Tang dynasty, Zhangsun Qi was sent on a mission to find and secure it.
During the reign of Emperor Xuanzong, the book could be found in the Hall of Worthies (集賢殿) lying in a hidden corner among the archive's bountiful collection of ancient texts and records. The Japanese scholar Abe no Nakamaro studied it at his leisure while serving as a secretary supervisor, but he found its text too abstruse to understand easily.
In a letter penned in 756 to his friend Li Bai, Abe revealed his prior discovery of this book and expressed regret that he had not taken it with him when he left office so that he could continue to examine it more closely. It was then the height of the An Lushan Rebellion, and the scholar claimed that the book had foretold of this catastrophic conflict and that it bespoke of it as another theatre in an ancient war between "light and dark", "justice and power", and "freedom and enslavement". Given the worth he ascribed to its prophecies, he hoped that the Tui Bei Tu would remain protected and untouched in the archive from the ravages of war.
Behind the scenes
The Tui Bei Tu is a Tang-era compilation of prophecies allegedly written by Li Chunfeng (李淳風) and Yuan Tiangang (袁天罡). Its name, which literally means 'back-pushing graphics', derives from the legend that Li was so obsessed with his work that Yuan once gave him a push on the back to tell him to take some rest.
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- Hoh, Anchi. (19 April 2021). "Mysticism and Prophecy in 'Tui bei tu' 推背圖 (Back-pushing Pictures)". Library of Congress. Accessed 27 February 2022.