Re: [thefixedstars] Chinese constellations
Mark A. Holmes
--- On Sat, 6/20/09, Diana K Rosenberg <fixed.stars@...> wrote:
From: Diana K Rosenberg <fixed.stars@...>
Subject: [thefixedstars] Chinese constellations
Date: Saturday, June 20, 2009, 8:07 AM
This is a glossary of Chinese star regions, asterisms and star names linked to from the page (nothing matching them to the conventional- -that is, Western--star map, unfortunately) .
Blue Dragon Ts'ang-Loung
from area of Virgin that includes Spica; thru Libra Scales, then stars of Scorpius; (our tail of Scorpion is their tail of Dragon); Centaurus, Lupus
Red Bird Tchou-Niao
from late stars of Auriga, thru Gemini Twins, Cancer Crab, Hydra (head of Bird), late stars of Lepus, Eridanus, Orion, Monoceros, Canis Major and Minor, Puppis, Leo, Sextans, Pyxis, Crater, Coma, 1st half of Virgo, Canes Venatici, Corvus
White Tiger Pe-Hou
East fish and cord of Pisces, Andromeda, Cetus, Cassiopeia, Aries, Orion, Taurus, Auriga, Perseus,
Black Tortoise Hiouen-Wou
Sagittarius, Corona Australis, Capricornus, Aquila, Lyra, Aquarius, some stars of Draco, (most of) Cygnus, Delphinus, Pegasus, Equuleus, Piscis Austrinus, Microscopium
The Chinese stars and constellation patterns are from four major sources: Stars of Jade Julius D.W. Staal Writ Press, Decatur, GA, 1984; Star Names, Their Lore & Meaning R.H. Allen (1899), Dover, 1964; The Soochow Astronomical Chart: W.C. Rufus & Hsing-Chih Tien, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, 1945; Chinese Astrology Derek Walters Aquarian Press, 1987
Staal's primary source was Gustave Schlegel's Uranographie Chinoise (1875) which he translated for his own use; both Schlegel and Staal calculated that the 4 great sky figures of the earliest Chinese astronomy/astrology went back to 15,600 BC; this is known as the First Division (the approximate age of the great Lascaux cave paintings in the West, which included a depiction of Taurus, the Bull!). Their breakdown into component asterisms, the Sieu (Hsiu), or Houses, (the Second Division) belonged to the period of about 13,400 to 12,900 BC; the Third Division probably occurred about 12,900 BC, and the Fourth Division of the reign of Emperor Yao starts between 3000 and 2000 BC, roughly coincidental with the earliest records of the Western tradition.
The second great stage of Chinese astronomy/astrology entered with the mythical Emperor Fu-Hsi whose reign is ascribed to 2953-2883 BC and the semi-mythical Emperor Yao, 2356-2255 BC. It is known as the 4th Division and roughly corresponds, in time, to the earliest known developments in the West. The 4th Division is subdivided into the historic 3000-2700 BC, and the modern, 2700 BC to the present. If these dates are even approximately correct, then the Chinese sky patterns are incredibly ancient, and far older than the archaic Euphratean sources of the western tradition; however, another possibility remains, almost completely speculative: that all of these traditions emerge from a common ancestral root.
Because of the enormous time spans involved, and the Chinese use of the sky as a practical as well as spiritual calendar, enabling them to know when to plant, harvest, clean wells, etc, the gradual shifting of the sky patterns due to precession necessitated new "overlays" of asterisms and attributions after long intervals; thus the multiple and occasionally confusing multiplicity of symbols and patterns in the Chinese sky figures.
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Of the books I mentioned, Derek Walters' Chinese Astrology is the most available, and is excellent.
Website: http://ye-stars. com