Shi or Ying Shi

a Peg

(25) Uttara-Bhadrapada

g Peg


g Peg

(26) Revati

Z Psc


h And

a One of the three stars in Orion's Belt: 8, e, and Z Ori. b Originally Vega. Later sources exclude Vega as naksatra, making 27.

a One of the three stars in Orion's Belt: 8, e, and Z Ori. b Originally Vega. Later sources exclude Vega as naksatra, making 27.

evidence of the time of origin. The fullest summary to date is the Ph.D. dissertation of Joe D. Stewart (1974), upon which this discussion leans heavily. All 28 lunar mansions are directly attested in India in the Atharvaveda, usually dated on structural grounds to about the 8th century b.c. In China, the full series appears on a box (discovered in archeological excavations in 1978), dating from about 433 b.c. An Arabian series is mentioned (as the Menazil) in the Koran; the full list appears soon thereafter. A Greco-Coptic series is in a later copy of a 5th-century manuscript, which DHK thinks may represent a 4th tradition. It has long been supposed by competent scholars that the system originated in Mesopotamia, but there is no trace of such a system in Sumer, Babylon, or Assyria, and the local constellation series of Mesopotamia seems distinct. We have discussed Parpola's evidence, which indicates indirectly that the people of the Harappan culture of the Indus Valley were Dravidian speakers and that they probably already used the lunar mansions by ~2400 b.c. (see §9.1.1). We have also mentioned Pang's argument that the system was in use in China by ~2000 b.c. (see §10.1.2). The beginning points of various lists of lunar mansions vary greatly. In China, the first mansion was Jiao (or Chiao), Spica. Among the Jains alone, there were four versions with different beginning points. Elsewhere in India, the unequal-width, 28-mansion system is attested in the earliest source; this system usually begins with Krittika, the Pleiades. In contrast, the equal-width, 27-mansion system begins with Asvini in Aries. The difference between the two is partly comparable to that between the zodiacal constellations and the zodiacal signs. The 28-mansion Arab system, likewise, begins with al butain, the equivalent of Asvini. The Suchow planisphere describes the celestial equator as the "red road," "which encircles the heart of Heaven, and is used to record the degrees of the twenty-eight xiu" (§10.1.7; Rufus and Tien 1945, p. 3). The chart (cf., Figure 10.7) reveals the xiu marked off in a radial pattern emanating from the imperial precinct surrounding the north celestial pole. Hence, the Moon's movement, more or less along the ecliptic, was recorded in the Chinese equivalent of equatorial degrees. A similar practice seems to have been true in India.

There is a Mongolian version of the system of lunar mansions that derives from northern India, with some added Chinese characteristics. Despite the massive movements of conquest by Mongols and related groups,13 there are few if any indications of influences other than Indian and Chinese in Mongolian (or, more generally, Turkic) astronomical knowledge or astrological ideas. Among the Mongols, one possibly indigenous or early Indian practice, although unattested in India, is the sacrifice of an animal associated with a lunar mansion to the deity of that mansion.

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