Lunar Mansions




Blue Dragon

Jiao, Kang, Di, Fang, Xin, Wei, Ji




Black Warriora

Dou, Niu, Nu, Xu, Wei, Shi, Pi




White Tiger

Kui, Lou, Wei, Mao, Bi, Zi, Shen




Red Bird

Jing, Gui, Liu, Xing, Zhang, I, Chen




a Also known as "Spirit Tortoise."

a Also known as "Spirit Tortoise."

planets, as noted in §2.4.4. Thus, Jupiter could be described as "the Year Star," because it moves about 1/12 of its sidereal period, equivalent to a zodiacal sign, in a year. Five sidereal-period intervals is a 60-year cycle. From one of Li's silk books, we find that at spring equinox, Jupiter "stays" in lou; at summer solstice, in jing; at autumnal equinox, in kang; and at winter solstice, in niu, these lunar mansions also are the locations of the Sun at the equinoxes and solstices. Because Jupiter's sojourn in each of the mansions lasts ~12/28 years, on average, the significance of the statement may have something to do with the orbital inclination of Jupiter, the lowest of the naked-eye planets. Although one can belabor periodicities and cyclicities, the near-commensurabilities between Jupiter and Saturn, and the triple conjunction of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, for example, appear to have been significant for Chinese astronomy. The apparent motion of Mercury with its retrograde motion is shown in Needham (1959, Fig. 181, p. 400). Although the figure is from a 1726 book, the terms noted on the figure are from the Chin Shu (635 a.d.).

The planets are described as the "essences" of the five elements. The association between elements and the planets in Han times is shown in Table 10.7. The planets are said to assist the Sun and Moon to regulate the five "emanations": rain, sunshine, wind, heat, and cold, "just as the six ministries have their own duties and issue orders, so, throughout the whole empire, prosperity or adversity, peace or peril, comes thereby." The text goes on to press home the point:

During the periods of good government all human affairs are well regulated, and at those times the Seven Directors move with regular constancy. But, if it happens that the emperor interferes with the office of the ministers or the latter usurps the imperial power, the political administration falls into confusion and error, morals and precepts become perverted, also the malign influences change strangely and behave irregularly.

The text then gives examples: Mars disappeared in P'ao-Kua and was invisible all night, even though that asterism was more than 30° North of the Yellow Road; once it went "zigzag" in the direction of Ssu, its rays "as wide as a five-bushel measure." Once Venus "suddenly ran into Lang-Hsing (Wolf Star, Sirius), although it is more than 40° S of the Yellow Road." On some occasions, it goes on to say, the planets changed into "phantom stars" (evil omens), such as Jupiter changing into a comet of the class Ch'an Ch'iang ("confusion") or Venus turning into a meteor of the class T'ien-Kou ("celestial dog"), and so on:

Thus when the official orders are unable to maintain quiet, these strange appearances predominate, and the governing officials should pay great heed to these phenomena.

The antiquity of the planetary associations listed in Table 10.7 are supported by details from one of Li's silk books from tomb Mawandui No. 3, dated to 168 b.c., and referred to earlier. We next discuss the associations among colors, seasons, and astronomical objects.

0 0

Post a comment