Origins and history of the Chinese Astrology

The origins of the Chinese astrology are very old. Contrary to what can be imagined in the West, the Chinese Astrology is not limited to match each year one of the famous 12 animals: Rat, Ox (or Buffalo), Tiger, Rabbit (or Cat), Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster (or Bird), Dog and Pig. This correspondence has its origin in the cycle of the planet Jupiter. Although today the Chinese Astrology is in decline, its history is long and some of the systems that were developed in the long history of China are very interesting.
At the time of the Shang dynasty (1767 -1047 BC) astrologers used a cycle hexadecimal compound planetary 10 "Hearth" (tiāngān trunks) and 12 "Celestial" (dizhi branches) based on the lunar astrology and a division of the zodiacal strip in 28 xius ("lodges"). In the Shi Ching (the "classic of the poetry"), which is a collection of poems from the X to V BC. made by K'oung-TSE (Confucius), the astrological references denote an influence of the Mesopotamian astronomy.
Between the years 400-360 B.C. the master Shi Shen writes a treaty of astronomy that allows to identify 121 stars and locate the planet Jupiter in the 28 xius ("lodges") of the strip of the zodiac. Jupiter iterates through its orbit around the Sun in 11.86 years, which is the approximate time that it takes to traverse the zodiac of 28 xius. In the Xing-King, Shi Shen describes a division of heaven in 4 rooms (xiangs) occupy each 7 xius ("lodges"). Each of these 4 rooms housed 3 animals. The set of these 12 animals was associated with the old system of the 12 dizhi or "celestial branches". In the interior of the tomb of the marquis Yi of Zeng, (died in 433 b.C) found the oldest complete list of the 28 xius ("lodges") that serves to locate the movements of the Moon and the planet Jupiter.
In the Treaty Wu Xing Zhan (" divination by the 5 planets ") written in the year 246 b.J.C. Astronomy china is separated from the Mesopotamian influence, and takes a doctrine of 5 elements (water, wood, fire, earth, metal) associated with 5 planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn), 5 cardinal points (North, East, South, West, Center) but is still the system of 28 xius.
Then were invented several astrological systems. In the I century B.C. Jing-Fang created a system based on the hexagrams of the I-Ching. The astronomer and mathematician Zhang-Heng (78-139 A.C) invented a system of 9 constellations. Also appeared other systems that tried to adapt to the ideas and philosophical trends such as Buddhism or Taoism.

The twelve animals of the Chinese Zodiac

Numerous legends speak of the animals of the Zodiac Chinese. During the sixth century, astrologers associated the 12 "celestial branches (dizhi) with the Buddhist cycle of 12 animals of origin Buddhist, with some influence Mesopotamian received through India or Tibet.
In summary, we can say that the Chinese astrology began using a sidereal system based on a real observation of the sky, but subsequently abandoned and replaced it with numerical calculations completely abstract. Finally, it can be concluded that the current Chinese Astrology is in decline and does not correspond to the system that had been developed at the beginning. It is only the cycle of 28 xius and the 12 signs in a great cycle that repeats approximately every 95 years of Astronomy west.

The Chinese calendar and the Gregorian calendar

The Julian calendar adopted in Rome the year -46 a.J.C. was a solar calendar (later as the Gregorian calendar of 1582). In the China used a lunar calendar, such as the ancient calendar Greek, but regulated on the solar stations. This means that the Chinese used the movements of the Moon and the Sun as indicators of annual time. In the V century BC, during the period of the springs and autumns, was already in place in the calendar Sifen that measures the year in 365.25 days, as five centuries later would make him the Julian calendar.
The Han dynasty was contemporary of the Roman Empire. The Han Emperor Wudi (156-87 J.C) replaced in -104 to J.C. Sifen calendar by the calendar Taichu that measures the year at 365,2501624 days and the lunar month in 29,5308641 days. After 2 centuries, when the calendar Taichu was inaccurate and the Emperor Han Zhangdi (57-88) canceled it to restore the Calendar Sifen. In 1281, after more than 12 centuries, the famous scientist and astronomer Guo Shoujing (1231-1316) defined the tropical year (time that the Sun used to give a complete turn of the ecliptic) in 364,2425 days, which is the same value used by the Gregorian calendar in the year 1582.
(1) dynasties of ancient China. Of the Shang dynasty (1767 -1047 to.J.C). Western Zhou dynasty (between -1046 and -771 to.J.C.) of the Zhou Dynasty Oriental (between -771 and -256 to.J.C.) according to the tradition, the King Wen, ancestor founder of the Zhou dynasty, would have created the 64 hexagrams of the I Ching.

No comments: