Newly Compiled Pocket Astrological Calendar


This calendar was compiled by Lei Yingfa of the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368). The pocket-size book in two volumes has 66 pages. The paper is a dark yellow; the character type is of the early Yuan dynasty. The surface of the printed pages is blurred and the paper has suffered some damage. The calendar is based on the 60-year cycle, and records dates by year, month, and day. The title and the name of the compiler appear on the first leaf. The label at the end of the first essay reads Lei shi jin nang (Lei’s pocket calendar); at the end of the second essay, Jian chi wu jia zhi bao (Priceless treasure of the sword pond); at the end of the third, Yi lan wu yi (Taking in everything in a glance). The work discusses yin and yang, directions and locations, good and bad luck, and the selection of days for assuming an official position, weddings, construction, moving into a new house, and burial. It also discusses jiu gong (nine palaces), the sun, the path of Jupiter, the nine constellations, and dou jian (the Dipper determinant, i.e., the stellar pointer on the handle of the Dipper), an ancient Chinese method of calculating the 24 divisions of the solar year. The calendar is similar to those of later generations, but its special feature is its small size. Each single page has 12 vertical lines, with 24 characters in each line. Leaves 45–48 are left blank. Since before the Qin dynasty (221–206 BC), the Chinese believed in the influence of the stars and planets on human affairs. Astronomical calendars were used not only to mark times and dates, but to predict good and bad luck and to guide people in their daily activities. Some calendars provided astronomical prognostications to guide the affairs of the state and military. Such calendars were controlled by the imperial court. Other calendars, together with geomancy, were used to predict the fate and fortunes of individuals. This work, a rare extant copy that has several seal impressions, belongs to the latter type.

Last updated: February 26, 2014