Classified Divinations on Military Affairs


This work in 21 juan was compiled by Li Kejia of the Ming dynasty. Presented here is a Wanli edition of 1597, in six volumes. It is the earliest extant copy. The frame of the pages is 19.5 centimeters high and 13.5 centimeters wide. The borders are double-lined. Each single page has 11 columns, each with 22 characters. There is a red square seal impression of the National Central Library. Preceding the text are two prefaces, by Zhu Yuyi and Zhang Shoupeng, dated 1597. It also has an inscription by Sun Rudeng, and five pages of star charts. After the Warring States period (475–221 BC), astronomy began to assume a political aspect. It was controlled by the court and used as the main tool to forecast important events. Any private person who practiced astronomy was severely punished. The regulations of the Ming dynasty also banned the private pursuit of astronomy. During the Wanli reign (1573–1620), the country was threatened by both northern plunderers and Japanese pirates along the coast. Li Changqing, Li Kejia’s father, was ordered to the imperial court, where he presented a memorial with 12 proposals for defense of the borders and the coast. The proposals were not accepted. This rejection prompted Li Kejia to compile a work containing all military-related divinations, in more than 200,000 characters, by selecting passages from Shi ji (The records of the grand historian) and other Tang- and Song-dynasty histories. The compiler used the fen ye (field allocation) of an early Ming work by Liu Ji (1311–75), appended the prefecture names used during the Qin and Han dynasties, and quoted the histories of the Jin and Tang dynasties as references. Following the system of classification used by Liu Ji, the work is organized in 15 categories: sun, moon, constellations, stars, wind, clouds, fog, rainbows, rain, thunder, frost, five planets, time of the day, astrological talismans for casting spells, and magic arts in Taoist witchcraft. It was intended to provide commanders with guidance in battles at home and abroad.


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Yuzhang, China


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Physical Description

21 juan, 6 volumes : illustrations ; 19.5 x 13.5 centimeters


  • Only prefaces, table of contents, 5 illustrations, and 1st page of juan 1 are included in the WDL presentation.

Last updated: January 3, 2018