The Great Song Baoyou Calendar Produced in 1256


This work is a rare Qing copy of the 1256 Southern Song manuscript calendar, copied by painter Cheng Xugu in 1815. The first page records the location of the god of the year 1256, the nine constellations, the seven-color spectrum, and the size of the moon. Following this page is the report, dated the tenth month of the third year of the Baoyou reign of the Southern Song (1255) and submitted by the Astrological Service Bureau, responding to the imperial order to print the calendar. The report was signed by Deng Zongwen, Cheng Yongxiang, and Li Fuqing, officials of the Imperial Observatory in charge of calendars. At the end of the book are six signatures of officials from the Calendrical Calculations Directorate and the Bureau of Bells and Drums. The postscripts were written by Qian Daxin, Li Rui, Shen Qinpei, and Cai Fuwu, dated between 1814 and 1820. Two other postscripts, dated 1842, were written by Chen Jie and Jin Wangxin. During the Tang and Song dynasties, the development of astronomical instruments and other tools for observation and measurement progressed rapidly, which led to the compilation of remarkably precise calendars. By the Song dynasty, Chinese astronomers had constructed extensive star maps and an array of complex and beautiful astronomical instruments for measuring the precise movement and location of heavenly bodies. The most important goal in mapping the heavens was to develop accurate calendars for use in farming, navigation, rituals, and astrology. Constructed by month, this calendar records in great detail the daily stems and branches, the five primary elements, and the 28 zodiac constellations. It provides basic daily calculation functions and includes the arrangements of colors according to the diagrams of jiu gong (nine modes), jian chu (astrological predictions), the residences of gods and humans, and daily forecast of fortunes and misfortunes, and how to avoid bad luck. It provided guidance on such matters as how to select auspicious days and times for building, sailing, litigation, sacrifice, weddings, purchasing animals, taking up an official post, travel, moving house, dressmaking, burial, and acupuncture. It served as a daily guide for people of all strata. Some calendars were not only a guide, but also an important tool for the government to maintain order. Historically production of calendars had always been controlled by the government, which had the authority to print annual calendars. To meet different needs of different classes, the official bureaus printed different kinds of calendars. As this calendar contains information on hereditary ranks, officialdom, selection of generals, military expeditions, city wall attacks, conquest of military outposts, and the like, it presumably was printed for officials and not for the common people.


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1 juan, 1 volume ; 33.5 x 21.6 centimeters

Last updated: March 5, 2014