A Compilation of Divinations from the Tianyuan Jade Calendar and the Big Dipper Scripture


Shown here is a facsimile of a handwritten copy of Tianyuan yu li xuan ji jing zhu zhan zheng ji (A compilation of divinations in the Tianyuan Jade Calendar and the Big Dipper Scripture). A rare copy in eight juan and six volumes, it has the main text on blue-lined pages and with color illustrations. Calendars such as the Tianyuan Jade Calendar recorded natural and geographical phenomena, which were used as sources of prognostications about people and events, and the bright stars of Ursa Major (also called the Big Dipper or Great Bear), believed by Chinese to be of great significance to the celestial order. The compiler of this work was Zhan Bin of the Ming dynasty. A postscript by an unknown author, placed in front, notes that Ming authors enjoyed writing works on the military arts, that Zhan Bin lived after the Wanli period (1573−1620), and that many of the divinations included in this work were from Song zhi (Song gazetteers). The divinations are written in fu verse. Juan 1 covers divinations of sky and earth and of rain and frost, beginning with sky and earth, which were considered the most valuable. It also discusses changes in sky and earth, such as split skies, sudden changes in the color of the sky, sunken earth, and earthquakes. Juan 2, also with illustrations, contains sun divinations and introduces various solar metamorphoses. Juan 3 concerns moon divinations, introducing the good and then the ill fortunes of the moon. This juan also covers the theory of the primordial state of nothingness with congenital qi, and contains rhyme songs relating to weather patterns, the sun, moon, Ursa Major, and so forth. Juan 4 contains the five star divinations, listing sequentially Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Venus, and Mercury. Juan 5 discusses divinations of various lucky and evil stars, dealing with changes of the five planets and miscellaneous evil stars, novas, comets, and meteors and their unusual ways of rushing, flying, and crashing out of the sky. Juan 6 discusses vapor and mist divinations, mainly for the military, including those for emperors; valiant generals; military victories and failures; conquering cities; ambushes, filibusters, skirmishes, and plots; meteorological phenomena of mixed atmospheres in military camps; good and ill luck; drizzling mist; and rainbows. Juan 7 consists mostly of wind divinations, such as those relating to wind and rain, winds of the eight directions, and five-sound winds. Juan 8 contains miscellaneous divinations relating to sky, sun, moon, stars, wind, rain, clouds, fog, dew, frost, snow, thunder, lightning, rainbows, pink clouds, earth, mountains, springs, seas, tides, grass and trees, dragons and snakes, birds, animals, fish, and insects. Attached at the end is a work by Fan Shifu on wind and rain poetry. The preface, table of contents, and Juan 1−2 are shown here.

Last updated: October 29, 2015