Observations on the Astronomical Phenomena


Tian yuan fa wei (The astronomical phenomena) was compiled by Bao Yunlong of the Song dynasty and edited by Bao Ning of the Ming dynasty. It has five juan in ten volumes, and one juan of explanatory notes, various illustrations, explanations of the chapter titles, and questions and answers in summaries. The National Central Library copy is a Ming edition, printed in the fifth year (1461) of the Tianshun era in Shexi by Bao Ning at his workshop called Gengdu Shutang. It has three prefaces: one by Fang Hui dated the second year (1296) of the Yuanzhen era of the Yuan dynasty, one by Bao Yunlong in the 27th year (1290) of the reign of the first Yuan emperor Kublai, and the third one also by Fang Hui in 1291. Bao Yunlong (1225‒96), courtesy name Jingxiang, style name Luzhai, participated in 1258 in the civil service examination as a prefectural nominee. According to Fang Hui’s 1296 preface, Bao, at one time a recluse on the Yellow Mountain, who died at the age of 71, had spent his later life at the family home of Zheng Jinzhai (a deputy superintendent of the Confucius school in Guangxi Circuit), where he wrote this work in five juan with 25 chapters, working on it for ten years. It was Zheng Jinzhai who had it printed and published. In November of the same year Bao died, leaving behind a grandson. One juan of the work had not yet been engraved, but Zheng Jinzhai had it done and included in the printing. Zheng’s name was Zhaozu, courtesy name Kongming. Jinzhai was his style name. Both Fang Hui and Zheng Jinzhai were natives of Shexian, in Anhui. Following the explanatory notes are 22 illustrations, including He tu (River map), Luo shu (Luo chart), Fuxi ba gua (Fuxi eight diagrams), Zhouzi tai ji tu (Diagram of the Supreme Polarity of Zhou), and Fuxi liu shi si gua ci xu tu (Sequence of the 64 hexagrams of Fuxi). Bao Ning, who wrote the questions and answers, pointed out that there existed several dozen letters from Fang Hui along with Bao Yunlong’s replies. He indicated that the original version was in three juan. He extracted important parts as well as the argumentative and inspirational views for this edition. Juan 1 discusses taiji (supreme polarity), yin and yang, directions, and heaven and earth. Juan 2 discusses motion and stillness, or yin and yang, the five elements, the eight diagrams, the sun, and the moon. Juan 3 deals with the stars, the division of sun, moon and stars, the North Star, the 12 months, and the 72 climates. Juan 4 discusses the vital material force, leap months and years, images of astronomical phenomena, and primitive and posterior Eight Diagrams. Juan 5 discusses the heart of Heaven, understanding of demons and divinities, and changes of heaven’s course as opposed to the courses of human beings. The author wrote this work to elucidate the theories of heaven, earth, human beings and divinities based on the teachings of the Book of Changes. The prefaces, table of contents, illustrations, and juan 1 are presented here.

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Gengdu Shutang, Anhui, China


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2 volumes

Last updated: November 9, 2017