A Comprehensive Calendar Arranged by Subject Matter


Lei bian li fa tong shu da quan (A comprehensive calendar arranged by subject matter) was compiled by Xiong Zongli (1409–82) during the Ming dynasty. He combined two other Ming works, Song Huishan tong shu (Encyclopedic astronomical calendar) by Song Huishan and Li fa ji cheng (Collected works on astronomical calendars) by He Shitai, made corrections, and published them under a new title. The work is in 30 juan. In the first 19 juan, tables of contents list the names of all three authors. In juan 20–30, no author names are given, and it is possible that these parts were written by different authors. The contents of the work are mixed and trivial, with a focus on predictions in daily life, such as ground-breaking for a house, succession to a title or appointment to a new post, praying and blessing, the coming of age of boys and girls, marriages and weddings, the building of a pond, visiting a doctor, the location of a demon of pestilence, and so forth. The book also provides information, with illustrations, on good and bad luck in the 12-month cycle, good and bad luck deities in the 12-year cycle of the sun and moon, suitable locations for each of the 12 years, for each of the 12 months, and so forth. As the contents of the book were very much related to popular geomancy concerning daily life, it was well received and enjoyed wide use. However, the calculations and predictions used by the author were different from those made by other fortune-tellers, which caused confusion. During the Qing dynasty, another work, Qin ding xie ji bian fang shu (Treatise on harmonizing times and distinguishing directions) was issued in 1739 by imperial order to unify the various fortune-telling practices. The Si ku quan shu ti yao (Annotated bibliography of the Siku Collection) made a reference to this work as “erroneous.” In the early years of the Qing dynasty, privately published annual calendars began to appear and to be distributed. By the 16th year of the Qianlong reign (1751) the court granted citizens the right to privately publish almanacs and calendars, copies of which soon flooded the market. This work may have been used as one of the references during the compilation of the official almanac.

Last updated: November 25, 2013