Hun Tian Yi Tong Xing Xiang Quan Tu
Hun T'ien Yi T'ung Hsing Hsiang Ch'uan T'u
General Map of the Stars Gathered in the Immense Sky
Southern Song dynasty, Chunyou reign, dated 1247 Hanging scroll; ink on paper
183 x 100 cm Stone Carving Museum, Suzhou
Dunhuang collection in the British Museum Copyright c 1997, The British Library Board British Library, Or.8210/S.3226 The Star Chart is one of the most important manuscripts in the British Library Dunhuang Collection. Dated about A.D. 940 it is almost certainly the oldest extant manuscript star-chart from any civilization. In the fourth century B.C. three Chinese astronomers drew star charts based on their own observations. These were used by Qian Lezhi, an astronomer living in the fourth century A.D., to make a bronze planisphere. The planisphere showed the stars determined by the three ancient astronomers in red, black and white. The original works of the fourth century B.C. and the planisphere are now lost, but the Star Chart is a manuscript example of Qian Lezhi's work and also uses three colours.