Chinese Almanacs

During the Qing Dynasty, the official almanac was named Shixian Shu and was published every year. The official Wannian Shu/Wannian Li (calendar of 100 or, in some editions, 200 years) was first edited in 1741, and the calculations were based on the meridian at longitude 116°23' East.

After the end of the imperial era in 1911, the government of China announced the abolition of the traditional Chinese calendar (Huangli) and using the Gregorian calendar as standard calendar. The government kept publishing official almanacs, but the information about day-selection was excluded. So, entrepreneurs began producing popular almanacs. In order to enhance their sales and the popularity, they included methods and rules of day-selection laid down by religion, unorthodox divination, magical charms, etc. in their almanacs.

In 1953, there were two versions of the traditional Chinese calendar in Mainland China and in Hong Kong. According to the version which was based on the Wannianli of Xuantong imperial era, the 6th lunar month was a "small month" (29 days) and the 7th lunar month was a "big month" (30 days). However, the other version which was based on the calculations of Purple Mountain Observatory was just the opposite - it stated that the 6th month was a "big month" and the 7th month was a "small month". The same difference occurred in 1978 and 1989. In 1978, Guangzhou people in mainland China and Hong Kong people celebrated Mid-autumn festival in different days. Therefore, if you take Wannianli as your reference to traditional Chinese calendar or Jieqi, be aware that there may be some differences among Wannianlis from different sources. Through the above mentioned incidents we understood why in times past each regime tried to monopolize production of the annual almanac and outlawed unauthorized productions.

Generally speaking, day-selection is a study of learning the relations between the influences of horizon directions and time / the locations of planets. Shensha is the general term for these influences of horizon directions. In general, shen means good influence, sha means baneful influence, and all of shensha actually do not relate to any ghosts and celestial beings.

Ancient people believed that particular days of the year were not suitable for certain activities. They set some simple rules to determine whether activities would be auspicious or inauspicious at any given moment, in any given place. Some of these methods, like Jianchu system and 28-xiu system which passed down from the period before Pre-Han, are included in modern Chinese almanacs. As for the accuracy, try at your own risk. Many people use day-selection only because they follow customs and tradition and want to free from anxiety.
 
 


Spring Ox

The description of the spring ox and the god of plant (Mangshen) with woodblock representation appear on the first page of the Chinese Almanacs (also known as Tongshu, Tongsheng, and Tung Shu) is customary rules of making clay bull for the "beating the spring" or "whipping the bull" ceremony. Before the end of the imperial era in 1911, the "beating the spring /whipping the bull" ceremony was held on the day Li Chun in order to represent to send away the cold and to welcome the spring, and a clay bull was set up outside the eastern gate of the city at the day before Li Chun (Beginning of Spring). According to ancient Chinese tradition,Warring States period and Han period, a clay bull was set up outside the eastern gate of the city in order to represent sending away the cold in the 12th month.

Description of spring ox and the god of plant for AD 2003

Spring Ox
 
Symbolizing
height
4 Chi
(Chi, a unit of length
1 Chi = 1/3 meter
1 Chi = 10 Cun
1 Cun = 10 Fen)
four seasons
length
8 Chi
eight seasonal nodes
length of tail
1 Chi 2 Cun
12 months
head
black
Gui
(Year stem)
body
yellow

Wei
(Year branch)
abdomen
blue
Wood
(Na Yin of the year)
horns, ears and tail
yellow

Wu
(Stem of Li Chun day)
shins
white

Shen
(Branch of Li Chun day)
hooves
yellow

Earth
(Na Yin of Li Chun day)
tail
bended to right
Yin year
mouth
shut
Yin year
strap rein
blue ramie rope
Wu Shen
(Stem and branch of Li Chun)
clasp
made with mulberry wood
 
stepping board
the right door plank
Yin year
Mang Shen
(God of plant)
   
height
3 Chi 6 Cun and 5 Fen
365 days
man
 child-like face
Wei
(Year branch)
clothes
 red
Ke, metal is subdued by fire
(the element which subdues the day-branch)
waist band
 black
Sheng, metal gives birth to water
(the element which gives birth to the day-branch)
hair worn in two buns
above ears
Earth
(Na Yin of Li Chun day)
hat
 carried in right hand
Wei (Shi)
(The time of Li Chun)
(Shi, a unit of time,
equal to two western hours)
stockings, shoes and pants
no shoes,
no stockings
Earth
(Na Yin of Li Chun day)
whip
made with colored (five colors) withy
 
length of whip
2 Chi 4 Cun
24 Jieqi
knot
made with ramie
Shen
(Branch of Li Chun day)
Mang Shen
(God of plant)
busy,
stand  next ox
at right side to the ox
Li Chun occurs after new moon
within five days, 
Yin year

 

Twelve Dragons manage water

This is an ancient method of predicting annual rainfall. The number of dragons means the number of days from the lunar new year to the first day with earthly-branch Chen. Large number bodes less rainfall, less number bodes more rainfall. As for the accuracy, a scholar wrote in his book thatin Yiyou year of Chongning era it was a large amount of rain falling fromspring to autumn even though eleven dragons managed water.
 
 

Diagram of Liunian Dali
(Diagram of Auspicious Directions of the Year)

Almanacs from the caves of Dunhuang reveal that the Purple-white / Jiugong / Nine-palace system was employed in almanacs not later than theeighth century. This system was included in the chart of Liunian Dali (Diagram of Auspicious and Inauspicious Directions of the Year) on the second page of Chinese Almanacs. In the chart of Liunian Dali, eight trigram names represent the basic eight compass directions. Li represents south, Kan represents north, Zhen represents east, Dui represents west and so on.

This Nine Palace system is known as Lishu Sanyuan Baifa (Calendrical Three Period White Method). Nine palaces represent eight directions plus center, and each palace houses a number (also known as star-spirit) for the year. Each number only just is the symbolic of the probable influence, but not the certainty, in the direction.

In general, the direction of "Yellow Five" is considered as inauspicious. In 2003 the "Yellow Five" direction occupies southeast (112.5° to 157.5°). The general advice is to keep this direction calm. If there is a door or window in this direction, simply hanging a metal wind-chime or metal windmill on the outside of the door or window can prevent the stellar influence causing illness. Please note that, in Ganzhi calendar and this system, years are measured from Lichun to Lichun. And, different systems divide full 360 deg direction into different numbers of segments. In Four-pillars astrology, the full 360 deg direction is divided in 12 segments.
 
 

5
1
3
4
6
8
9
2
7
Purple-white chart for 2003

Calculating the annual and monthly purple-white chart (Java applet)
 
 

Compass Directions

In the Pre-han times the compass was divied into 12 sectors of 30 degrees each by names of 12 terrestrial/earthly branches. From the Tang period, Fengshui compass (also known as Luojing) was divided into 24 sectors of 15 degrees each by names of 12 terrestrial/earthly branchesand 8 heavenly stems and four names of trigrams.
 
 

Measuring the direction

In the past times, houses were built of stone and wood. People just simply placed the compass or Chinese Luojing on either end of the threshold to measure the horizon direction perpendicular to the main door (also facingdirection of the house), and didn't need to care about the magnetic interferences.

It is unnecessary to buy an expensive Chinese compass (luojing). Since the compass or luojing is based upon a magnet, the compass needle can be influenced by ferroconcrete, nails in wall, power lines, electric motors, etc. To take a correct reading on the compass, any sources of magnetic interference should be avoided. Place the compass on the wooden stool that has been constructed with wooden pegs (no nails) or plastic stool few feet away from the door. Care is taken to assure that the compass is away objects containing iron, wires, and equipment that might interfere with its operation. Go and get a string, and fix one end of the string to the door frame. Stretch the string across the compass, and superimpose it upon the center of the compass. Simply pointing the needle to "N" north or 0 degrees, a reading can be taken. Make sure that the string is perpendicular to the main door and is superimposed upon the center of compass, and the compass is level.
 
 

Taisui is in Wei Direction

Many people confuse the Taisui with Jupiter because both of Taisui and Jupiter were called Suixing (Year-star) in ancient times. Taisui actually means the direction having the same name as the terrestrial/earthly branch of the year. In 2003, the Taisui occupies the Wei direction, from 195° to 225°. In the above mentioned purple-white system, the Taisui means the "Blue-three" and occupies southwest, from 202.5° to 247.5°.
 
 

24 Jieqi

 
Term
 
Date
(year/month/day)
Time
The sun enters
1st Jie
Lichun
Beginning of Spring
2003/02/04
14:06
 
1st Qi
Yushui
Rain Water
2003/02/19
10:00
Hai house
2nd Jie
Jingzhe
Waking of Insects
2003/03/06
08:05
 
2nd Qi
Chunfen
Spring Equinox
2003/03/21
09:00
Xu house
3rd Jie
Qingming
Pure Brightness
2003/04/05
12:53
 
3rd Qi
Guyu
Grain Rain
2003/04/20
20:03
You house
4th Jie
Lixia
Beginning of Summer
2003/05/06
06:10
 
4th Qi
Xiaoman
Grain Full
2003/05/21
19:12
Shen house
5th Jie
Mangzhong
Grain in Ear
2003/06/06
10:20
 
5th Qi
Xiazhi
Summer Solstice
2003/06/22
03:10
Wei house
6th Jie
Xiaoshu
Slight Heat
2003/07/07
20:36
 
6th Qi
Dashu
Great Heat
2003/07/23
14:04
Wu house
7th Jie
Liqiu
Beginning of Autumn
2003/08/08
06:24
 
7th Qi
Chushu
Limit of Heat
2003/08/23
21:08
Si  house
8th Jie
Bailu
White Dew
2003/09/08
09:20
 
8th Qi
Qiufen
Autumnal Equinox
2003/09/23
18:47
Chen house
9th Jie
Hanlu
Cold Dew
2003/10/09
01:01
 
9th Qi
Shuangjiang
Descent of Frost
2003/10/24
04:09
Mao house
10th Jie
Lidong
Beginning of Winter
2003/11/08
04:14
 
10th Qi
Xiaoxue
Slight Snow
2003/11/23
01:44
Yin house
11th Jie
Daxue
Great Snow
2003/12/07
21:06
 
11th Qi
Dongzhi
Winter Solstice
2003/12/22
15:04
Chou house
12th Jie
Xiaohan
Slight Cold
2003/01/06
08:19
 
12th Qi
Dahan
Great Cold
2003/01/21
01:43
Zi house
1st Jie
Lichun
(2003,
Year Gui Wei)
Beginning of Spring
2004/02/04
19:57
 

Calculations are based on Chinese coast time, the meridian at longitude 120° East.
Please refer to Chinese Calendar for 24 Jieqi.
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