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Taiyi jinjingshi jing 太乙金鏡式經 "The Classic of the Method of the Golden Mirror of the Great Unity"


The Taiyi jinjingshi jing 太乙金鏡式經 "Classic of the method of the Golden Mirror of the Great Unity" is a book on divination written by a Tang period 唐 (618-907) scholar called Wang Ximing 王希明. It is known that during the Kaiyuan reign 開元 (713-741) he was recommended as a magician and was appointed a teacher at the Hanlin Academy 翰林. The 10 juan "scrolls" long book is mentioned in the imperial bibliography Yiwenzhi 藝文志 in the official dynastic history Xintangshu 新唐書, where it is said that it was compiled on imperial order. The "great unity" taiyi (also written taiyi 太一) is the deity of the polestar, the highest deity of the Daoist pantheon. Knowledge about this star was important for one school of soothsayers during the Warring States period 戰國 (5th cent.-221 BCE), while others specialized on the five processes (wuxing 五行), geomancy (kanyu 堪輿), personalty (jianchu 建除 "establishing or avoiding"), coincidence (congchen 叢辰), the calendar, or the relation between Heaven and Man (tian ren 天人). It is believed that the great unity is the "largest dimension" (taiji 太極) encompassing the whole universe, in other words, the Dao 道. This largest dimension produced the "two items" (ermu 二目), i.e. Heaven and Earth, these the "four wheels" (sifu 四輔), and these create the "eight generals" (bajiang 八將), corresponding to the eight trigrams of the Yijing 易經 "Book of Changes". The year, months, days and hours serve as outer "ropeline" (gang 綱), while the "eight generals" are used as woofs (wei 緯) in the interpretations of good and bad luck, while the warps (jing 經) are constituted by the "three fundaments" (sanji 三基), the "five happinesses" (wufu 五福) and the "ten spirits" (shijing 十精). The prognostication method of the Great Unity is based on the method of traversing the "nine palaces" (jiugong 九宮) described in the apocryphal book Yigan zaodu 易乾鑿度. No ancient book on the method of divination by the polestar has survived, yet Wang Ximing's book seems to assemble and describe such traditional methods. These played an important role among the many kinds of divination in imperial China. The last part oft he book, in which the constellation is extended until the Jingyou reign 景祐 (1034-1037) of the Song period 宋 (960-1279) has been added later. The Taiyi jinjingshi jing was very popular in former times and found even entrance in the empire of the Western Xia 西夏 (1038-1227). It is included in the imperial collectaneum Siku quanshu 四庫全書.

Source: Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, vol. 2, p. 1792. Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe.

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November 29, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail