An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Tang Kaiyuan zhanjing 唐開元占經

Dec 1, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald

Da-Tang Kaiyuan zhanjing 大唐開元占經 "Classic of astrology from the Kaiyuan reign-period of the Tang era" 唐 (618-907), shortly called Kaiyuan zhanjing 開元占經, is an astrological text attributed to a writer called Gautama Siddha (Chinese transliteration Qutan Xida 瞿曇悉達), whose ancestors hailed from India. During the reign of Emperor Xuanzong 唐玄宗 (r. 712-755) he served as Supervisor of the Directorate of Astrology (taishijian 太史監) and in 718 transposed the Indian Buddhist calendar on the Chinese calendric model. This calendar was called the Jiuzhi Calendar 九執曆.

The 120-juan-long Kaiyuan zhanjing is a vast compendium on the Chinese calendar. It begins with a description of ancient theories on the universe (juan 1-2). The first part of the book (juan 3-90) is a history of astronomy and astrology in China. It includes a list of many stars and can be compared with other lists like that of Shi Kun 石申, Gan De 甘德 and Wu Xian 巫咸 that are to be found in the book Gan-Shi xingjing 甘石星經.

The second part (juan 91-102) explains concrete methods of divination based on meteorological and astronomical phenomena. The books ends with a reproduction of Li Chunfeng's 李淳風 book Linde lijing 麟德曆經 (juan 103), a description of mathematical operations to calculate the calendar (juan 104), the application of these 29 methods to the historical calendars in Chinese history (juan 105), a large amount of maps of the starry sky (juan 106-110, today lost), and explanations of several other divination methods related to the animal realm.

The Kaiyuan zhanjing is a extremely important book that includes a lot of information on the traditional Chinese methods of combining astronomy with astrology. It quotes vastly from a lot of ancient books that are otherwise lost, especially because most of these texts were later rated as apocryphal and non-orthodox, like Zhang Heng's 張衡 (78-139) texts Linxian 靈憲 or Huntianyi tuzhu 渾天儀圖注. Modern Chinese scholars are especially critical towards the miscellaneous character especially of the latter part of the Kaiyuan zhanjing that has no relation to the realm of astronomy, like fortune-telling from the appearance of certain irregular phenomena in the world of plants and animals, or based on phenomena of the wheather. Yet seen from the book title, it is well justified that the author surpassed the frame of divination by stars, sun and moon and described methods to prognosticate the future by other celestial or earthly phenomena. The Kaiyuan zhanjing can thus be seen as an early encyclopaedia on the art of divination by various methods.

After the Tang period the Kaiyuan zhanjing was lost, but in 1616 Cheng Mingshan 程明善 from Shexian 歙縣, Anhui, discovered a manuscript hidden inside a Buddha statue.

The Tang Kaiyuan zhanjing is included in the series Siku quanshu 四庫全書. In 1989 the Zhonghua Shudian Press 中國書店 has published a separate facsimile of this edition. An separate edition was printed during the Daoguang reign-period (1821-1850) by the Hengde Hall 恒德堂.

Table 1. Contents of the Da-Tang Kaiyuan zhanjing 大唐開元占經
1 天體渾宗 Grand Guide for the Heavenly Embodiments
1 論天 Discussions on Heaven and the sky
3 天占 Divination on the sky
4 地占 Divination on the earth
5-10 日占 Divination on the sun
11-17 月占 Divination on the moon
18-22 五星占 Divination on the five planets
23-29 歳星占 Divination on Jupiter
30-37 熒惑占 Divination on Mars
38-44 填星占 Divination on Saturn
45-52 太白占 Divination on Venus
53-59 辰星占 Divination on Mercury
60 東方七宿:角亢氐房心尾箕 The seven mansions of the east: Jiao, Kang, Di, Fang, Xin, Wei, Ji
61 北方七宿:斗牛女虚危室璧 The seven mansions of the north: Dou, Niu, , Xu, Wei, Shi, Bi
62 西方七宿:奎婁胃昴畢觜參 The seven mansions of the west: Kui, Lou, Wei, Mao, Bi, Zi, Can
63 南方七宿:井鬼柳星張翼軫 The seven mansions of the south: Jing, Gui, Liu, Xing, Zhang, Ji, Zhen
64 分野略例,月所主國,日辰占邦,灾變應期,逆順略例 rules for congruence of stars with geographical regions; correspondence of hours with geographical regions; regular appearance of disasters and abnormal phenomena; rules for clockwise and counter-clockwise movements
65-67 石氏中官 Central officials of Master Shi
68 石氏外官 Outer officials of Master Shi
69 甘氏中官 Central officials of Master Gan
70 甘氏外官,巫咸中外官 Outer officials of Master Gan, Central and outer officials of Master Wu Xian
71-75 流星占 Divination on meteors
76 雜星占 Divination on various stars
77-84 客星占 Divination on guest stars
85-87 妖星占 Divination on evil stars
88-90 彗星占 Divination on comets
91 風占 Divination on wind
92 雨占 Divination on rain
93 候星善惡占 Divination by observing goodness and evilness of stars
94 雜雲氣占 Divination on various appearances of misty qi
95 雲氣犯二十八宿占 Divination on misty qi harming the twenty-eight mansions
96 雲氣犯列宿占 Divination on misty qi harming various lodges
97 猛將軍陣勝負雲氣占 Divination on the ferocious general defeating in battle the misty qi
98 虹蜺占 Divination on rainbows
99 山石冢光占 Divination on mountains, stones, tombs, and rays
100 井泉自出河移水火占 Divination on wells, springs, and certain phenomena of waters
101 霜雪雹氷寒霧露霾曀霰霽濛占 Divination on hoarfrost, snow, hail, ice, cold, fog, dew, mist, dim sky, sleet, clearing-up sky, and drizzling rain
102 雷霆占 Divination on flash and sudden thunder
103 曆法, 麟徳曆經 Calendric methods; the Linde-Calendar
194 算法, 天竺九執曆經 Calculation; the Nine-Holders Calendar of India
105 古今曆積年及章率 Calendric calculation through the ages
106-110 星圖 Star charts
111 八穀占 Divination on the eight types of grain
112 竹木草菜占 Divination on bamboos, trees, grasses, and vegetables
113 人及鬼神占 Divination on men, ghosts, and spirits
114 器服休咎城邑宫殿怪異占 Divination on objects, clothes, auspicious and inauspicious things, cities, palaces, and bizarre objects and phenomena
115 禽占 Divination on birds
116 獸占 Divination on wild animals
117 牛占 Divination on cattle
118 馬占 Divination on horses
119 羊犬豕占 Divination on sheep, dogs, and pigs
120 龍魚蟲蛇占 Divination on to dragons, fishes, scaly animals, and snakes
Jiaoyu da cidian bianzuan weiyuanhui 《教育大辭典》 編纂委員會, ed. (1991). Jiaoyu da cidian 教育大辭典, part 8, Zhongguo gudai jiaoyu shi 中國古代教育史 (Shanghai: Shanghai jiaoyu chubanshe), Vol. 1, 266.
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, ed. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1783.
Lu Su 盧蘇 (1993). "Kaiyuan zhanjing 開元占經", in Shi Quanchang 石泉長, ed. Zhonghua baike yaolan 中華百科要覽 (Shenyang: Liaoning renmin chubanshe), 959.
Pan Nai 潘鼐 (1980). "Kaiyuan zhanjing 開元占經", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, part Tianwenxue 天文學 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), 190.
Wang Yiliang 王貽梁 (1996). "Kaiyuan zhanjing 開元占經", in Zhou Gucheng 周谷城, ed. Zhongguo xueshu mingzhu tiyao 中國學術名著提要, Vol. Keji 科技卷 (Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe), 139