An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

(Qinding) Xieji bianfang shu (欽定)協紀辨方書

Jan 1, 2014 © Ulrich Theobald

(Qinding) Xieji bianfang shu (欽定)協紀辨方書 "(Imperially Endorsed) Treatise on Harmonizing Times and Distintuishing Directions" is a compendium on astrology compiled on imperial order under the supervision of Prince Yūn Lu (Ch. Yunlu 允祿, 1695-1767) and finished in 1739.

The book has a length of 36 juan and is divided into eleven parts. The book is a concise description of the Chinese art of Fengshui, a para-science often translated as "geomancy". It explains how and where suitable places were to be selected that would promise a positive influence on the life of the inhabitants of a house or of corpses in a tomb. The skill of Fengshui masters takes into consideration time, the Five Agents (wuxing 五行), and the movements of the celestial bodies, in order to determine luck and misfortune. Another aspect of the book is to provide information on auspicious and inauspicious moments in life, regarding all chronological dimensions. The book thus corrects older almanachs in which time dimensions were not correctly calculated on the base of hexagrams, Celestial Stems, Terrestrial Branches, and the movements of starry constellations.

The preface to the book was written by the Qianlong Emperor 乾隆帝 (r. 1736-1795) in person. He explains that it was important for the Son of Heaven to respect the guidelines of Heaven and the directions of the Earth. This kind of respect (jing 敬) was crucial for the cohesion between the people, the emperor, and Heaven.

The Xieji bianfang shu is included in the imperial series Siku quanshu 四庫全書.

There is s partial translation into English by Thomas F. Aylward (2007), The Imperial Guide to Feng Shui and Chinese Astrology (London: Watkins).

Table 1. Contents of the Xieji bianfang shu 協紀辨方書
1-2 本原 Roots and springs
3-8 義例 Paradigms of appropriateness
9 立成 Positioning for completion
10 宜忌 Situations demanding caution
11 用事 Application
12-13 公規 Common glimpse
14-19 年表 Year tables
20-31 月表 Month tables
32 日表 Day tables
33-34 利用 Profitable application
35 附錄 Appendix
36 辨訛 Errata in old texts
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1793.