CHINAKNOWLEDGE - a universal guide for China studies | HOME | About
Encoding: Unicode (UTF-8) [Location: HOME > Literature > Masters and Philosophers > Divination books > Yuchijing]

Chinese Literature
Yuchijing 玉尺經 "The Classic of the Golden Foot"


The Yuchijing 玉尺經 "Classic of the golden foot" is a book on geomancy (fengshui 風水) allegedly compiled by the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368) master Liu Bingzhong 劉秉忠. It was commented by the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) scholar Liu Ji 劉基.
Liu Bingzhong, original name Liu Kan 劉侃, courtesy name Liu Zhonghui 劉仲晦, later name Liu Zicong 劉子聰, held the high offices of Grand master for splendid happiness (guanglu dafu 光祿大夫) and Grand Guardian (taibao 太保). His biography in the official dynastic history Yuanshi 元史 already mentions his expertise in geomancy. He therefore took over an important role in determining an ideal location for the "Supreme Capital" Shangdu 上都 (Karakorum), as well as the main capital Dadu 大都 (modern Beijing). The real authors of the book Yuchijing have therefore borrowed the name of this famous geomancer for marketing purposes, as one would say today. Even the authorship Liu Ji's of the commentary can not be ascertained. He lived at the beginning of the Ming period, yet the commentary makes use of the place name Guizhou 貴州 that is of a younger date.
The 4 juan "scrolls" long book explains that all mountains in China are derived from the originary Kunlun Range 昆侖 and were scattered as single mountains (yue 嶽) over the empire. Their arrangement follows the three trigrams (see Yijing 易經) gen 艮, zhen 震 and xun 巽. The Yellow River corresponds to a dragon forming a boundary to the northwest, in accordance with the Terrestrial Branch (dizhi 地支) chou 丑 (see calendar) and the trigram gen 艮, while the Yangtze River forms the boundary to the southeast, in accordance with the trigram xun 巽 and the Branch chen 辰. The author describes these "dragon veins" (longmai 龍脈) of all rivers, and their auspicious and inauspicious points.
The Yuchijing can therefore be called a macro-approach to geomancy. It has been lauded by a lot of Ming and Qing 清 (1644-1911) period geomancers. Jiang Pingjie 蔣平階 has in his book Dili bianzheng 地理辨證 written a critical assessment of Liu Bingzhong's theory. The compilers of the imperial collectaneum Siku quanshu 四庫全書, nonetheless, rated the Yuchijing as a concoction of the thoughts of earlier geomancers as Yang Yunsong 楊筠松 (see Hanlongjing 撼龍經, Qingnang aoyu 青囊奧語, and Tianyujing neizhuan 天玉經內傳) from the Tang period 唐 (618-907) and Lai Wenjun 賴文俊 (see Cuiguanpian 催官篇) from the Song period 宋 (960-1279), while the own contribution of the Yuchijing was not very original, and also somewhat confuse.
The Yuchijing is included in the collectaneum Dili daquan 地理大全.


Source: Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, vol. 2, p. 1786. Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe.
Chinese literature according to the four-category system

January 5, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail