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Consul for the Kingdom of Behjlum at Chefoo. 


Author of "Un apercu de la situation en Chine." " The 
treaty illegality of the transit dues and lelciii tacces actualhj 
levied hy the Chinese government." ** British «7uji^i?igr 
interests in China" " T/ie treaty illegality of the coast 
trade duties levied hy the Chinese Qovernme.i t." 


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A mere enrsory oleenration of {he opmons lidd 

by educated Chinese, regarding the rdatiye position of 

iheir goyemment and usages as compared with those of 

other countries, disdoses the existence of a general 

impression on their part, that China &r surpasses all 

other nations in historical antiquity ; and consequently 

in a more ancient and tried civilisation both political 

and sodal, which the Chinese assert has placed them 

in possession of the accumulated wisdom of ages, and 

thus entitles them to be considered superior to those 

other peoples, whose experience they say is only 

spread over a comparatively much shorter term of 

national existence. 

Such an impression, if even based on truth, would 
naturally engender an excessive feeling of self superiority 
oyer those who are believed not to possess such 
advantages, just as the Egyptian priests of Sais felt 
towards the Greeks when they told them in the person 
of Solon that they were but children in knowledge ; but 
when, as will be presentiy shown is the case with the 
Chinese, such assumption of superiority is a mere 
imaginary sentiment of self esteem without any real 
foundation, and when through isolation from tiio rest 


of the world, and through this imaginary and question- 
able superiority, such assumption has never been 
submitted by them to the test of comparative ex- 
amination ; it acquires a tendency to degenerate into 
arrogance with all its deplorable results, and it develops 
itself all the more ostentatiously, as the claim to such 
superiority is either partly acquiesced in through]apathy, 
or is not peremptorily denied by those nations who are 
brought into contact with the Chinese, and who have but 
too readily admitted, and believed in the authenticity 
of their chronolog}% and history, and scientific literature. 
Lord Elgin in his letter to Lord Clarendon, 9th July, 
1857, thus expressed his opinion on this subject ; 
'' I think it must be manifest to all who have made 
our relations with China a subject of close examina- 
tion and study, that the obstinate refusal of the court 
** of Pekin to place itself on a footing of equality with 
** other powers lies at the root of our difficulties with 
" that country." 

Sir F. Bruce in a letter to Lord Malmesbury, 13th 
July, 1859, writes, "The subjects of foreign nations 
" residing in China are repiesentedj as belonging to 
" barbarous tribes^ as devoid of eicilisaiionJ^ 

A great deal of the political differences which have 
sprung up between China and other powers, have arisen 
from this very sentiment of superiority on the part of 
the Chinese, and a great deal of the difficulty which has 
been experienced in settling these differences has been 
caused by the unwillingness or inability to reasonably 



contest this seiitiment ; and also from it having found 
to a certain extent some encouragement and support 
from several writers who, having had familiar inter- 
course with the Chinese, have been incautiously led to 
admit too easily, the Chinese claims for superior 
antiquity and civilisation, through a consequent undue 
admiration for Chinese institutions, and a credulousness 
in the supposed ancient origin of their chronology. 

This false assumption of superiority grounded on a 
supposed antiquity has also been and still is a great bar 
to the Chinese receiving the truths of Christianity, and 
thus the civilising power of the Christian appreciation 
of mankind in its self mutual relations is lost to the 

It is with a view therefore of remedying this un- 
reasonable appreciation of Chinese history that the 
following researches have been undertaken, by investi- 
gating the questions involved in the Chinese assump- 
tions, and by endeavouring to show that their claims 
are groundless. 

As the works treating on Chinese chronology and 
history are for the most part written in French and 
other foreign languages, which are not easily obtainable 
now*a-days ; and as it seems desirable to make them 
more accessible to English readers, by translations of 
such portions of them as treat on the subject in hand ; 
these researches have also been compiled with regard 
to those circumstances: so that they may serve as 
a work in English for reference and information for 


^ persons who oAmally or otherwise are brought into 
(contact with the educated class of OhinesOy and also for 
nOhristian missionaries to whom a true appreciation of 
'the history of the people which they seek to concert 
•cannot he otherwise than usefuL The works also that 
are written in English not being within reach of many, 
extracts from them are herein given, so that whatever 
has been adduced by students of Chinese literature and 
history on the question of chronology may be brought 
together in one work and made readily available. 

Should the result be in any way useful in bringing 
.about a critical and correct appreciation of Chinese 
: antiquity and civilisation, and in checking the ex- 
aggerated sympathy which has been produced through 
the skilfull and artificial representation by Chinese of 
their own history ; the writer will be amply rewarded 
for the reading and thought that these researches have 
entailed, though he has kept in mind throughout the 
whole course of his researches, the words of Sir 
Wm. Drummond, "The writer who endeavours to 
separate truth from fiction in ancient history, under- 
takes a task which is more likely to prove laborious to 
Jiimself than agreeable to others.'' Origines YoL i. 
Preface, page via. 

pHiNEsE Chronology and Cycles. 

Chapter I* 

General View of the Question. 

[N order to start with a correct notion as to what 
Chinese chronology clearly is, so that it may he 
clearly understood what is therehy meant in 
the hereinafter inrestigation, it is necessary to state in 
limine that there is no generic difference assumed to 
exist between the system adopted by the Chinese, and 
that used by other nations, for recording the relative 
suceession of erents, in time, during the term of their 

The special character of Chinese chronology which 
will here come under consideration, is its unsupported 
pretension to authenticity as a record of occurrences,, 
in China* Here however a distinction need be drawn 
between the undoubtedly mythical and fabulous ages- 
which the Chinese, as well as other oriental nations^ 
endeavour to compute by improbable periods ; and the 
other probable sequence of events in. time, which, as far 
ag regards the ascertained chronology of other ancient 
nations, does not involve any impossibility of accordance 
witti tiieir history. 


Thus, the ages preceding the date of the supposed 
monarch of China, Fu-hi, or even of his immediate pre- 
decessors and successoi*s are not here admitted as 
deserving critical examination; as erudite Chinese them« 
selves exclude the times in which these personages are 
placed in their history, from any possible and accurate 
chronology of China. It is Only with the chronology 
which begins with Hwangti, B.C. 2704, that the present 
researches are concerned ; as this is the earliest debate- 
able epoch about which even Chinese agree that it can 
form a legitimate object of discussion, and it may be 
assumed as the era of China> with which their chronology 
starts and begins at his reign. 

Properly speaking the Chinese have no precise era 
like that of Nabonassar> or of the Jews, or of the 
Mahometans, or of the Christians, inasmuch as the era 
of Hwangti is neither a certain one, nor is it univers- 
ally acknowledged by the Chinese, though it is officially 
adopted by their government just as it has adopted 
Chinese history in order to prop up its own claim 
for antiquity. The absence of such era, by itself, 
wftuld cdone suffice to call in question the accuracy of 
Chinese chronology. 

The motive for impugning the chronology of the 
Chinese is not that it involves any historical impossi- 
bility by reason of its reaching too far back into 
antiquity. With the experience lately gained through 
Egyptian, and Babylonian, and Assyrian historical 
monuments, which clearly prove the existence of these 


two nations thousands of years ago, every one is quite 
reconciled to allowiDg any other nation, sncli as the 
Chinese, to share in a similar venerable ancient exist- 
ence, provided their claim to such can be substantiated. 
It is partly because the annals of those undoubtedly 
ancient nations make no mention of a coeval empire of 
China, that a reasonable doubt is suggested as to the 
reality of the chronology on which the antiquity of that 
empire is founded ; for had China been in those times 
the seat of science and civilisation, and of the extent 
and power which are attributed to it, China would have 
had such a remarkable prominence in the social world 
that it could not have been unnoticed or unrecorded. 
It is this absence of any mention of China from the 
records of known ancient nations that even justifies a 
refusal to receive any part of its ancient history except 
with hesitation, and that also necessitates a most careful 
investigation as to its truth. 

To any one thus approaching the general question of 
the authenticity (i Chinese chronology, it seems to turn 
on the point, whether the historical compilation in 
which this chronology is embodied, and which is 
presented by the Chinese for our acceptance, is sup- 
ported iy synchronous monuments and trustworthy 
records ; or whether it is a narrative composed at a recent 
modern period, on dubious slender evidence, and 
skilfully adapted to fictitious dates of ancient times for 
the pui*pose of giving it an appearance of circumstantial 


It is therefore impossible in the present researches 
altogether to separate the consideration of chronology 
from that of history, although the examination of the 
latter will be here only subservient to the former, and 
will only occupy a secondary position in this part of the 
investigation. The special question of Chinese history 
will be discussed in part No. ii, of these researches. 
The Roman Catholic missionaries who in the 16th, 
17th and 18th, centuries of our era, first examined 
Chinese historical literature, were so struck by its 
regularity and cohesion, that several of them such as Da 
Halde, Gaubil, Couplet, Viseldou, Parrenin, Martini, 
Amiot, and De Mailla, unhesitatingly received the 
chronology contained in it. The Abb^ Grosier in his 
** discours preliminaire" to De Maillas history of China 
Vol. T, page 22, thus eulogizes the Tong-kien-kang-mou 
of which De Mailla's work is a translation. " The 
" authority of these annals is irrefragable in China, and 
" the learned persons of that empire exhibit an esteem 
** for this collection which is akin to veneration" — and 
this sentence may be taken to express the opinion of all 
♦lie above mentioned missionaries on the subject. 
De Guigncs, in his preface to the Shoo-king, page 25, 
" says, that the long suite of Chinese historical works 
** has imposed on the missionaries and the savants 
" of Europe. The greater part of them have belived 
" that Chinese chronology merits a special attention 
** and that it is even preferable to any other similar 



They accordiBgly transmitted translations of the 
chief historical books of the Chinese to Europe, where 
the French savants such as Deshauterayes in his obser- 
"vations" prefixed to De Mailla's "Histoire G^n^rale 
de Chine," Fourmont, Remusat, Pauthier, and Biot, at 
once admitted their authenticity, coming as they did from 
such an authority as the learned and respectable Komani 
Catholic missionaries who had recommended and adopted 
them as worthy of credit. The special ^subject of Chinese 
chronology has been extensively treated by Freret 
in the 13th and 14th, volumes of his works, Paris, 
1796 and by Gaubil in his " traite de la Chronologic 
Chinoise," and both these authors have expressed nearly 
all that can be urged in its favor. 

Others among the missionaries, such as Cibot, and 

Pranare in his " discours preliminaire" to the French 

translation of the Shoo-king by Gaubil, took an opposite 

Tow of the question, and by a careful examination of 

what even some Chinese themselves had written on the 

suhject of their own chronology, they came to the 

conclusion that they felt justified in having misgivings 

about the credibility of the Chinese historical system^ 

and naturally enough this distrust in Chinese chronology 

which they expressed, was also manifested by scholars 

in Europe, such as Do Guignes, in his preface to 

Gaubils French translation of the Shoo-king, and 

Eaproth in his *'Memoires sur L*Asie," Rev. George 

Costard, in Vol. xliv, of the * 'philosophical transactions,^^ 

p^ 476 — the Abb^ Renaudot, M. Dourtoux de 


Mairan. Fr^ret too in the first part of the 13th volume 
of his works, exposes the unreliabiUty of Chinese 
chronology, although in a subsequent dissertation, he 
takes a more favorable view of it. His statement and 
arguments will be examined in another chapter of 
these researches. 

In the present day Dr. Legge in the " prolegomena " 
to his English translation of the Chinese Classics, 
Dr. Chalmers in his " origin of the Chinese," and W. 
F. Mayers in his " Chinese Readers Manual," have not 
hesitated to declare their conviction after careful study 
of the question, that Chinese chronology is entirely un- 
reliable, though Dr. Legge in his introduction to the 
3rd volume of " The Sacred Books of the East" Ox- 
ford, 1879, somewhat modifies his previously published 
opinions about Chinese history. Canon M^latchie has 
also contributed some valuable papers in the North 
China Herald of 1872 on the antiquity of the Chinese, in 
which he also contests the accuracy of their chronology. 

There are therefore, and have been, from the time 
when Chinese chronology first came under the consider* 
ation of the studious, two opposite opinions on the 
subject; and now, since the discovery of undoubted 
ancient monuments in Egypt and Assyria has justified 
the attribution of great historical antiquity to those 
countries, and has overcome previous doubts about 
them, a similarly favorable feeling has been revived 
in the minds of some persons, that Chinese chronology 
should be also considered and maintained to be equally 


credible with that of Assyria and Egypt. Unfortunately 
for such analogy no authentic ancient monuments have 
been yet discovered in China which corroborate by thSr 
testimony the chronological system of that ;COuntry as 
has been done in Egypt. 

The only monument which has any pretension to 
antiquity is the so-called Tablet of Yu, a description of 
which was published by Hager. Dr. Legge, in his 
prolegomena to the Chinese Classics, Vol. in, pt. i, of 
his translation of the Chinese Classics,' page 67 and fol- 
lowing, reviews the history of its discovery in the 13th 
century of our era, and concludes, " The review which 
" I have given of the history of the stone sufficiently 
" shows in my own opinion, that it is not entitled to 

the least credit; and I am supported in this view by 

the great majority of Chinese archaBologists" page 71. 

Mr. C. T. Gardner of H. M. Consular service in China 
has also given an account of this Tablet of Yu in the 
Chma Review for March and April 1874, page 293, and 
although on the whole he contends for its " probable 
" antiquity," he admits that no Chinese scholar, pretends 
"that this inscription found in a.d. 1212, was the 
original tablet engraved by Yu." He supposes that when 
" all the books and ancient records were destroyed by 
" the order of the Emperor She hwang-ti b,c. 212," 
" among them for a time perished the Yu monument," 
but there is no proof that the tablet existed then, and the 
edict of She hwang-ti so clearly specifies the books that 
werfi destroyed, that Mr. Gardner's hypothesis is entirely 


tinsuppoTted by eridence. He urges *' nothing eonld be 
" more probable than that certain scholars should have 
*' feamt by heart the Yu inscription, and should have 
*' again cut a tablet containing it," but even this supposi- 
tion is founded on the first mentioned surmise that an 
original tablet had been destroyed. The Chinese authors 
irhich Mr. Gardner quotes to support his views are not 
earlier than the present dynasty, and they offer nothing 
tmnoticed by Dr. Legge in his review of the history of 
the Tablet. He concludes that " although the ancient 
** inscription itself is in all prohdbility genuine, the 
modem Chinese transcripts must be received with 
great caution, Chinese scholars going through all the 
•* shades of doubt to utter credulity on the subject," so 
that as an authority on the subject of chronology the 
Tablet of Yu is^entirely valueless. ^ 

Gaubil in his "traite de la chronologic Chinoise" page 
66, states that She hwang-ti " erected a stone tablet on 
" which was engraven the eulogy of himself " and as 
this remark is made immediately after the description 
of that emperor's j'oumey " to the tomb of Yu on the 
"mountain of Hoey Ki in the district of Chao-hang in 
*' Chekiang," it may be this tablet of She hwang-ti that 
has been mistaken for one erected by Yu himself. 
Gaubil mentions in a note to this passage that " the 
remains of this monument are still to be seen." 

r. Lenormant in an article entitled "The Deluge" in 
the Contemporary Review for November 1879 page 466, 
makes the following remarks on the Tablet of Yu; — 


'' This inscription appears to present an intrinsicaUy 
^* authentic character, sufficient to dispell the doubts 
*' suggested by Mr. Legge, aliiough there is this rather 
*^ sttspieious fact eonsieeted with it, that ve are only 
^' acquainted with it tiirough ancient copies, and thaifc 
^^for many centuries past the minutest research has 
** failed to rediscover the original." 

The Chevalier Paravey in his" Esss^i sur Torigine 
'' unique et hierogliphique des chifires et des lettres 
** de tons les peoples** Paris 1826 page xxxiii, has the 
ioUowing remarks on flie Tablet of Yu; — ^'With regard 
''to this inscription which has been cited in such a 
'Vtriumphant manner, we will m^ely say that it might 
"just as likely ha^e been traced on the rocks of the 
*** Euphrates, or of the Oxus, as in China, and have been 
** thence copied and retranscribed m the pretended 
''middle empire. The learned Gaubfl, writing from 
"Peking, and who, to say tiie least, was as clever as any 
"European sinologue, does not even mention it in the 
"very place (page 188 of his Chinese Chronology) where 
"he discusses whether there are any very ancient 
" monuments in China, and concludes that there are 
"none; and where nevertheless he makes mention of 
" tiie works of the great Yu." See also an article in the 
Journal of the North China Branch of the Royal 
Asiatic Society for 1868, in which the story about 
Yu*s tablet is regarded as apocryphal. In the disserta- 
tion in the Journal of the R. A. Society North China 
Branch for 1868, page 78^ referred to by Mr. Mayers, 


C, R. M., page 281, Mr. Medhurst remarks on the 
8hen-Tu-pai, or Tablet of Yu, "To this day it remains 
" a matter of doubt as to how far such an inscription 
'* eyer had any existence, and at the same time a 
" mystery as to what common origin, if any, may 
" be ascribed the several reputed fac-similes, copies, 
" or tracings, of the inscription which are undoubtedly 
** to be found in various parts of the empire." Mr. 
Medhurst gives a brief critical notice of the inscrip- 
tion, by Tang Siiin-fang, " a native of the locality 
** in which the original inscription is said to be found, 
" and an individual of both rank and education," who 
states " the opinion commonly prevalent, to the 
** effect that the tablet had been inscribed by Tu in 
" order to commemorate his miraculous deeds, was 
" entirely groundless. 

Another ancient monument or series of monuments 
exists in the so-called stone drums of the Chow dynasty, 
of which an accurate account has been given by Dr. 
8. W. Bushell, Physician to the British Legation, 
Ptklng, in the journal of the North China Branch of the 
Koyal Asiatic Society, New Series, No. viii, page 133. 
They are supposed to belong to the time of the 
sovereign Hsuan-wang, b.c. 827, 782, and they were 
first discovered in Shensi about a.d. 627-649, in a 
portion of the ancestral territory of the Chow dynasty, 
during the early part of the Tang dynasty. Dr. 
Bushell, with great fairness, gives the arguments pro 
and con used by Chinese archaeologists, and concludes 


that those who maintain the authenticity of the drums 
have the best of the discussion. Whatever may be 
thought of these monuments they are of slight import- 
ance, as they only record a hunting expedition of the 
sovereign Hsuan-wang, an event which was not even 
recorded in the annals of his reign, and which according 
to Chinese critics prevents them from being thoroughly 
identified with this epoch in chronology. 

Another supposed ancient inscription in Chinese 
which is said to exist on a terra cotta vase discovered 
by Dr. Schliemann, at Hassarlik, has been lately 
brought forward in support of Chinese antiquity — but 
though the Chinese ambassador in London, 1879, 
affected to discern Chinese characters in the inscription, 
Professor Sayce in a letter to the Times, 11th June, 167.^, 
effectually disposes of their not being Chinese, but of the 
Cypriote syllabary — See also China Review, for July- 
August, 1879, with Dr. Busheirs remarks on it, who 
declares that it cannot be accepted as certain. This 
syllabary will come under consideration in the fourth 
part of these researches. 

Amongst the supposed ancient monuments of China 
we also the seventy-two tablets engraved by order 
<rf seventy-two ancient Chinese sovereigns before Fu-hi, 
on the mountain Tay-shan, in Shantung. Gaubil in 
his Chinese Chronology, page 280, states that all which 
is said on the subject is a fable, and calls them, 
"pretended tablets," and he adds that the only ancient 
monument to be found on Tay-shan, is the remains of 


an old marble or stone tablet erected by order of She 
hwang-ti, in memory of his journey to that mountain. 
The support of ancient monmnents in confirmation of 
the Chinese system of chronology is thus wanting, and 
neither is there any external testimony forthcoming from 
the records of other nations to supply this deficiency of 
evidence, and to testify to the antiquity of the Chinese 
either as a nation, or to the chronology as propounded 
by the above mentioned writers ; unless some of the yet 
undecyphered cuneiform tablets in public or private 
museums may furnish unexpected proofs in in its favor. 

Chabas in his " Etudes sur I'antiquit^ ^ chap. 4, page 
97, " sur les nations connues des anciens Egyptiens,*' 
shows that in the monuments of that country there is 
BO mention of any country known to the Egyptians that 
corresponds to China, though they knew all the other 
established nations synchronous with their own early 

There are old traditions that the Egyptians had 
colonies as far east in Asia as Bactria, at a very ancient 
date. Diodorus Siculus says that in times of remote 
antiquity the Egyptians had sent out colonies over the 
whole known world, (see Sir S. C. Lewis, An historical 
survey of the astronomy of the ancients, page 261) 
and this has been recently elucidated by Morreau de 
Jonnes, who cites the ancient authorities on the subject, 
in " L'ocean des anciens et les peuples antehistoriques, 
chapter, "Les colonies coushites," Paris 1873. He 
shows that Bamian was the capital of the Egyptian 


colony, and that the Ethiopians who he identifies with the 
Lybians of Africa had built seven cities in Sogdiana, 
and he adds that to this day villages entirely peopled 
with blackmen, doubtless descendants of these Africans, 
are to be found in Thibet, and he quotes the geographer 
Ritter as evidence of this, and he associates them with 
the Chorasmians and Bactrians. 

China therefore from its vicinity to that region and its 
probable connexion with it while under Egyptian rule, 
must have come within the knowledge of the Egyptians 
had it been an empire at that time as the Chinese 
contend. That there existed a very full knowledge 
of Egypt in Eastern Asia is evident from the descrip- 
tion of that country in Sanscrit literature. Lieut. 
F. Wilford in Vol. II of the supplement to Sir W. 
Jones works, London 1801, has shown this clearly, and 
Baldwin, " Prehistoric Nations " page 53, writing of the 
old Sanskrit scheme of geography as found in the 
Puranas, and other ancient books, says that Africa 
was known as Cusha dwipa. If therefore Egypt was 
well-known in India ; and by the India of the Sanskrit 
books was meant the Jambu dwipa or the centre of the 
world, and the ancient home of the whole Aryan race, 
much to the east and north of Hindustan, and which 
was the old Iranian empire with its capital Balkh ; it 
may be inferred that the Egjrptians reciprocally knew 
the East of Asia by which they were known. Baldwin 
op: cit : page 64 says that the Auga dwipa was the country 
of the Manchu or Mongol people^ and the Tama dwipa 


was the ancient Chinese empire ; but a doubt might 
be suggested whether the identification mentioned is 
borne out by facts or other history, though at the 
strongest view of Yama being China, it would not follow 
that the country then known as such was the seat of 
a great empire like Egypt with which it is made 
synchronically to exist. The geography of the Ven- 
didad which mentions the fourteen Aryan Settlements 
certainly does not mention China among the Aryan 
civilizations ; though it mentions the Haptu Hindu or 
India. The communication between Bactria and China 
must have been much easier then, than it is even now, 
and there seems to have been a continued series of cities 
between Kashgar to Lobnor and China on the south 
side of the present desert of Gobi, from Khoten to 
Lobnor ; while on the northern and eastern side between 
Hami and Kansuh there were also cities and large 
populations. Forsyth in his article on the buried cities 
in the great desert of Gobi — " Journal of the R. G. 
Society 1877," mentions ruins of several ancient 
cities, the principal of which is Kok-noor, or the blue 
lake, or Tsing Hai; and he says the buried cities 
proper are at a distance many marches East of Khotan. 
Turner in his Embassy to Thibet (French translation, 
Vol. II, page 60,) says, that a knowledge of Egpyt 
existed anciently in Thibet, and as it is probable that the 
knowledge was reciprocal, it is all the more conclusive 
to the non existence of the Chinese empire in anoieut 
times, as Thibet is so close to China. 


That the Chinese in ancient times knew of Bactria 
and conseqaently would have been known to the 
Bactrians is evident from the fact of a trade route 
existing anciently between China and that country. 

The Chinese notices of this trade seem to indicate 
a route from Sze-chuen to Bactria, and this probably^ 
(according to Colonel Yule in his introductory essay to 
Capt Gills " River of the golden sand " page 40) passed 
through Thibet. He contrasts these notices with a 
remarkable passage of the Periplus of the 1st century 
A.D. which speaks of Thin, and of its great city 
"ThinoB from which raw silk, and silk thread, and 
" silk stuffs, were brought overland through * Bactria 
"to Bary-gaza (Bhroch) and with the statement 
of Ptolemy a century later, who says that there 
was a road from the countries of the Seres and Since 
to Bactriana by the stone tower (i.e., by Kashgar 
and Pamir). 

In Sossnoffsky's Expedition to China 1874-75 (see 
R. G. S. Journal, as above) he states ; — 

" The desert of Gobi is far from being a. wretched 
"desert where nothing but privations and miseries 
'* await us. Water lies close to the surface. Near such 
" springs, and in the Mountain valleys, is found under 
"foot grass not only for camels but for horses. In 
"places a mantle of vegetation extends for consid- 
" erable distance, affording browsing ground for herds 
*• of wild animals, camels, asses &c. After eight days 
** march we reach the fertile of oasis of Khamil." It 


thus appears that the communication between Eastern 
Bactria and China is even now far from difficult, and 
considering the action of the shifting sands in Gobi 
which destroyed the cities mentioned, in the 6th century 
A'D., the communications must have been much easier 
in preceding times B.C. 

Gaubil in his Traits sur la chronologie Chinoisei 
page VIII, writes, in confirmation of this ; — 

" When Alexander the great was in India and 
" Bactria, he could have easily had some knowledge 
" of China. In his time there were merchants in 
^^Khorassan and in the country of Samarcand and 
*' Bokhara who carried on a commerce in several articles 
" of China ; at least this is very probable." At page 37, op : 
"cit: Gaubil writes, "Abdallah (a Persian author) in his 
" version of the abridgment of Chinese history, speaks 
" of Tsao-fu of the time of Wu-wang b.c. 1001, and 
" says that he travelled as far as Persia." So that the 
communication between Eastern Asia and China is 
admitted by the Chinese themselves, and the absence of 
all mention of China in ancient histories of Asia and 
Egypt is thus all the more remarkable. 

There has been also great stress laid by some of the 
mentioned writers who are upholders of the Chinese 
chronology, on the coincidence of certain eclipses 
mentioned in Chinese books, at chronological dates with 
the ascertained occurrence of the same at similar dates in 
other chronologies, as proved by astronomical computa-^ 
tions. This question will also come under consideration 


■ 1 I ■ ■ .1 » 

m the present researches; more however hy quoting 
and comparing the opinions of the learned writers on the 
suhjecty than hy any professional astronomical discussion 
of the events involved in it ; and merely to point out 
that the conclusion, drawn from the circumstances of 
the eclipses mentioned in Chinese books, in favor of this 
ancient chronology, hy such writers, is wrong and un- 

With this total absence of external testimony, it 
is therefore only in the literature of China that internal 
evidence is to be sought, for the truth of its chronology, 
and the internal evidence which is therefore alone 
available in the question, has been recently re-examined, 
chiefly by the light of the former researches of the 
Jesuits and other writers that were published in the last 
century ; and the cause of Chinese chronology has been 
zealously upheld by modern authors of historical works, 
such as Leon Carre in " L'ancient Orient,'* by Maspero 
in "Histoire des peuples de Torient,'* and by Barton in 
'*The Ancient World," who all maintain its authenticity, 
and even extol its usefulness in completing our know- 
ledge of the early times of the human race. Dr. 
Schlegel in his "Uranographie Chinoise" also persistently 
upholds the truth of Chinese chronology, and asserts 
that it goes further back than the most enthusiastic 
Chinese themselves say. He places the Emperor Yao 
at 16916 years B.C. op : cit : page 30. Baron Richtofen 
itt his "China," Berlin, 1877, strongly advocates the 
antiquity of the Chinese chronology. 


There is no intention in the present researches to 
enter into any comparative discussion on Chinese 
chronology in its supposed relation to that of the Holy 
Scriptures, whether according to the Vulgate, the 
Septuagint, or the Samaritan computation. As has been 
well observed by Sylvestre de Sacy, quoted by Lenormant 
Vol. I, page 53, of his "Premieres Civilisations" there is 
no such a thing as Bible chronology of any dogmatic 
value; and though it may have been deemed expedient 
by the Catholic missionaries in China to endeavour to 
reconcile the Chinese chronological system with the 
history of the duration of the world that Christianity has 
adopted as reasonable, in order not to hurt the feelings 
of the Chinese whom they converted to the faith ; there 
is no need now for pursuing such a course, nor of enter- 
ing into any discussion on the special merits of that 
question, nor even of alluding to it, beyond by cursorily 
introducing the different opinions on the subject, 
for the sake of reference and for completiug this 

Neither is it intended to notice, further than it may 
serve to generally illustrate the question in hand, the 
evidently fabulous and fictitious chronology of the long 
periods before the times of those personages in Chinese 
history such as Fu-hi, and others who are generally 
recognised as belonging to the earliest possible epochs 
of Chinese national existence. It is not intended 
either to endeavour to elaborate or establish any system 
of chronology for elucidating Chinese history. 


■ ' — ^■^■^— ^ 

The present part of the researches has merely for its 
object the examination of Chinese chronology, and the 
Chinese cycles by which it is calculated ; though the 
essential connexion between the planetary basis for 
computation of time, and its adaptation to record the 
times passed in the life of nations, has necessitated an 
examination also of the historical aspect of the general 
and astronomical questions involved in the same. 

In the second part of the researches the persons and 
events mentioned in Chinese history will form a special 
subject of enquiry. 

The third part will contain researches on tbe 
civilisation, the cultus and the religion of the Chinese, 
and the fourth part will be devoted to the litera- 
ture, the written character, and the language of the 

It is obvious that the object of these researches i 
not now approached for the first time ; and naturally 
the opinions of the authors already mentioned, for and 
against the credibility of Chinese chronology, will be 
noticed and will form a prominent part in the analysis 
of its merits; so that much of the work which will now 
appear will have been already published, though it is 
presented here in another form. 

Chapter II. 

The origin and source, and the method of the 
Chinese System of Chronology, 

[T is generally admitted that the first appearance of 
any system of chronology in China dates from 
the time of Sze-ma-ts'ien, who in his work called 
the Sse-ti, or historical records, composed ahout the 
year 91 B.C., during the reign of the emperor "Wu-ti, 
the fourth sovereign of the Han Dynasty, compiled 
an elaborate sclieme of ancient Chinese history, and 
arranged the periods of the most celebrated person-* 
ages and principal events belonging to it, with 
chronological dates assigned to each of them. Mayers 
C. R. M. page 258, under the head of Wu-ti, states ; — 
** In B.C. 104, a change of calendar in accordance with 
tlie calculations of Sze-ma-ts^ien was introduced and 
forms the epoch with which the modern period of 
Chinese chronology begins." 

There are various opinions as to the merits of Sze-ma 
ts'ien, as an historian, and chronoh)gist. Remusat 
relates that by several of the Jesuit missionaries in 


China he was entitled the Herodotus of that country. 

De Mailla iu Vol. i, of " Thistore generate de la Chine/' 

Preface, page xviii, calls him "the restorer of history." 

Premare in "discours preliminaire " prefixed to the 

French translation of the Shoo-king calls Sze-ma-tsien 

" An ingenious and polished author hut who is not so 

reliable as is thought," and at page lvi, of same, he 

writes "This writer passes amongst the best Chinese 

critics as a liar." Pere Premare in his "Vestiges &c., 

page 23, says, "Under the Han dynasty, i.«., after 200 

" years of atrocious and continual wars, and after the 

" burning of the books and after the shipwreck of the 

" doctrine of the ancients, at last came Sze-ma-ts%n, 

" Tso-ki^u-ming, K^ung-ngan-kwok, and Mao-chang, 

" and other similar innovators, who took on themselves 

" to forge systems in agreement with their passions, and 

*' forced themselves wrongly to make the Shoo-king and 

" Shi-king, to appear in accordance with their histories. 

" It is true that they were refuted by the writers of the 

" following century, but these do not show themselves 

" more faithful than their predecessors." 

Leaving aside however for the present the personal 
and literary character of Sze-ma-ts4en, the question 
^hich naturally occupies one, is, what were the then 
existing sources available for the composition of his 
History and chronology ? 

Previous to Sze-ma-ts^ien there are said to have been 
flie records of the different feudal or tribal states of 
Obina, and also some books called the books of Hia, or 


those of the first Chinese dynasty known as Hia. These 
were probably a calendar of the Hia dynasty, an account 
of which has been described by Tae-ti in his collection 
known as the Ta-tae-ti. (See Wylie, at this name.) 
There are also the San-fen or the history of the San 
Hwang, or the three eniperors Fuh-hi, Shen-Nung, and 
Hwangti, who are said to have reigned in China long 
before the Hia dynasty, and which book is supposed 
to have contained their instruction^ and the rules and 
mode of their goyernment. There was also the Wu tien, 
which is said to have contained the history of the five 
sovereigns who came after Hwang-ti above mentioned* 
via?., Shao-»hao, Chwan-HU, Chih, Yao, and Shun, who 
inmediately preceded the Hia djmasty ; but the San« 
len does not now exist, nor does any authenticated 
portion ef the Wu tien eidst either. 

These were also the Pa So or the eight So, which treat 
€ta the eight Ewa or diagrams of Fu-hi, and the 
Kiu-Keou or the Nine Keen, which treat on the nine 
departments of the empire^ 

They are all known by their being mentioned by Tso 
K'iu-ming in his commentary on the Ch^un Ts^iu of Con- 
iucius, in which he says that the San-^fen was the history 
of the throe Hwangs, and that the Wu tien that of the 
five Ti. 

Dr. Legge is of opinion that the " books of Hia" 
existed at the time of Confucius, but, it does not 
appear that either they or the other books mentioned 
above were extant at the time of S/^e«ma-ts 'ien, nor are 


ttey reputed to have contained any chronological data 
of the passages whose history they are supposed narrate. 
There was also the work of Yo-tze of about the time 
of Wen*wang and Wu-wang, but the only chronological 
statement which be makes is that the Shang dynasty, 
lasted 676 years, (see Gaubil, Chinese Chronology, page 
66). There is «nly a fragment of Yo**tse which has 
l>een preserved and published by the Taoists. 

Sesides these books of uncertain existence there 
Were the works of Confucius, who lived from 5Sl to 
479 B.C. such as the Shoo^king, and the Shi-»king, 
and the Y-king, that Confucius either explained or 
preserved, and the Ch^un T^siu. Dr. Legge, op : cit t 
page 20^ writes, "The Shu-king itself does not sUpply 
** the means of lajring down any scheme of chronology 
for the long period of time which it covers.'' 

Gaubil in his "Chronologic Chinoise" page S2, 
rites, that " the Shoo^king neither gives the number of 
the emperors of the Hia dynasty, nor the length of their 
reigns, nor the total of the duration of that dynasty, nor 
'* does it gite the number of the emperors of the Shang 
* * dynasty nor the total number of the years of their reignsy 
'* »nd that it only gives the years of the reigns of some of 
'^ "the emperors of the Chow dynasty." At page 85, Gaubil 
fxxxther states that according to what the Shi -king says, 
neither the epoch of Hiou-tsi, the chief of the Chow 
^Jynasty, nor that of Sie, the chief of the Shang 
"•yeasty can be determined." At page 91, when treating 
o^x the other works of Confucius, the Ta-hio, the Lun- 


yu, and the Tchung Yung, he says "these hooks do not 
" give any fixed epoch of chronology, but they suppose' 
*• the history from ConfuciulS as far hack as Yao/' 

P. Premare in his " vestiges des principaux dogmetf 
" Chretiens tir^s des anciens livres, "Paris 1878, pag^ 
25, writes ; — • 

" The philosopher Meh Tsze, who lived in the 5tb 
" century and a short time after Confucius, says this : 
"I have read the annals of all the reigns, and these 
" books ate not what is now called the Ch^'un T^siu.'* 
He adds " it is ciertain that this book no longer exister 
" unless it be in the pages of the three commentators, who^ 
" reprodueiO, I do not know which text, and each in a 
** different manner, and which they each explain irt 
" their own fashion. Thus Ven tchong see, (who lived 
" 179, 163 B.C. under the Hans, (early) with several 
" others, states with reason ; " The three glosses have 
" made the books Ch^un Ts^u entirely disappear, and 
" Licou-tehi-ki, who lived under the Tangs, 618-907 
" A.D. and who is the author of the Chi-toung-soui-ouay, 
*' does not hesitate in affirming that the ChW T^siu 
" and the Shoo king first appeared at the same time as 
'* the commentaries." 

Gaubil, " traite de la chronologic Chinoise " page 81, 
writes of the Y-king that " the different parts which 
*' compose this book do not give any fixed chronology. 
" Not that there have not been Chinese who pretended 
*^that they found a chronology in the Y-king, and 
** even in the eight kwa, but there is no foundation to bo 


■■ 1^ ■ I ■!■■■ ■■—■1^ -IIM - ■■■■■■■I-—,.-,-. -— ■■■ I ■■■ ■ —■ ^^^M^^.MI ■! I I .M^M^— ^a^— ^^ 

•' made in these Chinese systems of chronology which 
*' Are hased on the Y-king, for those persons have made 
" an Y-king according to their own fashion.*' 

There were also the works of Mencius who lited 
from 372 to 289, bc. ; htit the Works of these twtf 
celebrated authors contained no generial chronology of 
Ohina ; though Confucius sfcetchos the successive events 
of ancient times without assigning dates to them, and 
Uencius merely gives in his book ii, cap. xiii, part 4. 
^see life and works of Mencius by Dr. Legge, Lon- 
don, 1875, page 194), a general sketch of the 
duration of the Chinese empire, by stating that from 
Ifis own time to that in which W^n-wang and 
"Wu-wang, (the reputed founder of the Chow dynasty) 
flourished, there were more than 700 years. In book 
^11, pt. II, chajjf. XXXVIII. 4, op: cit: page 38, he says 
from Wu-wang to the time of Ching Tang, the 
traditional founder of the Shang dynasty, there were 
about 500 years ; and from the time of Ching Tang to 
that of Yao and Shun there was the same space of about 
500 years. 

It would hence appear that the Chinese had not at 
the time of Mencius any chronological era for the des- 
ignation of years ; and Mencius' way of calculating 
historical epochs was similar to that of Herodotus 
and Thucidides, " who both denote a series of years by 
" stating the interval beween the event in question and 
"their own lifetime, or by stating the interval 
" between the event in question and some other previous 


" event, the time of which is assumed to be known ;" 
(see Sir G. 0. Lewis " An historical view of the 
astronomy of the ancients," London 1862, page 25.) 
and also to that of the Egyptian priests who reckoned time 
in a similar way, by saying that 900 years had elapsed be- 
tween the death of king Meoeris and their own time ; and 
also to that of the Syrian priests, who stated that 2300 years 
had elapsed since the foundation of Tyre to their day. 

Mencius also gives in the same book the details of the 
time between W6n-wang and himself, in relation to the 
time of Confucius, as of about 600 years intervening 
between these two persons; and of about 100 years 
and more, from Confucius to his own time, or a slight 
discrepancy from his other account of the distribution 
of time. 

Between the times of Mencius and Confucius and the 
beginning of the Tsin dynasty (259-'210, b.c), there 
had also been two authors called Chwang-tsze, a native 
of the state of Leang, also called Chwang-chow, circa 
B.C. 330, see Mayers (C. R. M. page 30) and Lieh-tsze 
or Lieh-yii Kow, "of the period immediately succeeding 
"that of Confucius" (see Mayers page 126). The 
work of Lieh-tsze is thus referred to by Sir John V. 
Day, O.E. F.R.S.E. in the " Prehistoric use of steel 
and iron/* London 1877, page 182 ; — 

In the Kwang-hi tsi-tien or Kang-hi's dictionary 
published about the year a.d. 1710, the author 
quoting from the writings of Lieh-tsze, reports him a^^ 
'' saying that a red blade will cut jade as it would cut 



''mud. It is evident that it is to the oolour of temper- 

^'ing highly heated steel that Lieh-tsze alludes ;" and at 

page 18 ly ''that the celebrated author Leih-tsze about 

" 400 B.C. was acquainted with the native process of mak- 

** ing steer' and at page 183, ''that the steel referred to 

"in the Shoo-king (Classics, Vol. iii, 121), and in the 

" writings of Lieh-tsze, was produced by the same or by a 

"very similar process, which according to the Pi- tan is 

"described page 183 ; and at page 184. "We have pre- 

** viously pointed out (page 134 ante) that Aristotle des- 

" cribes the Greeks to have practised this identical process 

" about 400 B.C. We have then the solid fact of two 

^'oelebrated authors and philosophers, one in China and 

"the other in Ghreece who flourished simultaneously, but 

"utterly unknown to each other, describing a similar 

"method of making steel practised at the same 

"time in each country." It would appear, then, 

tliat tbere had been a certain communication between 

liieh-tsze or his informants with Western nations about 

400 years B.C. or shortly before the time of Alexander. 

the Great. 

There is also mention made by Cliinese authors 
of the writers at the beginning of the Tsin dynasty, 
w the hundred schools; but it is uncertain who 
w what they were. Gaubil (in his treatise on Chinese 
chronology page 120) mentions the Chi-pen or book of 
genealogies, and the Chow-pey, which are supposed to 
have been written towards the end of the Chow dynasty, 
tod, (at page 133), he says that Sze-ma-ts*ien seems to 


tave made use of two books called the Kia-yu, and the 
Tae-ti, which were composed shortly before his time. 
These and the above mentioned books were all the 
known available works for history and chronology at 
the end of the 3rd century B.C. Between that period 
and the time of Sze-ma-tsien there was also another 
author called Kia I, who was privy counsellor to Han 
wen-ti B.C. 178, (according to Mayers, page 78,) of 
whom De Maill^ writhes loc : cit : page xviii. " Kia-y 
" busied himself in gathering all the memoirs that be 
" could recover about Tsin Shi hwangti and his dynasty 
'' that had lasted so short a time. He composed a history 
'* from them, which he hastened to publish before the 
" Sse-ki of Sze ma tsien appeared. Jt was well received 
" by the public." Neither of these bpok^ however profess 
to give a chronology of the Chinese empire. 

Shortly after that, and at the time of the founder of 
the T$in dynasty, She hwangti, who lived from 259 to 
210,B.c. there occurred what is termed in Chinese history 
the burning of the books, which took place by that Sove- 
reign's orders ; and if there were any chronological works 
extent at the time of that event, and which had been 
.composed since the death of Confucius and Mencius, they 
jare all supposed to have perished, with the exception 
^f a book known a^ the Bamboo annals, which however 
did not come to light until long after Sze-ma-ts^ien's time, 
(at 265. A.D.) when it was said to have been discovered 
in the ruins of an ancient tomb of one of the Wei princes. 
Wylie (Notes on Chinese Literature, page 19,) says of 



this book; — ''The original work is considered to havebeen 
" long losty and the one now known by that name, there 
'' is good ground for believing to be a fabrication/' 

To understand therefore the position of the means 
thus posessed by the Chinese for ascertaining the 
foundations of their chronology, from the burning of the 
books to the time of Sze-ma-ts4en, it is necessary to 
go back to the period enveloping the persons and occur- 
rences just mentioned, and endeavour to realise not only 
what were the estant Chinese records and other Chinese 
trritings at that time, but also the circumstances sur-^ 
rounding them. 

The sovereign She hwang-ti already mentioned, and 

who was previously one of the princes of the state of 

Tsin, had by boldness and great intelligence, managed 

to overturn the Chow dynasty of China under whose 

dominion he had been a feudal ruler, and he established 

liiinself, B.C. 221, in the place of the overturned 

sovereign^ as emperor of the whole of China as it was 

thai known, and which far from being the populous 

ttnpire that it is at present, is supposed to have contained 

about ten millions of inhabitants, according to Sacharoff, 

"The Rise and fall of the Chinese population," by T. 

SlMJiaroff, member of the imperial Russian embassy at 

Peking; translated into English by Rev. Wm Lobscheid, 

HiHigkong, 1862, page 9, who says, "From the foun- 

" dation of the empire to the accession of the Han 

" dynasty, four censuses are quoted by later historians, 

" giving for the various epochs an average number of 


' ' ■ III II I -1-— ^1— — ^^ 

" scarcely more than ten million individuals** and 
this is not astonishing, for the same author also states 
on the same page, "During the Chow dynasty, when 
** the empire had already attained some stability, 
*' only half, t,e. one third part of modem China was 
" inhabited ; and even this scanty population was very 
*' unequally distributed." 

This statement about the population, so dispropor- 
tionate to the present number of the inhabitants of 
China, is not quoted to show the improbability of- there 
having been anciently an important empire of China. 
It is a question whether any of the great empires 
of antiquity surpassed ten millions of native population, 
exclusive of tributary peoples; but the area of their 
dominions compared with that of China was small, and 
to make out that the China of the Chows or of the 
Shangs or Hias was a great empire, it would require 
a much larger population than ten millions to make 
it come up to the standard of importance that Chinese 
historians ascribe to it. 

Without enquiring narrowly into the ethnological 
origin of the Tsin state of which She hwang-ti had 
been the ruler under the name of Cheng, it is at least 
evident that this sovereign had ideas and habits entirely 
opposed to those which are supposed to have been 
prevalent among the Chinese at his time ; and whicbi 
as he could not have learned from them, he must hav( 
acquired from some other, and probably a foreign source 
His luxury and grandeur, it is said, caused grei 


discontent, as being unlike the conduct of the ancient 
sovereigns of China ; and it would almost appear from 
this^ that he was not of Chinese origin, but that he 
came from some of the western nations whose manners 
and civilisation were more advanced than the simple 
ways of the Chinese, who it is said, were scandalised at 
his extravagance in thought and action. 

The state of Tsin, of which She hwang-ti came, is 
thus described by Pauthier ( Memoires Sur rantiqutte, 
de rhistoire et de la civilisation Chinoise, Paris 1868, 
"page 10.) " This state of Tsin is also the one which 
"was the nearest to the other states of Western 
"Asia, and with which it had the earliest and most 
" ancient relations ;" and this relation of the Tsin state 
with Western Asia throws some light on the means 
that had been at the disposal of She hwang-ti for obtaining 
an ample knowledge of affairs outside those of China 
Mid of its usages. De Guignes (Histoire des Huns Vol. i, 
page 18-19,) gives the following graphic description of 
this celebrated sovereign ; — "He was so fortunate in his 
"wars that he because absolute sovereign of nearly all 
"China. This prince by his vast genius, which embraced 
"all that was grand and magnificent, placed himself 
"above all the too minutious laws of the Chinese, and 
"ke despised their prejudices. 

"He changed the face of the whole empire, — His taste 
^*fcr public works made him do prodigious things which 
^can be favorably compared with the grand works of 
^Hgypt, Many objects which were in bronze, and others 


" in gold, were of such weight, that some of his successors 
" deemed it a considerable task to remove them from 
" one city to another. These statues and other monu- 
" ments were destined to adorn the superb palace that 
" he had built at Si-gan-f u, his capital. The Chinese, 
** astonished at such magnificence, unanimously raised 
" their voices and represented to him the simplicity of 
" their ancestors ; on all sides they only spoke of the 
" precepts left in the ancient books ; and a mass of 
" examples was brought forward of princes who had 
*' conducted themselves differently, and who did not 
*' oppress the people by burdens such as was done under 
his reign. The monarch, in a fit of irritation, i» order 
to destroy the remembrance of these ancient sovereigns 
*' who were quoted continually by the learned as a 
" reproach to his pomp, resolved to bum all the books." 
It will be observed from the above extract, that De 
Guignes assigns as a motive why She hwang-ti ordered 
the ancient books of China to be burnt, that it was 
caused by the contrast, drawn by certain persons 
amongst his new subjects, between his conduct and that 
of the supposed ancient sovereigns of China recorded 
in the Shoo-king and other Chinese books ; from which 
circumstance his antipathy was enkindled against these 
books for condemning his ways ; and that it was to get 
rid of this condemnation in Chinese eyes of his own style 
of life, that he issued the edict for their destruction. 

Pere Premare in a letter of a.d. 1724, in Vol. 33, of 
the ** Lottres edifiantes," gives another reason for She 



hwang-ti destrojdng tlie books. *' The learned men of 
'* that time could not endure a king who desired to be 
** absolute, and they made a bad use of the Shoo-king 
** and had unceasingly on their lips the example of Cliing 
Tang, who overthrew the infamous Kie, and of Wu 
Wang who dethroned the rant, Chow sin. They thus 
" blew the fire of revolt on all sides, and it was this xchich 
** made the new Monarch deprive the karned Chinese of those 
** books which in their hands caused disturbance. Besides, 
*' She hwang-ti in ordering the burning of the books had 
" only in view to maintain himself in possession of th© 
*' throne which he had obtained." 

Pauthier, op: cit: page 32, gives another motive 
for She hwang-ti's destroying the ancient Chinese books, 
which he quotes from the Chinese historian of the 
Han dynasty, Pan Ku, (a.d. 92). 

'*The Tsin dynasty ordered the destruction of the 

" Kterary monuments by fire, in ord-er to reader the bhck 

** headSy i,e. all the Chinese people, ignorant and stupid.'* 

De Mailla, in his preface to the "5istoire g^n^rale 

de la Chine," page viii, gives another reason for the 

burning of the books. *' Tsin She hwangrti, who after- 

" wards ordered the books to be burnt, had no intention 

"of sparing the Shoo-king, the morality of which blamed 

"his conduct so strongly ; and he considered that the 

"«erm^y of the maxims contained in the books were only 

"fit to perpetuate trouble, and that this had been the 

^principle cause of the sanguinary tears by which the 

^^ empire had been so long wrent,'* 


Freret, gives another reason for the burning of the 
books, at, Vol. xiii, page 223, although he writes at page 
126, Vol. XIII, that " the motive of " it is unknown." 
" Under the Chow dynasty, the empire being divided 
" amongst a great number of small sovereigns who all 
" sought to be independent ; each of these princes in order 
" to distinguish himself from the others, not only refused 
" to adopt the written characters invented in the other 
" kingdom, but even wished to make changes in the 
" generally received characters so as to render them 
" peculiar to his own kingdom. 

" The 540 characters of Ts^ang Hieh, (the minister of 
Hwang-ti) not being sufficient, Shun (the Emperor) had 
ordered others to be formed. It happened that several 
"characters of very different form were destined. to 
express the same thing. The system of writing, owing 
to this, became a species of cypher all the more difficult 
" to understand, as the rules of analogy not having been 
** observed, the meaning of one character could not lead 
" to the meaning of another." 

At page 217, of same volume he had previously 
* stated,' I derive this history of Chinese writing from 
" a letter from De Mailla to Etienne Sonciet of Ist' 
" June, 1735, which has been communicated to me 
*' by order of the writer." After having thus described 
the confusion existing among the states of China 
previous to the time of She hwang-ti, owing to each 
state having different modes of writing, he states Vok 
xiii, page 228; — 





She hwang-ti thoaght that it would be proper to 
abolish all these different species of writing, and to 
** establish the usi^e of characters common for all the 
provitices, so that there should be no more need to 
multiply transcripts of the same edict, in order to 
** render it intelligible to all those who ought to observe 
** it. He charged therefore his minister Li-sze with this 
" important work." 

" While Li-sze was working at his new character, 
'* MSng T^ien, a general of the army of the empire, was 
'' occupied in discovering some substance more convenient 
" for writing than the Samboo tablets, upon which up to 
" that time the written characters were traced by a stick 
" dipped in varnish. 

The attempts of of MSng T'ien were not long without 
" result : after several essays he at last arrived at mak- 
" ing a coarse sort of paper, and all public documents 
"were copied on it with the Tsin-chuan, or writing 
" adopted by She hwang-ti. These characters of Li- 
" 8ze, (9353, in number) which are called the lesser 
" seal character, are preserved in the Shwoh-wen, by 
« Hii-shfin." 

" Li-sze ordered translations, or rather copies to be 
" made in his new style of written characters, of the books 
** of medicine, of divination, and of agriculture, and those 
" of the special history of the kingdom of Tsin, i.e. that of 
" the ancestors of the reigning family. He then obtained 
" an edict for the suppression of all the ancient books of 
"history and moral philosophy." 


De Mailla op : cit. Vol. ii, page 401, confirms this, 
in his narrative of Li-sze's famons discourse before his 
sovereign : " My advice would be that all the written 
characters be reduced to one system, and that every 
one should be obliged, under the most grievous 
penalties, to make use only of those which are 
used at the court of your Majesty. What a confusion it is 
to see in one state, at least seventy modes of writing P 
Is it not a sure means of keeping up the spirit of revolt?** 

This motive for the destruction of the ancient books 
of China is curious enough, for it discloses a state of 
difference in writing existing in China which would 
naturally be a serious obstacle to anything like a 
national literature or chronology, and at the same time 

made it difficult for the provincial literature to become 


current amongst neighbouring states, and consequently 
impede, if it did not render impossible an imperial 
history being preserved uniformly, and revered by a 
universal body of learned men in the nation. Fr^r^t 
(Vol. XIII, page 225,) ascribes a similar attempt to unify 
the Chinese written character to the eleventh sovereign 
of the Chao dynasty ; and curiously enough through the 
same motives as those which moved She hwang-ti to do so. ' 
** Siian wang, who ascended the throne B.C. 827, and who 
" wished to reestablish subordination in the empire, 
" undertook to apply some remedy to the disorder that ex- 
** isted in the written character. He ordered the composi- 
" tion of a character, to which he gave the name of the Ta 
*' chuan ; and he commanded that it alone was to be used 



throughout the empire, but his ordere were not obeyed, 
and the tributary kings made it a point of their own 
dignity to preserve the writing system that was special 
*' to their own country. This version of the event now un- 
der consideration, shows that instead of She hwang-ti 
being an enemy of literature, as is generally supposed, 
he must have been disciplined in literary studies, and that 
he was of an elevated mind, to have been able to devise a 
plan for the unification of the Chinese written language ; 
while on the other hand, the learned class of Chinese, 
who have been so much vaunted, had never even attempted 
to remedy the confusion which existed through the 
diversity of methods of writing. Freret aptly remarks on 
this state of things (xiii 251,) '' one can easily imagine 
"that amidst the wars that had desolated all the provinces 
" of the empire, leanung had been but little cultivated : 
" the diversity of written characters which were no longer 
'' the same as soon as any one passed from one kingdom 
" to another, were a hindrance to copies of the same book 
•* being largely distributed, as each copy could only be 
" read in a small extent of country. " All this would 
moreover lead to the inference that the different states 
* of China had different national origins, as they possessed 
different forms of writing. This question however will be 
l^ially considered in part ii, although it may serve to 
mention here, what Hornius, (" Area Noe " page 440) 
writes on this subject. "It is sufficiently evident 
" from the diversity of bodily forms, of manners, and 
'' of language, that the Chinese are not all of the 




same origin, but are a mixed race f onned from various 


Pere Premare (" Discours preliminaire " to the French 
edition of the Shoo-king, translated by Qtiubil, page xciv, 
in a note,) gives still another reason for the destruction 
of the books, which is even more interesting than those 
already stated ; as it would show that the edict was a 
partial one even as regards the obnoxious books that 
are said to have displeased She hwang-ti. He states, 

Li-sze was the minister of state under She hwang-ti. 

It was he who counselled this prince, who was the 

first to reign over all China, to order the burning of 
" the ancient books because the literati made a bad use of 
" them. I have read several works of this Li-sze which 
" are well written. Liu pu-wei, who was at the same 
" court, was very learned and polished. It was not there^ 
^^ fore out of hatred for the books y but as a precautionary 
** measure, that the books were taken away from those 
** literary persons who were accused of preaching revolt. 
" Li-sze prentended that in sound politics this sort ** 
" of ancient works ought only to be in the lUyrary of 
the emperor J* 

There are thus several theories as to the motive for 
the destruction of the ancient books of China, by She 
hwang-ti ; and they are all quite different enough from 
each other to throw discredit on the fact itself, or to 
greatly modify its importance. Those theories possibly 
are not altogether contradictory, but they are not all 
conspicuous in the narrative of the event as recorded in 


Sze ma-tsien's history of the occurrence. The variety of 
opinion they present on this strange event, are moreover 
suggestive of a certain amount of conjecture having 
been used in forming them; and hence it may be 
permissible to offer some other reflexions on another 
probable cause of this celebrated occurrence, which 
rightly or otherwise has been made to do duty for ex- 
plaining the paucity of literary and chronological works 
of the early times of China, by the statement that they 
tad been destroyed by a tyrant. 

It is curious to observe that this same event of the 
burning the books has been assigned as the cause of the 
Chinese losing also the knowledge of astronomy, and 
other things, which, amongst a civilized empire, such as 
China is presumed to have been in ancient times, could 
hardly have escapedf rom being preserved by oral tradition 
even had the written records of them disappeared. 

It is said that the books on astrology were excepted 
from the edict for destroying the books ; but considering 
the little practical differences between these two sciences, 
it is hardly to be admitted that the astronomical books 
were not also destroyed, unless it be urged that there 
were no astronomical books existing at that time. 
The Eev. George Costard, in his "History of astronomy" 
London 1767, remarks on this subject, " Astronomy, I 
" am afraid, originally owes its birth and progress to 
" astrology ; and it ought to be made to appear that the 
'* Chinese considered and treated the two sciences as 
*' really distinct. But when the Jesuits tell us, that 


" the Chinese suppose a mutual relation between the 
" actions of princes and subjects and the celestial 
" phenomena ; and that it is in order to discover that 
" relation, that their astronomars have employed all 
" their pains, (Gaubil Histoire abreg^e de I'astrononiic 
Chinoise, in Vol. ii, page 31, of Souciets observations, 
mathematiques, Paris 1729, Vol. it, 31,) is it not the 
" same thing, as in other words, to declare, that the 
" two sciences were among them, as everjrwhere else, 
'* confounded, and looked upon as one and the same. " 
" The princes therefore who burned astronomical 
" books, burned likewise astrological books. " 

Gaubil, in his "Traits sur Tastronomic Chinoise," 
page 50, writes: 

To this burning is also referred, as well as to the 
negligence of the Chinese towards the end of the 
Chow dynasty, the loss of the secret of Hi and Ho, i.e. 
of the astronomy of Hwang-ti, and of Yao, according to 
those mathematicians appointed by the tribunal, and 
*' called Hi and Ho. It is also stated that the secret of 
*' the Chariot which was made use of to discover the 
*' south, (Le, the compass) and the method for knowing 
" the movements of the fixed stars, were also lost. 

**At any rate it is stated with assurance, that from the 
*' time of Yao to about the end of the Chow dynasty, 
'* the Chinese know astronomy perfectly. Without 
*' entering into an examination of this particular fact, 
*' I have thought it my duty to gather up all that I 
** could find about this astronomy." 




The coQduding remarks of Gaubil in the above 
passage of his work^ are suggestive that he did not at* 
tach full credence to all the consequences that have been 
supposed to have resulted from the action of She hwang- 
ti ; and it also may be inferred, that the catastrophe has 
been equally exaggerated in other matters, as it is in 
this, for the purpose of explaining satisfactorily and 
advantageously to Chinese amour ptvpre, their penury 
of knowledge. 

It must be admitted that She hwang-ti was a man of 
great genius, and accustomed to a higher material and 
a more intelligent civilisation than that which the 
Chinese, whom he subdued, possessed at that time. 

It is not too mucli to deduce from this circumstance 
in his character, that he was acquainted with the history 
' and the national traditions of wherever he may have 
been educated ; and certain circumstances point out that 
he was acquainted with those of Babylonia, which were 
current in Bactria at or shortly before his time. For 
nistance, there are certain traces in the history of 
Babylonia, of similar destructions of books by its sove- 
reigns, that might well have been taken by She hwang- 
b} as examples for imitation. 

Moses of Chorene, ii) his History of Armenia, chap 13 
page 40, relates that " Ninus puffed up with pride and 
"avid of celebrity, caused many of the books and 

* histories of the times which had preceded him to be 

* httmt, in order that he and his reign should alone be 
" spoken of. " 



This passage is quoted by G. Schlegel, TJranograpliie 
Chinoise page 746, and is also mentioned by Volney 
Recherches nouvelles sur Thistoire ancienne, ii, 46. 

Another sovereign of Babylonia, Nabonassar, is re- 
corded to have also acted in a similar manner. 

Berosns — apud Josephns (see Cory's ancient fragments 
page 36) states — 

" Nabonassar collected all the mementos of the king? 
" prior to himself, and destroyed them, that the enumer- 
" ation of the Chaldean kings might commence witb 
" him.*' 

Judging from the coincidence between the actions 
and the motives of Nabonassar, and She hwang-tij 
it might be inferred at first sight that the latter had 
imitated the example of the Chaldean Monarch, or at 
least that he knew of its occurrence and mention in 
Babylonian history just as Nabonassar seems to have 
known and imitated his predecessor Ninus. 

Kawlinson, (The 5 great monarchies Vol. iii, page 
" 38), thus describes the event. Nabonassar destroyed 
" the acts of the kings who had preceded him, and the 
" result was, that the year of his accession (747 B.C.] 
" became almost necessarily the era from which sub- 
sequent events had to be dated." 

She hwang-ti was not quite so successful as Nabonas- 
sar, in his action for carrying out his project, though hif 
motives were almost identical; for the era of Nabonassai 
lasted for a long period, though it appears to have beer 
used only for astronomical purposes; (see Sir G. C. Lewi 


op: cit: page 27,) while that of the Chinese monarch 
hardly survived him. 

This circumstance of burning hooks occurs also 
amongst the traditions of the Chorasmians or Khwaris- 
3iiiams. Albiruni op : cit : page 58, styles them, " a 
^* branch of the great tree of the Persian nation," and 
asays that " Kutaiba killed their learned men and priests, 
** and burnt their books and writings, and they thus 
*' became entirely illiterate." 

There is also a tradition that Alexander the Great 
»lso burned the books of the Persians. Albiruni op : cit : 
page 127, writes of the chronology of the SS-sanians and 
-Ashgdnians that at the period of the latter, the Persian 
'* empire was disorganised, and people were prevented by 
various circumstances from preserving their chrono- 
logy. Such were the calamities which Alexander and 
bis Greek Lieutenants brought upon them ; further the 
** conflagration of all the literature in which people 
" delighted. And more than that, Alexander burned the 
** greater part of their religious code." 

It may be remarked that at She hwang-ti's time, hardly 
ft hundred years had elapsed since Alexander the Great 
had done this ; and the remembrance of it must have 
»6en still vivid throughout Eastern Asia. 

Mr. W. F. Mayers in an article in the Journal of the 
North China branch of the Royal Asiatic society for 
1867 (December) page 162, on Chinese Chronologyical 
tables," describes the conduct and motives of She 
hwang-ti, which so much resembles the narrative 




of Nabonassar, given by Berosus, (as above) that on 
reading it the inference presses itself for admission, that 
thiB history of this portion of the life of She hwang-ti is 
either a Chinese version of the Babylonian incident, or 
that She hwang-ti was fully aware of it; as the 
conicidence of such a strange action on the fact of two 
sovereigns of different countries, forbids an independent 
origin of both events, and it can hardly be accounted for 
by the theory of history repeating itself. Mr. Mayers 
remarks ; " one of his first decrees (She hwang-ti) as 
recorded in history, ordained the abolition of the use 
of post-humous titles, declaring it his pleasure that 
" he should be known simply as She hwang-ti, the 
" first emperor ; and thus all successive generations 
" should be distinguished numerically as the second 
" generation, the third generation, and thus onward to 
" the ten thousandth." 

Nabonassar, according to Berosus, destroyed the his- 
torical records of Babylonia "in order that the 
" enumeration of the Chaldean kings might commence 
" with him " just as Ninus before him had done the same 
" in order that he and his reign should be alone spoken 
of ;" and if these narratives are compared with what 
Mr. Mayers states, the very same motives which im- 
pelled the Babylonian sovereigns to destroy all records 
of previous kings, appear to have actuated She hwang-ti, 
in endeavouring by his destruction of Chinese history, to 
be thought the first emperor of China, as Ninus and Na- 
l)ona3sar had wished to do with regard to the Chaldeans, 



There is another incident in which She hwang-ti 
seems to have followed the example of one of the Baby- 
lonian Monarchs, Nabuchodonosor, who was nearer ^n 
time to him than Nabonassar ; by building a more 
sumptuous royal palace than any of the preceding 
monarchs of China had done. Berosus, relates (Cory's 
ancient fragments, page 39.) — 

" Nabuchodonosor added also a new palace to those 
" in which his forefathers had dwelt, adjoining them, 
" but exceeding them in height and splendour." 

What Bawlinson (Vol. iii, page 60,) writes of 
Kabuchodonosor and his character, and the renown 
Accruing to Babylonia from his qualities, might be 
equally applied to She hwang-ti, who was famous for 
bis warlike spirit, and his conquest of the Huns. 

"Its military glory is due chiefly to him, while the 
"constructive energy which constitutes its especial 
" diaracteristic belongs to it still more markedly, through 
'* bis character and genius :" and he further sayp, " that 
** be possessed a grandeur of artistic conceptions, and 
** AiU in construction, which place him on a par with 
" flie greatest builders of antiquity. 

" The emperor got built a palace worthy of himself. 
"Tbe ancient palace was to the South of the One choui : 
"be constructed the new one to the north of this 
"river. There was never any thing more magnificent 
" nor more vast. Gold, silver, and ebony were prodigally 
"^d inside and outside the apartment of the prin- 
" ecsses, and the wives of the kings, whom he had 


*' vanquished^ and whom he had kept for himself. All 
" the buildings and the wings communicated by means 
" of covered galleries in the form of balconies." 

Indeed it would not be a surprise if it were discovered 
that She hwangti got even the idea of building the 
great wall of China, with which he is usually credited* 
from the great wall of Nabuchodonosor, that he built 
round Babylon ; or from the Median wall for the defence 
of the province of Babylon, which cut off the country 
between the Tigris and Euphrates ; and which is described 
by Xenophon, who saw it, as built of baked bricks 
cemented with asphalt, and as 20 feet in thickness, 100 
feet in height, and 20 parasangs (76 miles) in length. 
(Anabasis ii. 4, 12.) Rawlinson op: cit: page 66, 
writes " He (Nabuchodonosor) built the great wall of 
" Babylon, which according to the lowest estimate must 
" have contained more than 500,000,000 square feet of 
" solid masonry, and must have required three or four 
'* times that number of bricks : " and in a note, same page, 
he writes, ** Taking the height of the wall ; that is, at 
" 75 feet, its width at 32 feet, and its circumference at 
"365 stades, the measurements of Herodotus would 
" raise the cubical contents to more than 6,400,000,000 
'' feet." 

There is a question whether the great wall of China 
existed in the time ascribed to She hwangti, or even 
whether it was really built by him. De Mailla (Histoire 
generate de la Chine Vol. ii. page 373,) writes, all that 
She hwangti did was, " He closed the passes of Long-si of 


"Peti and of Chang-kien, by which the Tartars might 
"penetrate into China. Tlie princes of Tchao and Yen, 
"following his example, contracted walls;" and the editor 
in a note, page 374, adds ; " It is seen by this history, that 
"all that great work has been wrongly attributed to the 
"Emperor She hwangti." Should it appear that he was 
not its constructor, there would be all the more reason 
to hold that this history may be a Chinese version of a 
chapter in Babylonian history, and could it be even 
established tiiat he did actually build the great wall, it 
18 more than probable, considering his other imitations 
of events in Babylonia, that also he derived the idea of 
doing so, from the history of Nabuchodonosor, the 
Chaldean Monarch. 

There is a tradition in Central Asia, that a wall 
resembling in many circumstances to that attributed to 
She hwangti, was built by Alexander the Great. George 
Homius in his " Area Noe," writes ; 

" The Nubian Geographer, mentions this wall, part ix. 
" clim : VI, and calls it the mound of the Gog and 
" Magog, and is of the opinion that it was built by 
" Alexander the Great." 

Aibiruni, (Sachau's translation, 1879, London, page 
43) writes of Dhu Alkarnaini, whom he thinks was a 
Yaman prince, but whom others think was Alexander, 
as follows : — " He is generally assumed to have entered 
"the darkness of the north, to have seen the remotest 
"frontiers of the inhabitable world, to have fought 
"both against men and demons, to have passed between 


■« - " ■ I r 

** Gog and Magog, so as to cut off their communication, to 
" have marched out towards the countries adjoining their 
** territory in the north and east, to have restrained and 
" repelled their mischievous inroads by means of a wall 
" constructed in a mountain pass, whence they used to 
*' pour forth '' : — and at page 44, when narrating the tradi- 
tions identifying Dim Alkarnaini with Alexander the 
Great, states ; "Alexander took possession of the Persian 
"empire. Then he went to India and China, making 
" war upon the most distant nations, and suhduing all 
" the tracts of country through which he passed.*' 

Supposing however that Dhu Alkarnaini be not 
Alexander, but a prince of Yaman, Albiruni still couples 
the traditions of the construction of a great wall in 
ancient times, with this personage. "As to the rampart 
" which he constructed between the two walls, it must 
" be stated that the wording of the Coran does not 
"indicate its geographical situation. We learn how- 
" ever from the geographical work, that this nation, viz, 
"Yajuj and Majuj: — (Gog and Magog) are a tribe of 
" the Eastern Turks." 

He then mentions two reports about this wall, and 
adds: — "From these two reports it is evident that 
the rampart must be situated in the north-west quarter 
of the inhabitable earth." 

He at the same time remarks that, "there is some- 
" thing which renders the authenticity of the latter report 
" doubtful, viz., the description of the inhabitants of that 
"country, that they are Muslims and ?penk Arabic;" 


'whereas Albinani says, " we know of no other Muslim 
" nation whieh is separated from the territory of Islam 
•* except the Bulgar and the Saivar." 

As the only object of introducing this quotation from 
-A^lbiruni, is to show the existence of ancient traditions of 
^ wall having been built in north west of Asia, by some 
^eat monarch, before the time of She hwang-ti, it is 
xiot necessary to treat the question of the personage 
oonnected with this, historically ; as any way the tradition 
of the fact remains the some. 

She hwang-ti, from all this, probably must have also 
j)0ssessed the capability and the habit of considering 
suid discerning the merits of national narratives, such as 
"these ; in which most oriental peoples have recounted 
"the deeds and names of their ancestors, and the times 
in whey they were supposed to have lived. 

Homius, op : cit : page 440, places the birth of She 

liwang-ti, at B.C. 246, and remarks that it was about the 

"time in which the Parthians and Indians and Bactrians 

rebelled against the Macedonians; a time which he styles 

:fatal to Eastern Asia, but which was the origin of the 

^eatest empires. If it he true, as it has been surmised, 

Ihat the Bactrian traditions found their way into China, 

sit or even before the breaking up of the Greek Bactrian 

lingdom, it is not to be wondered at, that the tradition 

of the great wall, which was believed by the Bactrians 

to have been built by Alexander, should have also gone 

to China, and have been attributed to She hwang-ti as 

another means of his glorification. As Hornius remarks^ 


page 442 ; She hwang-ti united the different sovereign- 
ties existing in China, and made them all into one 
empire, much the same as Cyrus did with the Persian, 
and Alexander and Seleucus did with the Macedonian 
empire. Doubtless She hwang-ti with his knowledge of 
previous history had their example before his mind. 
Baldwin in " Prehistoric nations " New York, 1876, page 
167, quotes Vambery "Travels in Central Asia" who 
" saw the remains of great wall east of the Caspian in 
Bactria, the bricks of which are like those at Balkh, and 
he says, Yambery reports, abundant ruins in that part 
" of Central Asia extending to China." 

The religion of She hwang-ti has also the appearance 
of being derived from foreign sources ; probably from 
Babylonia or from Egypt. 

Mr. Mayers, C.R.M., page 337, gives a list of "The 
" eight gods to whom sacrifices were offered by She 
hwang-ti," thus denoting that this was the peculiar 
worship of that monarch. 

In " notes and queries for China and Japan" Yol, 
1868, page 141, a question was asked as to what these 
eight gods were, and a reply to this question occurs in 
same volume, page 189, from the pen of the late 
lamented Mr. Mayers. 

" Wu-ti, of the Han dynasty, when worshipping at 
" the Chung-yoh mountain, was led to offer worship to 
"the eight gods (pa- shin) but in this he was but the 
"imitator of She hwang-ti, who on occasion of his 
" solemn dedication of the Tai mountain in Shantun 



" offered sacrifices to the eight gods, who are called the 
" eight gods of the hills and rivers. No meaus exist of 
** ascertaining upon what grounds the historian Sze- 
** ma-ts'ien assigns to the eight gods, the names which 
** he sets forth in the historical records; and it must be 
*' left to others to decide whether the deities in question 
** can be identified with those of whom traces are still 
^* discernible in the Shoo-king. The alternative possibi- 
** lity remains of their having been adopted by She 
** Iiwang-ti from the Hindoo pantheon, of which, it is 
^' by no means out of the question, a fragmentary 
** knowledge may have reached China during his 
^' reign." 

Possibly the following quotation from the old 
^Egyptian Chronicle, (Corys ancient fragments, page 90), 
** The demi-gods, in number eight, who reigned 217 
^'years'' may throw some light on this worshipping eight 
gods, by She hwang-ti, as ^it thereby evident, this 
octonary series of divinities was known in Egypt, and 
it is probable that the Egyptians derived the practice 
of the worship of these divinities from the ancient 

There were also eight gods in the Babylonian 
jantheon, as mentioned in "Duncker's "History of anti- 
quity" Vol. I, and the description of the Chinese eight 
gods, given by Mr. Mayers, loc : cit : may possibly 
assist in affording a clearer knowledge of the Babylonian 
and Egyptian worship of this peculiar category of 
^vinities, which seems to have been the special cult of 


She hwang-ti, and which had not been practised by th© 

It may not perhaps be out of place here, to suggest, 
that these eight genii were the deified eight ancestors 
of the human race after the deluge, viz. Noah and his 
wife, and their three sons with their three wives. The 
tradition af the Deluge was rife in Babylonia ; but it is 
not so clear that the knowledge of it, and of the eighfc 
ancestors of mankind, was generally known in China, 
before She hwang-ti's time. This incident may throw 
some further light on the subject of She hwang-ti's 

That She hwang-ti was not specially familiar with the 
records of the peoples living in the country now called 
China, and who according to the accounts of the modern 
Chinese themselves, had been existing in several tribes, 
continually at war with each other, for some hundreds of 
years before he subdued them, and united them into one 
nation, is also more than probable. The fact of his 
acting as though the usual impression produced in men's 
minds by listening to or reading the historical records of 
those who have preceded them, had never taken root in 
his mind as regards China ; shows that the records of 
China were either not known to him, or not looked 
upon by him as containing a true picture of the past, 
as far as the training of his own early life was con- 
cerned ; and could it be proved that these records were 
acknowledged by him as the received history of the 
tribes living in China, and the legendary beginnings of 


their race, such as are usually placed at the head of all 
sacli oriental histories ; it would not follow that they 
were acknowledged by him as faithf ul, or true descrip- 
tions of the pasty so far as the dwellers in China were 

Besides this, there is the intrinsic question for consi- 
deration, whether the historical books of China as they 
then existed, did really describe the Chinese as they are 
represented in the works which now pass current as 
substitutes for those which She hwang-ti ordered to be 
destroyed. But supposing for the sake of argument, 
that the present books are identical with those which 
are said to have been burnt ; the originals with their 
imaginary and fabulous tinge about them, that is visible 
even now ; were such as an intelligent and grand sove- 
reign, like She hwangti, would naturally wish to 
eradicate from a people, whom he had to govern and 
instruct, according to the ideas which he deemed to be 
right and true. The question therefore presents itself, 
whether She hwaug-ti did not order the destruction of 
tiie books, because be knew them to be untnie as histones 
of China, or at least to be Chinese distorted appropria- 
tions, of the histories of other countries. 

The Chinese version of the affair, and the harangue 
of Li-sze, his minister, urging him to this severe 
Pleasure, when closely examined, are not opposed to this 
view of the motives for the event. 

The narrative of the circumstances attending the 
^t for destroying the books, is to be found in the Sse 


ki of Sze-ma-ts4en, of which a part translation is given 
by Pauthier, in the work already mentioned ; and also 
by Dr. Legge in his prolegomena, to Vol. I, and page 6 to 
15 of the Chinese classics. The translation of Pauthier 
will be followed here, as he quotes the narrative chiefly 
for supporting the antiquity of Chinese history, where- 
as Dr. Legge does not take so favorable a view of the 
question. The whole affair is thus described by Pauthier 
op : cit : page 6: — "At the court which She hwangti held 
** in the palace of Hien-yang, or of all the superior 
" perfections gathered together, "at Si-gan-fu, B.C. 213, 
" certain persons were assembled to pay their homage 
and respects to him. Amongst them, according to 
Pauthier's version, there were seventy [the of most 
learnedmen of the empire : exactly the same number 
of the disciples of Confucius, according to the Chinese 
historian Pan-koo, mentioned by Pauthier, op: cit : page 
31. One of the sovereign's own intimate friends. Chow 
tsing-chen, who held an important post in his army, 
and who was also a minister of state, and who doubt- 
less was from the state v^hence She himself had come 
to subdue the several previous rulers in China ; 
concluded a laudatory address to the new monarch, 
by specially pointing out his wisdom, in changing the 
feudal semiindependent principalities, into provinces 
of the new empire ; and by declaring that from the 
" furthest antiquity, no sovereign had reached the 

" height of the eminent talents and virtues of your 
" majesty." 


According to the received historical theory of the 
Ohinesey the state of Tsin had been a conspicuous mem- 
ber of the Chow empire, and the princes of that state, 
had descended from the family of the first emperors of 

Gou-lai, or Ou-lai, the ancestor of the Tsin tribe, 
according to De Guignes, Histoire deslluns, Vol. i, page 
140, descended from the emperor Chwan hii, by Peh I, 
who on account of the services which he had rendered 
to Yii in draining off the waters that had inundated 
China, received the family name of Ing. 

One of his descendants named Gou-lai, was the father 
id Hiu-fang, who begot Pan-chao, the father of Ta-ki 
who had for son Ta-lo. Fitsu, the son of the last named, 
was the first prince of Tsin. The general history of the 
empire as contained in the Shoo-king, must therefore 
have been as well known to the literary persons of the 
state of Tsin, just as they were known by those of Thsi, 
whose representative spoke and discussed the question at 
that court meeting ; and thus, this book would have 
naturally been familiar to the educated persons of the 
Tsin state, and these would have known all about the 
supreme greatness of Yao and Shun, had the history 
containing the description of their exalted merits, been 
known to them as true. And yet this officer of 
importance, and presumedly of education, did not 
hesitate to declare that She hwang-ti was the greatest 
sovereign whom he know of, when compared with 
those of ancient times. He seems to have been well 


acquainted with, history; for he speaks with con- 
fidence and certitude about antiquity; and his 
testimony on this subject, is as credible as that of any 
other person who was in the assemblage. It appears 
strange that this assertion of Chow-tsing-chen, which 
challenged the cardinal point of Chinese veneration 
for Yao, and Shun, and Yu, was not contradicted on 
the spot, if it could have been proved to be false ; but 
the next speaker in the debate, who was of the state of 
Thsi, named Chun-yu-yueh, and who according to 
Mayers ( C.R.M. page 123) was "minister of learning," 
nierely remarks in reply to what had been stated, that 
he had heard it mid, without mentioning that he had 
read it, in the Shoo-king, or other books, tkai Ae 
sovereigns of the Shang and Chow dynasties (he does 
not mention the preceding Hia dynasty, nor the typical 
sovereigns of China, Yao, and Shun) for more than one 
thousand years had advanced all their relations and 
their ministers to posts of territorial command, and that 
as She hwang-ti did not promote his children and 
youngest brothers in a similar manner, he would not 
have their support, — such as the former sovereigns 
derived from their own relatives ; and that it had never 
been heard of by him, that a system of government 
which was not modeled on ancient customs could 
last long. 

This assertion of Yueh was not consistent with the 
received history of the Chow dynasty, for it had not 
copied all the Uisages of the preceding Shang line o{ 


sovereigns, and yet it is said to have given a long 
existence to its own usages. 

Neither does the Chow dynasty history support the 
assertion of Yueh. In Section 5 page 196, Wu wang, in 
ordering his government, " divided the territory accord^ 
" ing to three classes ; appointing officers, he fixed on 
''mefi of talent'' and in Section 9 page 221, "The 
"great announcement," it is stated ; " Wu wang's 
" brilliant dynasty rose to eminence through the aid of 
^ clever fnetiy and by means of the ten individuals who 
" knew and followed the leadings of the supreme rulers* 
" decree." 

In Section 6 of the books of Chow, page 223, it is 
stated, that Ching wang, of that dynasty, appointed the 
eount of Wei, who was a prince of the dethroned 
Shang family, to be " an arch duke to rule over the 
** eastern territory of Hea." 

Even Wu wang, Section :^i. " the announcement to 
Khang, " when appointing his younger brother Fung 
" to the eastern region, told him, (see page 232) " You 
" man Fung, consider that the decree is not invariable. 
"Let me not cut you off from the promotion you enjoy" 
and in Section xiii. " the good material," Wu wang 
tells this same Fung, (page 239) that " the former 
'* kings established inspectors for stilling insurrec*- 
" tions" and the commentary here notes, " Fung himself 
"was an inspector: no mention is made that the 
"former kings appointed their own families to these 




In the 5th book of Chow, Section iii, " The numer- 
ous ofi&cers " page 257 ; " Heaven then directed your 
<* first ancestor, Ching-tang, to supersede Hea, who then 
'* employed talented men, to regulate the four quarters 
" of the empire." 

Section 6, page 273, Ching wang, appoints Hoo as 

earl in the eastern regions, and sends him to govern 

the district to which he is appointed." 

Section 8, " The establishment of government " speci- 
ally instructs Ching wang, in employing men of taknt 
as superiors of the empire ; and on page 282, it states 
that the *' rulers of Hea followed out this plan " and 
that the Hea dynasty perished for neglecting this plan» 
That the Shang dynasty in Thangs time (page 283) 
** appointed only the capable," and that " the Shang 
" dyneusty perished for not following this rule/* 

Then we come to page 284, "Wen wang and 
" Woo wang clearly perceived the talents of clever men, 
** so as to employ tliem by appointing them as Siiperiors 
" over the people.*' 

Besides this there is a discrepancy between the above 
narrative and what De Mailla (Histoire generale de la 
Cliine, Vol, ii, page 394), gives as the true history of 
She hwang-ti. The question of appointing members 
of She hwang-ti's family to places of authority and 
government, had been settled in a council of the 
most important persons in the state, B.C. 221, or 
eight years before the meeting at Hiu-yang; and 
doubtless, Chun yu-yueh, who was one of the ministers 


of state in the council, had concurred in the 

It had been decided by them that this should not be 
done in future. ** The minister, Wen Ouang, and seve- 
ral grandees, thought that it would be advantageous to 
the emperor to establish princes of his own family in 
the states of Yen, and Tsi, and Tchao, and Tchou, 
in order to keep the people in obedience. The 
counoU charged with examining this important affair 
" rendered the following decision ;'* 

Wen wang, and Wu wang, of the Chow dynasty, 
established their sons and brothers sls princes of 
*' different provinces, to keep the people in obedience 
and submission, but in the suite, the bonds of kindred 
becoming enfeebled, envy, jealousy and enmity 
between them increased to such a point, that they 
tore each other by continual wars that the emperor 
'** could never see the end of." 

** Now that the empire is reunited under the glorious 
*" government of your majesty, the advice of your 
^* council is, that you do not establish any one of your 
^ ow^ii family in the principalities^ 

" The emperor replied, " That which my council has 
^' decided has been most wisely determined. Hence for- 
"*' ward the empire shall be divided into thirty six 
^' provinces ; (This recalls to mind a similar divison 
of the old Egyptian empire into 36 nomes), "each 
^* province shall have a viceroy, a governor, and a 
^' vice-go vemor. Those of my family who may be 




" capable of being thus employed, may be admitted to 
" them/' 

Thus it would appear from De Maillas account of the 
affair, that instead of the old institutions about appoint- 
ing princes of the sovereign family to posts as governors, 
having conduced to the Chow empire lasting long, this 
very custom was the cause of its coming to an end. 

It is at least evident from the speech of Yueh, and 
also from the decision of the council above mentioned, 
that the Tsin prevailing traditions of government did 
not confirm the truth of the supposed ancient customs 
of the two dynasties, whose practise had been quoted as 
a guide for the settlement of the new Tsin dynasty in 
its government of all China ; and it is questionable, 
from this very fact, whether these or similar customs 
had really existed among the traditions and true records 
of an empire, dating back for a thousand years, such as 
China is supposed to have done. 

It is to be observed also that the history of the 
Shang dynasty, whose example was cited by Yueh, does 
not confirm his statement. In the 4th section or " the 
** instructions of E;'* see Medhurst's translation, page 
142. Tang, the founder of the Shang dynasty, is 
specially commended by E-jrun. **He extensively sought 
*' after intelligent men that they might afford aid to his 
** successor," and Pan kwang, see Section 9, page 158, 
says " Formerly my royal predecessor studied only to 
^* employ the members of ancient families in the govern- 
**inent;** and in Section 12, page 169 the emperor Kao 


tsnngy or Woo ting, appointed Yue, who possessed some 
resemblance to a person whom he had seen in a dream, 
and whom he supposed Shangti had conferred on him 
through this means. This was just the very practice 
that She hwang-ti had decreed after hearing his council ; 
and there is no example of the governorships of provinces 
being confided to princes of the sovereign's family in 
the Shang dynasty. 

At all events these customs and records do not appear 
to have been known as recorded maxims of state to the 
chief of the Tsin state, who is reputed to have been the 
leading and dominant feudal lord of the defunct Chow 
empire. If they had been so, Yueh would not have 
appealed to them, instead of merely mentioning his own 
personal hearsay of these things. 

The minister of She hwang-ti who replied to Yueh, 
is made by Sze*ma-ts*ien to deny the truth of the last 
speakers remarks about the expediency of adhering to 
the ancient dynastic models as a rule of government ; 
but he is also made to introduce and include in his 
arguments at the opening of his speech, the first five 
legendary emperors of China, who^ according to native 
critics, are not even mentioned in the historical works 
which are sought to be considered as authentic ; and 
which could not therefore consistently have been known 
at the time of Li-sze; and yet about which, ho is 
assumed to be contending. 

Mayers C.R.M. in page 123, says, that Li-sze "origin- 
" ally an humble scholar of the state of Tsin„ was him- 


''self a well taught scholar;*' and hence it is all the more 
improbable, that he should have made such a speech ; and 
it raises a suspicion as to the genuineness of Li-sze's 
harangue before the new Emperor. He, however, is 
made to say that the three dynasties, (Yueh had only 
mentioned two) had not followed the custom alluded to, 
(which from the passages quoted above from the Shoc- 
king, was not correct ;) and moreover that Yueh had 
appealed to the administration of three dynasties, which 
hardly need have been said under the circumstances 
that Yueh had only mentioned two lines of sovereigns ; 
but he added emphatically, that Yueh had spoken of 
the actions of those dynasties which could not serve as 
models or rules of conduct to the new emperor. How 
was this reconciliable with the often repeated positive 
statements in the Shoo-king about the universal empire 
of the Hias and the Shangs ? The chief point made 
clear by Li-sze in favour of the new empire, and in con- 
tradiction to the previous state of China, was, that as 
*' the empire is made and solidly constituted, the laws 
"and ordinances are only to proceed from one sole 
*' authority ;" and -yet it was the cardinal excellence of 
Yu, and the other supposed ancient sovereigns of China, 
that they were the sole source of legislation and 

Could Li-szo have drawn such a contrast between his 
sovereign and the past, and offered such statements in 
the presence of so many learned men, if he had been 
familiar or even acquainted with the Shoo-king, and its 



narratives of Yao and Shun, and Yu; or if he had 
known of them, could he have shown a more contemp- 
tuous disbelief in their being a true history of Chinese 
antiquity? and yet, as a minister of state, and a scholar, 
lie must have known the ancient records of China. He 
is made to appeal also to antiquity, but only to pervert 
the received traditions of the empire by stating ; — 

*' In ancient times when the empire was out of joint, 
** and in disorder, no one was found capable of restoring 
^* its unity." 

The dislocation of the empire here referred to, had 
only existed for some hundred of years, since the Chow 
chief ruler had lost his hold over the other princes who 
inrere his feudatories ; and what Li-sze is reported to 
liave said, could not have been truly applied to "ancient 
times," during which the Chinese maintain, that unity 
of government, of authority, and of civilisation, was the 
prominent feature of the reigns of the great sovereigns 
of the first two ancient dynasties, and was set forth in 
the Shoo-king as an example for posterity. 

It was simply a misstatement, to say that no one had 
been found in those times to unite the nation : or else it 
is a misstatement, to say with the Shoo-king, that Yao, 
»nd Shun, and Yu, and their descendants, had done so. 

Li-sze, furthermore, openly accures the assembled 

literati of untruth. " The most pathetic and the most 

•* empty discourses were used, in order to bring trouble 

** in minds, and to distort the truth,*' and he adds their 

** motive in distorting the truth, was, " to shake and 


" overturn that which the ancient sovereigns had 
" established and founded." 

This was pretty strong for the statesman • of the 
rising power who had overturned the very sovereigns 
themseves ; but it puts clearly the case, and shows that 
the literary works which formed a subject of complaint, 
must have been books of free thinking and revolutionary 
tendencies, instead of being, as is supposed, models of 
good government, and obedience to the lav^s, such as 
the Shoo-king and other books of the same sort pro- 
fessedly are. 

It could only have been against the books of the first 
mentioned description, the contents of which seemed to 
have been used by the literati to excite the people to 
murmur, and to despise the government, that Li-sse 
could have with propriety asked for an edict 

The grievance against the literati was founded on 
their using "antiquity for destroying the existing state 
of things." Now the antiquity described in the Shoo- 
king, was all in favor of obedience to the sovereign under 
the circumstances, for the "existing state of things," 
was just what the Shoo-king held up as the perfection 
of good government and happiness of the people ; ba 
She hwang-ti, by his power and authority, had put an 
end to the civil wars and merciless rapine that had 
harsassed tlie Chinese people under the feudal fighting 
states, and the whole nation was thus enjoying peace 
and prosperity. Chow Tsing had said in his speech, 
" all the populations now enjoy the happines of 


" tranquility ; they have ceased to be exposed to the 
" calamities of civil wars/' and Yueh who replied to 
that speech^never once called this assertion in question. 

Moreover, She hwang-ti is nowhere described as a 
cruel or hard master, in the complaints made against him 
previous to the burning of the books. Li-sze specially 
points out, "As regards the populations who tranquilly 
" enjoy rest amidst their families." No where is it 
recorded that She hwang-ti had merited that his govern- 
ment should be overturned, in the same way as the last 
of the Hea and Shang monarchs had been cast out ; 
owing to their oppression of the people, which turned 
heaven against them, and justified the rebellion that 
had overthrown them. 

The works of Mencius are certainly incitative of 
rebellion, and extol the people over the sovereign. 
Dr. Legge shows this in his prolegomena to the 
elassics, in which it appears that Mencius maintained 
the people's right of dethroning a sovereign ; and yet 
curious to relate, this revolutionary book, which must 
have been generally known, is never mentioned in 
the edict. 

Gaubil, in his Chronologic Chinoise, page 91 says, 
" Some Chinese authors have stated that the books of 
''Mencius were not burnt, but this is not at all probable. 
"Mencius* works were read by many, and that which 
" he wrote about the government of the ancient princes, 
**i8 precisely what She hwang-ti would have wished to 
"see buried in eternal oblivion.'' 


The Shoo-king, and the other classics, were all on the 
side of She hwang-ti, and would have confirmed his 
government approvingly if appealed to. If they existed 
then, and were received as veridical, it is all the more 
astonishing that they were not cited in his favor. And 
yet Sze-ma-ts4en gives as the supposed cause of their 
destruction, that they disapproved of the new emperor's 
conduct. It would rather follow from the circumstances 
that the object of consolidating She hwang-ti's power 
would have been better attained by preserving these 
books. The inference from this is: — that She hwang-ti 
did not consider them to be truthful histories of the 
empire of China, unless the story of their destruction 
be disbelieved. 

The demand made by Li-sze for the destruction of the 
books, first describes them as " the historical and other 
" documents which are preserved in the archives of the 
" official historiographers, with the exception of the 
" memoirs of the state of Tsin." 

These certainly referred to the records of the feuda- 
tory states, whose independence had been destroyed by 
the success of She hwang-ti ; for the are all here placed 
on the same footing as those of the Tsin state ; and it 
was natural to desire to blot out the records of their 
governments, and thus to make them be forgotten, in 
order to confirm the sovereignty of the Tsins over 
them all. 

If the supposed imperial Chow dynastic records had 
been delivered over to Tsin, as it is said the tripods 


ey would have been in safe keeping, and out of 
mischief-mongers, and no motive could be 
for their destruction. It is clear therefore, that 
had not included them ; for it is afterwards 
whosoever in the empire shall dare to keep in 
jossession, and in hidden places, copies of the 
ing, and of the Shi-king, or the writings, (what- 
ley may be) of the hundred different schools, 
to say of all the schools of diverse doctrines 
3re then in existence) with the exception of the 
laries attached to the tribunal of literati of the 
*der, established in the capital, (the Poh-see 
mentioned in the Chow li)." 
first also to be noted, that the classical and 
)rks of the sages of China, are here mixed up 
with the heterodox works of a hundred 
doctrines ; which is hardly consistent with the 
m supposed to have existed towards the former, 
the people were forbidden " to make together 
nervations on the Shoo-king or the Shi-king," 
hey are left at liberty to discuss the hundred 
doctrines, the books of which were deemed 
s and deserving of being burijt. All this is too 
mt to be credible as a true account of such an 
k event. It is furthermore noticeable, as con- 
he inference that the imperial archives were 
3yed ; that the highest literary officials of the 
ittached to the ministry of learning, were 
I ta retain copies of all the proscribed books^ 


' ^j 

and as Pauthier remarks, op : cit : page 13. "It ought 
*' to be supposed that the greater part of these knew 
" how to take advantage of this permission :" and yet, 
when the Han dynasty is said to have wished, only 25 
years after the event, to discover and reestablish the 
Shoo-king, not one copy was to be found among the 
descendants of these literati, nor even among the Tsin 
imperial archives, and the Shoo-king could only, be 
recovered by the oral recitation of Fuh-shSng. 

It is further to be remarked that even when the year 
after th^e edict, and when it is said that 460 literati 
'* were buried alive, because by their perfidious dis- 
" courses, and by other means, they were causing 
" trouble and disaffection amongst the black heads," 
it is not specified whether these revolutionary excite- 
ments were dorived from the classics, or from the 
heterodox books of th« 100 different schools ; and seeing 
that the contents of the classics would not have sown 
trouble and disaffection amongst the people, it is most 
probable that these men were punished only for com- 
menting on the dangerous books which had been 
condemned ; and it is thus evident that the demagogues 
who were executed by orders of She hwang-ti, had not 
drawn their ideas from the Shoo-king, as that book 
would have afforded principles confiirm^tory of obedience 
to the sovereign's rule. 

The son of She hwang-ti, is made to say by Sze-ma- 
ts^ien, " that the literati confined themselves to reading 
** the writings of Confucius, whom they took for thei 



" golde, and of which they only now ask the applica- 
" tion," but this would go to show that either the edict 
was only levelled against these books, or that tiie appeal 
of She hwang-ti's son was mere nonsense ; for m the 
assumed speech of Li-sze it is expressly mentioned, 
that other writings besides the copies of the Shoo-king 
and the Shi-king were prescribed ; so that the offence 
of the literati was not merely that which was attributed 
to them in the speech of She hwang-ti*8 son. 

There is too much contradiction in the narrative of 
all this event to make it trustworthy, either as regards 
the received opinion as to the motives for She hwang^ 
ti's action, or as regards the special names of the books 
that he ordered to be destroyed ; but taking the narra- 
tive as it stands, the motive for thiiS strange act may 
more probably be found in the valuelessness or untruth 
o! the books as historical accounts of China, than in 
tiieir being a cause of offence to She hwang-ti's govern- 

Besides this difficulty, which an analysis of the 
record of the transaction furnishes, against the existence 
of a sufficient material for forming a reliable chronology 
of China ; it is even a question whether the destruction 
of the books reached any important number of chronOi- 
loglcal, or historical, or even literary works. 

Ma-twan-lin, who is quoted by Pauthier, op : cit : page 
18, says: — "The destruction of the books commanded by 
"Tsin She hwang-ti, had not any thing near the 
"disastrous results that might be supposecL" 


The quantity of books which Chinese endeavour to 
«how had escaped from destruction, are too few to justify 
the remark of Ma-twan-lin : for if the handful which 
they were, constituted a majority of the Chinese litera- — -- 
ture that existed during the Tsin dynasty ; the records ^^ -S 
of the past history of China on which the subsequent si^'-t 
chronology was founded, must have been meagre and 
insignificant in the extreme. Ma-twan-lin, even says, 
{in loco) while noticing the incompleteness of tho^^e 
classics, "All these losses were in nowise caused by tho^^ o 
" fires of Tsin": — ^thus betokening his own misgiving^^fc g 
about the fact of She hwang-ti's edict having been the^^-® 
chief cause of the paucity of historical works ; and he^^® 
adds, " From the time of the Hans to the present, a&^5^^ 
"few of the books and the bamboo tablets on which-^^=^ 
" they were written, have been preserved, that out of 
"hundred there are hardly one or two that remain. 
" It was not the Tsins who annihilated them. It 
" the students who themselves destroyed them.'* 

If then, during the 800 years that had elapsed 
the Han epoch to the time of Ma-twan-lin, the dis- 
appearance of books had been in the above ratio ; and 
if the learned Chinese before the Han, had the same 
destructive spirit, and no greater love for books than. 
those students mentioned by Ma-twan-lin, it may be 
fairly estimated, that the ancient books stated to have 
been written, and supposed to have come down from the 
Hia, and Shang, and even the Chow dynasty with its 
civil wars, (a period of at least 1500 years according to 


ChiDese,) must haye diminished in a still more adverse 
ratio, the possibility of any quantity remaining at the 
end of the Chow dynasty, when She hwang-ti com- 
menoed to rule China. Indeed, as the very earliest books 
supposed to have been written, are not calculated even 
by the sternest upholders of the literary antiquity of 
the Chinese, to have been more than a few ; it would be 
almost miraculous to expect, that with such indigenous 
dements of destruction surrounding them, as those which 
existed for the period that Ma-twan-lin describes, there 
eould have been but extremely few in number remain- 
ing after 1500 years exposure to similar influences. 

The explanation of Ma-twan-lin is almost a proof 
that he considered the history of the book catastrophe 
insufficient to account for the paucity of historical 
leoords ; especially as the Chinese theory of imperial 
Iiistoriographers would not only supply but preserve 
continual records of Chinese history. 

To show however more clearly the exaggeration in 
▼(^e under the Han dynasty, there is a statement of 
Pankoo, (see Pauthier op: cit: page 32). "Matters 
''had arrival at this point that under the reign of the 
"emperor Wu-ti (140, 87, b.c.) portions of the books 
**were still missing, and the bamboo tablets which con- 
stained them were so damaged, that the rites and the 
"music prescribed for the religious ceremonies, could 
"not be accomplished." 

" The Emperor was moved at this, and said with a 
"sigh, I am very afflicted: at tliis state of affairs." 


This really occurred b.c. 124, according to the Tong- 
kien Kangmou ; and yet Pauthier, op : cit : page 25, 
quotes Khiou-chi, who is cited in the Li-tai-ki-sse and 
says that Liu-ngan prince of Hwai-nan, at 130 B.C., 
had recovered the Chow Quan, the Shoo-king, the Li- 
ki, the Shi-king, the Ch^un Ts^iu with the commentary 
of Tso-chi, and the Li-yoh, or the book of music ; and 
it is specially stated that this prince went, in the 10th 
moon of the year 130 e.g., to the court of the Hanjcmr-n 
emperor Wu-ti, in the 5th year of his reign, to whom he^^-*© 
was personally related, being a grandson of the founderr^Ki^r 
of the Han dynasty ; (see Mayers, 0. R. M. page 132, ,^ ^i 
Liu-ngan) or six yean before tlie time of the allegeiK>-d 
declaration of the Emperor, that the religious 
could not then be performed for the want of these books.^ 

There is such contradiction in all this that it tellfi^-^^ 
strongly against the truth of the whole of this chapter^ ^^ 
of Chinese history. 

Pauthier, op : cit : page 32 et sequ : gives inventoriei^ ^^^es 
of the books mentioned by Chinese authors, as havin^^ ^ff 
been in existence at the times of the sovereigns Oh'feng— ^'^^ 
ti 37, 7, B.C. and Ngai-ti 6, b.c which were made bj^;^^*^ 
Liu-hiang (b.c 80, 9) and his son Liu-hin, The firsts ^' 
of these catalogues comprised dijfferent copies of theT'^^^ 
six Kings : — Yih-king, Shoo-king, Shi-king, Li-ki,. 
Yoh-ki, Ch^un Tsiu, Lun-yu, Hiao-king, Siao-hioh- 
The second catalogue contained the philosophical writ- 
ings. The third poetry. The fourth military arts. 
The fifth treatises on the science of numbers, the Thien- 


wen or astronomy, the Lih-pou or calendars. The sixth 
contained books on medicine and medicaments. 

Amongst all these books there is not one work treat- 
ing on Chronology ex profeaso, or any books, excepting 
the Shoo-king, afiFording any data for the same. 

This was therefore all the classical ancient written 

repertory that Sze-ma-tsien had at his command, when 

compiling his celebrated chronological and historical 

work. He seems to be in " the helpless position of a 

''historian writing at a time when there was no recog- 

"nised chronological era, and no certain chronological 

''data for distant periods.'' See Sir G. C. Lewis, op: cit : 

page 25, note 94, where he thus describes Herodotus; 

and the comparison of this author with Sze-ma-tsien, is 

perhaps the best ground for the similarity that some 

mriters have perceived between them. There were 

besides, the other extant less ancient works, already 

nientioned, that were also available for his task, and the 

works of Lu-pu-wei b.c. 237, (see Mayers, C.R.M., 

page 146,) called the Chi-pen, which Sze-ma-tsien is 

hwwn to have used. 

He also had the oral traditions which had descended 
from antiquity, and which were current amongst the 
Chinese people at his time. Leon Carre, op : cit : page 
312, says, Sze-ma-ts'ien could also gather some details 
"from the ancient traditions which were afterwards 
"disfigured by the Taoists, without however falling into 
"their errors. His placing Hwang- ti at the head of 
"Chinese history, can only be accounted for by this 


" Circumstance, as the name of Hwang- ti is not mentioned 
" in any of the hooks at his disposal ." 

It should however he rememhered that some of these 
traditions about the reputed ancient times of Chinese, 
which were floating about at the same time, and which 
Sze-ma-ts*ien did not use, have been preserved in 
the so-called Taoist works, especialy in those of 
Chwang-tze, and Lieh-tsze, and the works of Kia I, 
of whom Mayers, C.R.M. page 78, says that " he was a 
" privy counsellor to Han wen-ti, b.c. 178, and that 
" he was active in establishing the literary canon." 
and also in the San-hai-kings, which Premare, " Dis- 
cours preliminaire Au Chou-king" states, was probably 
written by Peh-e, [the arranger of the ancestral temple 
under the emperor Shun, or even of the emperor Tu. 

This work is undoubtedly an ancient book, and 
there is even some probability of its being a Chinese 
transcript of the work of Berosus the Babylonian, who 
was a priest of the temple of Belus ; or it may be a 
Chinese version of the traditions from which Berosus 
compiled his work. The question of the authorship 
of the book will be considered in part ii. of these 

It has been the fashion to draw a distinction between 
these ancient traditions in China, and to classify one 
portion of them as peculiar to the Taoists ; and because 
the modern Taoists linked on to the portion of the old 
traditions, of which they seem to have been the special 
depositories, certain absurd doctrines and practices that 


have rendered their name and teachings ridiculous, the 
stigma attached to these latter has become fastened to 
the old traditions themselves, which have but little or 
nothing to do with the Taoist practices and doctrines. 

In consequence of this, these special traditions have 
been treated as false ; and at the same time the Ju-kiao 
traditions which Sze-ma-ts^ien had also access to, and 
which be followed, and which the official literati only 
acknowledge ; are held by them as the sole .true tradi- 
tions of China ; so as to carry out the theory that there 
are two sets of traditions in China, one set true, and 
the other false. 

It may be remarked however, that the orthodox 
traditions, as they are called, are as much open to the 
reproached fabulousness, and of paradox, as those of the 

The legend of the birth of Confucius is an instance 
of this. "His mother Yeu-che, just before her 
'' parturition, saw the fabulous animal called the Ki-lin, 
" in the court yard of her house, with a piece of jade 
" in its mouth. Yeu-che gently took the jade away from 
" its mouth, and found written on it these words, * A 
*' child as pure as crystal shall be born when the Chows 
" are, on their decline. He will be a king, but without 
" any dominions.' She gave the jade stone to her husband, 
** and said, the child I bear in my womb is a son, and 
*' the words written on the stone, that heaven has sent 
" me, by the the Ea-lin, apply to him, — ^At the time of 
^' his birth, two dragons were seen on the roof of Yeu- 


" che's roonij and five old men entered the house to 
*' getlier. A band of heavenly musicians made the air 
" resound by singing these words " All heaven rejoices 
" at the birth of this holy child." On the body of the 
" infant were 49 marks of his future greatness, and on 
" his breast were visible the words, "He Will point out, 
" he will act, he will decide, he will accomplish the 
" times." Pore Amiot adds that the five old men were 
" the five Ti. i.e. Fu-hi, Chin-nong, Hwangti, Yao, 
and Shun; and he says that these prodigies, according 
to the common assent of Chinese authors, assuredly 
preceded and followed the birth of Confucius. See 
the life of Confucius, in the 12th volume of the 
" memoires pour servira Thistoire &c., de la Chine." 

See also Leon Carre, op : cit : page 450, - who after 
" quoting the above passage, adds, " This legend ii 
" held as veridical by both the learned, and the people 
" of China." 

It is not to the purpose here to examine the historical 
truth of either of the above mentioned sets of traditions. 
It is the fact alone which is of present interest, i.e. 
that those traditions coexisted with those which Sze- 
ma-ts'ien used, and that other Chinese authors did use 
them, and came to other conclusions about Chinese 
history than what has been adopted by Sze-ma-ts4en 
and other official Chinese historians. De Mailla gives an 
instance of this, op : cit : tome I, page vii ; "According 
" to the constant tradition of the Chinese, their history 
"from Fu-hi, the founder of their empire, to the 


^* time of the emperor Shun inclusive, was comprised in 

** the books called the San-fen and Wu«tien''^ and yet 

" Sze-ma-ts*ien rejected this constant tradition," though 

according to the Pere Amiot, in "Tantiquite* des 

" Chinoise prouvfie par les monuments,"^ " The learned 

Chinese have never regarded as fabulous the reigns of 

Fu-hi, of Hwang-ti, and his succesors until Yao. 

(See Leon Carre op : cit : page 321, who further 

quotes from the same work,) "none of the learned, I say 

" nqne, that is to say not one of them, has ever doubted 

''that Fu-hi is not the founder and that Hwang-ti 

" ia not the legislator of the Chinese monarchy." 

There is no inherent reason for assigning any 
superiority to the Ju-kiao ancient traditions over those 
of the Taoists, as there are paradoxes in them both ; 
and it is but fair to claim consideration for the fact that 
they existed all together, amongst the Chinese, as the 
deposit of ancient ideas, about the earliest times of the 
nation and its chronology. 

Premare, in his "Vestiges &c, page 60, writes about the 
Taoist authors already mentioned above : "There is one 
** thing, that they are very ancient, and that they do 
" not hold the opinion of Confucius. Some of them 
" preceded Confucius, others lived shortly after him, and 
** they have nearly all followed a different method 
"from his. Who should dare to pretend that the 
** ancient traditions have fallen to the lot of Confucius, 
" and that no vestige of them has been preserved by 
" other schools P " 


Gaubil, in his " traite de la chronologie Chinoise^ 
page 62, writes : " One cannot say exactly, in what th^ 
"sect of Taoists consisted, and now consists. One can- 
even speak with less certainty of the origin of ihim 
sect. In the time of Tsin She hwang-ti it had greats 
extent. Mencius complains of false sects in his own^ 
« time." 

The different esteem set upon them, by contending* 
literary sects in China, is not conclusive as to their reaL 
worth ; and perhaps a closer examination of them may 
disclose an unexpected value, by showing that they 
contain some of the Babylonian traditions, which having* 
been thus preserved in China, derive confirmation from, 
their existence in its literature. 

De Mailla op : cit : page xix, when treating of Liu- 
hiang, (b.c. 80,9) and who was a close contemprary of 
Sze-ma-ts^ien, states, " Liu-hiang in the preface which 
he placed at the head of his history of illustrious 
women, declaims with a great deal of vivacity against 
certain petty authors imbued with the ridiculous 
*' doctrines of the Taoists, and who falsified the com- 
"mencement of history by mixing with it their ex- 
" travagant reveries.'* 

This passage is merely given to prove the fact that 
at about the time in which Sze-ma-tsHen wrote, there 
Were also several Taoist authors, who embodied in their 
works, the traditions current at that time in China, 
relating to the chronogical commencement of its 




^'Gaubil, in his '' traite de la ohronolgie Chinoisc/' 
page 65^ remarks, that '' Li*8ze and the Emperor She 
'' Hwang-ti were infatuated with the principles of the 
" Taoist sect, and it is therefore probable that a strict 
" search was not made for the books of that seot." 
If this be correct, it would show that these books were 
in circulation before She hwang-ti's time, and conse- 
quently formed a part of the ancient literature of China. 
In the catalogues of Chinese books, that were 
recovered during the Han d}Tiasty, which were compiled 
by Liu-hiang, there were, according to Dr. Logge, op : 
"cit: Vol. I, page 10, more than 13000 volumes of a 
*' larger or smaller size, the productions of nearly GOO 
" writers, and arranged in 38 subdivisions of subjects. 
" In the third catalogue, the first division contained the 
"orthodox writers, to the number of 63, with 836 
" works, or portions of their works. The second sub- 
" division contained the works of the Taouist school, 
" and amounting to 993 collections from 37 different 
" authors." 

It thus appears, that the Taoist authors at that time, 
vers not so unimportant as De Mailla insinuates; and 
^heu they are compared with the number of what are 
called the orthodox authors, they hold an important 
position, being four-fifths of the latter, while the 
uamber of Taoist works eveu exceeds those of the 

De Mailla gives a brief description of three principal 
vorks of these Taoist writers, *' one of these works had 


" the title of Ch*an Tsiu-hoei :*' another production of ^^ *f 
" this same sect had for its author Hoang-ya :" ^' '* 
'* A third of these Taoists was the author of a book 
" entitled the Ch'un Tsiu-men-pao/' 

According to De Mailla, they all agreed on one point. ^ 
" They admitted as the foundation of their system, teiLMZMrn 
" Ki, or ten periods or revolutions of time, the reality o^fc-^^f 
" which they endeavoured to establish in several books, 
" which they took the pains to circulate, in order 
" insinuate their errors." 

These ten Ki, or ages, are probably only anothei 
version of the ten antediluvian sovereigns of Babylonia,^ 
mentioned by Berosus. This question will be more^^*® 
specially treated in a subsequent chapter, on the cydo^^^^ 
of ten. De Mailla, in the passage above quoted, terms 
them, "extravagant reveries,'' but at all events then 
was a similar "revery" in Babylonia, and the coin- 
cidence of these two traditions must be explained away, 
before any such imputation can be justiiied as thai 
made by the Chinese author Lieou-Ju, quoted by De 
Mailla op : cit : page xxiv, who asserts, that " all the 
*' Taoist historical traditions were the fruit of their own 
'* fertile brains." 

The duration of the world from its commencement 
to the appearance of the Ki-lin (a traditional era in 
Chinese history) was, according to the first Taoist 
author mentioned by De Mailla, 3,279,000 years: 
^<5cording to the second, there were 2,760,000 years for 
the same period : and the third gave a same period as 


the first, of 8,276,080 years : only instead of placing 
them long before the time of Hwang-ti, as the two first 
mentioned authors did, the third named author does 
not assign any such precedence to the ten ages. This 
difference is remarkable, as in the surmise that Hwang^ 
ti be the first man, or Adam, the third author would 
hare placed the ages in the same order of time as the 
Babylonians placed theirs, and also in accordance with 
what the book of Genesis relates of the ten antedilu- 
vian patriarchs. 

With regard to this assignment of long ages at the 
commencement of Chinese history, Mayers, C.R.M. 
page 364, has the following remarks ; — 

'' Speculations of this nature embodied in works 
** such as the Yuen-mmg-pau" (the third author men- 
tioned by De Mailla,) ** now no longer in existence, 
** were reproduced in the chronology of the Han dynasty, 
** where it is asserted that from creation to the capture 
" of the Lin (the Ki-lin caught by Confucius' mother P) 
*' in the days of Confucius (b.c. 481), a period elapsed 
" of 267,000 and odd years, divided into ten Ki or 
** epochs." 

Mayers, C.R.M. introduction page xi, also remarks;" 
^ In obedience, it would seem, to an impulse, the 
" influence of which is distinctly marked in the literary 
" traditions of the Chaldeans, the Hebrews, and the 
" Hindoos ; a doctrine of the hidden properties, and 
" harmonies of number, imbues the earliest recorded 
" expression of Chinese belief." 


Mr. Jules Oppert, in the meeting of the Society of 
Biblical ArchaBology, held in November 1879, made a 
remark that the chronology of the ten antediluvian 
patriarchs corresponded in certain circumstances with the 
chronology of the Babylonian ten sovereigns of the 
same period. These sovereigns are held to have 
reigned 432,000 years, and Mr. Oppert oberves that 
the Scripture duration of the ten patriarchs was 1666 
years, both of which epochs being divisable by 72, 
appear to be thus connected. 

In connexion with this subject, and before any 
further examination of it as far as Chinese are 
concerned, it may be useful to bear in mind the 
following quotation from the Quarterhj Recietc for 
July, 1877, page 140, in an article entitled "The 
science of electricity as applied in peace and war," 
where attention is drawn to the numbers deduced by 
Halley from his researches. After noticing the four 
polar periods imagined by Han stein, of 1640 and 860 
years for the north pole, and 4609 and 1304 years, 
for the southern pole, the reviewer gives in a note, 
the following passage from Sir Wm. Snow Harris, 
** Magnetism" page 17. 

** By a curious coincidence, these periods involve a 
" number 432, sacred with tlio Indians, Babylonians, 
" Greeks, and Egyptians as being dependent on great 
** combinations of natural events. Tlins the periods 
" 860, 1304, 1740, and 4609 become by a slight modifi- 
'' cation, 804, 1296, 1728, 4320, which are not inad- 


"missible, considering the oomplicated observations from 
"which the first numbers are derived. Now these 
" numbers are each eqal to 432 multiplied by 2, 3, 4, 
"10, wiccessively. According to the Brahmin my- 
"thelogy, the world is divided into four periods, the 
** first being 432,000 years, the second to 2 by 432,000, 
"the third to 3 by 432,000, the fourth to 10 by 432,000. 
"It is also, according to Uanstein, not unworthy of 
"remark, that the sun's mean distance from the earth 
" is 432 half radii of the sun ; the moons mean distance 
"is 432 half radii of the moon; but what is more 
"especially striking is the circumstance that the number 
"25920 (=432 by 60) is the smallest number divisible 
" at oooe by all the four periods, and hence the shortest 
"time in which the four poles can accomplish a cycle. 
''Now this time coincides exactly with the period in 
" which the precession of the equinoxes completes its 
"ofcle. Certainly a curious and remarkable series of 

It may be noticed here that the Chinese have also a 
similar traditional period of 432,000 years, which is 
aude up of the 24 reigns of the Tien-hwang and the 
1^-kwang of 18,000 years each. 

18 Tien-hwang at 18,000 years 234,000 

11 Ti-hwang „ 18,000 „ 198,000 


which will form the subject of further consideration in 
a subsequent chapter. It is merely mentioned now, to 




show the analogy between the Chinese and Babylonii 
theories of chronology. 

Bailly, "Histoire de Tastronomie Ancienne/' page cxi 
remarks on this subject, " the nine brothers of the Gi 
*• hwang who are said to have reigned each over o; 
portion of the nine regions in which the earth wi 
divided, closely resemble the nine sons of the Indi 
sovereign Acnydrouven, who reigned over a simil 
" division of the world." He adds, "this fact is ve: 
" remarkable, and seems decisive for the identity of tl 
" two histories, and one can conclude that the fables 
" the Taoists contain some facts of the ancient histor^. 
" of India." 

The assignment of a longer period by the Chinese fc^ 
the reigns of the Tien-hwang, than that allotted to 
Ti-hwang, may appear to have been made in accord 
ance with the ideal superiority of the former, hvL 
curiously enough these two periods of years cor' 
respond to a division of the time assigned to h 
of the ten aniediluvian kings of Babylonia already 

Alaparup Z0,800year«,= Ssari.Aloraa 86,000. 7ean,sslO 

AmegalaruB 64,000 „ =18 „ Almelon 46,800. „ «18 „ 
EdoranohuB 64,800 „ =18 „ Amenou 48,200. „ =12 „ 
ptiarfcea 28,800 „ = 8 „ Davonus 86,000. „ =10 „ 
Xiguthrufl 64,800 „ =18 „ AmempsinaB 86,000. „ =10 „ 

284,000 year8,=65 sari 189,000 jear8,=56 

See Sir Wm. Drummqnd, "Origin of the Babylonii 
„ empire,'* page 9. 


Bnd it may be observed that that number of Sari of 
3600 years each, which are represented by these years, 
is 65 for the larger quantity, and 55 fur the smaller ; so 
"that as the whole number of Sari during- which these 
Sabylonian kings are said to have reigned is 120, the 
division above made, is exactly in the same proportion 
BS the division of the 24 Chinese reigns into terms of 13 

Rnd 11. 

^ ^ J3 6^ 

55 * 11 ~ & 
BO that the similarity is methodical. The period of 
18,000 years, assigned by the Chinese as the duration of 
^he reign of each of theHwangs, resembles the Egyptian 
j)eriod of 18,000 years, during the space of which the 
cmcients kings and heroes ruled over that country, as 
s^lated by Diodorus of Sicily, Book I, cap 44. A similar 
2>eriod of 18,000 years, is like wise stated to have been 
formed B.C. 504 by the Greek Heraclitus, though it does 
Slot appear whether its purpose was astronomical or 
c^hronological. (See Lewis, op : cit : page 98). 

Bailly, in the " discours preliminaire to " his " Traite 

** de Tastrononmie Indienne et Orientale," page ex, 

remarks, " This division into kings of earth, and kings of 

** mankind, is analogous to that of the Greeks, and especi* 

*' ally to that of the Egyptians, into reigns of gods, semi- 

*' gods, and men, and that of the Persians, who also place 

** before the appearance of the human species two other 

** species, of beings, the Dives and the Peris ; and also to 

^' that of the Indians, who also held that two spemes 


" of being, the gods, the Pedar Devata, who existed before^^*"^*^® 

"mankind: and page B.C. xii, The Gin-hwang or thc^-^=^6 

third age " It is remarkable that this age was filledC>^=2d 

" amongst the Persians with a species of creature whflti>-^=io 

** were called Peris, and the name of Gin which th 

" Chinese apply to that third race, is precisely the aam 

" as that which the Arabs give to the Peris, and accord- 

*' ing to d'llerbelot, the Persian, called them Gin-nian 

" and the Turks Gin-lian, so that this name of Gin, 

" was in universal use in cental Asia for desigaatin; 

" those who lived in the third age.'* 

So that these Chinese periods had an existence i 
history, long before the Taoists were heard of. 

It is desirable also call attention to the circumstance 

that if the principle of the Babylonian antediluvia 

period be identified, as Mr. Oppert states, with thi 

Scripture similar period of 1656 years, owing to thei 

analogous division by 72, the Taoist period above naen 

tioned of 3,276,000 years, is similarly connected witii— - — 

the chronology of the ten antediluvian patriarchs ol th 
Bible, by it being also divisable by 72 :— 3276.000 

72 ±= 45500. 

The use of a period of 72 was anciently known to the 
Chinese. Mayers, C.R.M. page 359 states, "The year is 
" divided into 72 periods of five days each, an arrange^- 
" ment traced to the period of the Chow dynasty." 

This division of the year is all the more to be noticed, 
as it establishes the fact that the ancient Chinese held 
that the year consisted of only '^60 days. 


The other period of 2,760,000 years being equally 
divisable by 12, it is similarly connected with the 
Genesis period of 1656 years, su that instead of these 
Taoist periods being "extravagant " reveries " and in- 
ventious of the Taoists, they are closely identified with 
some of the old traditionary periods of the Babylonians, 
and doubtless they were derived from that country. It is 
too much to suppose that the Chinese and Babylonians 
independently invented a system of ten primitive ages, 
each having periods composed with similar elements, 
and still more strange would it be to suppose, that the 
Babylonians derived their system from the Chinese ; as 
that would place the Taoists, chronology on a pedestal 
antiquity, that would hardly suit their critics. There i , 
fundamental hostile principle between the philosoply 
Liao-tsze and Confucius, to make their respective 
followers so mutually inimical as they are, regarding 
ese chronological theories ; and the only motive per- 
ptible for this, must be, that the Taoists represented 
traditions of one portion of the ancestors of the 
inese, and the Oonfucianists resent tliis evident 
xeign origin of their nation, as inconsistent with their 
arrogant theory of the indigenous commencement 
their knowledge and civilisation. 
Gaubil, in "Chinese Chronology" page 1'32, states: — 
The Taoist sect has taken a great deal from the 
ancient religion of the Persians, and it has made use 
of several traditions and features of the history of the 
Jews such as Enoch, the garden of paradise, the tree of 


" of life, &c., which it has applied to Chinese history » 
" and to the country of China. 

The inevitable Nemesis however attends on tlx^ 
official literati, through their unwittingly admittixi^S 
traditions which evidently show a foreign origin, and ^ 
coloring for many points in their ancient history ; 
thus, while trying to uphold the credit of their 
vain theories, they are betrayed into inconsistency 
their protestations against the Taoists. 

It should not be supposed, however, that the ani^^- 
Taoist theories have always had their own way : aiB.^ 
moreover it is clear that those who have upheld the :aai 
have even agreed with the Taoist opinions to a certa£ ^^ 

For it appears from De Mailla, op : cit : page xX^^* 
that according to Taoists, during the Han dynasty ''Tbrn- ^ 
*' ten Ki, had been preceded the by Tieu-hwaiP^ -S 
** Ti-hwang, and Jin-hwang, or the Three Hwang^^' 
** (San Hwang), and the Taoists did not desist froi 
exciting disputes between the learned of that tiou 
relative to a tradition which pretended that the 
Hwang or the three sovereigns, and the Wu Ti oc:^ ^ 
'* the five rulers had been the first princes or 
•* China. " So that from the very beginning of al 
the Chinese literature, on which their chronology i^ 
founded, a dispute is recorded as having exisi 
amongst the savants, as to wliether^traditions of personi 
not mentioDcd in the classics should be bolievt 
in or not. 




De Mailla also mentions at page xxxiii, that "Kong- 
''nga-koue, and the majority of clever persons, 
'' concluded that Fu-hi, Chin-nong and Hwang-ti, were 
** the San Hwang, or three sovereigns ; and that Ghao« 
"hao, Tchuen-hin, Ti-ko, Yao, and Shun, were the 
" Wu-ti, or five rulers/* 

So that there is evidence that these *' clever persons'' 
admitted the historical existence of some of the person- 
ages, who were not mentioned in the so-called orthodox 
classics, but who were nevertheless known by the so- 
called outside traditions. 

Although the abstract question of who the "three 
sovereigns'' or the " five rulers" were reputed to 
be, is of no interest in the present portion of these 
fosearches ; it is important to show the fact, that a 
discussion on this portion of the Taoist traditions, 
Was rife in Sze-ma-ts^ien time ; and that there were 
then two different theories of assigning the Chinese 
ancients to the two categories of sovereigns just 

Be Mailla, testifies (same page ) that, " others whose 
** sentiments seem to have been adopted by Sze-ma- 
^'tsHen, admitted that Hwang-ti, Tchuen-hio, Ti*ko, 
**Tao and Shun, were "the five rulers;" and that 
" Soni-giu-chi, Fu-hi, and Chin-nong were the three 
** sovereigns." 

So that this fact is established ; but there remains 
te be added, that the presumed tenderness for historical 
^uth, which is supposed to have induced Sze-ua-ts^ien# 


to carefully select only the reliable traditions of Chinese 
history, is not improved by the knowledge that all this 

Sir GFeorge Lewis, op : cit: page 374, has the follow- 
ing remarks on the Egyptian historian Manetho, who 
lived 306-247, b.c, about 150 years befdre Sxe-ina- 
ts4en, and on Berosus, 340-270 b.c, the Chaldean 
historian, whose work, according to Syncellos, was 
imitated by Manetho, and which are illustrative of 
Sze-raa-ts4en's real character as an historian ; — 

•* Such are the insoluble difficulties which arise 
** respecting chronology dissociated from history, handed 
" down by conflicting authorities, and reduced to an 
'* arithmetical puzzle. There is something attractive 
** to a writer, in this discretionary power of dealing with 
** the history of bygone ages. His imagination is 
captivated with the faculty of creating or annihilating 
dynasties by a stroke of his magic pen; he becomes in 
the language of the ancient astrologers, a chronocrator. 
" He likewise appears to possess a sort of reflex second 
" sight, by which he is able to look back into the nn- 
" known past, and to discern images invisible to 
** ordinary eyes. He can evoke a great medieval period 
" of antiquity, which has hitherto been buried in 
** oblivion. If his pretensions to these gifts be admitted, 
** and if he succeeds in imposing on the credulity of his 
** readers by his familiar handling of subjects remote 
" from ordinary studies, he is regarded as a historical 
** seer, elevated far above these obscure chroniclers, 


'^ who occupy fhemaelYes with digesting the occurrences 
" of well digested history." 

It is moreover notorious, that the moderation of 
Sse-ma-ts^ien, was so distasteful to the Chinese, that 
it was disavowed very soon after his death, and 
Chinese ^shronology was carried by others still further 
baek thaa Sze-marts4en had even done, in order to 
inolade more ancient traditional personages in Chinese 

De Mailla, op : cit : page xxiv, describes how this 
happened ; — " These personages were not re-established 
" 80 soon. For some time, the Sse-ki of Sze-ma-ts4en 
** was adhered to, who only commenced with the Emperor 
'' Hwang-ti, and had left to others to go back to the 
'* origin of the nation. Under the reign of Han-ming. 
" ti (a.d. 58), Pan-piao was charged to supply what 
** was deficient at the beginning of the Sse-ki, and Fan- 
** ka hiB son continued his work — ^He associated with 
^himself Tchin-tsang, Yu*may, Hong-ki, and other 
** members of Us tribunal of history, and with them he 
^ critically examined all that had been done till then, 
** and thus supplied what was wanting at the head of 
^ Sze-ma-tsUen's history." 

The ancient traditions therefore which Sze-ma-ts^ien 
had rejectedt were thus popularly, and officially, authen- 
iieated shortly after his death ; and this alone is proof 
of how profoundly they had taken root in the minds of 
fte Chinese people, and that they must have been 
transmitted to them by other nations, at a previonjs 


period, though they are continually called the dre^^ois 
of Taoists. 

The discussion of the question of the ancient pers^i^n- 
ages, and the chronological period above mentioned, ^^vbs 
not however considered as finally settled then; and- it 
will he seen that in different succeeding times, ^i© 
Ju-kiao or ofl&cial literati, continued to assert their firm 
determination to reject them as unhistorical. 

De Mailla mentions after the above quoted paragrap'^ 
from his work, that " Lieou-ju " (possibly Lii-tsi^' 
kieu mcmtioned by Mayers, C.R.M. page 146, and * 
contemporary of Chu-hi a.d. 1137, 1181, or Xiiu-sh''^» 
Mayers, page 134.) " who lived during the great Sar^8 
" dynasty, expressed his surprise that such a question 
" about these ancient personages could have ev^^ 
** occupied the attention of able persons. Where, writes 
" he, can be found in the King, or in the books ^^^ 
" Confucius, the words San-hwang, (the 3 emperor^' 
" or the Wu-ti (the 5 rulers) ? If Confucius says "■- ^ 
" the Kia-yu that Fu-hi, was the first who bore t^^® 
" title of Ti, he only wished to show by that> not tb- ^* 
" this prince was the first of the Wu-ti (the 6 rulet^^) 
" but that he was the first emperor of China." 

" The sources whence were derived the San-hwaU.^' 
" and Wu-ti, are Chwang-tsze and Lieh-tsze, who Qt"^ 
" of all spoke of them as an ancient tradition." 

It may possibly be true that the first written menfci^^ ^ 
of these traditions occurred in the works of the autlx^^ ^ 
mentioned ; but that they previously existed in Ohin^ ^ 


identy and also that they were derived from other 
arces than the Taoists just mentioned. 
Iiiu-]u, above mentioned, was the author of the 
^ai-ki, or the history of the fabulous period, which 
;ure8 as the introduction to Sze-ma-kwang's history, 
L vi^hich that of De Mailla's is founded, and in which 
ai^y of the Taoist traditions are recorded, and- they 
eia to have found supporters amongst Chinese writers 
-er since. De Mailla, op : cit : page XLix, states, 
,at Yuen-hwang, who compiled the Kang-kien or 
)ridgement of the Kien-y-sse, a.d. 1590, upheld them. 
he opinions of this author will be best known by 
msulting De Mailla's account of the book. 
It is notorious, that the Chinese incorporated at 
later period, amongst their history, several Indian 
*aditions, and also adopted Indian jpustoms, and modes 
f thinking; so that it is not at all inconsistent with 
\ieir practise, that they should have also taken in 
iiO: traditions of the Babylonians, at an earlier date, 
rithout acknowledging whenc^ they were derived. 
?he above represents the entire stock of historical 
esourees available at the time of Sze-ma-tsien, for the 
construction of the Chinese system of chronology ; and 
t is therefore evident, that he did not represent an 
inanimous and authoritative view of Chinese ancient 
times ; and that ever since his time, there has been 
a feeling, that the traditions which he excluded, were 
entitled to better treatment Besides the archives and 
traditions which were used in compiling his history. 


Szc-ma-tsHen also used astronomical calcnlatioiiSy to 
establish some of his chronological epochs; and this 
will come under consideration in the sequeL 

With all this however, Sze-me-ts'ien did not think 
that he ought to admit any chronological certitsde 
hefore b.c. 841; and he consequently only considered the 
cycle of 60 years as reliable from that time. One may 
therefore thence conclude, that all the narrative of 
the times and events before that date, which he placed 
in his history, rested only on the already mentiooed 
traditions ; but which really had no special claim over 
the others, to bo selected and preferred as solriy de» 
serving of credit. 

It will be seen further on, that the epochs corres- 
ponding with our era, in which, according to his theory, 
8ze-ma-ts^ien placed Hwang-ti, whom he called the 
first sovereign of China, and also the Emperor Yaa» are 
erroneous : but as this is not matter for present consi- 
deration, such inaccuracies in his history are not here 
noticed beyond this remark. Frer^t, xiii, 303-304, say^ 
Sze-ma-ts4en based his chronology on the dato of Oon- 
fucius's birth, 657. B.C. " Then he counted 500 years 
" back to Chow-kung, brother of Wu-wang. He did 
'^ not found his system on astronomical coinoideiiees and 
"periods. This method of discovering and" a^i^ning 
" dates to events, originated with Liu-hin, who had fte 
** Chun Tsiu, and the Tso-chuan, with their 3& eclipses 
" of the sun, and some winter solstices." Freret xiii. 
263, also says : — " Ma-twan-lin observes, that neither 


^^ Sse^ma^isieiiy nor the ancient commentators of the 

^Shoo-kiiigy in the time of the Hans, do not seem to 

**have seen the entire copy of the Shang-shoo of Kung 

*^Ngaa-kwo; (i.e, the Shoo-king published by that 

^^ author): — and at page 284, "the work of Tso-chi, 

•* known by the name of the Tso-chuan, had not been 

^* published at the time of Sze-ma-tsien ; and thus he 

"•^ was ignorant of certain details of ancient history re- 

** corded in that book; *' at page 289, "It is the Chipen 

^^ from which Sze-ma-tsien drew the list of emperors 

^^ fiinee Hwang-ti, and according to Siu-f a, this book is 

** apocryi^ial/' 

Our attention is required now, to the progress of 
establishing the actually received chronology of China, 
and after the time when Sze-ma-tsien finished his 
ion of ike work ; and it will appear that its 
^^rinoipal foundation was on the astronomically calcu- 
lated epochs already mentioned. 

It is interesting to observe how this was done. It may 

said begun with Sze-ma-ts^ien, who according to 

op : cit: page 35, " made the basis of his 

'^ Oiroaology, the Tai-tsou calendar (the authorify 

of whkh is disputed). He took for the root of it, a 

^^ wint^ solstice joined by a syzygy occurring six 

^^ hours preceding midnight, at the first day of 

^' a supposed £ia-tze cycle of sixty; and he sup- 

'^ posed it posterior to another solstice of 24th De- 

*^ OembeTi b.c 124,^^ or 19 years, (by that cycle) 



The Chinese look npon the reunion oi the solstie6 
and the syzygy at midnight on a day called Kia-tze, to 
he of good augury ; and this was the reason why Sze- 
nia-ts4en picked out one that answered to this require- 
ment, viz., that of B.C. 106 ; hut his calculations were 
inexact, as BiPBret shows, op : cit : page 37-38. ; and it 
was therefore based on a fictitious foundation. It is a 
theory of Mencins, that the first cycle of 60 days began 
at the midnight of the occurrence of the winter solstice 
and at the same moment of the syzygy. 

The commencement of any period at the winter 
solstice, was also an Indian usage, and one to which the 
Chinese have no exclusive claim, as the originators of 
this method. Yao, in the Shoo-king, gives the rules for 
calculating the solstice in his time, and as the solar 
year began on that day, the chief object was to^ detei^ 
mine that solstice ; and hence arose the diflPerent theories 
for discovering its true date, and the different dates 
assigned to it. 

The most ancient observation of the winter soktioe 
which the Chinese state they have recorded, is that of 
Chow-kung the brother of Wu-wang, the founder of the 
Chow dynasty (b.c. 1104 — 1098); but the precise date 
of this observation is not marked in the Chow-li, where 
the details of this observation are described. The most 
ancient observation of liie solstice with the year and 
cyclical day determined, is 25 December, b,c. 666, 
according to the Tso-chuan, at the 6th year of Hi-coung 
prince of Hou ; but Fr^r^t, vol. 14 page 34, shows that 


tliis calculation is not exact, as it actually occurred that 

year, on the 28th Docomber. There is also another 

^milar observation mentioned at 25th December, B.C. 

^23, which is also incorrect. No other solstice obserra- 

^trions are recorded until the Han dynasty, B.C. 206 ; but 

IFreret, op : cit : page 35, shows how the Mlinese them- 

jselves admitted that they could not then find the 

dncient methods of astronomical calculation, although 

-fchey strangely assert that they could find all the other 

-tnraditions of their country, a great part of which were 

embodied by Sse-ma-ts4en in his Sae-ki. 

This is confirmed by Soueiet, op : cit : tome ii, page, 2, 

*' The European astronomy put in order by Kang-hi, and 

" published a few years ago, certifies that at the time of 

' * Tsin-shi-hwang-ti, the Chinese had lost the method 

** taught by the ancient Chinese, and especially that of 

** Emperor Yao, for the calculation of the planets and 

** fixed stars. What is there stated by the Emperor 

** Kang-hi, is taken for certain, by the authors who from 

** the time of the Han dynasty have worked on astro- 

*' nomy. Thus at the time of Tsin-Shi-hwang-ti, there 

" were neither able astronomers, nor books of astronomy, 

** nor any known method. There only remained some 

"confused traditions, and the fragments of some 

« hidden books." 

Freret, vol xiii, page 310, in a chapter on the 
variations which have existed amongst Chinese savants, 
on the subject of the chronology of their history, states ; — 
** Some years after Sze-ma-tsien, Liu-hin, (66 B.C.) the 


author of the San-tong, by examining the Tchan-taiea, 

and the oommenary of Tso-chi, B.C. 66, (according to 
" Gaubily histoire de Tastronomie page 7.) imdertook to 
*' fix the chronology of certain historical epochs whidi 
*' he supposed were also astronomical epochs ; but these 
" determinaiqpis, which are based upon false astronomical 
" hypotheses, have a great defect; inasmuch as the 
" epochs of which there is question, do not possess the 
** astronomical characters that Liu-hin attributes to them. 

Souciet, op : cit : ii, 9. writing of Liu-hin, states ; — 
** It is not necessary that I should here remark the 
** errors in calculation which Liu-hin, Lo-hia-hong, and 
*' others, would have made, had they undertaken merely 
'* to calculate the winter solstice, or any other of the 
*' Tsie-ki, 2000 years before their own time ;*' and at 
page 13, '^ These astronomers have lost much time in 
'' examining the numbers, which Confucius calls the 
'* numbers of heaven and earth. The numbers of 
'* heaven are 1,3,5,9. The square of 9 being 81, this 
** last number was taken for the parts in which the day 
** was divided. The number of 19 years, was also used, 
** and by their intermultiplication a period of 1539 
** years, was formed. This period was called Tong» or 
** beginning, and three of these Tong made 4617 years, 
** or the period called Yuen." 

liu^hin seem to have been under the influence of the 
numerical hallucinations of his race, for he is said to 
have been the first author of the modern imaginary 
periods found in Chinese chronological works. The 


ttAei period invented by him, and given as a method 

for calculating epochs, in his book, San Tong, was 

144127 solar years, and it was said to represent the 

time from the Ghang-yuen, to the moment of midnight 

that was the moment of the winter solstice, at the first 

^ay of the eleventh moon in the year 1^)4 b.c. It is 

WL remarkable fact that this extraordinary method was 

ju^tnaUy followed by the Chinese astronomers, till a.d. 

1280, as the model of their epochs. It is pretty evident 

from this fact, what sort of a Ghronologist Liu-hin was, 

and what must be the worth of his book. 

It is curious to remark that Liu-hin and all these 
Chinese who undertook to revise, or to fashion their 
national chronology, based all their calculations on 
astronomical periods or circumstances , just as Sze-ma- 
1»*ien had used the winter solstice occurring at a favor- 
able moment, for the same purpose. 

Now a mere glance at these periods, shows how 
unscientific they are, when compared with the old (so- 
called) Taoist periods ; and yet these first mentioned 
periods were the pure invention of the orthodox literati, 
though they better deserve the name of reveries than do 
the periods of the Taoists. 

After Liu-hin came Pan-ku, a.d. 92, (see Mayers) 
the compiler of the chronicles of the western Han 
dynasty, in continuation of Sze-ma-ts*ien history. 
Freret says of him, that " he gives a complete system 
** of chronology from Yao, to the Hans, b.c. 206. 
" He places the Tsin dynasty at b.c. 255, the beginning 


" of the Chows at b.c. 1122, the Shang dynasty at B.C. 
" 2183, and Yao at b.c. 2303. but he went no further 
" back than Yao, and so differed from his predecessor 
8ze-ma-ts4en. Matwanlin, the erudite Chinese archoeolo- 
gist, who lived from the close of the " Sung" dynasty 
to the Mongolian " Yuen" dynasty a.d. 1316 ; writing 
of Panku, in his great work called " the antiquarian 
researches," (tome 70 cap : 191, fol. 15 & 29, quoted 
by Freret in loco) calls him a writer whose greatest 
" merit consists in his style, but without erudition or 
" criticism, so that entire confidence cannot be placed in 
" what he relates." 

And yet, (Freret remarks) it is this same chronology 
of Panku, that is not worthy of entire confidence, which 
has been made the basis of all the systems proposed 
ever since ; systems in which there have only been 
some slight changes made from Panku's chronological 

The Pere Gaubil, in his ** histoire de Tastronomie 
Chinoise," in tom : II page 22 of '^observations ma- 
thematiques, astronomiques chronologiques" by Etienne 
Souciet, says of this same Panku, as follows ; 

" Pan-ku imperial historian, and in great reputation 
*' under the emperors Tchai)g-ti and Hoti ; adopted 
**the system of the Ki (1520 Yoars,) and the Pou, 

* (76 Years,) Ilaviug arranged his epochs by the exam- 

* ination of the liistorical nn'nioirs which he possessed, 

* he carefully [marked iht* JO-Jiii year, of the Shang 
" dynasty, as the first year of the Ki. He found out, 


^either a calculation, or an observation, of a winter 
"solstice, on the day Kia-chin, at the moment of 
" midnight, and at tlio moment of tho conjunction of 
" the 0im and moon, in the year 123 b.c ; and by 
" going further back for 1420 years, be found according 
'* to that method, that 1520 years before midnight at the 
"winter solstice in tho year 123 b.c, the solstice was 
" also on tlie day Kia chin, midnight ; and at the moment 
" of the conjunction tlio sun and moon ; and be found 
" that this Ki was in the "108th year of the Shang 
" dynasty," and at page 37, Gaubil continues, one can 
" see evidently that at the time of Pan-ku: — the art of 
" calculating the exact moment of observing the solstice 
*^ was unknown. It is clear that the system of Pan-ku 
" is false." 

This testimony of Pere Gaubil may be accepted as an 
impartial record of how Pan-ku and the Cliinese 
Chronologists worked out their dates by such imaginary 
epochs as the Pou, and the Ki,'of Li-fang, (the author 
of a book called the Sse-fen or four parts,) or at least 
the epochs which were said to have been invented by 
him; though the Pou of 76 years, is CAddently the 
period of Callippus, and most probably made known to 
the Chinese, by western travellers. 

It has been observed above, that Pan-ku placed the 
epoch of Yao, at 2303 b.c; whereas Sze-ma-ts4en 
had placed him 2145 b.c; so that there was a 
dijSerence of over 150 years, between them, on that 
one date. 


The determination of the date of Yao, has always 
been considered a most important need in Chinese 
chronology; on account of his having given to ihe 
Chinese (according to the Shoo king) their first notions 
in astronomy, and also because Confucius never men- 
tions any sovereign of China before Yao. 

Pan-ku acknowledges that others had placed Yao at 
2132 B.C.; and not at 2303 b.c; or nearly 200 years, 
nearer to our era than he had done; but as Freret 
remarks, (in loco) Pan-ku gave no reason for his own 
view on the matter. Freret (vol 13 page 139) say 
that there are eleven opinions or theories on this date^ 
of Yao ; and that their divergence covers a space of 
284 years, and that it was not authoritatively settled to 
the satisfaction of the official literati, and adopted by 
the Chinese tribunal of history and mathematics, until 
A.D. 1068; when Sze-ma-kwang, produced the system of 
chronology which is now recognised. 

The epoch of Yao has recently been again brought 
into prominence by Dr. Legge, in his introduction to 
Vol. in of of the Oxford edition, 1879, of the " sacred 
books of the East,'' cmd an endeavour has there 
been made to establish its accuracy, by the aid of a 
stellar chart, prepared by Rev. C Fritchard, Savillian 
professor of astronomy in that university, from which 
an inference has been drawn in favor of the Chinese 
chronological system. 

A careful perusal, however, of Dr. Legge's statements, 
doee not discover any new support for the theoretical 


date of Tao ; as will be seen by the following examina- 
tion of what he writes on this snbjcct. 

Dr. Legge, op : cit : page 24, gives the names and sup- 
posed positions of certain stars, mentioned in the Canon 
of Tao in the Shoo-king ; and the force of his reasoning 
«tt these astronomical data chieflv consists in the 
novel illustration by a chart which gives the appearance 
of the heavens at the supposed date of Yao, and from 
^ch a coincidence in time is sought to be established 
M an era in Chinese chronology. 

Now, the picture of the stellur heavens, adduced as a 

fresh witness in the case, does not add any special 

evidence to identify China as the solo place in which 

tke positions of the stars described in the canon of Yi;o, 

could only havobeen observed; for the same aspect of 

the stars might have been beheld accordinc^ to the chart, 

**at any hour of the day above the horizon of any 

place in central China ;" (See page 27) so that all along 

the same degree of latitude through central Asia, this 

same position of the stars, with such an interval of a 

whole day for their passing the horizon, might have 

been visible at sunset, at different places at different 

astronomical times, according to their longitude ; so that 

tiie conditions of the accuracy of the chart, when 

used to identify the position of the Shoo-king stars with 

aa observation of them in China, are thus wanting. 

The directions given for observing certain stars, in 

Chinay attributed to Yao, might as easily have been 

giFen by the sovereign of Balkh, in the twenty-fourth 


century B.C.; for a mere glance at the map of Asia will 
show that Balkh is about 37*. north, and this same line 
of latitude runs through all the northern provinces of 
China from Shensi to Shantung. 

Dr. Legge states (page 24) ''It has ahoaya been 
" assumed by Chinese scholars, that when Yao said -C>.( 
" the star of midspring is in Niao, he meant the star 'tk^x 
'' culminating at dtnk, in that season, at the point of 3^^ 
" observation ; and so of the other stars :*' — and at page ^^-e 
26, he states ; " When we wish to make the directions -^ js 
" of Yao available for the purpose of chronological -T^^il 
" enquiry, the question that arises is this : — When did -t> d 
'' the above named stars culminate at dusk in China at ^^^Mt 

" the equinoctial and solstitial seasons"? This asser "^i'- 

tion, that it has alicat/s been assumed by Chinese^^ ^sc 
scholars, that it was the culmination of those stars, at^ ^b^ 
dusky which was observed, cannot be authenticated^^ ^d 
for any period anterior to the Han dynasty 206 B.C.; 
it is admitted that the Chinese at that time had forgot- 
ten all about their previous astronomy, and that 
have not since recovered any astronomical documents^^^-*^ 
of more ancient times, that would prove such knowledgeS^"3^ 
to have ahcays existed in China before the Hans. 

Moreover, according toGaubil, "Tralt'e de Pas- — ^^' 
tronomie Chinoise'* page 8, " The interpreters, whoc:^ -*® 
*' wrote at the time of^ the Hans, assure us specially 
" that it was at six o'clock in the evening^ that the seve: 
" stars mentioned in the canon of Yao, passed thr^^ ^® 
** meridian above the horizon at the time of Yao.' 




^e qaestion, therefore is act as Dr. Legge puts it : — 
XKd the stars culminate at dusk f 

Dr. Legge also maintains, page 26, that the culminate 
ing stars, at the equinoxes and solstices, at the remote 
period of Yao, could not have been computed back 
scientifically; and he concludes from this hypothesis^ 
tlat the compiler of the canon of Yao, must have taken 
the facts of the culminating of the stars, from ancient 
documents) and possibly contemporaneous with the 
events they describe. 

Now, taking for granted that the author of the Shoo« 
king had access to ancient astronomical documents, it 
still remains a question whether these documents were 
Chinee. It is most probable that the only astronomical 
documents available in the 24th century, B.a, were 
Babylonian ; and as has been already observed, there 
were a great many traditions and fragments of Baby- 
bnian science floating about amongst Chinese, which 
belong to that period, and which have been unscrupu- 
loosiy recorded by Chinese authors as being of native 
Chinese origin. 

As regards the impossibility of scientifically comput- 
ing backwards the position of Yao's stars by Chinese, 
owing to their not having known about the precession 
of the equinoxes at the supposed date of Yao, it does 
not seem at all necessary that this should have been 
known, in order to create a fictitious epoch. There were 
abundant ready made data of similar observations of 
stars in connexion with the equinoxes and solstices. 


existing in India ; which could have been copied and 
inserted in the Shoo-king, in order to give it a specious 
air of verifiable antiquity. It should be remembered, 
that the Han astronomers who interpreted the Yao-tien, 
and who doubtless had some hand in interpolating it 
with their own comments, were the disciples of the 
Hindoo astronomers, with whom they were in close 
connexion ; and they could have learnt from them the art 
of scientifically computing backwards any event, and to 
identify it with some astronomical phenomena* It was 
a regular practise amongst the Hindoo astronomers, to 
compose these retrospective dates, and to support them 
with true observations, which however became fictitious, 
by being connected with imaginary events ; and henc 
it is not improbable, that the practise was introduced 
into China, from India. The Hindoo astronomers were-^^ 
well acquainted with the precession of the equinoxes, at 
that time ; and the Chinese, even if they did not learn 
this from their Indian teachers, could easily acquire th< 
conclusions that enabled them to produce retrospeetiv 
stellar calculations for their purpose. 

Bentley, in his **Hindoo Astronomy,'' page 75, says : 
*' About this period (204 b.c.) besides these improve- 
" ments, Hindoo history was divided into periods, fo 
" chronological purposes ; which periods, in order thai 
" they might never be .lost, or if lost or disputed 
** might, with the assistance of a few data, be agai 
** recovered, were settled and fixed by astronomic 
'* computations, in the following manner : — The year h -^ 


-f^^Aich each period was to commence and end having been 
_2y9*evtou8ly fixed on, the inventor then by computation 
ti^ttef'Tnines the montli and moon's age on the very 
day in which Jupiter is found to be in conjunction 
^w^th the sun, in each of the years ; which being 
'T'^corded in the calendar, and other books, might 
at any time be referred to, for clearing up any 
<ioubts, in case of necessity:" and at page 80, Bentley 
ler says; '^This, no doubt was done, with a view of 
\aking the world believe that such conjunctions tcere 
^^Gticed by the people who lived in the respective ^^eriods ; 
^^^%d therefore might be considered as the real genuine 
^^9zd indisputable periods of history, founded on actual 
observations*' And he further states at page 86, 
le point of time thus fixed upon, was found by 
imputation made backwards/' 
It will be observed, that it was at almost exactly the 
e time (204 b.c.) in which the Hindoos invented the 
jss of scientifically computing back events, and of 
^^^Xitifying them with astronomical coincidences, that 
Han astronomers (206 b.c.) began their own experi- 
for improving Chinese astronomy and chronology; 
with the examples of the Hindoos in their minds, 
^^^ would have had no difficulties in applying similar* 
^^^^ns towards identifying any given period in Chinese 
^^^tory, that they wanted to establish as a chronological 
j; which was specially the case with the period of 
>, that has always been considered since their time 
the chief epoch to be determined. As the sixfy 


year cycle, by which the Chinese assigned the dates to 
their epochs, is intimately conmcted with a conjunction 
of the planet Jupiter, there is a striking similarity between 
the Chinese and Hindu methods of settling and fixing 
chronological periods. 

If it be urged that the Chinese could iK>t by them- 
selves have made these backward calculations ; they 
might notwithstanding have imitated the Hindoos in 
such cases though they made but a clumsy use of the 
knowledge of the Hindoo imaginary principles of chro- 
nology, as is evident from the period of Yao, which is 
so inexact as almost to betray its having been 
compiled by mere imitation, without scientfio data. 

Dr. Chalmers so clearly shows the real unscientific 
character of the legend of the Yao-tien, that his words ai» 
here given to complete the investigation of this subject. 

" In accordance with Chinese ideas of a sage, Yaou 
in a few pompous sentences makes it appear that he is 
perfectly acquainted beforehand with the results of the 
observations which he orders his astronomers to 
make; — "You will find the star is in neaou** Ac 
But did they find the stars as Yaou said they would find 
them ? We are supposed to believe that they did, of 
course ; but since we are not told, we claim the liberty 
to doubt. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that 
Yaou, before the observations were made, was depend- 
ent on tradition for his knowledge, and that his 
astronomers were capable of making accurate observa- 
tions, they would in that case have had to report some 


failure in the yerification of his statements. Bnt apart 
^ftpom this, we are prepared to affirm that three of the 
^en sent to the four borders of China could not have 
^een the stars, which occupied for the time being the 
^ninoctial and solstitial points, culminating on the 
evenings named; e,g,, the first point of Libra could 
^ot be seen culminating at nightfall, when the sun is 
in the first point of Cancer, for it must culminate at 
6h. P.M., whereas the sun would not set in any part of 
China in midsummer much before 7h p.m., and the 
stars would not be visible for half an hour after sunset. 
This last fact would stand equally in the way, at the 
equinoxes, of the observers' seeing their stars culminat- 
ing, unless, indeed, the time of observation was several 
centuries later than the date usually assigned to Yaou 
(B.C. 2366—2255), so that the stars to be observed had 
ceased to be exactly in the solstitial colure. The 
astronomer who went to the north in mnter is the only 
one who would have no difficulty of this kind. He 
might see his star long before it culminated. But 
unless he had a good clock, he could not tell that it 
culminated at 6h. p.m. In the course of the long winter 
evening he would lose his reckoning sadly. The 
clepsydra also, supposing that he had one, might be 
ioe-bound. The observation could have been made 
more conveniently in every way at the central station 
than at the northern border. 

The value of the astronomical part of the Canon of 
Yaou, as a confirmation of the received chronology, 


has been mucli overrated. According to the obvious 
interpretation of the text, Yaon had reason to expect the 
stars he mentioned to be in the equinoctial and solstitial 
colures. But what his reason was we are left to con- 
jecture. It might be personal observation ; or it might 
be tradition from his great-grandfather, or from Noah 
himself.'* See Chalmers Astronomy of the ancient 
Chinese, page 92. 

Returning to Chinese authors ; it should be remem- 
bered, however, that Sze-ma-kwang*s system did not 
meet with entire approbation; for Liu-shu, who, accord- 
ing to Mayers, was associated with him in his historical 
labours, (or according to De Mailla, Liu-tao-yuen), 
" gathered up all that Sze-ma-kwang had judiciously 
" rejected, and worked out Chinese history to the times 
" of Pan-ku, or the first ruler of the world after 
" Chaos ; and compiled the Tong Kien JFai-Ki, or the 
" history of the legendary period, which is prefixed to 
Sze-ma-kwang's annals. The TTai-ki, divided Chinese 
chronology into two parts : — certain, beginning 827 
B.C.; uncertain, beginning 3679 years, earlier, or as 
far back as 4346 years, b.c; to Pan-ku, and 
the origin of the world from Chaos. Another 
S)mchronous author called Lo-pi, in his Lon-sse, does 
not go farther back than the beginning of the Hia 

Gustav Schlegel, in his " Uranographie Chinoise,'* 
page 752, says that "Lo-pi was one of the most learned 
and laborious antiquaries of China.'' 


The next step in the process of forming the chronological 
^stem of China, occurred about 150 years after Pan-ku 
Lad finished his chronological arrangement of Chinese 
history ; when in a.d. 265 a historical work was 
discovered, which is known as the Bamboo Annals; and 
which was used in making up anew the chronological 
system. At present the only remark which is of interest 
concerning this book is, that it places the beginning of 
Yao at 158 years later than Pan-ku had done ; which 
certainly did not strengthen the previously received 
chronology on the crucial date in Chinese history. 

Shortly after the discovery of the Bamboo Annals, 
"a celebrated scholar, and expositor of the ancient 
writings, classical and historical " (See Mayers, C.R.M. 
page 69) named Hwang-fu-mi ; published a chronology 
of Chinese history, which is noticed by Ma-twan- 
lin and also by Siu-fa. (See Wylie.) This author 
(Hwang-fu-mi) makes the epoch of Yao, (see Freret in 
loco) about 180 years later than the Bamboo Annals 
do; 80 here was another divergence of opinion on this 
date. Besides this, he extended the chronology not only 
to Hwang- ti, as Sze-ma-ts^icn had done ; but as far 
back as Fu-hi, whom he placed 760 years before 
Hwang- ti, and 1127 years before Yao ; which was also 
another view than that of Sze-ma-ts*ien. 

After this there are no more chronologists of import- 
ance until A.D. 724, under the Tang dynasty, when tho 
bonze Y-hang, (according to Freret) set about regulat- 
ing the Chinese chronology by certain astronomical 


hypotheses of his own. He calculated several historical 
epochs which had astronomical events connected with 
them. He fixed the death of "Wu-wang, at 1103 B.C. 
and the 2nd year of Tai-kia, the grandson of the 
founder of the Shang dynasty, at 1719 B.C.; and the 
eclipse of Tchong-cang, mentioned in the Shoo-king, 
at a date supposed to correspond with 2128 B.C.; but he 
placed it on the 13th October, when it could not have 
been visible at Peking." 

" He calculated wrongly what is related in the 
** Shoo-king ; he examined the chronology of the empire, 
" and supposing on the one hand, that from the time 
'* of Yao to the year a.d. 724, the interval was at 
" least 2988 solar years ; and supposing on the other 
" hand, that the fixed stars advanced one degree in 
" 83 years ; he concluded that between the time of Yao 
'* and his own time, the fixed stars had advanced 
'* nearly 36 degrees. He had fixed the winter solstice 
** for the year a.d. 724, and he thence concluded that 
" at the time of Yao the winter solstice corresponded 
" to the first degree of the constellation Hiu.'* and in a 
note, same page, Gaubil writes, " Y-hang was evidently 
" mistaken about the movement in precession of the 
** fixed stars, and in determination of the winter solstice 
** for A.D. 724. He could not help therefore being 
*' mistaken about the solstice at the time of Yao.'* 

Gaubil, further states, that by examining the eclipses 
rnentioned in the Chun-ts^u and the Shi- king, Y- 
hang, concluded that the year b.c. 2128, corresponded to 


fifth year of Tchong-kang, and thence that the Hia 
dynasty reigned 432 years, and that of Shang 628 years. 

It may be supposed therefore, that Y-hang was not 
more accurate in determining these chronological epochs 
than he was in that of Yao's time. 

Y-hang committed a great mistake in predicting two 
eclipses which did not occur at the time he stated, and 
to justify himself, he published a work in which ho 
stated that his calculations were right, but that Heaven 
had changed the ordinary rules for the movements of 
the celestial bodies. 

In a note on this occurrence, at page 37, op : cit : 
Gaubil surmises that possibly Y-hang might have 
known and alluded to similar circumstances, such as the 
stoppage of the sun at the time of Joshue and Ezechias ; 
and he further states, that Hicai-nan-tsze^ who died 
B.C. 122, (or Liu-ngan, see Mayers, page 132), "seems 
" to have known about these two great events, and that 
" Pere d'EntrecoUes had given many details of this 
*' passage of Liu-ngan's book.*' 

Mayers remarks on Liu-ngan, that "he was an 
ttdent votary of the mystic researches of the Taoists,*' 
ind also of " his belief in the supernatural.'* 

His writings owed their preservation to the care of 
lio-hang. b.c. 80-9. 

This remark of Pere Gaubil is curious, as it would 
show that the Chinese, at the early period of Liu-ngan, 
wid especially the Taoists, were acquainted with tho 
Hebrew Scriptures, or their traditions. 



T-hang seems to have taken the eclipse of a.d. 724^ 
as the starting point of his chronological calcnlations ; and 
one of the conclusions he deduced from it is, that from 
midnight preceding that event to the conjunction of the 
planets at midnight, at the Chang Yuen, there were 
969,601,740 solar years. This alone would suffice to 
show what is to be thought of the chronology of Y-hang. 
He died a.d. 727. 

Rather more than 250 years elapsed after the death 
of Y-hang, before any further arrangement of Chinese 
chronology occurred. In a.d. 996, in the reign of the 
emperor Tai-tsong of the Sung dynasty, the work of 
regulating the national chronology was reassumed, and 
especially with reference to the first year of Yao. In 
order to determine that epoch, he ordered a catalogue to 
be made of all the different epochs of that first year ; 
and in the memorial presented to the emperor on the 
subject it was declared to be B.C. 2326 ; although in the 
same memorial an inscription of the 3rd century of 
our era was quoted, from which it was sought to be 
made out that Yao began at B.C. 2411. The tribunal 
however decided for the year B.C. 2331 or 28 years 
earlier than Pan-koo's date, which was B.C. 2303, 
About 200 years after this, fresh chronological re- 
searches were again made to determine this date of 
Yao ; and in a.d. 1204, the astronomers made out 
that it was B.C. 2337, although Sze-ma-kuang iii 1086, 
had settled his system of chronology and placed the 
rstyear of Yao at 2334, that of Fu-hi, at 2816, 


and Hwang-ti at 2582. Freret, (op: cit: page 323), 
remarks on this ; — 

" The variations of the chronologists contemporary 
"vhh Szo-ma-kwang, about the precise date of the 
"first year of Yao, although inconsiderable, are a proof 
"that this date was determined by means of reasoning, 
"or in a conjectural manner, and not on positive testi- 

Freret xiii. 139, thus describes the decision; — "The 
"incertitudes on the chronology were at last put an end 
"to, by the publication of an authentic new body of 
"annals, a.d. 1068, during the reign of the Emperor 

The date of 2337, adopted by the astronomical chrono- 
logists of A.D. 1204, as above mentioned, was the one 
officially adopted by the tribunal of history, and is gen-' 
enlly received at present; but Freret xiii. 303-304 
Jttfly observes, the chronology at present followed by 
fte Academy of Han lin, for the first ages of Chinese 
Ustory, has neither been always unanimously received 
^ the learned in the Chinese nation, nor is it even 
laoeived now. 

It is difficult to know what is, and what is not received, 
II authentic, by the literary Chinese. Freret xiii, 118 
Hjfs " Parennin (a Jesuit writer) assured Mr. Mairan, 
"ia a letter, that the existence of the nine sovereigns^ 
^interior to Hwang-ti was then admitted in China aa 
''aeontestable," though it has been seen that these* 
'iMnages are only described in the traditions which 



are rejected by the literati. The fact however remaiiu 
that these nine reigns were incorporated in 
history as an addition to the work of Sze-ma-kuang. 

Freret observes op : cit : 325, " all this shows that atl^J^t 
the very time when the chronology actually followedE>^3d 
by the tribunal was received, the nxost able and most^-^^st 
"sensible among the Chinese, such as Sze-ma-kwang^j-^^g 
undoubtedly was ; regarded that chronology as a con — -M=»- 
jectural affair, and subject to great incertitude. ThuSj^^^JSy 
" it is not surprising, that notwithstanding the approba — ^-i^^- 
"tion given to that chronology by the tribunal, and th^^-^^^ 
" majority of writers ; a learned person should be foun^3» -•d 
" to attack it in an excellent work on Chinese literatur^^*"^ 
" published in 1561 under the title of Tien-yuen-li-li'*" "^^ 

" The author of this book was Siu-fa, who maintainfi^*— ** 
" in his book, that the chronology of the Bamboo Annalfi^^-^ 
" is the only one to be followed, because it is the oi 
" extant document of the age proceeding the destructio] 
"of the books by She-hwang-ti. He observed, 
" after the burning of the books, notwithstanding 
"the care of Sze-ma-tseen, no historical monument^^^ 
" were recovered which went back with certainty be— 
"yond 841 b.c. That Liu-hin and Pan-ku had no 
" other records than those which Sze-ma-tseen had, and 
" they were too bold in undertaking to fix the chrono- 
" logy of the times which Sze*ma-tseen had left nndeter^ 
** mined. He adds that the Bamboo Annals nothaving 
** been discovered at their time, they only had for the 
*' basis of their work the Chi-pen, a work cevta^y a&^ 


''tenor to Sze-ma-tscen, but in which there are a 
"great many things of little certitude, and which Sze- 
"ma-tseen did not believe to have been of any valuo. 
"That the chronologists posterior to* Pan-ku who took 
"his work as the basis of their systems have not added 
"to its authority, and that the changes which they 
" made in it in consequence of their ]own calculations 
''and difPerent suppositions, oftentimes opposed to one 
"Janother, are a proof that they had no certain principle 
"in working out their chronology: and he moreover 
*' carefully compared the inconsequences and absurdities 
'' that he remarks in their systems. He places the first 
"year of Yao at 2145 and that of Hwang- ti at 2395 b.c. 
To complete this sketch of the process and progress 
of the formation of the system of Chinese chrono- 
logy, it remains to be mentioned that under the Ming 
dynasty efforts were again made, to correct the several 
epochs of which it was composed, and at a.d. 1573, the 
prince T^ching assisted by an astronomer called Eing 
y-lon (other wise Yun-lou) made a careful examination 
of Chinese chronology. See Gaubil, Hist: Astron: 
Chin: page 117. 

Then came the influence of the Jesuits in China, and 
their astronomical and chronological calculations, which 
have in a great measure followed the dates supplied by 
the Chinese who had preceded them in the tribunal of 

The combined result of all these efforts, was the 
dmmological edifice reared by the Tong-kien-Kang- 



mou, and officialy approved of by the Emperor Kang- 
hiy as the standard records of the antiquity of the 
Chinese nation. 

The preceding remarks will have shown how far 
it merits the confidence which the Chinese repose in its 
accuracy ; and will, it is hoped, suffice to explain the 
sources and method of the formation of their chronology. 

It cannot be called in question that "Chronology is 
dependent on astronomical determinations," as Sir 
Gt. C. Lewis most justly observes, in his work to which 
reference has been made in these pages ; but this 
rule is only applicable to scientific determinations of 
astronomy as a measure of time ; aud in no way supports 
the unscientific calculations of past epochs that Chinese 
have made, as being a correct method of working out a 
chronological history. The mere fact of Chinese chrono- 
logy having been formed by such unscientific computa- 
tion of past intervals of time, and not from synchronous 
monuments, shows its unreliability ; for the Chinese can 
claim no exemption from the general axiom given by 
Sir G. 0. Lewis, op : cit : page 358, ** There is no 
" example of history founded on contemporary registra* 
'* tion being reduced to mere chronology.'* 

W^— ^^»^^*^ I II I » 

Chapter III. 

The Origin and Application of Chinese Cycles. 

Qi LTH0X7GH the immediate purpose of this portion 
^^ of Chinese researches, is not to investigate 
minutely the truth of Chinese history, it is 
necessary, before treating the special question of chro- 
nological cycles, which form such an important element 
in defending its accuracy, to cast a glance on the 
general historical situation in China, which these cycles 
hare been used to support. 

These cycles, require, moreover, to be first considered 
in their historical relations to the system itself; for 
alihoug]| their intrinsic origin will naturally be discussed 
in this chapter of the researches, there are certain 
previous questions that demand attention as a basis of 
the enquiry. 

The cycles, the chronology, and the history of the 
Chinese, are so intertwined, that to any one making 
researches into the truth of either, the others present 
themselves as mutually interested in the edifice towards 
the construction of which they have contributed so 
largely; and, hence, any isolated or abstract examina- 
tion into the certainty of any portion of the chronolo- 
gical system would be xi^complete. 


The first question then, which suggests itself is : 
what is the earliest period at which the reliable loca-^s^^l 
history and chronology of China commences ? Th*^ ^^=ne 
second, is : — what amount of certainty can be attachec^ ^d 
to the earlier histories which pass as genuine amongs^^«fc 
Chinese, beyond their being viewed as a local version o^cziDf 
traditions about persons and events that were als^ ^o 
current in other parts of eastern Asia in ancient "i^ 
times P 

An examination of the evidence bearing on the fi 
mentioned question, leads to the conclusion, that 
period of chronological certainty cannot be place- 
further back than eight hundred years before t 
Christian era ; and, as regards the second question, 
appears evident that all narratives and chronology 
events in China, before the above mentioned peri 
can have no claim to any authenticity, as history o 
China, similar to that which has been established b 
monumental records, in favor of other nations, such 
the Babylonians, Assyrians, and Egjrptians; and thar 
all the dates of such narratives and events, previous 
that period, which have been assigned to them b 
Chinese historical writers, are consequently inadmis 
fiible, for lack of evidence to prove their mutu 

It will even be seen, in a subsequent part, that thei 
Chinese narratives may be reasonably amended an 
explained, by the records of other nations; as t 
present historical evidence of the same, or at least, 


similar erents and circumstances, having also occurred 
in other countries. 

As regards the first mentioned conclusion, that the 
period of reliable Chinese history does not commence 
more than 800 years b.c, one has to recur chiefly for 
its support to the testimony of those who have care- 
fully examined the question. 

PerePremare, already quoted in the previous chapter, 
gives the following evidence on the subject, in his 
preliminary discourse to the French translation of the 
Bhoo-king, at page iv ; — 

** Sze-ma-kwang begins his great history with the 

* sovereign Wei-Lieh-wang, b.c. 425 : namely with 

* the civil wars, which lasted until the prince of Tsin, 
' after he became master of all China, got himself 
' called She-hwang-ti, or the first sovereign lord. Chu- 
' he also begins his Kang-mou, with Wei Lieh, as 
' Sze-ma-kwang does ; and this, for a long time, has 
' been the epoch mostly adopted. 

" There are others, who think that history can go 

* back further ; namely to Ping Wang, or 770 years 
' B.C. near the time of Romulus, some say that it can 
f go back to the years of Eong-Ho ; which would be 

841 B.C. Here then, according to the most able 
' Chinese critics, is the point to which one can go back 

* without great danger : all that precedes it is regarded 
" as very uncertain. The most indulgent Chinese do not 
** ascribe any certainty to earlier than 800 years before 


Klaproth, in his **Memoires relatifs a TAsie/' Vol i, 
page 400, remarks' : — *' For the purpose of reckoning 
" back to a more distant antiquity, the learned and the 
" ignorant, up to the present time have endeavoured to 
" take advantage of Chinese history as that of the most 
" ancient people, but without knowing really . what 
" that history is." 

And at page 406, after mentioning the historical 
work of Sze-ma-ts4en, he adds : — " Although he took 
" advantage of all the materials which existed at his 
" own time ; the history of China, nevertheless, re- 
" mained very incomplete, and incoherent, beyond 
" the sixth century before Christ. The documents 
" to which recourse was had, were very slightly in 
" accordance with each other, and it is only after 
" one hundred years later, that Chinese chronology 
" does not offer any more of such disparity. It is for 
" this, that I place the beginning of the uncertain 
" history at the first year of the first cycle, 2637 b.c. ; 
" and certain histary at 782 b.c." 

At page 389, of the some work, Klaproth thus 
explains what he means by uncertain history. " In 
" which the facts are true, or at least, they are not 
" improbable ; there is question of real personages, but 
" without chronology, or without chronology founded 
" on proof." 

Dr. Legge, in his translation of the Chinese classics 
VOL. III. page 89, writes ; — " From the review I have 
'^ thus taken of the documents purporting to belong to 


" the difFerent periods of Chinese history, which are 
** pieserved in the Shoo, it will be seen that the year 
** B.C. 775 is the earKest date which can be said to 
** l>e determined with certainty.*' 

There are some other authors, who do not admit that 

<^rtein Chinese history begins so far back as 800 b.c. 

'^^^1 Remusat, in his "Recherches sur la ville de 

•ffairakorum*' in the memoires de Tacademie des 

^rff^tions, says; "that which precedes the 2nd 

^OL-fc-ury before our era is more obscure, though I think 

'^^■"fc amidst such obscurity there are many facts to 

"^® fathered.'' 

-^^^^oret. Vol. XIII, page 123 writes : — " The Chinese 

ftQE^^^iIfl are composed of two parts, the certitude and 

aiitH::tenticity of which are very different. The part 

" wlx^^^lj commences at the year 206 b.c. may be looked 

" 0^ 4EU3 having the greatest certitude. The part of 

" vh& annals which contains the history of the times 

"laeEore the Hans, 206 b.c or that of the first 

" iyrxasties, which tradition says, reigned in China 

" be:£oje that time, is of a very different sort. It is a 

" "istory compiled long after the facts it narrates, and 

*t a time when far from having contemporane- 

^xis monuments, there were hardly to be found a 

^^w fragments of ancient histories composed from 

** tlem." 

-Against these statements denying the truthful 
^^^^tainty and antiquity of Chinese chronology, previous 
^ a few centuries before Christ, there is to be taken 


into consideration the persistent assertion of nativer 
Chinese historians^ that their national annals un-^ 
doubtedly commenced to be written in the reign of 
Hwang- ti, B.C. 2704, and that these annals have been 
composed by the imperial historians, in each reign,^ 
ever since, throughout the whole course of national 
existence from that date; and consequently, the question 
of historical inaccuracy, hereupon gives way to that of 
their chronology. 

As has been already 'stated, in a previous chapter, 
there are no authentic yet discovered contemporary 
monuments, confirming this chronological accuracy of 
the Chinese; but they insist nevertheless, without 
offering any satisfactory proofs of the correctness of 
the statement, that from the time of Hwang-ti, a regular 
chronological succession of the chief events which have 
occurred in China, have been distinctly recorded by 
them, and marked in their annals, by means of, and in 
accordance with, an ancient 60 years cycle, at each 
year of the same, with the proper cyclical character 
belonging to it. Such insistance, however, merely rests 
on gratuitous assertions, made by Chinese, that this 
system of chronicling events by cycle, which they say 
was invented by Hwang-ti, has securely traced their 
history from B.C. 2704 to the present time. 

European authors, such as Freret and Leon Carre, 
lay great stress on the advantage of this cyclical method 
of recording Chinese history, as affording a sure test of 
chronological truth ; but these authors only base their 


opinions on the same assertions of Chinese abready 

These assertions, however, of Chinese and others, are 
to be met by the question : — 1st, whether these suoces- 
fiive events were synchronically recorded, from the 
supposed epoch of Hwang-ti by the above mentioned 
method of cyclical years, and what evidence is there 
that such really was the case? 2nd, whether these 
occurrences were not chronologically placed in regular 
order and succession, according to their cycle, in after, 
and recent times, by an artificially systematic retrospect 
of Chinese history. ? 

De Guignes in his preface to the Shoo-king, page 
VII, writes on this subject : — " One must be very 
" credulous, to admit that all those facts, were written, 
" or even happened in such distant times," and at page 
xxxrv ; " The dates are only given by a species of 
^ reasoning, or in a conjectural manner, and not on 
" positive evidence." 

To answer these questions satisfactorily, it would have 
io be proved as a shie qtui non, for the necessary 
liasis of the truth and certainty of this system of Chinese 
cyclical chronology, that this 60 year cycle, on which 
80 much stress is laid, was not only invented and was in 
existence at the time of Hwang-ti, but that it was 
known and used in China, at the remote period at 
which Chinese assert that Hwang-ti lived, and that it 
his been uninterruptedly used by them ever since. 
Bis obvious, that unless this be proved the Chinese argu- 


ment is mere petttio principii. Those recent writers who 
have made Chinese history their special study, have 
come to the conclusion that there is no proof offered in 
evidence of the asserted antiquity of the above mentioned 
60 year cycle, and that Chinese chronology is con- 
sequently unsupported by this artificial system of 
reckoning years. 

Mayers, C.R.M. page xv, writes on this subject as 
follows : — "The period at which this cycle was invented, 
" is a subject on which complete uncertainty prevails ;" 
He then refers to Chalmers' dissertation prefixed to 
Vol. Ill, Legge's Classics, at page 90, and continues; "but 
" there is little doubt that it first came into use, as a 
" method of reckoning years, after the reform of the 
" calendar in b.c. 104." 

He further states in same work. Part ii. No. 
295, where he again treats of the cycle of 60 
years : — 

" It was not until the period of the Han dynasty, that 
" this invention was made applicable to the numbering 
" of years ; " (say b.c. 206,) and Chinese writers have 
" attributed the commencement of such a practise to 
" the period of "Wang-mang, (b.c. 33 to a.d. 23) but 
" traces of its employment at a somewhat earlier date 
" have been discovered." 

Dr. Chalmers in the dissertation on the astronomy of 
the ancient Chinese referred to by Mayers, as above 
mentioned, at page 96 of Vol. iii, of ^iOgge's ClassiGS^ 
writes t—T 


" The invention of the cycle of 60, is ascribed to 
*' Hwang-ti, B.C. 2636, and in particular its application 
** to years is aflfirmed to have commenced in his reign ; 
*' but this is a mere fiction. It was not applied to years 
*' even in the time of Confucius ;" and at page 97, he 
writes : — " The state of confusion in which Chinese 
" chronology is found to be, down to the time of the 
Eastern Chow, and the fact that not a single instance 
of the application of the cycle to years, can be found 
'* till after the classical period, are sufficient to satisfy us 
** that this invaluable method of dating years was never 
*' used in ancient times; " and at page 98 he further 
states : — " So then the cycle of 60 years cannot have 
** commenced earlier than the Han, and owes its present 
" form to the scholars of Tsin." 

Dr. Legge, in the prolegomena to the translation of 
the Chinese Classics Vol. iii. part i. page 82, writes : — 
** It was in the time of the Han dynasty, that it was 
first attempted to construct a chronological scheme of 
the history of the empire. For this purpose its 
*' scholars employed the well-known cycle of 60 years. 
** It was assumed that this cycle had been made in the 
'* reign of Hwang-ti, by Ta-nao, one of his officers, but 
I need hardly say, that the assumption rests on no 
satisfactory grounds. I must pronounce Hwang-ti to 
be a fabulous personage, so far as any connexion with 
the Chinese empii-e is concerned. If such a man ever 
'* lived, it was elsewhere than in China, and it is not 
,, till we come to the times of Ts^in and Han more than 












2000 years after the period assigned to him, that we 
find Ta-nao spoken of at alL And though the 
invention of the cycle is then generally ascribed to him, 
there are writers who give the credit of it to Fuh-he, 
long before Hwang-ti. 
" What is of more importance to observe is, that the 
" cycle, as it is now universally received and written, was 
** not employed before the end of the former Han 
*' dynasty ; i.e. not until after the commencement of our 
** Christian era, to chronicle years at all : — its exclusive 
me was to chronicle the days. Koo-yen-woo, one of 
the ablest scholars of the present dynasty, says 
expressly on this point ; — 

The 22 cycle characters i.e. the 10 stem characters 
*' from Kea to Ktvei, and the 12 branch characters from 
** Tsze to Hoe were used by the ancients to chronicle t/ie 
" dai/s, and not to chronicle the years. For chronicling 
" the years there were the 10 stem names of Oh-fung 
** &c., down to Twan-mungy and the 12 branch names of 
** SJvS t^e^kih &o. down to Juy-han. The way of later 
^\ times, to say that such a year was Kedr-tsze^ and so 
" on, was not the ancient way/* 

** Yen- woo then quotes from the preface of the Wae-ke^ 
" or "additional records," a supplement to the "General 
" survey of history," by Sze-ma-kwang, with whom 
" Lew-shoo, its author was associate, the following 
" testimony ; * The years of the sovereigns before (!) 
" * and after Fuh-he down to King-le, are, I apprehend, 
^^ ' dark and hardly to be ascertained ; and we borrow 



' the names of the Kea-tsze cyde to chronicle them ; ' 
' adding himself/ 
"When did this practise of borrowing the cycle names 
'' to chronicle the years commence P It commenced in 
" the time of the usurper Mang, (a.d. 9-22). 

"The statement of this writer that the ancients 
chronicled years by the names, Oh-Jung, She te-kih, 
is very questionable. So far as my reading has gone, 
there cannot be produced a single unchallengeable 
example of the naming of any year, by any cyde 
whaterer, previous to the termination of the Chow 
dynasty. In the Shoo-king itself, the current cyde 
** is used to chronicle days, and days only." 

And in a note to the above, at page 83, Dr. Legge, 
states : — " Sze«ma-kwang gets the credit of fixing the 
** standard chronology ; but let me call the attention of 
** the student to Choo He's account of the matter. He 
'* tells us ; — ^When Kwang first made a chronological 
*' scheme, his earliest date was the first year of Wei 
*' lee, (B.C. 424). Afterwards he extended his dates to 
*' the time of Kung and jffo, (b.c. 840), after this 
" again, he. made his " Examination of antiquity y* 
" beginning with the period of highest antiquity^* 
" but he coidd give no dates of years earlier than 
" that time of Kung and Ho. It was Shaou-k'ang- 
" tsee who pushed the calculations up to the first 
" year of Yaou. The passage is quoted in Hang- 
** chin-fung's notes on the Annals of the Bamboo 
•* books." 


Dr. Gustave Schlegel, whose work " Uranographi 
Chinoise" presupposes as the basis of the system c 
Chinese antiquity therein displayed, that Chinese histor} 
and especially the Shoo-king, is authentic in its chrono 
Iogy> finds fault with Dr. Legge and Dr. Chalmers fo 
casting doubts, and supporting their doubts by evidence 
as to the antiquity of Chinese history in Vol. ii. pag 
804, of the above named book. 

" Mr. Legge, the learned translator of the Shoo-kinj 
" not having had, at first, any doubt about the histories 
" authenticity of the text, has been led by the specioi] 
" objections of his friend, the Rev. J. Chalmers, t 
" modify, and to cast a slur, on the authenticity of th 
" text, which he had translated." 

Now in the preface referred to. Dr. Legge says mereb 
*' Students who read the present volume carefully, wl 
" find in the annotations little trace of the doubt abou 
" the historical genuineness of the first parts of th 
*' book, and some other points, to which decided exprei 
** sion is given in the prolegomena. The fact is, thf 
" when the earlier notes were written, the doubts i 

" question had not assumed consistency in the author 
'* mind ; and he subsequently thought it the best courg 
** to continue his interpretation and criticism of the tex 
** on the assumption that the whole was genuine." 

It was no doubt the evidence on the subject give 
Dr. Chalmers, and that which Dr. Legge collected him 
self, and which he mentions in the extract above give 
from his prolegomena, that made him declare agaim 


the tntiquity of Chinese history. The evidenoe ad- 
duced withstands criticism. Br. Schlegel does not meet 
^eriaUm any of the evidence brou^t forward by Dr« 
Chalmers and Dr. Legge. He adds to his own remarks 
on their doubts, an extract from the Rapport annuel de 
k Bodeti Asiatique pp. 164, 156 by Mr. E. Renan. 

" A remarkable thing in this publication is, that the 
"author endeavours there, for the first time, to raise 
'^doubts on what concerns the antiquity of the Chinese 
"chronology and history. The doubts of Mr. Legge 
"start often from preconceived ideas^ and from an 
"absolute confidence in the texts of Scriptur8» to which^ 
" however, he refuses on the other hand to apply the 
"test of criticism.'' 

This statement of Mr. Renan, implies that Dr. Legge's 
opinion against the authenticity of Chinese chronology ,^ 
was the result of his leanings towards the chronology of 
Scripture, with which Chinese history might not be 
leooncileable. This is certainly not borne out by any 
statement of Dr« Legge with reference to this subject, 
and the only passage in the prolegomena that alludes to 
the chronology of Scripture is, *' For myself I adopted 
"the chronology of the Septuagint as nearer the truth 
"than that of our present Hebrew Bibles, more than 
"five and twenty years ago, before it was definitely in 
"my plan of life to come to China as a missionary, but 
"the history of China need not seriously embarrass 
"any one who follows the shortest chronology of 


• — — — ■ - - - ■ - _.;. 

Jh. Legge also VOL. in. pt I. page 112, in a note to 
the bamboo books, where it is stated that the 1st yeai 
of YaoQ was ping tsze (13th year of cycle, b.c. 2145.), 
writes :-— 

'* This is the first determination of a year by the 
** cycle name in the annals. I shall call attention to the 
'^ fact, that all those cycle names of the years in the 
'* aanals, were mtrodueed into them after their recovery 
" or discovery a.d. 279." And at page 180, he says: — 
'* The cycle denominations of the reigns are spurious ;" 
" and offers as eyidence on the subject, that the early 
** citation under the Tsin dynasty, and even later, of 
passages from the annals, do not oootain these 
cycle dates'* — and he remarks :— " This fact, is 
'^ decisive on the point. Upon the.lst date, that of 
ping tsjfe^ marking the Ist year of Yaou's reign, 
Hung E-heuen, a scholar of the present dynasty, 
in the reigns of K^ K^ingy and Taou Kwang, 
** obserres : — The various books which quote the 
** Bamboo Annals, do so without the cycle dates. It 
'' is not till we come to the chapter on chronology in the 
*' books of 8uy, that we find the first year of Yaoiv 
•* quoted as King-tsze." 

The Pere Premare, in hi» before quoted discoura pre' 
Ktmnaire, states : — ** It would therefore be abusing the 
credulity of the learned men of Europe, to place 
on such a high level the antiquity and solidify 
of Chinese history. Regarding its solidity, it is in 
** vain founded on the historian Sze-ma-ts^i^i^ lor tfaii 




"writer is held by iihe beet Ohinese oritios to beantrath- 
** fol. The cyde, or ihe rerolution of ten ehameters 
'' united in tnm with twelve others, necessarily piodnces 
^ ozty; this ia the {amoos Eiartse which is so h^hly 
'^exalted. I concede that it seryes to denominate 
" the years, and - the days, that have been made to 
*' correspond to these sixty names, the order of which is 
** immoTeaUe ; and that by means of this, some eirors 
'^ can be corrected ; but I must add, that it is impossible 
*^ to assign the time when the Ohinese commenced to 
''range their years by the sequence of this period, 
" which of itself does not belong to the years more 
** than it does to the months or the days/' 

** Even if it were true that Confucius made use of it 
'^ in his Tchuen Tsiu, the antiquity of the usage would 
'^ not go further back than 722 years, before Christ ; 
' in as much as no monument can be produced to prove 
* that the Chinese had this custom in the most distant 
'antiquity." **What foundation can there be for 
^ all these times which it has pleased Sze^ma-ts^ien to 
' range according to the £ia<^tse in ascending by this 
' sort of ladder as far as Hwaug-ti P He might in the 
' same way have as well ascended as high as Fwan-kou, 
' and his history would not have been any more solid 
' for that/' 

The Pere Souciet in his ** Observations Mathemati* 
ques, &c., Paris 1732, VoL ii, page 137 writes^— 

*' It was easy, after the fact, and since this cycle was 
^' invented^ to apply it to the years that preceded it. 


^■W— >— — ^i— 1— — — — — — — — i— ■ I !■ 1 I IM — I ■ ■■ » ■ I I ■ ■ ■■ ■ > ■ I ■ I ■ mi ■ WWII i^i— — i^wa ■ ■ I — ^^^ 

'' just as we have applied the era of Jesus Christ to all 
'* the ages which preceded Bionysius eziguus, who 
'* invented it." 

''This invention cannot be earlier than the first 
'^centuxy of the Christian era, or even later than that, 
'' and the origin of its use might still be said to be 
^' immemorial. It would be required to know who was 
''the first author who used this oycle/ and the time 
'* when he lived.'* 

It seems dear from the above testimony of learned 
men, who have made the origin and value of Chinese 
chronology their study, that the cycle of 60 years was 
not used in China earlier than a century before the 
Christian era. It might possibly have been known in 
China before that, as the use of such an epoch for count- 
ing years was known and used in central and eastern 
Asia in most ancient times ; and it is even probable that 
the Chinese derived their knowledge of it from some of 
those nations, whom we know by historical evidence to 
have used it, long before there is any evidence of its 
having being known by the Chinese. In '' The dawn 
'' of history " by 0. F. Zeany, London 1878, page 186, 
there is a curious remark on this subject : — " The 

Indians of Yirginia kept a record of events in the 
form of a series of wheels of sixty spokes, each wheel 
''representing the life of a man, sixty years being the 
" average life of a man among the Indians/' 

The Babylonians, certainly used the period of 60 
years, or the " sossos'' according to Berosus ; and they 


in all probability^ had received it from their ancestors, 
or the preoccupiers of Babylonia, the Acoadians. 

A. H. Sayce, in his essay on Babylonian literature 
page 60, writes : — 

** The Accadians made sixty their unit, and in their 
'' higher calculations reckoned it as an unexpressed 
** multitude. Their fractions were on the duodecimal 
** sjrstem, with a denominator of 60 always understood." 
Although there is yet no direct proof that the 60 year 
])eriod had been transmitted to the Babylonians from the 
Accadians, there is such resemblance between the 
Accadian numerical system, and the Babylonian 
three chronological epochs, the Sams, 3600 years, the 
I^erus, 600 years, and the Sossos, 60 years, that it is 
highly probable these epochs originated from the 
Accadian method of reckoning. 

The chief thing to note is, that the 60 year cycle is 
not an imaginary or legendary epoch like the Hindu 
Eali youga, and other similar strange periods, but a real 
historical term of years, actually used in ancient times, 
by the Babylonians and others. 

Sir George C. Lewis op : cit : page 117, writes : — 
" Four great years, of 4, 8, 19, 60 years, respectively, 
are mentioned by Stob. Eel. Phys. I. 8. The period bf 
4 years is omitted, and the period of 60 years is 
stated at 69, in the corresponding passages of Plutarch, 
Kac, II. 32 : — Galen. C. 16. — Euseb, proepar Evangel : 
W— So this period was not altogether unknown even 
IQ Gi*eece, in ancient time& 


Whether the Chinese derived a knowledge of the 
same directly from the Babylonians, cannot be asserted 
for lack of evidence of ancient intercommunication 
between these two nations. 

It is probable that in ancient times the first settlers 
in China had received from their neighbours at Balkh, 
many of the methods used for computing time in use 
amongst the learned of that city, and thus indirectly 
the first Chinese did derive their knowledge of such 
methods from Babylonia, and Persia, whence they were 
derived by the astronomers and chronologists of Balkh. 
Sir H. Bawlinson, hes pointed out in the Quarterly 
Meview of October, 1866, No. 240,-^in an article on 
** Central Asia," the literary influence of Balkh over 
all eastern Asia, and the Chinese who claim to have ex*> 
isted as a civilised nation syhchronically with Balkh, in 
its most flourishing days, by an argumentum ad hominem 
must have had communication with such a seat of learn- 
ing, although they will not acknowledge it ; and by their 
lack of really scientific acquaintance with the principles 
of astronomical chronology, they seem to have even for- 
gotten much of that what they must have learned there. 

Sir H. Rawlinson writes : — " Those who have been 
accustomed to regard Central Asia solely under its 
present condition of political and social degradation, 
may find it difficult to realise the idea that it was ever 
the seat of arts and industry, or had made any great 
advance in civilisation: yet such was undoubtedly 
the ease. We are not able, it is truei as in the case of 


Egypt, or Babylonia, or Assyria, to appeal to contem- 
porary monuments in support of a Central Asiatic 
development, at a period of any remote antiquity; but 
the evidence to tbis effect, derived from a large field of 
induction, is not less significant and sure. The belief 
in a very early empire in Central Asia, coeval with the 
institution of the Assyrian monarchy, was common among 
the Greeks, long anterior to Alexander's expedition 
to the East, and could only have been derived from the 
traditions current at the court of the Achoemenian 

kings The empire commenced with Bogdiana, 

Merv, and Bactria ; in its subsequent development it in- 
cluded the modem provinces of Chorassan, Afghanistan, 
and finally at its period of greatest extension stretched 
from Seistan on the south to the laxartes on the north, 
and from the Indus on the east, till it touched the 
extreme limit of the Median frontier on the west. " 

" It is with the Eastern Iranians that we are princip- 
ally concerned, as the founders of Central Asian civilisa- 
tion. This people on the authority of the Vendidad, may 
be supposed to have achieved this first stage of develop- 
ment in Sughd. . . A most important evidence, however, 
of the very high state of power and civilisation to 
which they attained, is to be found in the information 
regarding them, preserved by the celebrated Abu Bihan, 
himself a native of the country, and the only early 
Arab writer, who investigated the antiquities of the east 
in a true spirit of historical criticism. This writer 
gives «6 the names of the twelve months, of the thirty 


days of the months, and of the five Epagominoe, together 
with the names of the signs of the zodiac, of the seven 
planets, and lastly of the mansions of the moon. Ac* 
cording to Abu Eihan, the solar calendar of Kharism 
Was tiie most perfect scheme for measuring time with 
which he was acquainted ; and it was maintained by the 
astronomers of that country, that the solar and lunar 
zodiacs had originated with them, and the very name 
moreover, by which an astronomer was designated in 
the language of Kharism being taken from the asterism 
of the eighth mansion of the moon. All this informa- 
tion is exceedingly curious, in its bearing upon the 
controversy, which has so long raged in the scien* 
tific world, as to the superior antiquity of the lunar 
zodiacs used respectively by the Indians and Chinese ; 
leading as it does to a suspicion that neither the 
one nor the other of these systems may have been 
original; but that their similarity may be explained 
by their derivation from a common centre in Bactria, 
where astronomy was first cultivated by the Eastern 

Sir Wm. Drummond, op : cit : Vol I page 322, states 
that ** Balkh was for many ages, the principal 
" residence of the magi. It was consequently the 
early and the favorite seat of science, and even in 
later times, when philosophy had fled from the banks 
" of the Ganges, when Babylonia had fallen, and when 
" Memphis was no more, Balkh afforded a last retreat 
"to the Oriental Musea." 





Albiruni, Aba Kihan above mentioiied, (Sachau's 
English translation, Loudon 1879, page 100), traces 
the connexion of the Chaldeans of Babylonia, with the 
city of Balkh. He writes : — " The Chaldeans are not 
" identical with the Kayanians, but were their goyemors 
" of Babylonia. The original residence of the Kay&n- 
ians was Balkh, and when they came down to Mesopo- 
tamia, people took to calling them by the same name 
which they had formerly applied to their governors, i.e, 
Chaldeans." It would appear from this remark of 
Albiruui, (Abu Bihan) that in early times Babylonia 
was a province of the eastern Iranian empire of Bactria 
which had Balkh for its capital ; and that in view, 
of this, it is probable that the Babylonian or Chaldean 
knowledge of astronomy, and other sciences, was derived 
from Balkh, the seat of ancient learning ; and whence 
the Chinese probably also derived similar acquirements. 
The Babylonian and Bactrian culture seems identical, 
thoogh it originated in north-eastern Asia. 

As a probability can be thus traced, of the Chinese 
deriving their knowledge from Bactria, it should not be 
lost sight of, that a similar 60 year period has also been 
used in India, from ancient times; and it is quite 
probable that the Hindoos may have obtained a know- 
ledge of it from the Babylonians ; for their own period 
of Eali youga or 432,000 years, is precisely the same as 
fte Babylonian period of the ten ancient Chaldean 
kiBgBy the reigns of whom were 432,000 years> accord- 
ii^ to Syncellus. 


As this coincidence of two nations possessing suctk. ^ 
tradition in their legendary history, is not likely to "fc^ 
fortuitous, and as the history of the Babylonia-^xii^-S 
extends much further into antiquity than that of tT::^ « 
Hindoos, it is probable that the Hindoos derived 
tradition of this long period, or the Kali youga, from 
Babylonians, and there is a consequent probability tlxstt 
they also obtained the 60 year period, which theilndia.xi8 
term the cycle of Jupiter, from the same source. 

In connexion with this, it has already been observod 
in a previous chapter, that the Chinese have also ^ 
period of 432,000 years, connected with their earfy 
sovereigns, which it is more probable that they borrow^^ 
from, the Indians than from the Babylonians; sltxA 
thus it is still more likely that the Chinese learned "fch^ 
period of 60 years from them. 

Pere Premare, in the above cited "discours pre^^" 
minaire" page lxvi, explains the existence and orig^^ 
of this 432,000 years period in China : — 

" The dynasty of the Tien hwang had thirteen kitx0^ 
" of the same name, and for this reason they are call^ 
" brothers, and to each one of them has been attribufc^ 
" 18000 years of life, or for their reigns.'' 

The total of these 13 reigns is 234,000 yea 

At the same and following page, Premare, writing 
the Ti-hwang or the sovereigns of earth ; says : 
** there are eleven kings of the same name. Each o 
of these eleven kings has either reigned or lived 18,0 1^^ 
y«ars> which makes a total of 198,000 years. 



Ihe total of these two lines of 24 sovereigiis makes 
e 432,000 years above mentioned. 

There are thus three nations, all claiming great anti- 
lity, and having each a curiously similar tradition of 

like imaginary period of time, during which their 
'ogenitors existed. As far as the Chinese are con- 
rned, their books in which the description of this 
riod is to be found, are generally supposed not to bo 
^re ancient than a few centuries before the Christian 
^> unless the opinion of the antiquity of the San hai- 
^g be admitted as correct. It is thus mentioned .by 
-mare, (Discours preliminaire page lxxiv); " The 
^an hai-king is a book so ancient that some persons 
''ttribute it to the Emperor Yu, and others to Pe-ye, 
s^lio lived at the same time." 

-f this be so, the probability is not strong that the 
iixese derived this legendary period direct from the 
^ylonians, but the greater probability is on the side 
Ixeir having learned about it from the Hindoos ; as 
9^ are known to have received a knowledge from them 
*^any other matters referring to chronology and 
'onomy, near that time. Possibly there may have 
""^ also Babylonian or Bactrian oral traditions, on 
^e subjects, floating about amongst the Chinese 
t>le, which were gathered up in the Taoist works, and 
Oooks like the San hai-king, just as the Confucian 
t^Drians allege that they learned many things beside 
^ contents of the Shoo-king, and Tso-chuen, and 
^boo Annals, from ancient popular traditions of 


China, which had been orally preserved by the nati 

It is not however necessary to recur to the Babylon, i^n 
nsage oi the sossos, or cycle of 60 years, to find 'tbe 
origin of a similar epoch in China; for it has beon 
snggested by Dr. Chalmers, in his dissertation abov^ 
qnoted, page 97-98, that the Chinese may ha'V^ 
derived their 60 years cycle direct from the Hindoos. 
He writes : — 

" The first attempt to arrange the years in cycles of 
** sixty, is found in Sze-ma-ts^ien's historical records, i^ 
" a table constructed for the purpose of intercalation* 
" and extending over a period of 76 years, the fit^* 
" year being b.c. 103. But instead of using the Chine^^ 
" cyclical characters, he employs words of two and thr^^ 
" syllables, which considered from a Chinese point ^ 
" view must be pronounced barbarous. We give tb® 
/ names applied to the first 13 years. Perhaps sof-® 
" one acquainted with the ancient language of the Hi^*^' 
" does, may hereafter be able to identify them. Tt^® 
" second word in each name has some connexion wi'^^ 
" the planet Jupiter; and Sze-ma says, that Sheh^^^' 
" (part of the first name) means Jupiter. 

" His commentator adds, that Jupiter belongs to tt*-^ 
'* east, and is the essence of wood, the spirit of the gre^^ 
God, Ling-wei-jang. 

This last word is one of six meaningless trisyllable^ 
applied to the God of the north pole, and the fi^^ 
elementary Gods during the ITan dynasty, for whi^** 
*i* also we must seek a foreign origin." 




ise names of years, 
)ly of foreign origin, 














in Sze-nia-ts^ien^s history, 
aeoording to Chalmers, are 

Shane hnen. Chih-funjo. 
Ohaou yang. T«oh-goh. 
Huns iiae. Yen-now. 

Shane chang.Ta-yucn-heen 
Yen-i ung. Kwan-tnn. 

Twan-mung. juy-han. 


tre is another method of writing these names, nsed 
Souciet, which is here subjoined for reference. 

eng. Shih-ti-ko. 

meng. Shan-yu. 

ao. Chih-tsu-rsu. 
g-wu. Ta-mang-lou. 
i. Tun-chiang. 

Hsieh hsieh. 

Shang-huen. Chih-feng-jo. 
Chao-yang. Tso-ngou. 

Huen ai. Yen-mou. 

Shang-chang. Ta-ynen-hsien 
Yen-feng. Euen-tan. 

Tuan-meng. Jni-han. 


Chalmers continues. ^* Various attempts have 
1 made to analyse the second word Sheh-te^-kih, 
I!antonese, Ship-tai-hak.) Is Ship-tai intended to 
esent the Hin-doo name, of Jupiter P Vriahaspati 
Brhaspati); and is hak (Hindoo ChcJcra) the Hin- 

character or cycle, applied to the first je^v of Sze- 
ts%n's table, and to determine which of the 12 
iches it ought to be identified with P Sze-ma him 

besides saying that 8heh'te is Jupiter, explains the 
1 to mean the place of that planet in the ecliptic." 

Schid^in the Zend language, stands for iw^t. 



. " In a work called the " Classic of stars," Sheh- 
** is said to denote a" spiritual instrument of weste 
" nations." Brhaspati means originally " Lord 
Worship," see page 279 of Burgess translation of tl 
Surya siddhanta. It means also the planet Jupit^ 
(page 279-275.) _ 

Now this confusion of words without knowledge 'Si s 

easily accounted for on the supposition that the cyc^J ^^ 

of 60 years was introduced from the Hindoos, 
" whom the Chinese were indebted id the time of Sze 
" ma-ts*ien, for other things even more important." ' 

The above suggestion of Dr. Chalmers is of great 
assistance in this enquiry, for the Hindoos had a cycle 
of 60 years which they called the cycle of Jupiter ^ and 
to each year of which they assigned a name in the 
same way as Sze-ma-tsUen gave special names to each 
of the years in his cycle, and which according to 
Chalmers, he connected with some calculation of the 
planet Jupiter. It is therefore evident that the cycle 
of Sza-ma-ts*ien was probably a transcription of the 
Hindoo cycle of Jupiter. 

Beferring to this cycle, Mr. Cowasjee Patell, in his 
work on chronology, page 44 remarks : — 

" The Vrihaspati Ckakra or cycle of Jupiter, is regarded 
'' as one of the most ancient chronological systems of 
'* all Asia. The origin of the cycle of Jupiter is not 
" known. " Warren, San Kalita, page 199, writes : — 
" I have not been able to discover the origin of the 
* practise of reckoning time, with reference to the revolu- 



tiions of the planet Jupiter, but it is no doubt very 

l^ossibly it may have come to the Hindoos from the 
~^^bylonians, together with other astronomico-chrono- 
^gical, or astrological periods, and astronomical know- 
^dge that they derived from that source, and which 
^^ve been pointed out by Guerin, (Astronomie Indienne. 
'^aris 1847, page 183.) Possibly the aossoa or 60 year 
^i'cle of the Babylonians might have been a cycle of 
^tipiter, but in any case the coincidence merits con- 

Bailly, "Traits de Tastronomie Indienne et Orientale,** 
l>age 276, says that : — " Just as the period of 12 years 

* ^ is related to the movement of Jupiter, and his return 
** to the same aspect from the earth, so this period of 

* * 60 years is that which brings about the same con- 
** figurations of Jupiter and Saturn with the earth. It 
**is the phenomenon, often seen, of these two planets 
** being found in near conjunction with each other, and 

* * in opposition to the sun, that doubtless has sufficed to 

* * fix the period of 60 years," and at page 331 of his 

* * Histoire de Tastronomie ancienne " he explains this. 
*' Jupiter, seen from the earth, returns to the same point 
** in the zodiac, at the end of 12 years and five days, 
** and he returns for the fifth time in 60 years and 26 
•' days. Mars, finds itself equally in the same position, 
•* vrith regard to the earth, after 16 years less 18 days ; 
*' and also after 60 years less 72 days. Saturn only 
'' returns to the same degree of the ediptio at the end 


" of about 29 years, and it is evident from the slow :«ness 
" of its movements, that at the end of 60 years it is- not 
" far off from the same point. The period of 60 y^ars 
" seems to be that of the conjunction of the three naen- 
'' tioned superior planets, in the same sign of the zodiac, 
" and even within a narrower space of it. The ancients 
" especially the orientals, paid great attention to the 
" conjunction of the planets with each other, and when 
" these planets nearly met each other, which they di^ 
" adout every 60 years, they retained the memor)' ^^ 
" the event." ^ 

This would give a very different story for the orig'^^^. 
of the 60 years cycle, from the legend of Hwang-^ 
having instructed Tanao to observe the elements, a 
having thence invented this period. 

The Chinese have no positive records of a 60 ye 
cycle of Jupiter having been known by them ancienil 
So there is nothing to support the notion that th 
Hindus derived it from the Chinese. 

This cycle of Jupiter forms part of the Hindt^ 
astronomical system. It is specially mentioned in th ^"^ ' 

S(irya Siddhanta " Burgess' translation chap : 14, 12^ 
In chapter xii. 8 ot this book, Maya makes en-^ 
^ quiries as to " how many modes of measuring tim^ 
^' (m&na) are there " and in Chap : first mentjioned, it i 
stated : — 

" 1** The modes of measuring time (m4na) ajre nine 
" namely those of Brahma, of the G-ods, of the lathers,^ 
^of Pra]4pati, of Jupiter, and aol^, (sauj^ civile 




(savana) lunar and sidereal time." The verbal con- 

exion between the Hindoo measurement of time called 

aura, (one Chacra year of 360 days, see Warren op : 

Lt : page 202,) and the Chaldean period for the same 

urpose, called Saros, presents a coincidence that merits 


"2° Of four modes, namely solar, lunar, sidereal, and 

civil time, practical use is made amongst men; by 

that of Jupiter is to be determined the year of the 

cycle of sixty years ; of the rest, no use is ever made." 

In chapter i. 55, it states, " Multiply by twelve the 

' past revolutions of Jupiter, add the signs of the 

^ current revolution, and divide by sixty, the remainder 

^ marks the year of Jupiter's cyck counting fromVijaasa" 

*xid in a note to this passage, it is stated : — 

" This the rule for finding the current year of the 

* cycle of sixty years, which is in use throughout all 

* India, and which'is called the cycle of Jupiter y because 

* the length of its years is measured by the passage of 

* the planet by its mean motion through one of the 
^ signs of the zodiac." 

*' It has not been satisfactorily ascertained, so far as 

* we are aware, where the cycle originated, or what is its 
^* age, or why it was made to consist of sixty years, includ- 
' * ing five whole revolutions of the planet. There was 
'* indeed also in use a cycle of 12 Jupiter's years, or the 
*' time of one sidereal revolution," (see below xiv, 17)." 

As it may be useful for comparative study, or foi^ 
reference, the annexed table of the cycle is here 


subjoined. It is taken from Oowasjee Patell's Chro- 
nology, page 47. 

Besides this cycle of 60 years, the Hindoos seem to 
have also had other periods of time composed of sixhj 
elements. In professor Whitney's notes to Colebrooke's 
essay on the Veda, printed in Vol. ii. page 125 of "Life 
" and Essays of H. T. Colebrooke " it is stated when 
describing one of the Jyotisha treatises, " Its special 
" subject is the Yuga, or lustrum, which is made to 
" begin at the winter solstice, and to consist of 1830 
" days, or of sixt// solar months. This is equivalent to 

five years of twelve months, with an extra month, all 

of thirty days each, and such a reckoning some of the 
" oldest Vedic references seem to imply." 

" The Jyotisha does not teach any division of the 
" hour (muhurta) into sixtieths, but only into half hours, 
" or sixtieths of a day, (Nadikd.") 
" Bailly, also observes, op : cit : page 70 : — " The 
" Roman lustrum of five years, would be a period of 60 
*' months : an intermediate period between the period 
" of 60 days, and 60 years.'* 

Colebrooke himself writing on this Jyotisha, same 
volume, page 97, states : — 

"This ancient Hindoo calendar, is evidently the 
" foundation of that, which, after successive corrections, 
" is now received by the Hindoos throughout India. 
" The progress of these corrections may be traced from 
" the cycle of five to one of sixty lunar years ; and thence 
' to one of sixty years of Jupiter," and in a note to 

^A. dnt^ 





J=l 2 O . 
" fl d 









bo • 


« P i 

rl QD I I 

.^ S S 
CQ od ^ O 




s =^: 







OrH <M CC^ »0 ^ 




148 S^S 



have 9-i ¥ g I^-;; 

r-i'-S Se-Eii 

essay ^ 

" and 

doscri' ^ til . 

^H e 

" days jag pM&j^mJJ-S^ g'™»'jjWfcJ^j3 
" jipe 30aj(jQSScecc„„oo«imSSsQa(_„o 
"of t 

" oId( 


' "' } l^n ^^ ^tl ii,t i^=5 B ^2 j^ 


foIai| d 

«T 5 

" fori 


" tht^ 


)assage he adds. This cycle of fii>e pears, is 
oned by the name of Yuga, and is stated to be 
isis of calculation for the larger cycle;" and 
of 3600 f/ears, deduced from one of sixty, 
lining twelve simple Yugas) is denominated the 
of Vakpati, whence the Yuga of Pr&j&n&tha 
) times 3600 years,) containing 216,000 years 
ived, and twice that constitutes the Kali-yuga 
2,000 years.*' This Kali-yuga was thus derived 
Vahpati, or Yuga of 3600 years, just as the 
n period of 432,000 years was derived from 
38 of 3600 years. 

ilso Guerin, "Astronomic Indienne'* page 183. 
alume iii, of Colebrooke's work, page 319, in 
Sir E. T. Colebrooke, a division of the day into 
rts by the Hindoos is mentioned, and it is all 
re interesting in relation to these researches, 
jh as it shows a remarkable connexion, between 
iod of 60, and a period of 28, which may be of 
later on, when the 28 Chinese Sieu will require 
3ticed with reference to the question of cycles. 
text mentions: — "Astrologers also reckon ttcenty 
Yugas, which correspond to the twenty eight 
latras, or divisions of the moons path." 
note mentioned, has : — ** If Asivini correspond 
A'nanda or the first Ghurri of Sunday, and the 
} carried through the sixty Ghurris of the day, 
3t of twenty eight mansions will have been gone 
gh twicBy and the four first on the list three 


'* times — Mrigasiras is the fifth Mansion, and thi 
" becomes regent of the first Ghurri of Monday. 
How the Chinese used a period of 60 for numberi 
days or hours will be seen later on. 

Bailly, Traite de l^astronomie Indienne et Orienta 
page Lxxxxvi, says : — 

" The Indian interval of two months, called t 
" Rondou, is the period of 60 days, known in Chic 
" This revolution or year of two months, was known ai 
" employed in Egypt." It is therefore improbable tL 
the cycle of 60 days was a Chinese invention. Meanwhr 
it may be looked upon as certain, that the cycle of 60 yea 
had an historically proved existence in Babylonia ar 
India, long before any similar existence of this period ce 
be shown by historical evidence to have existed in Chin 
Although the maxim post hoc, propter hoc, is not concl' 
sive absolutely, it at least shows this, that the Chine, 
cannot claim for the employment of this chronologica 
cycle, any priority over the other nations, who undoubte 
ly possessed and anciently used this system of 60 yea 
as a measurement of time. It should however 
remembered here, that the Hindoo names of the yet 
in the 60 year cycle, are all diflPerent from each othe 
whereas those used in Sze-ma-ts'ien*s table, are repeat 
as regards half of each name, after every ten years ; a 
after every twelve years for the other half of the nam 
just in the same way as the ordinary modern Chim 
cycle of 60, is formed by combination of the ten E 
and the twelve Chi, 


is all the more remarkable, in as much as it 
a foreign series of names equivalent, to those 
ed in the stems and branches of 10 and 12, from 
the Chinese say they derive their 60 year cycle ; 
the modern theory for numerically composing 
year cycle, is only in accordance with the form 
mats'iens arrangement of it, as far as this com- 
n of two series of names goes, for producing a 
»ite name for every year ; but it is strikingly 
nt in the ton and twelve names that Sze-ma-ts4en 
)r this purpose. 

;he same time, as Sse-ma-is^iens svstem docs not 
y follow Hindoo names, though it is certainly 
ngn origin ; and as it is only slightly probable 
is derived from the Hindoos ; this latter circums- 
may show that Sze-ma-ts*iens names probably 
their origin in a still more ancient source, such 
Babylonian Sossos of 60 years. It should 
er be borne in mind, what Dr. Legge states, (page 
pra,) viz, that it is " very questionable whether 
;e foreign names for the years were used anciently 


"ore however proceeding further in investigating 
lurce whence the Chinese, or Hindoos, derived this 
;esimal period of years, it may be interesting to 
)usly examine, whence the Chinese obtained 
wledge of the period of 76 years, mentioned by 
aa-ts4en, and which he ostensibly connects with 
year cycle. 


It must be obvious to every one, that this period 
76 years is substantially identical with that which 
known as the period of Callippus, who lived in ^t^ 
4th century B.C. and who was a contemporary an 
acquaintance of Aristotle. This Callippic perio(^ 
which commenced at the summer solstice of the its firs - 
year, was not an originally devised simple period, forme(S 
at first sight, from some well known relation of oui^ 
measurement of time with the motions of the heavenly^ 
bodies. It was rather the consequence of a previously* 
known period of 19 years, which it is said, was in vented- 
by Metoii, in the 5th Century B.C., but which having* 
been found inadequate to comprise an exact dividable 
number of solar revolutions, when compared with a 
complete series of lunar epochs ; was rendered more 
correct for the purpose in view, by Callippus increasing 
this 19 years period to one of four fold length, or of 76 
years ; because this was found to bring the average 
comparison of lunar and solar years to be of less diver- 
gence, and to make them more nearly coincide with 
each other, at the end of that time. 

In Smith's dictionary of Bibliography at the word 
Meton, it is justly observed, " Whether Meton was 
** himself the inventor of this remarkable period, or whe- 
" ther he found it elsewhere cannot now be known;" and 
thus its nominal adscription to Meton need be no obstacle 
to searching for its first use in still more remote times. 

In point of fact, the period of 19 years was known to 
Nuraa Pompilius, two centuries earlier than it was used 


l>y MetoD, according to the testimony of Livy 1. 19 ; 
*^nd whatever may be objected to Livy*s authority on 
^he personal connexion of Numa with this period, (seo 
** Dyers history of the early kings of Rome/') the fact 
"^v^U always remain, that the 1 9 years period was con- 
sidered in Livy's time, amongst the Roman people, as 
ti^ving existed from the earliest times of their monarchy; 
^^tid that even should no certain fixed period be properly 
3^^t assigned to its first invention, or the commencement 
its use amongst the Romans, it is still very probable 
at it had stjU existed before that early chronological 
l^^riod of Numa's connexiou with Rome. 

Livy's attribution of the use of this 19 year period to 
uma Pompiliua, has however a circumstance connected 
^^Vith it, which makes his testimony peculiarly interesting 
^r the investigation now being pursued ; in as much as 
-iiivy states, that Numa used the 19 years period for the 
purpose of assigning the order of the intercalary months, 
^seven of which are required to be spread over the 19 
consecutive years,) so as to combine the lunar and solar 
years, and make them meet at the end of that time. 

What is specially interesting in the present enquiry, 
is, that the use made by Numa of the 19 years period, 
for placing the intercalary moon, should be identical in 
purpose with the use which the Chinese make of the 
same term of years ; and this similarity of usage, could 
it be proved that it had existed in China, any where 
near the time of Numa, might afford proof that the 
Chinese had derived their knowledge of this period, 


from, the same source whence Numa derived it ; unle-^ 
it be maintained that either the Chinese learned it fro^ 
Numa, or that Numa learned it from the Chinese ; botJi 
of which hypotheses have no historical foundation, eu 
there is strong historical evidence to prove that tha 
Roman knowledge of astronomy and its cognate sciences, 
were derived from the Babylonians, which makes it 
highly probable, if not certain, that the Roman know- 
ledge of the period of 19 years, and its practical use, 
was also obtained from the same Babylonian source 
from whence they got their notions about tho planets 
and astronomy. The fact of the Babylonians use of the 
year of 360 days with five days extra, connected with 
the exactitude of their observations, show that they 
must have known the 19 years period, as the adjuster 
of their calculations, which are supposed to be as ancieut 
as B.C. 2233. 

As regards the time when the Metonic cycle was first 
known in China, the following extracts from students 
of Chinese history, may aflEord some light on the intro- 
duction of that cycle, and the cycle of 76 years, men- 
tioned by Sze-ma-tseen. 

Dr. Medhurst in his translation of the Shoo-king, 
page 8, states : — " a commentator of the period a.d. 
" 1210, explains the use of this 19 years period :" — 
*' in 19 years there would be seven intercalary moons, 
" which would make the solar and lunar years exactly 
**even, and constitute a complete cycle :" and he adds, 
" the ancient year has 12 months, each consisting of 30 




^ d.ajs, which makes 360 days as the usual period of 
tlxe year/' 

*^ It seems clear that this period of 360 days for one 
ciyil lunar year, and the difference between this and 
'* the true solar year, caused the necessity of adopting a 
** cycle of 19 years, to bring the solar and lunar years 
"in accord at the end of such period; but the com- 
" mentator does not say token this co-arrangement o/ tJie 
"lunar and solar years commenced to be used. It is 
"presumed by the commentator, that the introduction 
" of the 19 years cycle was made in Yao's time. It 
" must have been very ancient, and at least as ancient 
" as the Babylonian observations, for they made their 
" lunar year consist of 360 days only. Their Sarus was 
" 3600 days, or 10 years of 360 days each, though they 
" had a year of 365 days, by intercalating five super- 
" numerary days, at the end of the lunar year." 

Dr. Legge in his Classics, Vol. i, part I. page, 22, in 
a note, writes : — 

" Previous to the Han dynasty, Chinese history does 
" not furnish us with details on the subject of intercala- 
" tion — In the the time of that dynasty, however, we 
" find what is called the Metonic cycle (19 yearj?) well 
"known. It is not mentioned as any discovery of that 
« age — No doubt it came down to the Han from the 
" Chow, and was probably known in China, long before 
" Meton reformed the Athenian Calendar, according to 
"its principles, B.C. 432." 

Pere Souciet iii, 49 states : — all the historians and 


" astronomers avow, that toward the end of the Cho^ 
" dynasty, astronomy had fallen into a great decadence 
" the intercalation was neglected,*' which entirel^^ 
confirms Dr. Chalmers in the statement: — "For a^ 
" instance of the intercalary month placed at th^ 
" end of the year, on three successive occasions, th^ 
" reader is referred to Sze-ma-ts^ien's Chronological 
" tables. Tsin dynasty 201, 204, 207, B.C.'' 

Dr. Chalmers, in the dissertation already quoted, at 
page 99, writes : — 

" During the Chow dynasty, intercalary months 
" were placed at irregular intervals, but most frequently 
" at the end of the year. The Chinese seem even then 
" to have had no idea of the proper interval between 
" two intercalations." 

It would appear therefore, that the probability of the 
19 years cycle being known to the Chinese, during the 
Chow d)aiasty, as above mentioned by Dr. Legge, can 
only be very slight ; and there is no evidence of it being 
then used for the intercalation of the moons. The 
contrary even is stated by Dr. Chalmers ; in the above 
passage in his dissertation on the subject. 

Pere Souciet, iii. page 15, says : — "that the astro- 
nomers of the Han dynasty not did even understand what 
they wrote about the cycle oflQ years'^ ^ so that they must 
have had no experience that its previous existence in 
China was scientifically known. 

It may be noted here, that the period called the Ki 
of 1520 years, which was invented during the Han 


dynasty, is equal to 80 periods of 19 years, or to 20 
^00, or periods of 76 years, according to the Sse-fen : 
(See Souciet, ii, 22:) and that the Yuen or period of 4660 
years, is equal to 240 of the same period of 19 years, or 
to 80 of the periods of 76 years, or the Pan, Souciet 
n, 22 says, that Li-fang invented this period of the 
Yuen, of 4660 years, which consisted of 3 Ki of 1620 
years, but looking at the tendency of the Chinese to 
classify every measurement of time by its relation to 60, 
this seems to be the most likely composition of the Yuen, 
This Yueti period, however, is attributed to the Han 
astronomers, by Souciet, loc: cit; and ii, 13, who 
states regarding this composition of periods : — "The 
" astronomers of the Western Hans, marked a period of 
" 4617 solar years, composed of 243 cycles of 19 years 
" each. This period is called Yuen (source). The number 
" 81 was also taken to obtain 81 cycles of 19 years each, 
" which made up a period of 1539 years. This period 
" was called Tong, (commencement). Three of these 
" Tong made up 4617 years or the above mentioned 
" period called Yuen." And at page 16 : — Souciet men- 
tions another period: — of 14, 3127 solar years, which 
comprised 31 periods of 4617 years each, or 31 Yuen. 
The astronomy called Sse-fen, or 4 parts, which was 
composed by Li-fang, during the reign of the emperor 
Tchang-ti, somewhere about 85 a.d., and according to 
Souciet, page 21, ii ; " examined the properties of the 
'* cycle of 19 years. Li-fang knew that the cycle of 
* 19 years is composed of 235 lunar months, during 



" which the moon made 254 revolutions. The diflferei 
" between 254 and 235 is 19. Divide, said Li-fa 
" 254 by 19 and the quotient is 13-f-7 parts of 
" Thence he concluded, that the proper and diurx^ 
movement of the moon, is 13 Chinese degrees, and 
parts of 19. Li-fang, therefore, seeing that the cjrc^ 
of 19 years was imperfect, invented one of 76 year* 
composed of 4 cycles of 19 years each. He expressed 
this new period by the character Pou." 
The ground work therefore of Sze-ma-ts4en's calcu- 
lation respecting the 60 years cycle, and the period of 
76 years, with which it is bound up, must have been of 
very close proximity to his time ; and the 19 year 
cycle also. Whence the Chinese got their knowledge of 
those periods, there is no evidence of : Sze-ma-ts4en 
supposes, that they were to be referred to Yao's time, 
just as the Chinese refer other astronomical data to the 
same source ; but there is as little reliability as to the 
one, as to the other ; and consequently the only way 
out of the search is to attribute this knowledge to the 
same Hindoo source, as that to which the 60 years cycle 
is traced ; unless some vague tradition, hardly under- 
stood by the Chinese, had lingered with them amidst 
the other ancient knowledge of the heavens that they 
possibly derived from the eastern Iranians of Bactria. 
At any rate, there is no evidence of the Chinese 
having had any knowledge of these periods, before 
the 3rd century B.C. Souciet ii, 29, has a remarkable 
passage on the Chinese fictitious Calendars, which 


the sources of the mythical chronology tliat is 

'^^Tf being examined : — " It was in tlio time of the 

Testem Hans that the six calendars were pubh'shod, 

which at first were given out as being an<;ient. The 

* frst Calendar was that of }[\vjingti; tlio second of 

* Tchuen Hiu, the third of Yu, the founder of the Hia 

'* dynasty; the fourth of Tching Tang, the founder of 

' * the Shang djmasty ; the fifth of Vou-vang, the founder 

** of the Chow dynasty; the sixth of Tcheou-kong, 

** prince of Lou. It was not long before a suspicion 

* * arose, at least about the authenticity of these calendars, 

** which were otherwise badly composed ; and they are 

** very generally considered to have been the works of the 

**Han8, " and at page 31, after stating that the chief 

'Ose of astronomy was for astrological purposes, and that 

'the mysterious numbers of the 8 Kwa of Fu-hi, were 

tie basis of their calculations, he adds: — "The numbers 

** of heaven, of the earth, and of space, were the basis for 

*' finding the numbers of the 8 great Tsie-ki, of the 24 

" Tsie-ki, of the 28 constellations, of the cycle of 19 years, 

" of the solar and lunar years, and of the intercalation. 

" All this labour was taken in order to find out the 

"epochs for the days, and the years, of the cycle of 60." 

This passage throws " some light on the reason why 

02e-ma-tsien mixed up the 76 years, or the quadruple of 

W years with the 60 years cycle. Dr. Chalmers, loc : 

^t: Writes: — "Sze-ma-ts4en does not indeed tell us that 

' they became acquainted with the cycle of Calyppus 

' either through the Bactrians, or Hindoos, but there is 


" scarcely a shadow of doubt that this was the case. 
*' In no other way can we account for the sudden 
" appearance in Tseen's history, of a method so far in 
*' advance of anything known before in China." 

The most therefore, that can be deduced from the 
coincident similarity of usage, between the Romans and 
Chinese, in matters of astronomy, and cognate subjects, 
would be, that the Chinese as well as the Romans also, 
derived their knowledge of the 19 years period, from 
the Babylonians direct ; but as will be presently seen, 
the fact of the Chinese having obtained knowledge of it 
but recently, when compared with Babylonian ancient 
astronomical experiences, makes it more probable that 
the Chinese rather learned it from Bactria, to ^hich 
place it had doubtless been made known direct, through 
the Assyrian and Persian traditions, or through the 
Greeks, who had themselves derived it from the Chal- 
deans of Babvlonia. 

There may be something hereafter to be adduced, 
about the actual use of the 19 years cycle in Babylonia 
at a still more remote period, than that of its known 
introduction into China. 

Meanwhile the similarity observable between Roman 
and Babylonian astronomical science, may serve to 
elucidate still further the derivation of the Roman 
knowledge on this subject; and as there is also a great 
similarity between the Roman and Chinese usages, on 
kindred matters, the mutual coincidence of both Roman 
and Chinese special science with Babylonian knowledge, 


can only be reasonally accoanted for, by attributing the 
oi^'nal scarce of both nations, knowle(I;;e, on tliis i)oint, 
to Babylonia, as its remote common origin. 

The Marquis Fortia d'Urban, in Vol. ii, of his 
"Histoire antidiluvienne dc la Ohinc," devotes a whole 
chapter towards comparing the similarity between the 
Boman and Chinese calendars, and other matters con- 
nected with them ; and it is principally on his observa- 
tions, that the present remarks on this subject are based. 

The first thing he brings to notice is, that the winter 
solstice of the Romans, was indicated at the 8th of the 
Calends of January, and that this winter solstice was 
the starting point of the year with the Romans, just as 
it was in primitive times with the Chinese. This 
fixation of time is attributed to the Chaldeans **Brumale 
**9oktitium sicut Chaldcei observant,^* 

The opinion of the Chaldean origin of this Roman 
custom of beginning the years, is strengthened by the 
fact, that the Romans took their twelve superior divini- 
ties, which they identified with the 12 signs of the 
wdiac, from the the Chaldean system of 12 superior 
deities, presiding each over a month of the year, and over 
a aign of the stellar zodiac. The Latin poet Manilius, 
Kb I. verse 24, narrating the origin of the Roman astro- 
nomy, places it among the gentes oriente sub ipso quas 
*^ Euphrates,*' Pere Pingre, points out in a note, 
*^t this line refers to Babylonia, and in lib : ii. verse 
^6, and following, gives a list of the corresponding 
^man divinities which preside over the months, and 


which are the names of Chaldean divinities translate 
into those of corresponding Roman deities. (See Pingre^ 
edition of Manilius, Vol. i, page 165, et sequ :) 

The date at which the Romans obtained this kno^ 
ledge from the Chaldeans, could not have been earlia 
than 745 b.c. or the date of the foundation of Rom- . 
and it does not follow from the coincidences alrea(B 
remarked, that the Romans got it direct, at or aft» 
that time, from the Chaldeans. 

Indeed, as the Romans primitively had only 2 
months in the year, it could only be when the year 
12 months was introduced, that they adopted tb: 
Chaldean system. 

They might have got it from the Etruscans, who al-s 
had these 12 superior deities; and the Asiatic origin < 
the Etruscans, ("See Ellis's*' Asiatic affinities of the 61 
Italians*') whether it be Armenian, or Lydian, rendei 
it probable that they got it through their Asiati' 
ancestors from the Chaldeans ; as it seems to be a: 
axiom amongst modem experts on this subject, thai 
Chaldean Babylonia was the original source of all 
astronomical science. F. Lenormant, considers ihii 
established by historical evidence. Sayce, "Historj 
of Babylonia," at page 32, states what is more inter- 
esting, in the general discussion of Chinese Chronology 
" Babylonian literature comprised chronological tables/ 
which may one day be deciphered, and evince th< 
system there used for computing, and according th< 
times and seasons. 


The Chaldean origin, either direct or indirect, of the 
Astronomical system used by the Romans, seems thus 
^doubted. The next resemblance between the Roman 
^d Chinese Chronological systems, is noticeable in the 
^vision of the year, which was the primary object of all 
^cient astronomical science. 

The Chinese, as is well known, divide the year into 
*4 Tsie-ki, supposed to be of 15 days each, and 
Practically the Romans did the same. 

Xt cannot be said, however, that each Tsie-Ki is 
^Q.ctly 15 days ; for that would only make up a year 
^ 360 days ; and this diflferenoe of days between that 
*^d the year of 365 days, must either have been divided 
^^^ODgst the 24 Tsie-ki, or added at the end of the year 
*^ epagomonal days. 

Tie Chaldeans also divided the year into 24 parts, and 

^^ same division of the year existed amongst the Per- 

®*^n8. Sayce, Babylonian literature, page 54, has: — "The 

xnonth was divided into two halves of 15 days each, these 

*\)eing further subdivided into three periods of five days." 

In the Chinese arrangement, each Tsie-ki is marked 

^th characters, indicating meteorological phenomena, 

^ii the commencement of seasons, and half seasons. 

Similar indications are to be found in the calendars of 

Ptolemy, and of the Romans ; only these are more 

precise than the Chinese calendars, as they marked the 

cold, heat, rain, different winds, tempests, etc., by 

wnstellations, the rising and setting of which, were 

synchronic each year with those phednomena. 


The 24 Tsie-ki are thus given in Medhurst^s Shoo- 
king appendix page 409 : — 

1. 8 Jan. . . Seaou-han. . Little cold. 

2. 21 „ . . Ta-han .... Great cold. 

3. 6 Feb. . . Leih-ch'hun. Commencement of spring. 

4. 21 „ . . Tu-shwuy. . Copious showers. 

5. 5 March . King-chih . . Stirring of insects. 

6. 22 „ . Ch^hun-fun . Vernal equinox. 

7. 6 April. . Tshing-ming. Fine clear season. 

8. 22 „ . . Kuh-yu .... Corn refreshing showers. 

9. 7 May . . Leih-hea . . Commencement of summer 

10. 22 „ . . Seaou-mwan. [ SeaTha^er^'**""" °' 

11. 7 June . . Mang-chung. Rice planting season. 

12. 22 „ . • Hea-che. . . . Summer solstice. 

13. 8 July • . Seaou-shoo . Little heat. 

14. 21 „ . . Ta-shoo. . . . Great heat. 

15. 9 August. Leih-tsew . . Commencement of Autumn 

16. 24 „ . Ch^hoo-shoo. Relaxation of heat. 

17. 8 Sept. . . Pih-loo .... White dews. 

18. 24 „ . . Ts^hew-fun . Autumnal equinox. 

19. 9 Oct. . . Han -loo. . . . Cold dews. 

20. 21 „ . . Shang-keang Hoar frost appearing. 

21. 8 Nov. . . Leih-tung. . Commencement of winter. 

22. 23 „ . . Leaou-seue . Little snow. 

23. 8 Dec. . . Ta-seue. . . . Great snow. 

24. 22 „ . . Tung-chi . . Winter solstice. 

The numeral order followed by Dr. Medhurst, was 
presumedly to make the Tsie-ki correspond with the 


present year system ; but in reality the first in order of 
the Tsie-ki, is the last in Medhurst's list, or the 24th, 
which is the winter solstice. It is the Pore Soudet, in 
his ''observations astronoiniques'' Vol. iii. page 70, who 
testifies to this. *' The first Xi of the Tsie-ki begins at 
the winter solstice." 

I^ow by comparing the Roman and Chinese calendars, 
it will be observed that the division of the year by 
seasons, corresponds in both, to the same day. This 
may be remarked by comparing the two calendars for 
each 45 days of the year, or from half season to the 
next half season, beginning from the winter solstice. 

The 47th day from that time, or on the 5th nones of 
February, the Roman calendar marks the beginning of 
spring, and on the 44th day after that, it marks the 
vernal equinox. 

This is just what the Chinese calendar designates by 
the division of spring, and it thus makes 6 Tsie-ki, or 
90-91 days, equal to one season. 

Thus from the Winter solstice, or 22nd 
December, to end of month, there are, 9 days. 

In January, there are 31 

and hence to the beginning of spring, or 5th of 

Febniary, there are 5 

^bich altogether make, 45 days 

In February, remain 23 „ 

In March, to the vernal equinox, there are 22 „ 
or a total of days 90 



Varro, however, marks the beginning of spring, pr^ 
<$isely at the 45th day after the winter solstice, exacts 
the same as the Chinese do. 

The Bomftn calendar then marks the beginning 
summer, at the 45th day after this ; and the Chin^ 
calendar also marks the commencement of the sbmzi 
season, after 3 more Tsie-ki, of 15 days each, or at tC 
10th Tsie-ki of the year. 

Here then is an absolute accordance between t^^ 
Roman and Chinese arrangement of the seasons ; andi^ 
is to be noticed that this Koman Calendar, is the o 
calendar, or the Fasti, of Numa Fompilius, who it 
supposed, derived it through the Sabines from th 
ancient Chaldeans. 

The 46th day after this, or the 8th before the 
Calends of July, the Roman Calendar marks the summei 
solstice. Similarly the Chinese Calendar, after 3 Tsie- 
}d, of 15 days each, or at the 13th Tsie-ki, also mark 
the term of sun^mer, just as it had marked the term o] 
winter, or the winter solstice at the 1st Tsie-ki. The 
two terms above mentioned, are those of the apparen 
motion of the sun in declination, or of its travellinj 
from south to north, or from north to south. 

The Roman Calendar marks them of 91 days each 
or 182 days in all. 

The Chinese mark, 182 days, 62 Ki, 12'. 

Pere Souciet, in his "observations astronomiques, &c. 
tome III, page 72, thus explains the Chinese calculatioi 
i>f the two seasons, from the winter solstice to th« 


sammer solstice. " The sun travels by ascending. This 
" is the season of Yng. Divide the Yng into two 
" parts. The first will be Yng-tsou, from the winter 
" solstice to the equinox of spring; 88 days, 90 Ki, 92'. 
" The second will be Yng-mo, from the equinox of 
" spring to the summer Solstice ; 93 days, 71 Ki, 20'.'* 

To understand this better, it should be remembered 
that the Chinese anciently divided the day into 100 
Ki ; each Ki had 100 minutes. This usage lasted until 
the Jesuit Pere Schall, according to common report, 
persuaded them to divide the day into 24 hours. 
This report however may not be quite correct, as Dr. 
Chalmers in his already cited dissertation, page 96, 
says : — "according to native authorities, the duodecimal 
division of the day was not adopted till the time of the 
Han ;" so that the Chinese had also that method before 
Pere SchalFs time. In fact, the two methods, of the KCy 
and the hourSy wore both in use. In the " Memoires " 
tome xiii, page 230, it is stated : — 

** The twelve Tchi are also used to measure the hours, 
to each of which the name of a Tchi is given. The 
Chinese hours contain two of our hours." And the Pere 
Souciet, tome iii, page 52, in a note, mentions : — 
" The day and the night have twelve hours, which 
formerly made up one hundred. Ki. Each hour had 
8 Ki and some minutes. Each Ki had 100^, each 
minute had 100'^" 

To continue the comparison of the calendars ; both 
the Roman and the Chinese mark the beginning of 


autumn 45 days after the summer solstice ; and 
days after this, the Roman calendar marks the autu 
equinox; and the Chinese calendar marks the divis 
of autumn, after 3 Tsie-ki, or 2 days sooner than t 
of Rome ; but 46 days after this, the Roman calen 
marks the beginning of icinfery and 45 days from 
division of autumn, the Chinese calendar also marks 
beginning of winter ; and again, 45 days after that 
marks the winter solstice, at the point whence * 
comparison started, and where the two calendai-s reur 
The number of days in the Roman calendar, from 
summer to the winter solstice, is 183, which with 
182 previously accounted for, makes the year of < 
days. For tia d' Urban justly remarks, on this strik 
coincide nee, vol. ii, page 86, ** This accordance betw 
the calendars of two peoples, situated at the two 
tremities of the ancient continent, is at the least, v 
remaikable. It seems that the centre of observat 
was in Chaldea, from whence Numa and the Chin 
received these division of time, or kal, which are foi 
both in the Chinese and Roman calendars." 
Besides the above noticed similarity, between 
Roman and Chinese calendars, relative to the divisioi 
the seasons of the year, there is also another similar 
in the annual meteorological indications, which is 
the more remarkable, owing to the difference of climj 
between Italy and China. 

In the 2nd Tsie-ki, the Chinese mark Little coldy t 
in the Roman calendar, the corresponding day is mar] 

■J^HE origin and source of CHINESE CHRONOI/)GY. 171 


^^^^^tmui dies hiemant. In the 6th Tsie-ki, it is marked 
^^^pifm showers. In the Roman calendar, the same day 
marked Pluvia, In the 9th Tsie-ki, the indication 
^com refreshing showers ; and in the Roman calendar, 
^4ie previous day marks Lies humiduH, In the 11th 
Tsie-ki, the period is marked " the minor completion, 
^^T wheat harvest, or abundance. The Roman calendar 
^as the Cornucopia of Amaltheus. In the 14th Tsie- 
«, it is marked Little heat. In the Roman calendar^ 
"tiro day previous, it is marked, valor. 

In the 15th Tsie-ki, the Chinese have great heat, 
^e Romans two days after, mark ealigo JEstnosa, In 
l6th Tsie-ki, Chinese use relaxation of heat. The 
^mans have, rain. 

The 20th Tsie-ki has cold dews. The Roman date 
is rain. 

The 21st Tsie-ki, has, hoar frost appearing. The 
Boman calendar notes. Hiemat cumfrigore ei gelicidio. 
W'ith these above mentioned similarities, existing 
Wtween the two calendars of Rome and China, it seems 
surprising, that the 60 years cycle, which the Chinese 
»«sert was used by them simultaneously with the 24 
Tsie-ki, was not used by the Romans also, conjointly 
^th their own calendar — It would appear that the 60 
year cycle was not practically known to the Romans, or 
other western peoples at that time, though Diodorus 
Siculus mentions it as an ancient institution. 

It has been already mentioned that it was known to 
the Greeks. 


Fortia d^ Urban, in explanation of this, vol. ii. page 
77, says: — "there was never anything similar to it in 
** the west, and the origin of it must be sought for in 
the eastJ* 

The Romans calculated their chronology by epochs 
of five years each, and they do not seem to have made any 
use of that of 60 years ; possibly because it did not suit 
them, but their lustrum of 5 years has an aflSnity with 
oriental measurements of time, that establishes b 
curious connexion between them. It has been already 
seen that the Hindoo 60 year cycle of Jupiter, was no< 
the only cycle connected with that planet. The original 
cycle of Jupiter, was one of only 12 years, which ww 
the time of one sidereal revolution of that planet, as u 
mentioned in the xiv, chapter, paragr : 17 of the Suryc 
Siddhanta. The length of one of the years of Jupiter, 
is measured by its passage, and by its mean motioi] 
through one of the 12 signs of the Zodiac. 

The 60 year cycle of Jupiter was formed from that oJ 
12 years, later on amongst the Hindoos, by using five 
of these primitive duodenary cycles, or five whole 
revolutions of this planet through the 12 signs of the 
zodiac, similarly to the Roman lustrum, which wa^ 
composed of five of the solar annual cycles. 

Burgess, in his translation of the Surya Siddhanta, 
page 27, states : — 

" The Hindoos anciently had also a cycle of fiv€ 
** years, by which they appear first to have regulated 
" times, and which, with an intercalated month, anciently 


Laintained the correspondence of the year of 360 days 
xth the true solar year*' 

This was the Yuga, or age, which was originally 
pplied to indicate a cycle, or period, by means of 
Mch, the conjunction or correspondence of discord- 
nt modes of reckoning time, was kept up ; and Yuga 
nil signifies, ^ lustrum of five years. Thus the 
Cindoo cycle of 60 years, was formed from a Yuga, 
r five of Jupiters revolutions," and at page 271, 
further states : — " Jupiter's revolution in this 
alculation is treated as if, like that of the sun, it 
etermined a year, and the 12 parts, each (Juite 
early equalling a solar year, into which it is divided, 
Te by the same analogy, accounted as months, and 
ccordingly receive the names of the solar months/* 
Tgess continues : — 

* Warren has a brief account of the cycle of twelve 
ears, in Kala Sankalita p. 212 etc. On the Vrihaspati 
ycle of twelve years. In the cycle of sixty are contained 
►cycles of twelve years, each supposed equal to one 
ear of the planet. I only mention this cycle, because 
found it mentioned in some books, but I know of no 
ation or tribe that reckons time after that account." 
Ihe names of the 5 cycles or Yugas, are as follows : 
Sumi vatsara . • . . presided by Agni 
Pari vatsara . . . w * . Area 

Idu vatsara . . . . . . Chandra 

Anu vatsara . . . . . . Brahma 

Udra vatsara ... . . » . Siva 



The names of the 12 years of this cycle, are those of 
the Hindoo lunar months, beginning with Karttika, &c. 

According to both Warren, and Davis, As : Res : in. 

217, etc., the cycle of 12 years is subordinate to that 
" of 60, the latter being divided into 5 such cycles, to 
*' which special names are applied, and of each of which 
" the successive years receive in order, the titles of the 
" solar months. The appellations of the 6 cycles, are • 
"those which properly belong to tie years of the 
" lustrum of 6 years in ancient use." 

The coincidence between this Hindoo usage, and the 
Boman 5 year lustrum, is therefore undoubted. 

"Warren, loo : oit : says, " he knows of no nation or 
" tribe making any use of this 12 years cycle but only 
"finds it mentioned in the books. The Southern 
^* Indians, if they ever did, have long ceased to attend 
" to the months of the Chacra year." 

This remark about the Southern Indians is significant; 
as, if they never used the cycle of Jupiter, it could not 
have been an original Turanian system, and the Chinese 
could not have known it from their own ancient traditions. 

Cowasjee Patell, in his work on Chronology, page 46, 
states. : — " The true cycle of Jupiter being twelve years, 
"the Tibetans, in calculating their age count by this 
" cycle. In the ordinary ajfifairs of life, they employ the 
" cycle of 60 years, each of which has its distinct name, 
*' just as it has in India." 

The Tibetan writers on the Kala chakra system, state 
" that the 60 year cycle, was introduced from India, about 


025 A.D. and that it was only introduced into India 
€6 A.D. or 60 years more early." 
^atell, at page 50, after quoting a French translation 
4.lbiruniy about Indian cycles, has a note by Beinaud. 
^ The result of this passage, in its entirety, seems to 
e, that the cycle of 60 was of recent institution, and 
''as peculiar only to a certain portion of India. Th* 
alculation presented by Albiruni makes m^e belieYe 
nat it begun only at the year 959 of our era." 
Bentley places Yaraha Mihira, the supposed author 
.le Surya Siddhanta, in the 10th Christian century, 

neither his theory, nor that of Patell, Beinaud, and 
iitley are to be relied on, in this point ; for the Surya 
tlhanta has been shown to be of no more reo^t 
« than 346 a.d. by astronomical comparisoD9 of 
I time of the vernal equinox, mentioned in the 8th 
Lpter of that book. See Guerin, Astroaomie Indienne, 
ip. III. page 21, who there proves that the Surya 
iddanta was written in Sanscrit verses, by a Brahmin 
led Shourdijyo, at that date, and hence its name ; but 
contains a record of the supposed revolutions by 

9un itself, to MoyOy (or Maya^ see Surya, Cap. 1. 
5 : 2) made long before they were thus recorded by 
wirdijyo : and so the tradition of the 60 years cycle, 
\ not in any way as modem as Patell and others 
lid insinuate. 

;f Beinaud's and Albiruni's supposition were true, it 
lid place the origin of the 60 years cycle in China, 
a still more modiern date than need be aissunoied ; for 


if it came so late into Thibet, from India, it would havi 
travelled east into China still later ; unless recourse 
had to the gratuitous hypothesis, that the Hindo 
received it from China, and afterwards transmitted 
to the Thibetans. 

It is remarkable, that the Thibetans give a differe 
simple name to each year oi the 60 years cycle, (whi 
are a translation from the Sanscrit names) just as 
Hindoos do ; but they also use names for the years < 
the cycle, which are a Thibetan translation of Hn 
Chinese composite names. 

Patell, page 47, op : cit : calls attention to the di5- 
crepancy between the commencement of the Indian and 
Chinese cycles, as the 1st year of the Indian cycle cor- 
responds to the 4th year of the Chinese cycle ; and he 
urges this as a proof that the two cycles are not 
connected, or derived from each other. 

This may be the case, if notice be only taken of the 
names, or order of each year, in the cycle ; but it seems 
clear that the Chinese and Indian cycles are both 
founded on a certain period of the planet Jupiter's 
motion, and an examination of how the different in- 
significant ways in which the two nations worked out, 
or indicated their cycles, each according to their own 
peculiar system, may probably show that the cycle of 
12 years, which is the common foundation of both of 
them, belonged originally to the system of some other 
more primitive nation, from which they both derived 
it; either directly and independently, or indiiectlyy 


tirougli one of the two having first known it, and then 
-communicated it to the other. 

It has been already seen at page 113, that in Sze-ma- 
is4en's list of the 12 chi, which go to form the 60 
year cycle, the first name Shih-te means the planet 
Jupiter, and refers to its motion through the heavens, 
and probably the other eleven names in Sze-ma-ts4en's 
list, may also denote and signify other peculiar motions of 
the same planet ; and have the same meanings as the more 
recent Chinese names of the 12 chi. This has yet to be 
seen, as the ordinary names of the 12 Chinese chi, are 
evidently used in a similar way, as the Hindoos words in 
Sze-ma-ts4en's list, are used ; and thus, they are probably 
connected with the 12 year cycle of Jupiter. 

Lenormant, in his " Chaldean magic,*' page 81, 
says that the cabalistic name, Zedekiel, means Jupiter. 
The striking analogy, between Shih-te-ki., and Ze-de- 
ki, would almost point to a cabalistic origin of Sze-ma- 
ts^ien's list of names. 

Chalmers, page 96, op: cit: states: — The twelve 
terrestrial "branches as they are called, were first 
** invented in all probability, to distinguish the twelve 
** spaces into which the horizon is divided." And page 
95, "This division of the zodiac was probably intro- 
** duced into China, at the end of the Chow, or the 
" beginning of the Han dynasty," and he refers to 
a passage in the "Tso Chuan," to show that two 
of these signs are mentioned for an astrological 
"purpose in connexion with the planet Jupiter." 


And at page 93, "The use of the planet Jupiter 
" for astrological purposes, belongs to the early Han. 
" At that time, the period of Jupiter was supposed to 
** be exactly 12 years, so that he gave a year to each 
" sign of the zodiac ; therefore he is called the 
" year star." 

Souciet, II. 84, says that Y-hang particularly ex- 
amined the movements of Jupiter, and lays down as a 
principle, that this planet does not take 12 years, for 
its revolution in the zodiac. Thus it is clear, that in 
the Sung-dynasty, the 12 year cycle of Jupiter was 
known to the Chinese. 

In Vol. Ill, page 30, Souciet writes : — "During the 
" time of the Hia dynasty, the year was called Sony ; 
** The character, Sony, means the planet Jupiter. 
" It was believed at that time that the revolution 
" of one year, is called [Souy. This interpretation 
** is of the time of the Tsin." No doubt the appropria- 
tion of the tradition about Jupiter to the Ilia dynasty 
was modern, like other events assigned by Chinese, to 
that supposed period of their history. " The author 
of the Kwei Yu, whoever he is, but who lived about 
" Confucius's time, supposed that Jupiter made the 
" twelfth part of his course through the equator, or the 
" zodiac, in one solar year.'' 

The statement of Dr. Chalmers, and of Pere Souciet, 
go a long way to prove, that the Chinese had the Jupiter 
cycle of 12 years, as the basis of their 60 year cycle, 
just as the Hindoos had it. But the statement of 


fiondet is no proof as to what period the 12 year 
cycle of Jupiter was first known to the Chinese. It would 
rrther seem from the work of 8ze-raa-ts*ien, that it first 
appeared iu (yhina, in the time of the Han dynasty; but 
it may be a question, whether that part of Sze-ma- 
ts^ien's work which refers to it, is not the production of 
a more recent author, grafted on to the original book. 

Some light may be thrown on this point, by determin- 
ing at what date the Chinese had a cycle of 12 years, 
nnconnected with the cycle of Jupiter of the same 

Do Mailla, Histoire de la Chine, Vol. vi, page 317, 
in a note, says : — ** The Chinese have a cycle of twelve 
** years, which they apply also to the hours; it is by 
" this cycle that they determine the year of their birth." 

It will be remembered that the Thibetans, in calculat- 
ing their own ages from the year of their birth, count by 
the 12 years cycle of Jupiter ; and it is therefore evident 
that Pere De Mailla here refers to the same cycle. He 
adds, " These years and these hours have the names 
of twelve animals — which further identifies the Mongol 
cycle of animals with the short cycle of Jupiter." 

It may by observed, however, that De Mailla does 
not state in the passage just quoted, whether the com- 
putation of 12 hours preceded the cycle of 12 years, 
or otherwise. 

In the "Memoires &c.," xiii, page 181, it is stated: — 
*• The Tien-hwang made a cycle of ten, and another of 
^* twelve." But it is not mentioned whether these were 


of ten and twelve years, or of ten and twelve hours, 
days. In continuation however of the above, tl 
author of the "Memoires" states : — "Before the Tiei 
**hwang, the name of the year was unknown: — ^It 
'* they who determined the number of days which oag' 
" to make it up." And at page 182, "The Ti-hw^ai 
" called by the words month, or lunation, the interv 
"of 30 days.'' 

If this is all that can be said by Chinese, about tJ 
origin of the cycles of 10 and 12, it can only amount 
a vague tradition of the existence of these periods, 
in ancient times ; but it gives no fixed date for th^ 
introduction into China, and we are left to conjecture ^ 
to their origin. 

The formation of a cycle of 60, by a combination O 
two separate cycles, of 10 and 12 each, must be verj 
ancient; and possibly, if not probably, the Chinese 
mode of combining the cycles of 10 and 12 together 
although it may not be the first method used of joininj 
them together, with a view of making a chronologica 
period from them, it may be at least, a survival o 
some ancestral worship theory, which was adopter 
anciently for the purpose, and which has been long losi 

It has not been without some reason, that the Chines 
have designated the cycle of ten, as a cycle of Btem% 
and the cycle of twelve, as a cycle of branches. Th 
reason of these peculiar designations seems to hav 
been forgotten by the Chinese, or at least they give n< 
satisfactory explanation of their being so-called. Ther 


other countries besides China, in which a similar, 
.ot the same chronological arrangement, seems to 
e been used, and where the remembrance of which, 

lingers. Albiruni, op : cit : page 2, writing of the 
3nology of central Asia, states : — "A learned man 
ice asked me, regarding the eras of different nations, 
ad regarding the difference of their roots (stems ? ) 
e., the epochs where they begin, and of their 
ranches, i,e., the months and years on which they 
re based." 
?he roots, or stems, were thus, the epochs where an 

begins ; and it may be suggested whether the ten 
iuese Kans, or stems, (or roots) do not signify ten 
chs, which were at the beginning of an era; the exact 
e of which is unrecorded. Are they the names, in 
nese, of the ten periods, of the lives of their, and of 
ancestors, the ten patriarchs from Adam to Noah ? 

of which there still exists a vague tradition, in the 
Ki of the primitive history of China ? Besides this 
:estion, which the analogy affords, there is also 
lier, as to how or why, these ten epochs of roots 
'terns, were developed into continuity, by being 
^ to appear in union with twelve branches, by 
tis of which, their duration was to be perpetuated, 
^aps, when the mystery of Chinese history has 
X penetrated, it may be discovered, that a very 
ent historical theory has been unconsciously pre- 
i^ in China, and which future investigations may 


Francois Lenormant, in the "contemporary review," 
April, 1880, page 582, "Biblical genealogies," gives 
such interesting remarks on this subject, that they are 
here subjoined to illustrate it : — 

" It appears, that in the book in which " Berosus 
" exhibited the Chaldean traditions, the first ten genera- 
" tions after the deluge constituted a cycle, an epoch, 
" doubtless still entirely mythical, forming a parallel to 
"the ten antidiluvian reigns:" — (Beros. op. Joseph.: 
lib: 1, 7, 2) and at page 583: — "the total duration 
" of the ten antidiluvian reigns, had been 120 sari, or 
" periods of 3,600 years, that is to say, 432,000 years. 
" The tenth of this peroid is 43,200 years, or 12 sari ; 
" which for the Chaldeans, constituted a celestial 
" revolution, and as it were, a true cosmical day ; for 
" each of its mri contained 60 sossi of 60 years, just 
" as the day was divided into 12 hours of 60 minutes 
" containing 60 seconds. By admitting only 12 hours 
" in the nychthemeroriy instead of 24, as with us, the 
" ChaldaBo Babylonians traced the diurnal revolution of 
" the sun, on the plan of that of his annual revolution, 
" and of the zodiac. Consequently, each one of the 
" sari^ of the period of 43,200 years, corresponded to a 
" sign, and to a month of the year ; and also to an hour 
" of the day. But this period was again multiplied 
" by 12 ; and thus a more extended sidereal revolution 
" was obtained of 144 sari, or 518,400, years. 

" Clovers, has long ago recognised that the fact of the 
" equivalence of the duration of the ten antidiluvian 







''^Jgns, to 10 periods of 12 sari ; established beftceen 
^^o^ of them, and one of t hone periods, months, or hours 
^* the greatest celestial revolution ; that thus the ten 
^^^ tidilucian patriarchs of Chaldea had been made 
^^ eorrespond to ticehe nolar manaionH of the zodiac, 
vAIazzaloth,) which tlie unfaithful Hebrews, during 
^tie period of Assyrian ascendancy, worshipped, to- 
S^ther with the sun and moon, and all the host of 
*^eaven, and which the Chaldeans thus early design- 
ated by those figures, the use of which has come down 
^o us, through the medium of the Greeks." 
**In fact, by this means, we arc now able to under- 
stand, some of the essential features of the ci/clical system, 
"Which had assimilated the 12 months of the year, to 
the 12 parts (of 43,200 years each) of the ^reat period 
of 518,400 years, and transformed the trn antidil avian 
* hings, into representatives of \Q of the solar mansions, 
** The creation of man, and of the first antidiluvian 
'* reign, must have been made to correspond to the second 
** month of the year, and the sign of the Ball,** 

The Chaldeans thus placed the 10 antidiluvian patri- 
archs in 10 of the 12 solar mansions. It will doubtless 
be remembered, that the legendary history of China, 
makes the appearance of the Tien-hwanT^, correspond 
to the time, and the sign, of the Rat : the Ti-hwang, to 
that of the Ox, and the Jin-hwang, to that of the Tiger, 
This exhibits a curious parallel to the assertion of 
Lenormant, placing the first antidiluvian reign in the 
time of the Bull ; which jusi; corresponds to the Chinese 



placiDg the Ti-hwang, or sovereigns of earth, in th 
sign of the Ox. 

The subject is one that demands a comparativ 
investigation, beyond the limits of this small work. 

It may also be mentioned that Patell, op : cit : 5^ 
says, " The Turkish era (from the time of Timur) 
" commenced with the creation of tlie world, and is com- 
" puted in cycles of 12 solar " years each.*' 

The cycle of 12 years was used in Babylonia in very 
ancient times. Sayce in op : cit : page 53 mentions. 
" The Accadians, had in anticipation as it were of Dr. 

Hunter, expected the same weather after a cycle of 

12 years." 

The Chinese might therefore indirectly have got the 
12 years cycle from the Babylonians, but if they did not 
learn it from that source, the earliest possible introduc- 
tion into China of such a period, could only have 
been the result of their own simple observations, v^rhich 
showed them, that there were twelve lunar revolutions 
from one season of the year, to its apparent reoccurrence 
in the next year; and consequently that this number of 
periods might be used to divide the year into 12 parts, 
and by enlarging the computation, they might have 
made a cycle division of 12 years. 

From that division of the year, the calculation would 
possibly descend to a division of the day into 12 
parts, so as to make its composition analogous to that 
of the year, but it has been already seen, that this 
division of the day into 12 hours was not adopted in 


^a till the timo of the Han dynasty, and thus the 12 

ioml cycle, could not have been the basis of the Chinese 

wyear cycle, unless this were still more recent. 
The double hour, or cas-hft as the Accadiuns called it, 

and answering to 2 of our hour>5, lonj? been in use 

in Babylonia. (Sayce op : cit : oL) The Cliiuese might 

therefore have got the division of the day into 12 hours, 

from the Babylonians, and have used it as well as the 

other division into 100 Ki, although it was only handed 

on by tradition, without appearing in any book. 

The division of the day into 12 houis, is also men- 
tioned in the Zend Avesta, and the Persian Iranians 
might have communicated this to the Chinese. 

It would even appear as possible, that in China the 
division'of the year into 12 months, was posterior to the 
division of the day into 12 hours. Souciet iii. 15 
mentions : — " It is not less certain that the moons, or 
" lunar months have been constantly designated by the 
" signs, of which the characters are those of the twelve 
"hours. For example, the eleventh moon may be 
" called Tcheou, because the sun during the eleventh 
" moon always enters the sign Tcheou," and in a note 
" to this passage he adds : — The 12 characters of the 
"12 hours, thus express the order of the moons, Yu the 
" first moon, Mao the second, Chin the third, <kc., &c.'* 

This inverse order of periods, however, may be less 
real than the above passages would insinuate ; for the 
names of the hours that are said to be used to designate 
he months, may there have been, only one set of the 


names of the months. Souciet, at page 26, of sar 
volume, has: — " The 12 moons of the Chinese year ta. 
" the names of the 12 signs. For instance the fi. 
" moon of spring is called the moon of Pisces. T 
"second is called the moon of Aries, in central a 
*' Eastern Asia ; the reason of this is, that according 
" rule, the sun ought to enter the sign of Pisces, duri 
" the course of the first moon/* 

This was also the ancient Babylonian usage. Say 
op : cit : 64 states " The months were all named 
" Accadian after the signs of the zodiac, the first bei 
" in Assyrian Nisari, our March." This adaptation 
stellar names to the different months, is at the leJ 
singular. Patell, op : cit : 35, says : — " It is remarkal 
" that the Tze which are strictly portions of star tin 
" give their names to the lunar mcmths." 

There can be no doubt, that the division of the y( 
into 12 parts, was a most ancient usage, in cent 
and eastern Asia, and it is possible that the number 
12, might have been applied to make a cycle of yes 
without any connexion with the 12 year period 
Jupiter; but this division of the year into 12 parts, £ 
the similar duodecimal division of the day, are so i 
unconnected with any systematic computation of tii 
by a period of 12 years ; except recourse is had to 
12 years period, of Jupiter ; so that to bring them 
into contact and consequential relation, it would 
necessary to show, that the cycle of 12 years was as ; 
cient as the period of 12 months, by which the du 


ton of the year was reckonod : and this can hardly be 
"Woftho 12 year cycle of JupittT; which in Cliinn, 
TO certainly of more modern origin, than the other 
ttttodenary cycles. This is .s[)i*ciiiliy the case as 
was Chinese are ctnicernod, for it seems clear that 
1^ the 3rd century b.c. they knew nothing sciv.»ntiKeally 
*^in, of the ancient methods of computing time. 
Souciet, 111. 4, states: — "Chinese astronomers unanimously 
"ftgree, that at the year 200 h.c. when the founder of 
"the Han dynasty took possession of the empire, hardly 
anything was known of the ancient methods, which 
"had been taught by the founders of the monarchy." 

The division of the year into 12 months, may possibly 
na?e prepared the way for the division of the heavens 
Jntothe 12 signs of the zodiac, and thus, facilitated 
the attention to the cycle of Jupiter through them ; but 
Kw supposed that the Chinese anciently divided the 
heavens, into 28 parts or sieu ; and as some writers urge 
ttat the 12 signs of the zodiac were deduced from 
them, (Sec Schlegel op; cit:) there is no ground for 
wying that they derived the 12 signs of the zodiac 
from the twelve fold division of the year, nor thus 
measured the passage of Jupiter through them. 

Dr. Chalmers, op: cit: page 95 says, — " That the intro 
duotion of the 12 zodiacal signs, dates from the end of the 
Chow, or the beginning of the Han dynasty." So it 
must have been learnt from western nations : and in a 
note to this he states : — **We do not find that the ancient 
" Chinese made much practical use of the 12 signs.'' 


Souciet, op: cit : ii. 122, states: — " During the Tan 
dynasty, a famous bonze of Fo, named Pou-kong 
taught the Chinese, the names of the twelve signs o^ 
zodiac ; Aries, Taurus, Gemini, &c." 

The use of the cycle of 12 years in China, is attribute* 
to the time of Tchuen-ho, or even to that bf Fu-hi, bu: 
there does not seem to be an 7 historical evidence, th^^^a 
this is the case ; nor does there seem any reason, dravc^^vm 
from analogy with other Chinese similar computatio^c^ns 
of time, already mentioned, that they were users - or 
inventors of such cycle, in the time ascribed to th 
ancient personages. 

It is even a question, whether the Chinese ever us 
a cycle of ten years; so that there is no certainty that t -Jbfi 
cycle of 60 years, could have been originally a composi 
of two such minor cycles of years, as has been suppos 

It is however evident, that their 60 cycle ^w^^a^ 
arranged by adapting a combination of the two cycles of 
10 and 12, of either days, or months ; and it is quite ^^ 
accordance, with their way of rendering as Chinese ^^ 
possible, all the knowledge that they received 
others ; that when the Hindoo cycle of 60 years, \i^ 
made known to them, they should have arranged it 
the same way, as the other periods of 60 intervals ^^ 
time had been previously formed by them ; instead ^ 
literally copying the Hindoo formation and denomiti*'^ 
tions of the 60 years of Jupiter's cycle ; though b^ 
departing from the Hindoo way of marking the 6C^ 
years cjrde, they have not succeeded in obliterating bU- 


ces of whence they derived it, for they have left 
»ofs in Sze^ma-ts^ien list of cyclical years, that it was 
lly the cycle of Japiter^ which they had appropriated 
i transformed. 

r B. Biot, Etudes Sur Tastronomie Indienne et 
inoise, Paris 1852, page x, makes the following 
larks on this system of appropriation ; — '" On examin-* 
ng what the applications of astronomical rales and 
salcolations, in use amongst the several nations of 
mtiquity, can offer either of the sign of originality, or 
>f having been borrowed from other peoples ; if it is 
liscovered that the use of foreign methods, have been 
'ntentUynally disguised, and appropriated to local 
mstoms and superstitions; it becomes testimony to 
:here having been between them, a communication of 
ideas that has not been owned/' 
It is interesting to observe, in connexion with this 
estion, that amongst the Chinese there was also a lunar 
de of 60 months. Patell, op : cit : page 36, states:— 
" The moons of the civil year are also distinguished 
iy their place in the cycle of sixty, and, as the 
utercalary moons are not reckoned, because during 
me of those lunations the sun enters no new sign, 
;here are only twelve regular moons in a year ; so 
;hat tne cycle is renewed every five years. Thus the 1st, 
noon of 1862,, being the first of a new cycle, the first 
moon of every sixth year, reckoned backwards or 
forwards from that date, will also begin a new lunaf 
oyele of 60 moons, ^* 


In what year this lunar cycle of 60 moons, 
introduced into China, there is no evidence ; but it i 
worthy of attention, as besides being a cycle of 5 yea.x*-s, 
it shows a combination of five times twelve moons "to 
produce a period of 60 ; similar to the combination <d{ 
these numbers, which it has been already seen, was tlxe 
foundation of the 60 years cycle of Jupiter; for this vrets 
formed by making five times the twelve years of th^ 
sidereal revolution of Jupiter, into the larger B.nd 
special cycle of that planet. As this 60 lunar cycl^ 
was not formed by combination of 10 and 12, lik^ 
the other Chinese cycles of 60 were arranged; so 
the names of each moon of the lunar cycle were no^ 
composed and adapted after the same plan. It h^^ 
been seen above how Patell points out that tb-^ 
names of the lunar months are the names of the 12 Tz^» 
and are thus of solar origin. Souciet, op : cit : pag^^ 
135, confirms this:— ''The 12 chi are used f^^ 
" marking the moons of the year. The intercak^^y 
" moon has no character assigned to it, in this cycl^- 
The lunar cycle therefore, seems to have sprung froi^ 
the solar cycle, but beyond its being a repetition ^* 
other sexagesimal cycles, it has no essentially scientific 
relations with them. 

The Chinese, have also another sexagesimal cy^l^ 
of days, which are distributed in tlje calendar i^*^ 
cydes of 60 of them, and each day of the cycle J^^ 
a particular name, according to Mayers, C.B.l^' 
page 348. 



1. Eia, 

6. Ki. 

2. Yih, 

7. Kkig. 

3. Ping, 

8. Sin. 

4. Ting, 

9. Jen. 

6. Wu, 

10. Xwei. 

It is similar to tho Eg3rptian year of two months, 

^ sixty days, but it is a matter of uncertainty, at what 

time this cycle of 60 days was introduced into China. 

Dr. Chalmers discussing this question, op : cit : page 

96, states : — "The application of the cycle to days, ib 

* undoubtedly a very ancient practise. But it would 

seem from a passage in the Shoo, Pt. ii. Book iv, par. 

8, that the days were originally arranged in tens 

only, by means of the 10 celestial stems. Yu 

is made to say * I remained with my wife, only tho 

days Sin-jin-kwei-kea. These are the last three, 

and the first, of the above mentioned set of characters 

and the natural inference from their use here is, that, 

ihet/ were invented to divide the month into three 

equal parts; (three decades) and that in coui'se of 

time, they combined were to make the famous cycle 

of 60. The first mention of the cyclical name of a 

day is found in the Shoo, Pt. iv. Book iv. p. 1. 

in the 12 month of the 1st, year of Tae-keS, or B.C. 

1752; but the chronology is utterly valueless, and we 

have no sufficient date to verify the day, moreover 

this is the only instance of the use of the cycle which 

occurs before B.C. 1121, of the same chronology. 

In tho books of Chow it is frequently employed.'* 


! ■ . * '''' . ' ■ ' ' ■ . ' ■ ' .■ ■ ■ ■■! - ■ ■ I ' <l ■ ■ U I ■!— — — ^»^ 

The surmise of Dr. Chalmers is supported by the fact, 
that an aa^gou9 division of the month into three 
decades, wa^ in ancient use among the Athenians, 
though there is no evidence to show how the resem- 
blance occurred between the mensual division of the 
month by the (Greeks, and the similar measurement of 
time of the Chinese. The Athenians and the Chinese 
had the same difficulties about the months of different 
lengths, {^nd yet they managed to keep the decade 
calculation intact, and to divide each month in their* 
own way. 

The di^isioa of time into periods of ten days waar 
Yery ancient, and its origin is not very clear. It seems 
to have been greatly used for astrological purposes. 
Ouerin, op: cit: 181, 185, says it was used by the 
Chaldeans, and quotes Diodorus Siculus, who states :-^ 
^' Every ten days a star is sent on earth, by the planets, 
*' and a star leaves the earth, to inform them of what is 

passing there. These obeervers of the actions of 

men, who followed each other every ten days in the 
^* Zodiac, and rose above the horizon or descended 
" every ten days, are the Drekhanos, or the Dekhans, 
*' which means one who points out, or looks, at what is 
•*' passing." He then adds, that probably the Decania 
of Manilius, Lib. iv. 296, 300, comes from this Indian 

Colebrooke, in his "Life and Essays/* Vol. iii, 325— 
327, in treating of this subject, states : — "The 10 Dresh- 
"kanosjor Decani^ w^ere figured with different attribute* 




^' and dresses. This astrological notion was confessedly 
^' received from foreign nations. Firmions ascribes it to 
<< Nekepso, king of Egypt The names of the Decani 
^' are decidedly barbarous. It is not improbable, that 

some qffinity qf sound in the Egyptian or Chaldaic 

name may have suggested the formation of the 
" corrupt word. The Sanskrit name apparently comes 
" from the same source: — I do not suppose it to be 
'' originally Sanskrit, since in that language it bears 
'' no etymological meaning." 

This last portion of Colebrooke's remarks is contro- 
verted by Ghierin, loc : cit: who states that the Sanscrit 
work Dekhano, means, one who observes or looks at 
what is going on. This meaning of Dekhano is quite 
in accordance with the Chinese sound Kan, which is 
one syllable of the Sanskrit word, and which in 
Chinese signifies to look at, and is used to denote the 
10 £an, or decimal cycle which is now imder examina- 
tion: — Possibly the Chinese 10 Kan, the names of which 
are the same as those above mentioned, belonging to 
the days; may thus be identified wth the Hindoo 
Decani, and with the Chaldean similar 10 day period. 

The chief point to notice in the matter is, that this 
dedmal cycle, or ten Kan, was not originally one for 
^ars but of days, and though it was used to make up a 
Sexagesimal cycle of days, it is most unlikely that it was 
the origin of the sexagesimal cycle of years, or that of 
months ; for the 60 days cycle was formed by multiply- 
ing the periods of 10 days by six, and the 60 months 


cycle was found by multiplying 12 by five, and that of 
60 years by intertwining combinations of 12 and 10. 
The 60 day cycle could not therefore have been the 
origin of the 60 years oycle ; and there is no evidence 
to show that the Athenians, who used the 10 day cycle, 
ever extended their decades of days beyond a series 
of three of them, or 30 days, similar to that division 
of time by the Egyptians, although the Greeks had 
the sexagesimal arithmetic of Ptolemy, and practically 
used it for dividing the equatorial degree into 60**, 
60', 60." 

The only Asiatic period that resembles the Chinese 
cycle of 60 days, is the Hindoo cycle of the Mitu. 
Patell, op: cit: 38, 39 writes: — "The Hindoo solar 
'^ year is divided into six seasons (Ritu) of two sidereal 
" months each, the succession of which is always the 
" same." and there is the probability that the Chinese 
cycle of 60 days came from the Hindoos just as that 
of 60 years did. 

But assuming that the cycle of 60 days was derived 
from the 10 Kan, the question arises, as to whence the 
Chinese got the number of ten as a period of days, or 
indeed, of any intervals of time. 

Patell, writing about the Japanese, op : cit : 37, states 
that they have an era composed of 10 and 12, and he 
remarks : — "The words in the cycle of 10, are the names 
"of the 5 elements, duplicated, by taking those names 
"in both the masculine and feminine terminations; 
"jfg and to" 


"iHieir elements are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, 
W^^ter, and are thus arranged. 

1. Kino-ie ) j 3. Fino-ie ) n 

2. Kino-to J ^«°^- 4. Fino-to ) ^'^' 

5. Tsutsno-je ) ,, 7. Kanno-je ) , , 

6. Tsutsno-to ] ^*"''- 8. Kanno-to ) ™^'*'' 

9. Midsno-io ) . 
10. Midsno-to ) ^^*^''- 

So that if the Japanese derived the cycles of 
10 from the Chinese, as is surmised, it is pro- 
hable that the Chinese originally also made their 
cycle of 10 by duplicating 5 objects. The 
Chinese do the same in another way, for they make, 
Kia and Yih correspond to the element Wood 
Ping „ Ting „ „ „ Fire 

Wu „ Ke „ „ „ Earth 

Keng,, Sing „ „ „ Metal 

Sen „ Kwei „ „ „ Water 

thus giving tico Kans to each of the 5 elements. (See 
Mayers, page 348.) 

The Tartars make their cycle of 10, by duplicating 
the 5 colors ; Green, Greenish, Red, Reddish, Yellow, 
YeUowish, White, Whitish, Black, Blackish. They 
also derive it by a duplication of the 5 planets. The 
five planets had each a color, and the names of the 
planets were thus given to the days. 

The Tibetans also have a similar method of duplicat- 
ing 5 names, in order to make their cycle of teiu 


1. Me. 

6. Chagt. 

2. Me. 

7. Ch'liu. 

3. Sa. 

8. Cli'lm. 

4. Sa. 

9, Shing. 

5. Chags. 

10. Shing. 

This duplication of objects, by supposing that toy 
were of two sexes, was in use by the Etruscans, and 
as the connexion of that nation with ancient AsU 
seems now to be established, see Ellis ''Asian Afi^tiefl 
"of the old Italians*' the practice may possibly Ix 
traced to the same Asiatic origin whence the Tartm 
and Chinese derived it. 

Dennis, gives an instance of this practise amongst fh 
Etruscans at Yd. i. page 4, of " Cities and cemeteries < 
" Etruria,'' There were the 12 great gods, six of eac 
" sex, called Dii Consentes, or Complici. They con 
" posed the council of Tinia." 

It was also in use amongst the Egyptians. Sene< 
quoBst : nat : lib. in. c. xiv. says that they had a eye 
of ten elements, distinguished in male and female. 

The Romans also had a cycle of 10 hours, (see Hygint 

fabula CLXXXiii.) where he gives a special series of ] 

hours, and cites their names in Greek, which possib 

may belong to the cycle of 10 days ; and also one of 1 

months which made up the year before the time * 

When therefore it is asserted by the Chinese, tk 

Hwang-ti invented the cycles of 10 and 12, it can onl 
mean really, that these cycles are known to have do 


oonded from very tncient times : for looking back into 
the remote history of Borne, one sees that BomolaSi or 
Ame one who lived in Italy at the period assigned to him, 
divided the year into 10 months, or moons ; and after 
tiiis, Noma divided and enlarged the year into 12 months,- 
fio that both the divisions of the year by 10 and 12, ex- 
isted in the west, long before there ia historical evidence 
that they existed in China ; and it may be reasonably 
asked whether the supposed invention by Hwang-ti of 
the cycle of 10, is not somehow connected with the 
dedmal division of the year used by the primitive 
Bomans ; especially as it is uncertain what intervals of 
time the denary cycle of Hwang-ti was applied to, 
whether of days or of months or of years. 

The same may be said of the cycle of 12, though 
that period is known to have anciently existed amongst 
the Chaldeans, and that Numa probably got it from 
them, as far as the division of the year was concerned^ 

The Chinese may possibly have also derived their 
bowledge of it from the Chaldeans, as far as the 
^vision of the lunar year was concerned ; though thi3 
system of 12 moons of 30 days each, constituting a 
y^, was amongst the primitive traditions of mankind 
^m antediluvian times, concerning tho length of the 
year; and consequently it preceded the ChaldeanSi who 
however adopted it, and made their Sarus equal to 10 
years of 360 days each, or 3600 days, while their jrear 
^as 12 moons of 30 days each ; so that the Chaldeans 
W a cycle of 10 yoars, long before the Ohinese 


hare any claim to having used it. With regard to the 
question of the antiquity of the cycle, Irhich is here 
dkcnssed) it should i>e noted that the oyclical names of 
the 12 oycle, at present used, are not evem as ancient as- 
Sze-ma4s4en, but were introduced after bis time, as far 
as'chronology is concerned. 

There is another circumsstance emmeeted with the 
Ohineser eybles of 10 and 12, which muf further assist 
in finding how they ofiginated in China. 

iThese <^ycles are called the 10 Kan and the 12 Chi ; 
which have certain Chinese names, and it is from 
these, that the series atnd denomination of the cycle of 
60 is said to be formed. 

But the 12 cM have also other n^annes, Tiz> the naaies 
of animals, and each one of the chi has one of these to 
distingilish it. They are the 

1 Ilat> 7 Horse/ 

2 Ox^ 8 Goat, 

S Tiger, 9 Monkey, 

4 Hare, 10 Cock, 

5 Dragon, 11 Dog, 

6 Serpent, 12 Pig. 

Mayersy in the C.H.M. Pt. lif page 852", remark® 
cfti this subject, ^^ The usage is admittedly of foreign 
" origin, and is traced to intercourse with the Tartar 
" nations. The first explicit mention of the practise 
** of denoting years by the names of animals, is found 
" in the history of the Tang djmasty a.d. 618, where 
" it is reoorded that an envoy from the i^atiett of 


''the SiTglds, spoke of eyents oooorring in the year 

"of the hare, or of the horse. According to 

** Chao-yih, traces of a knowledge of * this method 

''of computation may be detected in literature, at 

" different interyals, as far back as the period of the 

" Han dynasty, or 2nd century of the Christian era. 

" The same writer is of opinion that the system was 

** introduced at that time, by the Tartar immigration.'' 

Abel Bemusat, in his '^ Becherches sur les langues 

Tartares," page 300, 307, has the following, on the 12 

animal names of the Chi : — '' I wish to speak of the 

cycles of twelve animals, imagined by the Kirghis, and 

now in use through nearly all eastern Asia. The model 

of it has incontestably been the duodenary cycle, 

" employed by the Chinese from the highest antiquity ; 

'' but the idea of substituting the names of domestic 

'^ animals, instead of the insignificant characters which 

'' compose it, belongs to the Kiei-kia-sse.'* 

" Besides the advantage of being more easily retained 
*^ in the mind, the cycle of animals has also that of 
'' providing astrologers with new resources, by attaching 
'* to each year, to each day of the hexacontceride, and 
" even to each hour of the day, a symbol derived from 
" the disposition, whether real or fictitious, attributed 
^' to each of the twelve animals. As regards the selec- 
^' tion of these latter, it is difi&cult to say what brought 
^^ it about. The ox, the hare, the horse, the sheep, the 
^* fowl, the dog, and the pig, are animals useful to man, 
<^ mi one can conceive that he wished to give the 


** names of these to some of the periods of his existenc 
** but, the rat, the leopard, and the serpent, are not : 
*^ the same el&s ; the monkey has apparently never be( 

found in ttie forests of Siberia, nor the dragon in ai 

part of the world. Even if the locality where the i 
*^ vention of this cycle is supposed to have originated, 
" changed, it would not be any easier to reconcile tl 
" elements of its composition with other countries. '. 
" India they would no doubt have chosen the remarkab 
'' animals which are special to it, such as the elephax 
" or the tiger ; they would not have admitted the ri 
" which has nothing to recommend it, nor the drago 
*' which is the sole imaginary animal to be found in tl 
*' list. Whatever it may be, it appears that the eye 
*^ of the Kirghis was primitively composed of Turki 
" names, but the Mongols, the Thibetans, the Japanes 
" the Persians, the Manchus, have each translated the 
*' into their own languages, and have only preserv 
" the sequential order of the animals." 

The opinions of Mr. Remusat on the origin of tl 
animal cycle will have to be examined critically lat 
on. The quotation from the work mentioned, 
meanwhile given here, in order to place the reader 
possession of his testimony on the subject, and f 
the completion of the discussion on the eye 
of twelve. 

Hager, in a dissertation in the "Mines de Torient 
says, that the Turks have this animal cycle, and use 
in their calendar. 


"It ^1 bo perceived from the above passages, that the 
"^ animal cycle was applied to denominate the 12 hours 

* the day, as well as the twelve years of the cycle ; 

^^d that it also was applied to the twelve moons of the 

^^ar, appears from Fortia d'Urban, op : cit : Vol. ii, 

l^^ge 6, who, quoting the history of China by De Mailla, 

^Vout the reign of Yao, remarks :— " He chose the 

* moon Ping-yu, otherwise called the moon of the 
** Tiger, the third in the order of the cycle, to be the 
** first moon of the civil year." 

The twelve animal cycle was also used to denote 
^riods of several years. Pere Amiot, in a dissertation 
fin the three Hwangs, inserted in the 4th chapter of 
^remare's, " discours preliminaire " to the Shoo-king, 
Jage 64, mentions : — " The Heaven commenced its 

operations at the revolution of the Rat': the Earth 

commenced its operations at that of the Ox ; and the 
" Man was produced at the revolution of the Tiger." 
He afterwards explains that each of these periods 
was 10,800 years, and 12 of these go to a revolution. It 
may be as well here to recall to mind, that the 
Egyptians divided each sign of the zodiac into nine 
parts, which gives 108 divisions of it ; and with the 
usual amplification of all numerical periods, the resem- 
blance between these periods and those of China, is 
easily to be accounted for. 

These quotations it should be observed, are not 
inserted here as evidence that the application of the 
animal cycle actually occurred at the time of Yao ; or 


at that of the three Hwangs ; but merely to present t~ 
opinion of the authors cited, as evidence that sil^ 
•applications existed at one period or another; and t 
show that the 12 animal cycle, which is a counterpar 
of the 12 chi, was also used for other purposes besidasf 
computing a cycle of years. 

The point sought to be brought to notice now, is, 
that the 12 animal cycle was not an isolated and 
special invention, but was preceded by, or was synchron-! 
ous with, another cycle of 28, from which it was the 
outcome ; and hence, unless the opinion of Bemusat be 
admitted, that the 12 chi cycle was the model of the 
animal cycle, which is very uncertain, the connexioD 
between these three cycles will be established, and light 
will be thrown on the origin of the cycle of 12. 

Guerin, op : cit : page 74, says with reference to this, 
*^ The Hindoos derived their 12 Khyettros, who presided 
*' over each month, from the 28 immoveable figures ol 

the lunar zodiac. The cycle of 28 from which the cycle 
of 12 animals was derived, is the cycle of the 28 sieu." 

Souoiet, II, 136, speaking of this cycle says of the 
cycle of 28, " This is the 28 characters of the 28 Chinese 
" constellations ; it is used for a cycle of 28 years. 1 
" know not whether its use is very ancient in China." 

Mayers, C. R. M. page 358, says, that " mention first 
" occurs of these 28 sieu, in the Chow^li, where the tern 
" (wei, position) is employed as their designation 
" and that they are also mentioned in the Li-ki. 

^* and the Sse-ki by Sze-ma-^tisien, and the ejLprest 


' sions used in their designation are interpreted as 
^ signifying the resting places or mansions of the sun 
'' and moon in their revolutions/' 

According to Gaubil, op : cit i page xii, the most an- 
ient catalogue of them is given in a work by Liu-pu-wei. 

The list of the constellations according to the Chinese 
ames and meanings, is as follows : see Medhurst, Shoo- 
ing, Appendix a. page 399* 

1. Xeo 

» The Horn. 

2. Kang .. 

. ii Neck. 

3. Te , 

. fi Bottom. 

4. Tang 

> „ Hoom. 

6. Sin . . . . . . 4 , 

, „ Heart. 

6. Wei 

. „ Taa. 

7. TTe . . . . 

• „ Sieve. 

8. Tow 

, „Mea!j3ure. 

9. New . . 

► „ Ox. 

10. Neu * 

. „ Girl. 

11. Heu . . 


12. Wei . . 4 ^ .4 


13. Shih 

, The House. 

14. Peih 

. The Wall. 


16. Low . . 

A mound. 

the stomach. 

18. Maou G 

i^he Pleiades. 

The end. 

20. Tsan 

To mix. 

Co bristle up^ 



22. Tsing The well. 

23. Kwei The imp. 

24. Lew The willow. 

26. Sing The star. 

26. Chang To draw a bow. 

27. Yih A wing. 

28. Chin • • The cross bar of a carriage. 
The 28 sieu of the Chinese are also denominated by 2< 

names of animals, which include the 12 animals of whic^- 
the animal cycle is composed. These 28 animals are plac^ 
in slightly different series of ord er by different writeK^^^ 
on the subject as may be seen by the subjoined Ust^^ 

The Abbe Perny, in his " dictionary/' Vdi. i: 
appendix , page 107, places the^28 sieu in the foUowin, 
order, and annexes the list of planets supposed to 
connected with them. 

1. Serpent 

2. Dragon 

• • 

• • 

• • 

3. Ho, a species of beaver 

4. Hare • • 
6. Fox . . 

6. Tiger . . 

7. Leopard 

8. XJnicom 

9. Ox • . 

10. Bat . . 

11. Rat . . 

12. Swallow 

13. Pig . . 















• • 

. The animal Yu 

. Wolf 

u Dog 

. Wild Fowl 

i» Domestic Fowl 

; Orow . * 

. Monkey, . large 

• « 

• « 

• • 

• • 

• • 

• • 

« • 

« • 

« 4 

• • 




.. Honkejy small 

I. Sheep '.. .. 4« •« Tenits« 

< Stag . • • . « • 4 • SotonL 

>« Horse • « • • « • • • . Soil 

'• Stag, small « • < « t • Kooii* 

. Adder« >. « ^ • « « « Man« 

L Lombric • • « « « • Herciajr« 

nU thus be observed ihat of this above series 
ter No. 1. represei^ts the • • « « Serpent. 

. Dragon* 







































which ftre the 12 animals of the Chinese daodecimi 

It Inoreover appears that there are only thn^ planets. ^, 
Jupiter^YenuSf Mars^ and the JSun, Assigned tdihia aeries -^ss 
of twelve animals, and. that of these the planet Jilpite:^ ^r 
is at the head of the list, similar to the position o~ — f 

She-fte-ki, in Sze-marts^ien's list of the 12 Ohi, 'Wher ^e 

that nafne stands for Jupiter. It is also to be no 
that the cotrespondence of Jupiter with the animi 

series in thi^: list, only occurs- once;- and thafl Sat uri i , 
the Moon, and Mercury do not fall in with the 1_ 2 
animals in the above list. 

Gustavo SoUegel, in his- "Uranographie Cttimoise.^," 
VoL I, page 683, and 622, gives the list of the 28 si^^mi, 
and the corresponding animals, and planetis, bi tlSne 
following different order, fie says he transcribed Hcxs 
irom Siuf a's work on astronomy. 

1. Le £oa • 

2. Le Dragon 
• \ 3. Le Blaireau 

* ' ' 'f^, 4. Le Lievre 
^ 5. Renard 
• 6. Tigre 

7. Leopard 

8. Licorne 
6. Boeuf 

10. Chauve Souris 

11. Rat 
lik Eixondelle 

• • 4 




• • • • 


• •' ' •' 

, t * » ' 



• • • • 






• • • 





/* I '' 

% tt 

18. Fore 

14. Pangolin 

15. Loup 

16. Ohien 

17. Faisan 

18. Coq 

19. Comeille 

20. Singe- (grand) 

21. Smge«(petit) 

22. Chien Sauyage 

23. Belier 
-> 24. Cerl.(grand) 

25. Oheyal 

26. Oerf.(petit) . 

27. Serpent 

28. Yer de terre 

• « 

« • 

• f 

f f 

• • 

• • 

• ♦ 

• • 

• • 

• • 

















It will be obserred that according to this series^ the 
^nesponding order of the 12 cycle animals to the 28 
^^^^atures, is somewhat different from that which is 
^Ixown in the series of the Abb^ Pemy 

Venus No. 



Dragon. 1 

Son „ 



Hare. 3 

Mars „ 



Tiger. 3 

Venus „ 



Ox. 4 

Sun „ 



Eat. 5 

Mars „ 



Pig. 8 

Venus „ 



Dog. 7 

Sun „ 



Cock. 8 

idars „ 



Monkey (graAd> J^ 

208 <mmuA Aim emum^twt mctm. 

Yemis yy 23. n < • Bam. 10 

Sun „ 85. 99 • • Horse. 11 

Mars „ 27. ,, •• Serpent 12 

So tkat tke Serpent is the last on this Ikt instead of 
being the first, as it is in the list of Pemy. Moreoyer 
the Dragon is the first in Sohlegel's list. Dr. Scfalegelt 
page £68^ eites Siorfa, who states the diotionar^ Show- 
wen says dso that the hoar Sse is the symbol of the 
serpent ; which corroborates Pemy'ft ordeir of ihe -Mries^ 
as Sse ffi &e first of the Chi which eorrespoiid to the 
12 animals^ and it would even show that the vat, tkongh 
now plaod Arsty wat not anciently nt the head of the 
list. Moreover, the. dragon is the first, in Bchkgel's 
list, whereas it is the second in Pem/s eenM. 

The planets are also assigned differently in Sohlegel's 
list, aa4 none of the 12 animals correspond there with 
Jupiter, nor wiQi Saturn, nor witii the moon nor with 
Meronry ; so that only two of the planets are assigned 
to the series in Schlsgel^a list, whereas there are tbree 
in that of Pemy. 

BoAl the above ordinal jeries of the 12 animals, 
differ however from the ordinary placement of them aa 
Is given by Mayers, .C.E.M. Pt. ii. No. 802. 

1. Rat. . 7. Horse* 

2. Ox. 8, Goat. 

3. Tiger. 9. Monkey. 

4. Hare. 10. Coct 

5. Dragon;. . 11. Dog, 

6. Sei|ieMt 12. fi^ 


In {his the rat stands first, whereas the rat is 
flie 6th in Sohlegers and the 6th in Perny's list, 
and the aeqnenee of the other animals prooeeds in 
inTerse order in Mayer's series, to those of the other 
mentioned series. With however the exception of these 
difiEerenoes, they all agree sabstantially in the fact 
fiiat the 12 animals of the duodenary cyde, hare been 
methodieally selected from the 28 animal names of the 
Chinese sien ; for they follow each other by regular 
amflar interrals of 2 and 3, except the first two in 
Pffny'a list, in which couple it is, that the sole 
^pearaaoe of Jupiter occurs ; and if they were all 
written consecutively in a circle, as they occur in the 
Older which they follow in the 28 series, starting from 
fte Bat as the initial point, they will be found to thus 
OQDapy exactly the same position as they do in the oyda 
HBudly employed by the Chinese. 




Schlegel, at page 568, op ; cit : gives a dra^fing' -<> 
the circle with the 12 animals ranged round it, whic^}^ 
he extracted from the Tien TQuen-U-lh aad wluci ^ 
here reproduced. 

The Chinese have an outer circle to this drawing 
In which the 28 sieu are placed round Jthe 12 animals 
60 as to correspond with them. 

The origin therefore of the duodenary cycle of 
animals may be traced to a systematic connexion with 
the 28 sieu, and its Chinese historical origiu cau ouly 


thus be sjmchronical with the appearance in China of 
the 28 sieu. It will be seen further on, that several 
of the 12 animals also occur among the animal s}inbols 
of the 28 Indian Nakhsattras. 

There is also another point which is worth consider- 
ing, viz, that the 12 animal cycle is positively identified 
with the 12 chi cycle, so that not only that cycle, but 
even the cycle of 60, which is derived from it, will be 
both found to have a contemporary origin in the 
introduction of the 28 sicu. 

Mayers, page 357, places the two series of names 
together, and shows that each of the 12 chi appertain to 
one of the 12 animals, so that practically they are the 
lame. Schlegel, op : cit : page 559, quotes from a 
Chinese author *^ Materials for the astronomy of the 
eountry of Buddha." " The Emperor Hwang-ti, b.c. 
2697, established the 12 signs Tcheou, Tsze, &c., to de- 
signate the twelve months and he made them correspond 
to the 12 names of animals." The animal cycle, there- 
fore, according to the Chinese themselves, is identical 
%ith the cycle of 12 chi, or the 12 months of the year. 

The modem cyclical names of the 12 chi as dis- 
tinguished from the animal names are, 

1. Tse. 7. On. 

2. Tcheou. 8. Ouei. 

3. In. 9. Chin. 

4. Mao. 10. Yeou. 

5. Chin. 11. Su. 

6. Se. 12. HaL 


and though it is to be observed, that they do not 
appear to be derived from the astronomical names of 
the 28 sieuy it is not proved whether those cyclical 
names were known to the Chinese, more anciently 
than the animal names of the sieu — or even that the 
were more anciently known than the names of the 1 
kan, which also have no ascertained connexion wi 
the 28 sieu : but whether this be so or not, it h 
already been seen that the names of the cycle of the 1 
chi as a cycle of 12 years, is not proved to be (^^ 
ancient usage in Ohina. 

There is also a further remarkable coincideiice, b^^ 
iween the Hindoo Nakshattras and the Chinese siei*. i 
and the animals which are symbols of the latter, f ros^ 
which the 12 animal cycle is derived. It is, that tlxu^ 
greater part of the Hindoo Nakshattras have also anim^ 
symbols, and amongst them are to be found several 
which correspond to those in the Chinese series of 2^ 
and in that of 12. Guerin, op : cit : page 42*48» gives- » 
list of these Hindoo symbols. No. 1, has a horse's hea^ 
or a man with a horse's head. He calls this Nakshatt;^* 
osAme, and gives its derivation from osho, a hoxae^ ^ 
Zend asp. 

2. Bharani Has a fowl. 

4. Rohini A serpent 

6. Ardra A tortoise or frog. 

5. Mrgacirsha . • . • A stag's head. 
9. Aclesha . . . • Head of a dragon. 

10. M^a . • » . . . Monkey. 


• • 






4 4 lilOIl* 


• • Bog. 

SometiineB theso 

14. Citra 

15. Svab • • 

16. Kieakha 

18. Jyesiha 

19. Mala . . 

20. P. Ashadha 

21. IT. Aehadha 
24. CraTishtha 

Querin, page 51, farther states i-^* 
' QonsteUatiofluB are painted ander the form of men^ 
' ^th the head of a bird» of a serpent, of an ox, of a 
' dog ; and at another time ander the fotta of animals 
' of aU sorts.'' 

Faravey, op i eit: page 31> points ont that :— MSimilaif 
symbols of men with other animal heads are brmally 
iraoed in the Zodiacs of Esneh and of Denderah. He 
Hgo says, similar figures of human bodies with animal 
leads are to be found in ^ Chinese cyclopedia^ quoted 
»y Bemusat 

It will be seen from' the above, that 10 of the animals 
mentioned in ihe Chinese 12 animal cycle> and 13 of 
ihose mentioned in the 28 animals of the Chinese sieu^ 
ire all to be found in the animal symbols of the 28 
[ndian Nakshattras ; and as the 12 animal Chinese 
signs are deriTed from the 38 sien, atid as these 
latter are identified with the Nakshattras ; it is evident 
that tilie Chinese 12 animal signs, are also derived 
from the 28 animal and other symbols of the Hindoo 
Nakshattras. This completely disposes of the assertioni 


that they were invented by the Kirghis, which was 
most likely Ventured on by Chinese, to deflect atterition 
from their restl origin ; and that by tracing them to 
the Eirghis, who have no reliable history, the subject 
might be shrouded in the mystery of tradition, and 
thus acquire the garnish of antiquity/ 

Dr. Schlegel, Uran : Chin : 559, treating of the (Sycfo 
of 12 animals states : — ^' The origin of this zodiac is 
"absolutely unknown,** and he adds,- that Klaprbth 
(Journal Asiatique, tom xv. page 312) mentions that 
the oldest known monument representing this animal 
zodiac is a mirrory described in the collection of anti- 
quities, called Po-kou-thou, by Hoang-hio-fang, which* 
mirror was made in the 5th year of Kao^tsu, tho founder 
of the Tang djiiasty, a.ix. 622. 

This was iA)out th-e same time th'at the Hindoo 
astronomy and astrolo^ was fornnaUy introduced into 

Schlegel, further states, loc: cit: — "The Chinesef 
** hooky called the beginning of things," (written by 
liotf-hang) ascribes the invention of this animal cycle 
to Hwang-ti ; but a Japanese author of the book called 
^* Materials for the astronomy of the country of 
Buddhay*' states^ that there is no proof of such origin 5' 
and that they are not more ancient than the Emperor 
Ming, of the Han dynasty, a.d. 58. 

Dr. Schlegel, page 561, op : cit : urges however, ^ 
support of the antiquity of this animal cycle, that in the^ 
memoirs of Kouan-lou, mention 16 made of " the pro' 


-' gnostiGS of the dragon and the serpent/' and their 
corresponding signs of Tchin, and Sse; and he con-^ 
eludes h^tily from this, that the animal zodiac was 
known in the Han, and Tsin dynasty, or 3rd century 
of our era, and he also asserts thatViey were even 
known in the time of the Ohow djmasty. He merely 
says :-rr" We have indirect historical proofs of the 
^' existence and use of this cycle as far back as 
" the sixth century before our era. The book called 
*^ Researches of origins" says that the twelve animals 
** already exist since a long time, but no one knows 
'• whence they came. There is no mention made of 
" them in the classics." 

These surmises of Dr. Schlegel do not agree with his 
own statement, nor with the fact that neither the names 
nor the cycle of the 12 animals had any scientific or 
systematic existence in ancient times, outside the 28 
atellar mansions, or sieu, which are represented by 28 

Dr. Schlegel, page 562-563, avows :— '"that many 
*^ Chinese savants^ have tried to account for the origin 
*f of this zodiac, but without success," and he cites an 
author of the Yuen i!^asty (quoted by Siu-fa the 
author of the Tien-yuen-li-li) who says, that Choo-hi 
liaving asked the epoch whence they dated, and in 
what books their origin could be found, he received the 
answer, that they corresponded to the 28 planetary 
domiciles, or sieu, but that only the dragon, and the ox, 
were to bQ found there ; and that as far as the others 


are concer^edy none of them corresponded. (This is not 
ieo(rrect : see page ^04.) Also that '' The Beseardies 
of strange things" of Han wen, cap: Fonng-mao-ti; 
of l(ao«3rii^g-tohoi;en, state that no one knows whence 
the 12 mortal Ahjects came from, and then the Chinese 
autlitoir states : — " In my own opinion the passage of 
'' the Shi-king, the day King-* won is thought ludcy, and 
** good for choosing our horses, is a proof that at tkat 
'' tiipte, the sign wouj corresponded to that of the h&ru" 
The only analogy between them is, that both Won 
and ti^e horse axie in the 7th place of either series. 
This ^aotatu>];L however from the Shi-king, is not 
conclusive on the point under examination ; for the date 
of the cpB^position of the ode is not certain ; nor is it at 
all cert^ that this is the right interpretation of tiie 
fUusiou to the dioice of horses. 

On the other h&nd, Ideler, " TTeber die Zeitreehnnng 
^•' der Ohiaeseu,'' page 78 ; maintains that this cycle was 
invcQted in western Asi$, and Schlegel urges on this* 
that the Chinese who anciently dwelled there, were 
consequently the inventors. This might be true of 
ithe ancestors of the Chinese ; but the connecting link 
between theiQ aistd these ancestdts, is not apparent 

Wk^y^T may be the original place of the invention 
of the 12 auimal zodiac, it is only necessary to observe 
here, for elucidating the subject in hand, that the 
cycle of 12 animals is so closely connected, even by the 
a^c^ission of Chinese, with the 28 sieu, that tips 
re^iQUfi^p is only to 1^ accounted f or 1^ t^ fff^ 


bftbilifyfhat thejr are ssmohronioally identical as regards 
flie Ohinese. Hie Hindoos derived the names of their 
eyele of 12 months from the 28 names of the cycle of 
28y (see Bnrgess, <q>: dt: page 80,270), so that in 
India as well as in China, the two ^des of 12 are 
closely connected in their origin. 

This IS shown by Patell, op: oit: page 38; who 
says : — ''In the most ancient astronomy of the Hindoos, 
" before the adoption of the solar zodiac^ the beginning 
'' of the year was placed at the entrance of the snn into 
'' Aswini, the first of Ae Nakshattras, or the mansions 
'' of the fixed lonar zodiac Abont the year 1181 b.o. 
^ the solar zodiac was adopted, fonnded on the lunar 
" zodiac . . The names of the nwnths were the same as 
those of the lunar mansions^ in which the moon was 
full, in the year that the solar zodiac was formed." 
Proctor, ** Contemporary Revietv** June 1879, men- 
tions the change from the lunar to the solar zodiac, 
was necoessitated by the inaccuAcy of the former, and 
the only continuity preserved was in the names of 
the 12 moons of the year, which were given to the 
12 solar divisions of the year. 

Were the old Hindoo months, those of animals ; i^nd 
was the zodiac as now formed, with its animals^ t^en 
from the ancient animal lunar series P 

The records of Ohinese astronomical science are so 
incomplete, that they afford no evidence as to whether 
the Chinese proceeded in a similar manner, in this 
point, to tb4t 6mplo;p'ed by the ^t|ldoos ; ai^di it ii proi^ 


bable that the transfer of the lunar names to those 
the zodiacal divisions, had been invented long befo 
the Chinese ever thought of such matters. It 
therefore be necessary to enquire more closely into tL ^ 
origin of the system of the 28 asterisms, and the corres — 
ponding division of the ecliptic. 

First, as regards whether the Chinese themselve^^ 
originated the system 28 sieu, it will be as well to related 
what writers on Chinese astronomy say on this point 
Dr. SohlegeU op : cit : page 583, writing on the 
astrological zodiac of the 28 animals, states; — ^first, 
that it is to be found in the work of Siu-fa; and 
that Siu-fa attributes great antiquity to it, and even 
pretends that it is the origin of the 12 animal stars. 
Sohlegel differs from Siu-fa, about the actual ancient 
epoch of its first date,, and urges in support of his 
remark, 1st, no allusion is made to this in the classics : 
2nd, that the number of 28 animals of which it ia 
composed, proves ecidetitit/ that it could have only been 
composed after the division of the principal asterisms 
of the ecliptic into 28 planetary domiciles, as things 
must have existed before they were named, and that this 
division only dates from the Chow dynasty, or eleven 
centuries before our era. It may here be remarked, 
that as both the asterisms used in dividing the ecliptic, 
and the animal names given to them, are imaginary, 
they might easily have been invented together. 

Dr. Schlegel does not give any proof of what he states^ 
that the appell^tiQu oi the 28 divisions was not pcmdc^ 


^^ fhe yery time at which such divisions were made ; 
^Oi> does he adduce any proof of the 28 system dating 
^ far back &s the Chow dynasty. 

Dr. Burgess in his translation and notes of the Surya 

^iddhanta, page 201, states that Mr. Biot maintains 

<ixat at B.C. 2357, the Chinese had only 24 of the 28 

^eu, or stars ; and that the other 4, (the ^th, 14th| 

^Ist, and 28th)^ were added in the time of Chow-kung, 

^bout 1100 B.C. which completed the system of 2B» 

^ut Dr Burgess remarks : — '* it is obviously imposmble 

** to fix the date by internal evidence, within a century 

^* or two ; nor is the eittemal evidence for this of a 

** more definite character ;" and further on :-*-" This 

** history rests on the authority of Mr. Biot alone, who 

*^ has not himself laid before us in their original form, 

** the Chinese texts, which furnish the basis of his 

^* concltisions.*' 

Mr. Biot in " Etudes Sur Tastronomie Indienne et 
"Chinoise," Paris, 1862, page 247, and in the 
subsequent article, " Precis de Thistoire de I'astronomie 
Chinoise," replies to these criticisms of Dr. Burgess, but 
he does not produce the original Chinese texts to 
support has tbfebry, and he only mentions the Chinese 
works on astronomy^ such as the San-pen, San tong and 
Tcheoupey, the authenticity and authority of which is 
questionable ; and he merely says of them that they were 
seen by Pere Gaubil, and made the partial basis of his 
history of Chinese astronomy ; but Gaubil certainly 
dees not confirm by any Chinese reliable authority 


what Mr. Siot had stated. Biot, in his justification, 
presents^ the well known elaborately composed historical 
system of ancient Chinese astronomy, which is altogether 
a "petitio principii." He also quotes the Shi-king, 
the Shoo-king, and Chow*li, as though their testimony 
were irrefragable ; but he gives no solid reply to Dr. 
Burgess' remarks on this question. The assertion 
therefore of Dr. Schlegel, about the antiquity of the 
28 sieu, and that the division of the ecliptic into 28 
mansions dates from before the Chow dynasty, is not 
borne out by the opinion of Mr. Biot ; for according 
to him, the Chows are to be credited with having 
invemted four of these stellar divisions. Moreover, tiie 
24 astronomical objects which Mr. Biot states were 
known to the Chinese, before the Chow djmasty ; are 
not proved to be the 24 Sieu, and they might have just 
as well represented the 24 Tsie-ki, or the 24 Tchong- 
ki. Besides this, the records of the Chow dynasty are 
not of certain accurate chronological authenticity, al- 
though they do make certain material mention of &e 28 
sieu. See Chow-li Kiv: xxvi. foL 20 — ^xvii, fdi. 29. 
XXVI. fd, 13 16. 

It should be remembered, that the 28 Chinese sien, 
beside their being an astronomical or astrological system, 
correspond with a cycle of 28 years, as already stated: 
Pere Souciet, op : cit : ii, page 126, states with refers 
enee to the special use of the 28 sieu as a cycle :*-* 
^' 7hose who at the beginning of the Tang dynasty, 
'^^A.D. 622) taught the Chinese the four points of ik» 




heavens, Lo-heou, Kitou, Ki, Po, were according to 
Hing-yiin-lou, from a western country called Yu-szei, 
and this Chinese author says, that the capital of Yu- 
sze was Kang-ku; which place Souciet opines is 
between Kashgar and Samarcand, but 3*, or 4*, more 
to the north, than either of them ; and he mentions 
" that it was from [this place, that the Chinese got the 
" grape vine, 100 years B.C." Souciet adds, that this 
place does not occur in the ancient Chinese geographies, 
but in that of the Ming dynasty, it is called the king- 
dom of the Yous, or the country of the Yues-begs. 

It will have been noticed, that among the four points 
of the heavens, which the Chinese thus learned from 
the western teachers during the Tang dynasty, there is 
the Ki, which is described by Souciet op : cit : ii. 122, 
as being a cycle of 28 years ; and he adds " that it was 
" used for the intercalations," This word Ki, and the 
names of the other 3 points of the heavens, Souciet states 
are taken from the language ot a western country ; and 
the Chinese astronomer Hing-yuenJou, asserts that it 
forms part of the rule or the law of the Poloraen, and in 
a foot note to this page in Souciet's book, it is explained 
that, "Polomen means, Brahmins." 

It thus appears that as far as the Chinese had any- 
thing to do with the origin of the cycle of 28 years, they 
derived the knowledge of it from the Hindoos, about 
A.D. 622 ; and that as it is identical with the 28 Chinese 
sieu, it follows that the 28 sieu in China, date from the 
same time ; unless the statement of Souciet is held to 


mean, that it refers merely to the characters, and animal 
names of the cycle of 28 years, that were then nsed for 
the first time, to designate the 28 Sieu : hut as this is 
mere conjecture, it can have no weight against the 
plain sense of Souciet's statement. 

Souciet, further states, that Li-tchun-fong, who was 
the mathematician of T$i tsong, the 2nd enjperor of the 
Tang dynasty, a.d. 629 ; learnt the four points of the 
heavens already mentioned, including the Ki or cycle 
of 28 years, from western strangers, and they were 
mentioned in an astronomical book called Kieou tche, 
and that this work was translated a.d. 718, into 
Chinese by an imperial astronomer called Kutan, who 
was a stranger from a western Kingdom called Tien 
tchow, which Chinese say is India, but which Souciet 
suggests may be Syria. 

This further corroborates the Hindoo origin amongst 
Chinese of the 28 year cycle, though at present there 
is no evidence beyond the testimony of the Chinese 
themselves, that the Hindoos used a cycle of 28 years, 
although like the Chinese, they had a system of 28 
asterisms for dividing the heavens. 

There might possibly have been a cycle of 28 years 
amongst the Bactrians, or Chaldeans, as it certainly is 
an ancient real period. 

It may however be considered, as established, that 
the cycle of 28 years came to the knowledge of the 
Chinese through the Kieou-tche, and that the 28 animal 
aumes of the 28 asterisms, are identified with it. 


Souciet farther states, op : cit : page 126 : — ^that one 
of the uses to which the 28 characters is placed, came 
'*from the same source. A Chinese scholar assured 
*' me that the custom of giving the name of one the 
*'28 constellations to each day, was introduced into 
*' China through the Kicou tche, (the title of the book 
*' in which the 28 year cycle is mentioned). Souciet 
adds; — "I have not found this stated in any book* 
** and I don't know whether the scholar was right. 
*' He did not know where he had learned it." 

The statement of the scholar, doubtless, represented 
a current tradition on the subject, amongst the learned 
Chinese, at his time ; and even supposing that it was 
only his own original view of the case, it would still 
appear, from the aversion which the Chinese literary 
men have to innovations, that this scholar did not think 
it contradictory of the received view on this point ; and 
that there was no general certain belief amongst Chinese 
scholars at the time he spoke to Pere Souciet, that the 
system of the 28 names of the asterisms was earlier 
them the time of the Sung dynasty. It may be also 
remarked, that Souciet certainly had no proof that the 
scholar was wrong, or he would have stated that he 
was so. 

Mayers, C.R.M. page 359, states: — " There can be 
little doubt that the practise of marking * the days of 
" the sun ' has crept into Chinese chronology from a 
" western quarter." Schlegel, op : cit : page 645 
states regarding this : — 


"Ki (or Khi as he writes it,) is an Indian name," 
and he calls it "an invisible planet which represents 
*' our solar cycle of 28 Julian years ;" and he cites a 
" Chinese author, who states : — "The Khi is produced 
" hy the intercalary moon. In 28 years there are 10 
" intercalary moons, £^nd during this time the Khi has 
" made one revolution round the heavens." 

This is the first mention found of the Chinese 
ack;nowledgement of the 28 years cycle. 

Possibly this may have reference to the planet 
Saturn ; for Schlegel page 628, 629 states : — 

" This planet according to the Chinese, advances in 
" 28 days one degree, and in 28 months one sign (of the 
" zodiac) so that it achieves its revolution in the 
" heavens in 28 years" 

There is, as Schlegel observes, an inexactitude in this 
observation of the Chinese, for Saturn performs this 
revolution in 28 years and 166 days, but it certainly 
shows, nevertheless, that the Chinese had a cycle of 
28 years, which they wrongly applied to Saturn, and 
the above appear to be the only two instances, in which 
they have used it scientifically; though practically, hy 
naming their days in four series of seven days each, 
with each day under the influ(»nce of a planet ; they 
adopted the method of a using a week of seven days* 
without apparently knowing that by a cycle of 2o 
years this nomenclature of the days is regulated, a^^^ 
made to recur in similar order, at the end of su^" 


The week of seven days, with each day under the 
influence of a planet, was used in Babylon, at least 1700 
B.C. but it has to be noted, that this was no chronological 
epoch, and is merely one by which the Ist, 8th, 15th, 
21st & 28th days of each month were regulated in this 
planetary order, without specially and similarly noticing 
the remaining days of the month, between the 28th 
day, and the 1st day of the next month ; whereas the 
Chinese continue the series of days all the year rdund, 
without intermission ; just as the Europeati nations do. 

There is no proof that the Chinese have done this 
scientifically, and it is not even certain that they used 
the year of 365 days and a quarter, which is the basis 
of the 28 year cycle, until recent times. Souciet, iii, 
6, says of the astronomy of the Han dynasty: — 

" The year was divided into 865 days, and a quarter 
'* of a day," which would lead one to conclude that this 
division of the year was only known in China at 
that time ; though there are others, who maintain that 
the Chinese knew of this solar year much earlier, relying 
on the celebrated passage in the Shoo king, where the 
Emperor Yao said " an entire year consists of three 
" hundred and sixty and six days." WhateVei* may be 
the case regarding this point, it cannot prove that the 
Chinese had a contemporary scientifical knowledge of 
other calculations pertaining to a solar year, at the 
supposed date of Yao. Mr. John Reeves remarks in his 
appendix to Morrison's dictionary. Vol. i, part ii, page 
1063: — "To bur surprise w6 find that tiie Chmese fciiottr 



" little or nothing about astronomical science. T^Rie 
** Chinese have been described as having arts, but tz^Do 

science ; and the more we are enabled by a progressL ^ve 

knowledge of their language, to examine their liter£L^»7 
" works with our own eyes, the better shall ^^^e 
"appreciate the justness of this description of thenzM-." 

This would explain why the Chinese had a materrial 
knowledge of the existence of the 28 years cycle, wi'fcl- 
out having the science to understand its application to a 
practical p\;rpQse, such as other nations have doxie. 

At ai;y rate,, a scientific acquaintance with "felo 
gystemsj^ of 28 years, or 28 asterisms, could not T>6 
very ancient in China, for Souciet, iii, 2 states : — "I?le 
" astronomy put in order by the Emperor Kang-hi, e^^d 

published a few years previously, assures that ^t t;le 

time of Tsiu-chi hwang-ti, the Chinese had lost 'th^ 
^ method taught by the ancieivts, for the calculation of 
" the seven planets." Of course the Emperor Kan^-J^ 
takes it for granted, that previous to Tsin-chi hw^ng-"* 
the Chinese had once possessed the method referred ta 

This passage of Souciet is however ren^arkable, because 
the system of the 28 asterisms is founded s^ccording ^ 
Schlegel, op : cit : and other upholders of the antiquify 
of the 28 asterisms amongst the Chinese; on the 
application of the 7 planets to each of the four seasons of 
the year ; and if the calculations of these 7 planets were 
pot known, then neither could the 28 asterisms system 
ill connexion with them^ in ^chlegels hypothesis*, have 
l>Qm knowu either. The adaptation therefore iA the 


7 planets to the 28 system, must be recent ; and the 
connexion between them is not later than the 7th 
century after Christ. 

Souciet, adds, " What the Emperor Kanghi says is 
^* taken for certain by the authors who since the Han 
" (206-226 A.D.), have written on astronomy," and he 
concludes, that '^at the time of Tsiu Chi Hwang-ti there 
" were neither able astronomers, nor a known method 
" of it, All that remained were confused traditions, 
'' catalogues of stars and constellations, and fragments 
" of hidden books :"-^and at page 7, Souciet ^dds : — 
" The first entire course of astronomy was made 66 
" B.C. by LieoU'hin, who had collected the observations 
" of LieoU'hang, his father, of Sze-ma-ts4en, of Lo-kio'- 
" hong, and others ; and it was called San Tong, or 
" three principles." And at page 9 : — " They had no 
" knowledge of the equations for the Sun, the Moon, 
" and the plamets." 

They however knew about the 28 constellations ; for 
Souciet remarks here : — *< Besides the place of the sun 
**' in relation to the 24 Tsie-ki, or to the 28 constella- 
** tions ; Liu-hin, and Lo-<hia-hong referred it to the 
** twelve divisions of the equator called Tse," but 
at page 12, he says. " It is much to be desired, that 
" the history of the Han had explained in detail, how 
** all the knowledge which is there related, had been 
" acquired. There is no distinctive mention made, 
** of what had been known by tradition, or of what 
^^ had boon Qbtaiaetd hy means of the books, that had 


" been found, or of what had been derived from sr^ 
" flexions on the ancient and recent observations." 

There is thus no evidence in the Han astronomi43al 
books above mentioned, as to the domestic origin or 
antiquity of the 28 asterism system, amongst tilie 
Chinese. Moreover, Souciet, op : cit : page 15, sho"«vs 
that these astronomers abounded in false and absixTd 
remarks, and calculations ; and that they did not evr^n 
understand what they wrote about the cycle of 19 yes^TS, 
and that they propounded the Chang yuen, in lieu of a 
scientific epoch of the movements of the heavenly 
bodies, and at page Ih, he adds : — " that it is not at ^1 
" certain that the Chang yuen was known previous ^^ 
" the hurtling of the books." 

It may be observed, that there is no numerical relati^^ 
between the cycle of 28 years and the Pou of 76 yea-^s, 
or the Ki of 1520 years (= 20 Pou.) or the Tuea <>' 
4560 years (= 60 Pou or 76 cyles of 60 years eacb^) 
which the Chinese learned from the Hindoos ; so tha^ * 
knowledge of these periods does not show that the ^^ 
year period was scientifically known to the Chinese ^^ 
that time. 

Souciet, op : cit : 21, says :— "that Li-fang (a.d. 8^0' 
iiiveuted the eycle of 76 years, as a correction of the 1 ^ 
years period. There is a curious similarity between tf^^ 
first syllable Li of the Chinese inventors name, and thf-^ 
middle syllable, Li, of Calippus, the Greek inventor C^^ 
tiie well known 76 year period, and it strongly savoi 
rif an unacknowledged appropriation of western kno^' 


e; and as Li-fang is said to have oallcd this 
)d PoUy there is a further curious similitude 
the term, between that word and the last 
.ble of CalippuSy which would naturally have been 
)ised without a final consonant. Souciet further 
)s at page 20-23 that at the time the Sze-fen 
>nomy was composed by Li-fang, under the Emperor 
ing-ti ; sometime before a.d. 85 ; the Chinese had 
istruments for observing and representing the move- 
ts of the stars in their relation to the ecliptic, 
h. )vouId have been necessary to assign the proper 
ions to the 28 asterisms ; and it was not till the 
A.D. 99, that they had an instrument for that 
lose, which was made by Kia-koung, who in his 
lorial to the Emperor Ho-ti, states, that there were 
instruments in use that served to represent those 
ements in their relation to the equator. 
>uciet at page 24 adds: — "In the year of Christ 103, 
zodiacal distances of the 28 constellations were 
served afresh, and is not certain that it is to that 
ne, that t/ic dute of the ancient declinatiofii of 

9 constellations, marked in the table of Y-hang, of 
e 1st, Tang dynasty, is to bo referred.'* 

would appear however most probable, that as there 

10 antecedent records of observations of the 28 
•isms, except the mention of the 28 sieu in the San- 
, 66 B.C.; these observations of 103 a.d.; were 
y of that time, although mentioned as made afresh, 
jiet at page 31, writing of the Han astronomers 


states : — "The numbers of heaven, (1, 3, 5, 7, 9=2! 
** of earth, (2, 4, 6, 8, 10=30) and of the expansion 
" the eight Kwa, gave the numbers of the eight gre 
" Tsie-ki, of the 24 Tsie-ki, of the 28 comtellatiov^ 
" of the cycle of 19 years, and other things. 
" they were not obliged to give any reasons for tl 
" facts which they advanced, there is no sort of coi 
" bination which they did not make, by addition, sul" — *' 
" straction, division, and multiplication. All this w^ ^ 
" done, to discover certain epochs, relative to the cy< 
" of 60. Moreover, that the greater part of the Hi 
" astronomers, believed that the calculation of 
" movements of the stars, was not founded on 
" moveable rules." 

There could not therefore have been at that time, 
any scientific system, amongst the Chinese, of the 
movement of the planets through the 28 mansions^ 
which later astronomers assert gave rise to the system 
of the sieu. 

It may be conceded with all this, that the Chinese 
probably had an incomplete traditional knowledge of 28 
constellations, by which certain movements of the 
celestial bodies were marked, long before they became 
acquainted with them from the Hindoos. It is known 
that the 28 asterisms were part of the Hindoo 
astronomical system anciently, or at least of the astro- 
logical system ; though besides the 28 asterisms or 
mansions, there was another system of 27 asterisms, con- 
nected with it. But it is difficult to understand, how the 


28 asterisks could be made au element in any scientific 
astronomical system except as connected with the solar 
cycle of 28 years, or as denoting the 28 days usually 
supposed duration of the moon ; and the Chinese do not 
seem to have made onie out of them. 

The next mention made of the 28 constellations, is 
by the astronomer of the Tsin Emperor, 284 a.d. ; and 
Souciet, op : cit : page 45, writes of him ;-^**Seeing that 
" according to the Chinese method of the former 
" astronomers. Lieu-hong and others of the Ouei, it 
" was almost impossible to fix with precision the place 
" of the sun in a Tsieki, with reference to the constella^ 
" tions; he invented another method, 

" Thus in the middle of some eclipses of the moon, 
" he took th^ place of the moon, with reference to one 
" of the 28 constellations ; and then by calculation he 
" found the place of the sun, with reference to the 
'^ same constellation ; then the sun's place in the 
" constellation ^at the winter solsticle, and so on," but 
this winter solstice, says Souciet, at page 47, was 
" only accurately fixed by Ho-^ching-tien (a.d. 443), 
" who it is known, had some conferences with an 
" Indian Bonze, who was well versed in astronomy, 
" and from whom he might possibly have learned the 
"method of observing it;" and at page 121, op: 
cit : Souciet says : that " this Indian bonze, was Hoey 
yen, who came to China in 440 a.d. at the time 
of the first Sung dynasty, and he taught Ho-ching- 
** tien, many things about astronomy." Souciet con- 


inues at page 49 : — " He further made an immeic:=^^8e 
'* sphere, with the earth in the middle, and the §8 

" constellations, appearing in the sphere ; and his marker ?i, 
" ing the place of the sun at the winter^ solstti*- — ^ce^ 
" in the constellation Teou ; (one of the 28) sho^^irsy 
" that they were well known to him, and that th^- ey 
" had some reference to he sun/' 

Even the bonze Y-hang, at the time of the Tan^ 
Emperor, Hieun-tsong, 721, a.d.; derived the 28 can- 
stellations and the 24 Tsie-ki from the mysterious 
number 50, or the Fa-yen, or 49 ; so that even at that 
recent date, there teas no scientific basis amongst Chiime, 
for the 28 mansions, nor for the 28 year cycle con- 
nected with them. So far as regards the date at which 
the Chinese scientifically knew about the 28 sieu, 
or the cycle of 28 years, it would be difficult to assign 
the commencement of their systematic acquaintance 
with it, further back than about the first years of the 
Christian era. 

It would rather appear from what has been stated, 
that the Chinese derived their principal knowledge 
of the 28 sieu, and consequently the same of the 
other cycles which depend on them, or arc derived 
from them, through the Hindoos ; but it is as well to 
state that the Hindoo and Chinese systems regarding 
these 28 mansions, are not altogether identical ; and 
morover, that there is a probability that both the Hin- 
doos and Chinese, derived their knowledge of the whole 
subject, from some other source in more ancient times. 


Tke Hindoo primary system of the mansions only 
made them to oonsist of 27 ; whereas the Chinese from 
the time when they ^re known to have theorized on H^ 
mansions, have always had 28. This arrangement was 
purely astronomical. Burgess, in his translation of the 
Surya Siddhanta, page 91, has : — ** The ecliptic is 
'' divided into 27 lunar mansions, or asterisms, of equal 
' amount ; hence the portion of the ecliptic occupied by 
' each asterism, as 13, 20 * or 800.' 

This division of the ecliptic in to 27 equal parts, is 
*easonable ; as it gives an easily defined space for each 
isterism, whereas if the ecliptic is divided into 28 parts, 
jach of them would occupy 12", 51^,' or a most un-< 
jcientific division. 

Colebrooke, Essays, ii. 362, 363 says, the use of the 
28 Yogas is chiefly astrological, among the Hindoos ; 
and has the same use among the Chinese ; and that of 
the 28 Yogas, the Surya Siddhanta presents no trace. 

Burgess, op : cit : 177. 179, writes " the text no 
" where expressly states, which one of the twenty eight 
" asterisms which it recognises, is, in its division of the 
" ecliptic into only 27 portions, left without a portion." 
So that in reality the Hindoo astronomy admitted b()th 
the 27 and 28 systems. 

Mr. Biot in the " Journal des Savants " for 1840, 
endeavoured to prove the identity of the Hindoo and 
Chinese 28 division of the ecliptic ; but] there is this 
stumbling block in the road of such demonstration, that 
the Chinese division is equatorial, and that of thie 


Hindoo is zodiacal; and moreover, that the Chinese 
mansions consist of single stars only, while the Hindoo 
system is founded on constellations, or groups of several 

Burgess, op : cit : page 200, gives a table of cor- 
respondences between the Chinese, and Hindoo, and 
Arabian system of the 28 asterisms ; and he shows that 
with the exception of the first five asterisms in the 
Hindoo list, they do not all three agree in the portions 
or divisions of the ecliptic assigned to the asterisms by 
the three systems. 

Also, that in other 12 asterisms, the Hindoo and 

Chinese only agree as to their existence in the ecliptic ; 

but not as to their occupjring the same portions of it ; so 

that only 17 asterisms of the 28, are to be found existing 

in each of them. 

Besides this, he remarks, that with the exception of 
the above named ^r«^^r^ asterisms, there are only 13 

other asterisms out of the 28, that arc to be found in 
the Arab and Chinese systems : making altogether only 
18 out of the 28 asterisms, to be found in each of these 
two systems. 

Burgess adds at page 201 .-—"After this exhibition of 
" the concordances " (he might also have said discrep- 
ancies) "existing among the three systems, Hindoo, 
" Chinese, and Arabian, it can, we apprehend, enter 
" into the mind of no one, to doubt that all have a cora- 
" mon origin, and are but different forms of one and the 
" same system." 



'' The questions next arise, 1*, is either of the tiiree 
the original, from which the others haye heen derivedP 
2", and if so, which of them is entitled to the honor of 
" being so regarded ? 3*, and are the other two in- 
" dependent and direct derivations from it ? 4', or does 
" either of them come from the other ? 5*, or must both 
" acknowledge an intermediate source ?" 

It has heen already seen how Mr. Biot has unsuecess* 
fully tried to prove that the Chinese were the primitive 
inventors of the 28 mansion system : or even that they 
knew of it in very ancient times. Burgess, loo : cit : 
observes : — " As regards the Hindoo origin of the system, 
it has to be observed^ that the literary remains of the 
earliest period, viz., the Vedic period proper, present 
' no evidence of the existence of the system. In the 

* more recent portions of the Vedic texts, as in the 19th 
' book of the Atharva Veda, and in parts of the Yajur 
' Veda, full lists of the asterisms are found, but the 
' divinities under whose regencies the several regencies of 
' the several asterisms are placed, are all from the Vedic 

* JPantheon, The popular divinities of the later times 
' are not to be found among them. The Hindoo and 
' Arab systems have each their own points of agreement 

"With the Chinese sieu, which the other does not share. 
^either of them can have come tkrovgh tJie others from 
a Chinese original. The Hindoo and Arab systems 
l>eing composed of constellations, and the Chinese of 
single stars, neither of the two first named can have 
<iome independently of the other from a Chinese original. 


■ -' »»M I B^^i— ^^^^iW^—^ ■ ^ ■■ ■■ I l«i| ■■ II III! Pl^. — |^.M». — I ■■ ■■ ■ ■!■■ ■ ^MM ^ ■ ■ I ■ll.w.l.i^M .■■■ „ l M, 

* The Chinese system cannot be traced to either of the 
^' others 08 Us source^ since it agrees in several points 
" tilth each one of them, where that one differs from the 
" third. It becomes therefore necessary, to introduce an. 
" additional term, and assume the existence of a fourth 
" system. To illustrate this hypothesis he adds :-— " With- 
" in the limits of the central land of Iran, the table 
"land of Central Asia, we conceive the system of 
" mansions to have received that form, of which the 
" Hindoo, and Arab mansions, are the somewhat altered 
" representatives. (Dr. Burgess might have extended 
" his surmise to the Chinese also.) Precisely where, 
" and whether in the hands of Semitic or Aryan races, 
" we could not at present attempt, to say. If it had 
" formed a part of the Chaldaic astronomy we should 
"have heard of it from the Greeks.'' 

With regard to this remark of Dr. Burgess, it may be 
of interest to present here, what Mr. R. A. Proctor 
says on this subject, in the June number of the 
Contemporary Review in, an article on the origin of 
the week : — ^\A priori considerations, derived from the 
" Babylonians, making the series of days of rest in 
" each moon terminate on the 2(Sth day, suggest that 
" they, in the first instance, divi<lod the zodiac into 28 

parts ; but that later, recognizing the inaccuracy of 

this arrangement, they abandoned it and adopted the 
" solar zodiacal signs." 

Colebrook, Life and Essays, in, 282, *' Essay on the 
Indian and Arabian divisions of the zodiac," in a note 



states : — *' Professor Weber held that Babylon was the 
'* original birth place of astronomy, and that the Hiiw 
*' doos derived their 28 nakshattras from thence, as also 
" did the Chinese and Arabs respectively, their sieu and 
''manazils (Of. Indischcn Studien.) Burgess continues:-— 
" The question of originality can only lie between 
" the Chinese and the fourth system, from which thci 
'' other two have together descended. It looks more as 
" if the series of the Chinese sieu, or single stars, were 
" the original, than as if the asterisms of the other sys- 
** terns had been independently selected from the groups 
" of stars, situated along the zodiac, with the intention 
^' of forming a zodiacal system. The single determina- 
" tions of the sieu would have become the nuclei of 
** the constellations of the other systems." This might 
possibly be true in theory, but to sustain the hjrpothes is 
on which it depends, it would have to be proved that 
the Chinese had this single star system even as late as 
the astcrism system is known to have existed in India. 
Of this there is no evidence that is reliable; and 
moreover, the constellations are certainly more striking 
to a star gazer, than the stars of the third magnitude, 
which figure amongst the Chinese sieu; and they 
present greater facility and extension for watching the 
movements of the planets through the heavens ; and it 
should always be remembered, in examining thi^ 
question, that the Chinese single stars divided the 
eqiMtoTy and the Hindoo and other asterisms divided 
the ecliptic, which absolutely forbids the Chinese 


system developing iteslf into those of India or Aral 
Besides^ the division of the ecliptic into 28 portions 
unscientific as far as can be at present known, or ^ 

least there is no reasonable explanation why such ^ 

curious division should be resorted to, while the 27 fo^^^^^ 
division is on the contrary so symmetrical, that it : ^ 
hence to be preferred. 

B. A. Proctor in 0. R. June, 1879 states :— " Ter -^^ 
" there is no easily understood division of the heavenly" 
" space into 28 portions ; as in each of them there is 
** no striking star or constellation, equally distant from 
** its neighbours; nor does a 28 division naturally suggest 
^ itself, by the appearance of the heavens and the stars." 
And yet Dr. Burgess states at page 206 : — " To adopt a 
" series of conspicuous constellations along the zodiac, by 
*' their proximity to which, the movements of the planets 
** can be marked, is no unmotived proceedings^ So that 
had the Hindoo system anciently been scientific, it must 
have been so under an aspect which modern researches 
have yet failed to discover. 

Dr. Burgess very pertinently remarks, page 180, on 
this subject: — "Whereas it might have seemed that 
" the system was founded on a division of the ecliptic 
into 28 equal portions, and the selection of a star or of 
a constellation to mark each portion, and to be as it 
were its ruler, it now appears that the series of 28 
asterisms may be something independent of, and anterior, 
to any division of the ecliptic into equal parts; and that 
the one may have been only artificially brought into 


oonnexion with the other ; complete harmony hetween 
l^liem being altogether impossible. 

B. A. Proctor in C.R. June, 1879, gives the follow- 
ing explanation of how the series of 28 asterisms was 
interior to the division of the ecliptic into equal 
parts, which Dr. Burgess, it seems, had correctly 

" The moon measures ofE time in an obvious and 

•* striking manner, and to ordinary observers with perfect 

^* uniformity. Watching the moon's progress along her 

** zone, observers would perceive and have determined 

** the periods of these circuits, as between 27 and 28 

days. Watching the moon*s motions among the stars 

during one lunation, the observer, unless very careful, 

would note nothing to suggest that she is travelling 

round at the rate of more than a complete circuit in 

28 days. 

" Her path lies always in a certain zone, to which no 
" doubt a special name would be given. It was in reality 
" the mid zone of the present zodiac. The lunar zodiac 
" is the track of the sun round the heavens. The 
" recognition of the moon's zodiac would long precede 
" the determination of the sun's path among the stars^ 
" The Babylonians in the first instance divided the 
" zodiac into 28 parts, but recognising the inaccuracy of 
" this arrangment, the 28 lunar mansions of the olden 
" astronomy gave place entirely among the Chaldeans, 
" to the 12 signs of the zodiac ; that is, the parts of the 
" zodiac traversed day by day- by the moon, gave way to 





the part of the parts of the zodiac traversed month- 

by month by the sun." 

The claim of Chinese, to have originated or evea 
known in antiquity, the 27 mansions, cannot be sub- 
stantiated, in view of all the previous considerations 
above mentioned ; and all their chronology founded on 
this system, and its developement, is equally unreal' 

It appears however, that the 28 mansion system, 
must have been the primitive division of the ecliptic, 
and the fact that the Chinese have used it, only shows 
that they derived their knowledge of it from the same 
source that the Hindoo, the Persians, the Copts, and the 
Arabs got it ; but this is no proof that they inherited 
it directly from the first inventors of it, by regular 
national succession. Even at whatever time in their 
history they became acquainted with it, they did so 
only in an unscientific and incomplete way, and in a 
manner quite inadequate to build on it the chronological 
system which they have adopted, and for which they 
have endeavoured to procure the appearance of a dub- 
ious antiquity. 

There is one circumstance, connected with the 
Chinese arrangement of the 28 constellations, that is 
specially interesting ; and which is mentioned by Dr. 
Chalmers, in his above quoted essay on Chinese 
astronomy ; and which he says the Chinese have left 
without explanation. 

It is, that the order of the 28 constellation's proceeds 
frpxa m^t to east, instead of arranging them from ewt 


to ftest, by following the seasons of the year with which 
tley are connected in the usual way, viz, spring, 
soinmer, autumn, winter: whereas the Chinese ar- 
x*ange them, spring, winter, autumn, summer ; and Dr. 
Ohalmers calls this a discrepancy, and does not attempt 
to explain it. 

R. A. Proctor, loc : cit : says of the primitive observers 
of the heavens, that : — " they would find first, that the 
** moon circuits the stellar heavens from icest to east, or 
*' in the direction contrary to that of the apparent 
•* diurnal motion, which she shares with all the celestial 
** bodies.'* 

It is certainly a curious fact, that the Chinese do not 
know why they place the 28 constellations of the lunar 
zodiac in their natural order in the heavens, and this 
would go a long way to show, that even the Chinese 
have the same way of placing the constellations as the 
primitive observation by the Babylonians, mentioned 
by Mr. Proctor : but there can be no historical proof 
drawn of their having done so from this similarity, 
seeing that their knowledge of it is so incomplete 
and superficial. 

It is remarkable however, that the Chinese should 
be in unconscious possession of a system for placing 
constellations from west to east, in such accordance with 
the natural method, pointed out by Proctor as the 
primitive natural one ; while all other nations appear to 
have adopted the contrary. It is a strong proof of their 
unscientific appreciation of astronomy, and of their in- 


capability of compiling an exact chronological systeiMr:^:^^ 
from the measurement of the movements of the eart^^:^ th 
and of the heavenly bodies, as other nations have be^^ «en 
successfully able to do. 

The next thing to be considered is the series of 12 

animals, and their equivalents ; which, as has been « r p \ ^q 

is so closely connected with the 28 sieu, and is ev ^en 

derived from them. ^ 

First of all it may be observed, that there ia^ a 
coincidence between the practise of the Hindoos s«-nd 
the Chinese regarding this ; for the Hindoos deri^^ed 
the names of the 12 months of their solar y^ar, 
from the names of their 28 Nakshattras : and tfcmey 
selected them from these in a similar way to th^-at, 
in which the Chinese have chosen their 12 aoixjaal 

Burgess, op : cit : page 30, states : — " The name^ of 
" the solar months are derived from the names of the 
" asterisms, in which, at the time of their being first 
" designated, the moon was full during their contii^H- 
" ance. The same names are transferred to the laBW 
*' months ;" and at page 268, Cap : xiv, par : 15 of the 
" Surya Siddhanta : — ** The months are to be knowa by 
" the names of the asterisms (Nakshattras) according to 
" the conjunction at the end of a lunar period :" par* 
" 16: — To the months Karttika, &c., belong as concerns 
"the conjunction, the asterisms Karttika, &c., twohy 
** two : but 3 mouths, namely the last, the next to the 
" last, and the fifth, have triple asterisms.*' 


Before farther comparing the Hindoo method for 
^^e assignment of Nakshattras to months, with what the 
^-^Idnese do ; it is important to notice, that Karttika or 
^•^e first Hindoo month signifies Jupiter, just as the 
^XTst Chinese chi, and the first Chinese month, has also 
^^piter, for its symhol, or ruling planet ; and it may be, 
^liat Sze-ma-tsHen's name of the 1st of the chi, 
** Qhiti-ko" is a corruption of Karttika, or is con- 
nected with it etymologically. 

The comparison to be noticed is, that the assignment of 

^D many of the Nakshattras to the Hindoo months, is the 

^ame as the relations are of the sieu to the 12. animal 

Barnes, given by the Chinese. The ox, or the 5th animal 

in the series according to Pemy, corresponds to the 5th 

month in the Hindoo series, as it has the three of the 

sieu, the 7th, 8th, and 9th, belonging to it, just as the 

fifth Hindoo month has three of the Nakshattras. 

The sheep, which is the next to the last of the Chinese 
animal series, has three sieu assigned to it ; the 21st, 
22nd, and 23rd ; and the horse or the last in Pernys 
series, has also three of the sieus belonging to it ; the 
25th, 2tth, and 27th; just as was shown to be the case 
with the last, and the next to the last, of the Hindoo 

In this comparison it will be noticed, that the dis- 
tribution of the Nakshattras amongst the Hindoo 
months, and that of tlie sieu amongst the Chinese animal 
months, is based on there being only 27 symbols in 
each series instead of 28, and that in the Hindoo series 


it is the 22Qd Nakshattra, and in the Chinese series it 
is the 24th of tiie sieu, that are not made to enter into 
the calculation ; so that there is a manifest parallel 
hetween them^ wifli only this slight exception ; which 
however goes to prove, that the Chinese must have been 
simultaneously acquainted with the 27 fold series as 
well as that of 28 ; and this would bring the Chinese 
acquaintance with them to qiiite a recent date ;%for 
Guerin, op : cit : page 31, says: — " It can be certainly 
** maintained that Shourdyo is the first who has 
" ingeniously reduced the 28 mansions to 27, or 
*'A.D. 345." 

It also proves that the naming the Hindoo months 
and the Chinese animal months, from the Nakshattras 
and sieu in this manner, must have been a recent event. 

Such a similarity as the one just pointed out, cannot 
be in any way accounted for, by ascribing it to fortuitous 
circumstances. The methodical way in which the 
Chinese selection of the 12 animal months names from 
the names of the sieu has been made, is exactly 
similar to the Hindoo method of naming the months 
from their Nakshattras. There is therefore every reason 
for concluding, that the 12 animal cycle is certainly not 
of an earlier date in China than that of the date of the 
28 sieu from which they were taken ; and that as 
the Chinese avow their ignorance of the original intro- 
duction of the 12 animal cycle, they thereby admit 
that the date of their first first acquaintance with 
the 28 sieu, or 28 years cycle, is equally uncertain. 


iBastatich as the essential connexion between the two 
has been established. 

Another conclusion justified by the above, is, that 
^th the scries of 28 celestial objects, as the source, and 
the series of 12 ideals which were their consequences, 
simultaneously came to the scientific knowledge of the 
Chinese from the Hindoos. 

Burgess, op : cit : page 269, writing of the Hindoo 
iiames of the months, states — "at what period these 
** names were first introduced into use is unknown. It 
** must have been of course posterior to the establish- 
'*ment of the system of astcrisms, but it was probably 
'* not much later, as the names are found in some of 
"the earlier texts which contain those of the Nak- 
*' shattras themselves. We can hardly suppose that 
" they were not originally applied independently to 
" the lunar months : and certainly no more suitable 
" derivation could be found for the name of a lunar 
" period, than from the asterism in which the moon 
** attained during its continuance, her full beauty and 
" perfection." 

This would lead to the conclusion already pointed out 
^y Proctor (see above, page 239), that the lunar months 
^ere first observed and named, before the solar months, 
^^ the division of the solar revolution into 12 equal 
P^rts were adopted by those who know of the 28 
^terisms; and thus the sieu being called lunar mansions 
^ founded on fact ; not that each sieu is a special lunar 
^^ion, but the total space in the heavens occupied by 


the 28 sieu^ was divided into 12 unequal or even 
arbitrary portions of the sky, which were traversed by 
the moon in its revolution round the earth. 

The following comparative table of the Hindoo Nak- 
ahattras and Chinese sieu, with their assignment to the 
12 Hindoo months, and tixe 12 Chinese animal months, 
will make this more clear : though it may be observed, 
in elucidation of some discrepancies in the comparison 
with Davis, As : Res : iii, 218, quoted by Burgess, op : 
cit : 270. ** It seems indeed that the selection <^ the 
'' three months, to which three asterisms instead of two 
** are assigned, must have been made some what 
" arbitrarily." 


Hindoo Nftkahattras, wad the namei 
ot the Hindoo months derived ttom 
them, in the order as stated in the 
translation of the Snrya Siddhanta, 
by Burgess, page 270. 




^J* ••• -jKarttika. 


FimarTasa ... 

i^^ ::;:::|^^- 

P. Pbalgnni . S 

17. Pbalgnni . > Phalgnna. 

Hasta ) 

Gitra 7 n 'x 

Svati I^*^*™- 

Y^^^^t Ivaicakha. 

Annradna . . . j 

P.Ashadha... 1 » i. ji. 

Crayana f ^ 

Gatabishaj ... ^ 
P.Bbadrapada > Bbadrapada. 
U.Bhadrapada ) 

Berati '\ 

Acvini t Acvina. 

Bbarani ) 

Chinese sien, and the names of the 
12 animal eycle derived fh>m them 
in the order as stated hy Pemy^ 
"Dietionaire de lal angne Ohlnolse 
Vol.** u, page 10«. 



Eartb worm 














Wolf ... 


Cock ... 
Crow ... 
Large monkey 
Small monkey 
Wild Dog 


Large stag 


Small stag 





> Sheep. 

> Horse. 


It will be observed that ia the foregoing lists there 
are only 27 Nakshattras and 27 sieu mentioned. The 
Hindoos omitted Abhijit, the 22nd of the Nakshattras 
in the order of 28, when they reduced the number by 
one, and the Chinese system is reckoned with only 27 
sieu, or the 14th sieu is here omitted to make the 
parallel between it and the Hindoo system. 

The chief point presented and insisted on here, to illus- 
trate the comparison, is, that as the first Hindoo month 
Karttika represents Jupiter, and the 1st Chinese che 

and the first name of tlie 12 animal cycle represent the 
serpent and Jupiter also ; the serpent is assigned the 
first place in the Chinese series, which has been assigned 
by the Hindoos to Karttika; for Burgess op: cit: 
states : — "We may also regard the rank assigned to 
" Karttika as due to the ancient position of Karttika as 
" first among the lunar mansions.'* 

Warren, op : cit: page 213, after mentioning that Kart- 
tika and others, are the names of the 12 years of Jupiter's 
cycle says : — " It may be remarked that in the foregoing 
" arrangment Cartic is placed first in the cycle of 12." 
This would almost identify Cartica with Shi-ti-ko, 
which is the first name of Sze-ma-ts^Iens cycle, and it 
shows that if this be so, the Shi-ti-ko cycle was one of 12 
years in ancient times. 

It may be also remarked that the first name of the 
28 sieu in the ordinary nomenclature of the series, 
or ** Kio," also corresponds with Jupiter ; and this con- 
firms the position of the serpen f, which is identical 


inth Jupiter, as first in the series as exhibited by 

It will also be observed that the 27th and 28th sieu 
in SchlegeFs arrangement, are here placed as 1st and 2nd 
in the comparative list of 27, just as the 27th and 
28th Hindoo Nakshattras, Acvini and Bharani, in 
Burgess' list are sometimes placed as the 1st and 2nd 
of the Hindoo series ; as can be seen in Burgess, op : eit : 
page 211. It is also evident from this identity of the 
Hindoo months with the 12 cyclical animals, that the 
cycle of 12 was in its origin, a cycle of months, and not 
a cycle of years. 

The comparisons thus made of the derivation of the 
Hindoo names of the months, and that of the names of 
the 12 animal cycle from the Nakshattras, and the sieu, 
respectively, bear out, therefore, the analogy between 
them as above mentioned. These comparisons must not 
however be pushed too far, as scientific argument ; for 
although the Chinese derived their knowledge of the 
28 asterisms and their consequences from the Hindoos, 
they only adopted them in a clumsy unscientific way, 
and the Chinese system does not altogether correspond 
with that of the Hindoos. Guerin, op : cit : page 164, 
points out that there is this great difference between 
the order of the 28 mansions in China, and in India, 
relative to the stars ^ich are reckoned as forming part 
of them. It is that the first Chinese sieu "Kio" is iden- 
tified with the star Spica Virginis. The first Nakshat- 
tra of th^ Hindoos, Acvini, is identified with "Aries 


The Chinese thus seem to have started their list 
from Spica, without following in this point the Hindoos, 
and seemingly without knowing why they did so. 

Now as Guerin remarks, loo : cit : "Moyo, the author of 
" the Surya Siddhanta, must have ohserved Acvini or 
" Aries, on the night of the vernal equinox, at ad 345, 180* 
*' distant from that equinoctial point, and he then placed 
" tike other Nakshattras in order, by starting from that 
" point." Burgess op : cit : page 14 mentions, that it coin- 
cided in position with the vernal equinox, about a.d. 570. 

As therefore the Chinese sieu Kio, is Spica Virginis, 
and also is 180^ after the sieu Leou, which is the cor- 
responding sieu to Acvini or Aries, the Chinese books 
which made the placement of Kio as their first lunar 
mansion, must be posterior to Moyo's time ; and it would 
follow that the whole Chinese system of 28 sieu, from 
lyhich all their chronology seems to depend, is also of tibe recent period. 

It would be interesting to discover why the Chinese 
placed Kio, or Spica Virginis, as the first on their list of 
sieu,^ as it is not in accordance with the Chinese theory 
of the beginning of the year at the winter solstice. 
The name Kio, by which the Chinese call their first sieu, 
means a horn; and the Arabian and Persian and Indian 
series also begin with a horn, viz, that of Aries, the ram, 
which specially marks the 1st Hindoo Nakshattra. 

It may be suggested as an answer to this enquiry, 
that as the Indian name for Aries is Krio, which is 
taken from the Greek ; and as Chinese cannot pronounce 


the letter R they elided that consonant, and called the 
word Kio. If this is the case, all the antiquity of the 
Chinese 28 sieu, and their corollaries can be but a 
modem invention. 

Fortia d^Urban op : cit : vol. ii. page 69, remarks on 
this subject " except the Chinese, they have all taken 
" the same stars for the initial point of the division of 
" the 28 constellations ; viz ; the head of Aries. 
" The Chinese, on the contrary, have fixed the initial 
" point in the part the heavens diametrically opposed 
" to this, towards the feet of Virgo, and near Spica." 

In explanation of this, Fortia d'Urban suggests, that 
this method of arranging the 28 sieu was probably 
caused by the Chinese having taken the new moon as 
the initial point, while the Hindoos and others took the 
full moon ; or else by the Chinese beginning the 
arrangement at a different opposite solstice from that 
employed by the Hindoos. 

If this were admitted, it would certainly disclose the 
modern origin of the Chinese acquaintance with the 28 
sieu ; for in adopting the method above suggested, they 
could not have been guided by their ancient tradition 
of the commencement of the month, according to Fortia 
d'Urban himself; as he mentions vol ii. page 75 : — " The 

Chinese also, primitively regulated their calendars, 

by the full moons :" and it is evident that the Hindoos 
did the same, from what Burgess mentions op : cit: 269: — 
" According to Sir William Jones As : Res : ii. 296, it 
'^ is asserted by the Hindoos, that when their lunar year 



" was arranged by former astronomers, the moon was at 
" the full on the very day when it entered the Nakshattra 
" from which that month is denominated"; though 
Burgess adds: — "whether this assertion is strictly 
" true admits of much doubt" — It is evident therefore 
that the Chinese did not anciently differ from the 
Hindoos on this point. 

With regard to the commencement of the sieu by 
their relation to the solstices, it is much more likely to 
be the case, and it is probable that it was so in ancient 
times, as will be seen hereafter: but that does not 
account for their being arranged by beginning them at 
the equinoxes, unless there be some hidden scientific 
reason for so doing. 

As Guerin further remarks, op : oit : page 171, 172, 
after giving a table of the animals of the 28 Coptic 
mansions, with the corresponding names of the Arabian 
and Persian mansions ; that the name of the 14th Coptic 
mansion, Khoritos, which corresponds to the 1st of the 
Arabian and Persian mansions, and to the 1st Chinese 
sieu, means the station of the highest elevation of Spica 
Virginis, which occurs at the vernal equinox at midnight, 
just as the Arabian and Persian names Simakool, 
and Nazal, have also this meaning ; and he thence 
*' concludes : — It is evident, that the Copts, the Arabs, 
<* the Persians,and the Chinese, who take the Spica of 
** Virgo, for the equinoctial point in their Nakhsrattras, 
" show by their doing so, that they have borrowed 
<< these lunar divisions from the Hindoos, since the 



*' observations of Moyo; and not before his time, i. e. 
*' A.D. 346. 

The derivation of the months and 12 names of the 
animal cycle from the Nakshattras, and sieu, is 
confirmed by the following remarks of Fortia d'TJrban, 
op : cit : — Vol ii. page 75 : — 

" The Brahmins say, that when their calendar was 
regulated, the moon was at its full. The Chinese also, 
primitively regulated their calendar by the full moons. 
They borrowed the names of their months from a 
people who regulated them in a similar manner, whether 
" it be the Indians, or any other nation ; inasmuch as 
" they have preserved the denominations of the months, 
" which are but slight alterations from those of the 
" Indians, and which, as they correspond to the same 
" season, and to the same month, must have been taken 
" from the same constellations, from which the Hindoos 
" derived these names. There has been an intercom- 
" munication, therefore, from wherever it came first, or a 
" common origin of the calendars of the two peoples : 
** Indians, and Chinese. This is proved by the fact, that 
" the three months of winter, in the Chinese calendar 
" are Pehoua, Mokue, Pholkuna. The three winter 
" months of the Indian calendar are, Poucha, Mogh, and 
" Phalgoun. Now these Indian names are taken from the 
" the eighth Nakshattra, Pouchia ; from the tenth, 
" Makam ; and from the twelfth, Phalgouni." 

" Thus January is called Tai, in India ; and Tybi, 
" in Egypt ; February is called Mokue in China, and 



" Mekir in Egypt ; March is Phalguna in India, and 
" Pholkuna in China, and Phamenot in Egypt. All these 
" months have the same initial letters. " Souciet, op : cit; 
Vol II, page 128, gives the following names of all the 
Chinese months, which are here reproduced, as possibly 
they may be of interest in these researches. He says they 
are taken from a book by Hing-yun-lou, called, memoirs 
for history of the Tang dynasty. Q-aubil, in a note to 
this passage, says he could not find the book. 

( Peouha. . 
3 winter months | Mokue . . 

( Polokuna 

/Latenlo. . 
3 spring months I Teicheku 

( Checheto 

/ Ganchatou 

3 summer | Chelofamo 

( Potalopoto 

(Ganche sou-yu ko 
Kiolati Kia 





. . August. 

. . October. 

( Mokiechilo 

The corresponding Coptic months are taken from 
Arago's astronomy, Tomlinson's edition, 1856, page 26 
and following : — 

1. winter month 






Chery or Mechery. 





1. spring 


„ Faramour. 










1, sominer 



1. automn 











„ Epep-Epephi. 



The above inen<tIoiied names of the Chinese months, 
are doubtless modem, and more recently introduced 
than the animal names of the months ; but they are 
ancient in India^ and besides those analogies observed by 
Fortia d'Urban, others exist ; such as : — 

Bhadrapada . . . • Potalopoto. 



G-an chatou. 

Mo kie chilo. 

Kio la ti kia. 

And probably the rest of the months may be also 
identified, and also the date may be discovered of their 
introduction into China, which would still further 
confirm the Indian origin of Chinese chronological 

There is still another very striking analogy between 
the 28 Hindoo asterisms, and their 12 months, and the 
Chinese 28 sieu, and their 12 animals. 

It will be remembered that both Chinese and Hindoos 
anciently commenced the year at the winter solstice, 
just as the Chaldeans did. The 24 Tsie-ki commenced at 
the winter solstice, (see Gaubil, " Traite de Tastronomie 



Schlegel op : cit : 21 quotes the author of the Tien- 
yuen-li-li (Siu-fa a.d. 1622) who states : — " The ancients 
" certainly began their calendar by the winter solstice." 

The Hindoo Nakshattra, Pushya, and the month 
derived from it, denotes the winter solstice ; and the 
Chinese sieu, Hen, also concurs with the winter 
solstice: so that by beginning both the series of 28 
asterisms with the signs corresponding to the winter 
solstice, and continuing them both in this order, it will 
be seen that the 12 Chinese animal signs, which cor- 
respond to certain of the sieu, occur just in the same 
order as they stand in the ordinary way of mentioning 
them in the 12 cycle, viz. The Eat No. 1, and the 
rest en suite. 




P. Phalguni 

U. Phalguni 








P. Ashadha 

TJ. Ashadha 




























Small Stag. 


1 ^ 

2 - 












P. Bhradapadra 


Small Monkey. 

U. Bhradapadra 


Large Monkey. 





























It will be noticed that in the location of the Chinese 
sieu, the order of placing them has been reversed from 
the ordinary way in which they stand. This has been 
done to bring them in accordance with the position of 
the Hindoo Nakshattras, which run from east to west, 
whereas the Chinese sieu being placed from west to 
east, their serial order had to be transferred, so as to 
equalize the comparison of the two series. 

This similarity between the Hindoo and Chinese 
systems, is still more remarkable, as it is in accordance 
with the astronomical assignment of the 12 animals ; 
for the Rat is always placed at the winter solstice, and 
thus, the animal cycle commences at the winter solstice, 
just as the year and the 28 mansions do. 

It is evident therefore, that this 12 cycle, and the 
serial order of its occurrence, descends from the Hindoos, 


and it is symbolical of the months, reckoning from the 
winter solstice. 

The 12 animals could not have been picked out from 
the 28 animals, corresponding to the 28 sieu, and ar- 
ranged in this order fortuitously ; for it is only by con- 
joining and comparing the two 28 fold systems of the 
Hindoos, and the Chinese, from the same solstitial 
point, that the cyclical order of the 12 animals can be 

There is another comparison required to be drawn 
between the Hindoo Nakshattras, and the Chinese sieu, 
in order to show the occurrence of animal symbols in 
connexion with the former ; which, although it is not 
exactly similar with the animal representations of the 
Chinese sieu, is interesting, as it demonstrates that the 
same system prevailed in both, and that the Chinese 
derived thir ideal of animals, with reference to the 
constellations, from the same source, whence thy 
obtained a knowledge of the 28 sieu, viz., the Hindoos. 

The following table will show this analogy clearly. 


'^HE origin and application of CHINESE CYCLES. 269 


^attras according 

*o H.T. Colebrooks, 

^e and essays, 

Vol. ni. 28ft. 

Hindoo animal 

names of Nakshat- 

tras Querln p: 43, 









Pushya. (W.S.) 



Purva Phalguni. 









Purva Asbadha. 

Uttara „ 




Satabhisha. [da 

Purva Bbadrapa- 

Uttara „ 


Horse's head. 

Stag's head. 
Tortoise, or frog' 

Dragon' sheeid 




Elephant's head 



Buffalo's head. 


Young Deer. 





Names of Chinese 
sien in the oorres-' 
ponding order to 
the Nakshattras 
given by Borgess, 
page 824. 




























Chinese animal 

names of the 18, 






Large Monkey. 

^m^Xi Monkey. 





Small Stag. 





















Bleu to Nakshat- 

traa, departing 

from Winter 

Bolstice, in nsnal 

<wtler from "west 

to east. 








Heu. OY.S.) 





















order of animal 

Sieu to Nakshat- 

order of animaL 

Names of Sieu in 

tras, departing 

Names of Sieu ii^ 

thin placement 
of them 

from Winter 

this placement 
oi them. 

Solstice, from east 

to west. 

















































Large Monkey. 














Small Stag. 




Small Stag. 











Small Monkey 



Large Monkey. 





It may be looked on as nearly certain that the 12 
solar zodiacal signs used in modem astronomy, were 
derived from the 12 animals selected from the 28 
animal symbols of the 28 asterisms ; and the fact of the 
names of the 12 months having been selected from the 
names of the 28 asterisms supports this assertion. 

The very meaning of the zodiac, shows that it was 
originally composed of animals ; and those signs, such 
as. Libra, Sagittarius, and Aquarius, not being strictly 
animal signs, must have been introduced later than 
the primary symbols. With reference to this, the 
statement of Paravey, " Essai sur Torigine, &c, page 
36, may throw some light on the question. " The 
** primitive alphabet of the Arabs has been overthrown, 
" and increased by the 28 constellations to 28 letters ; 
** of which 14 were radicals, and 14 servile, and we 
*' still see amongst the Arabs, 12 letters called solar." 

As there is an evident connexion between these 12 
solar letters amongst the 28 letters of the Arabic 
alphabet, and the 12 animals amongst the 28 asterisms ; 
it would look as if these 12 animals were really the 
primitive solar zodiac. 

Paravey, also quotes, oc : cit : Anquetil, Zend Avesta, 
T. I. p. ccxiii, a passage cited by Hager, that the 
Sanscrit language was primitively 28 letters, though 
afterwards increased to 60; which is all the more 
interesting, as it shows how the 60 period was developed 
from that of 28, as has been already made evident 
above. The Chinese seem not to have knoMm the 


actual signs of the zodiac, until at a very recent period ; 
and keeping in view the identity of the zodiacal signs 
with the cycle of 12 animals, they could hardly have 
kn«wn even about these latter, in very ancient times. 

The Babylonians, or rather their predecessors the 
Accadians, named their months after the 12 zodiacal 
signs, just as the Hindoos named their 12 months from 
12 of the Nakshattras: see Sayce, "Babylonian literature 
&c," page 55 : and this same author says that, "we owe 
" to the Accadians, the signs of the zodiac" so that this 
invention must have been ancient, and the Chinese, by 
the fact of their having been unacquainted with them 
at a coeval date with the Accadians, are excluded 
from sharing in antiquity with that people. 

The 12 Accadian names of the months were: — 

lygar. Marches van. 

Si van. Chisleu. 

Tammuz. Tehet. 

Ab. Sebat. 

Elul. Adar. 

Tisri. Ve Adar. 

See Records of the past. Vol. vii, page 169. 
It would be interesting to discover the meaning of 
the above Accadian names of the months, and whether 
they are the same symbols as the 12 animals in the 
Chinese cycle, especially as the Chinese adapted the 
animal cycle to the appellation of the 12 months. 

Professor Weber, in his "Indische Studien," states 
'that the 28 fold division of the ecliptic was known and 


used by the Babylonians ; so that it is not at all 
unlikely, but even probable, that they derived the 
names of their 12 months from their 28 division of the 
heavens, just as the Hindoos did. 

It is possible that the primitive appellations of the 
28 division of the ecliptic were not those of animals. 
Guerin, op: cit : at the end, gives drawings of several 
early Persian, Assyrian, and Babylonian ancient 
monuments having 28 figures on them in connexion 
with the 12 zodiacal solar signs, and these are all human 
figures, armed like soldiers and supposed to represent the 
^^Hosts of heaven/* (4 Kings, 23, 5.) They are evidently 
also figures of the 28 fold division of the solar ecliptic. 

In Egypt, the 28 constellations, according to Paravey, 
op: cit : page 31, are formally traced in the zodiacs of 
Esne and Denderah, with animal heads on human 
figures, just the same as Guerin, op : cit : 51, says they 
were in India, and according to Paravey who quotes 
Remusat, in China also. Guerin, op: cit : 224, says, **The 
" 28 Nokhyottsos are represented by 28 figures in the 
" Isiaque table, and there, the signs have several animals, 
such as the ox, lion, scorpion, pig, dog, hare, cock, 
stag, tortoise, frog, the jackall, the ass, hippopotamus, 
ram. Those nations therefore who identify them with 
animal names, would only have become acquainted with 
them later, and they adopted their own ideas of the 
stars, as representatives of animals, to the 28 asterisms. 

It is quite certain that the Babylonians divided the 
sky into four equal parts, (see Sayoe, page 64,) similarly 


to that which Schlegel says was the basis of the 28 
division, or four part of 7 each ; and aliso that each 
month of the Babylonians was also divided into 4 parts 
of 7 days each ; by which the 7th, 14th, 21st and 28fli, 
day were kept as days of rest ; and each day in the 
series of 7, was nfimed after the sun, moon, and 5 
planets, just as each part of the four divisions of the 
heavens, is named by the Chinese, after iiie same 
planets, and even each day of the 28 days in similar 
order. The Babylonians therefore had some 'ascertained 
theory that 28 periods were the limit of the conn^on 
of the moon with the heavens, as Mr. Proctor has ^ell 

This division of the 28 stations of the heavens into 
four portions, supposed to correspond with the four 
seasons of the year, is however, not absiolute, and too 
much stress need not be laid upon it. De Vertus, op : 
cit; page 10. writes on this subject as follows: — 

" The four seasons, in the sense in which we under- 
" stand the word, have never existed. These definitions, 
" merely applicable to «ome portions of the earth, cease 
" to be so over the greater part of ite surface. The 
*' inhabitant of the polar region knows nothing about 
" four seasons, for he is enveloped in a n^ht of six 
" months. The inhabitant of central Africa, burning or 
" drenched on the equator, has neither any knowledge 
" of them. The torrid zone has but two seasons, the 
" one dry, and the other rainy. The four seasons are 
" the four great upheavals of the earth and of the seas> 


' at the four full moons of March, June, September, 
^ December." 

Lewis, op: cit: page 11, writes on this subject: — "The 

* division of the four seasons, though of considerable 

* antiquity, is not decisively indicated in nature. The 

* antithesis between summer and winter is obvious ; the 

* revival of nature in spring, after the torpor of winter, 
' ' is also a marked epoch. But autumn is a less definite 
^' season. Hence a division of the year into the three 
^* seasons, spring, summer and winter, is attributed to 
•* the ancient Egyptians. The year of the ancient Ger- 
*' mans, consisted only of these three seasons, according 
*' to Tacitus ; and in English, the same three seasons 
" are denoted by Anglo Saxon words ; whereas the word 
" autumn is borrowed from the Latin." 

It is quite sufficient for the present purpose, to have 
shown that the measurement of the moon's motion 
through the heavens, by 28 periods, which have been 
seen, are the basis of all Chinese chronology, was 
unknown to them at the ancient time, when they were 
certainly in use by other more ancient nations, such 
as the Babylonioms, and Indians. It would even 
appear that this 28 division of the heavens was known 
to the Egyptians, (see Bailly, op : cit : page ci.) but 
they seem to have adhered rather to the consequences 
that other nations had drawn from them, in the form of 
a 12 fold division of the heavens, than to have retained 
the original system of astronomy, which has still lingered 
amongst the Hindoos, Persians, Arabs, and Chinese 


Bonwick, "Egyptian belief and modern thought," 
London 1878, page 331, writes: — " The lunar mansions, 
" as they are called in astrology, are 28 in number both_ 
" in Chaldea and Egypt. Osiris is reported to hav^ 
" lived 28 years in the world," and at page 233, " Aais, 
" the bull god, when he arrived at the age of 28, if 
" living so long, was solemnly put to death, since Osiris 
" died after 28 years." 

The Copts certainly retain the 28 division of the 
heavens. Guerin gives a list of them, op : cit : 171, 
which he extracted from Kircher. It is remarkable, that 
the 28 Coptic asterisms have exactly the same local 
relation to the Persian, and Arabian mansions, as the 
Hindoo Nakshattras have to the Chinese sieu ; viz, that 
the 1st Coptic mansion corresponds to the 16th, of the 
Arabs and Persians, and the 14th, Coptic mansion is 
related to the 1st mansion of the Arabs, and Persians, 
just as that of the Hindoos does to the corresponding 
asterims of the Chinese. The Egyptians seem to have 
been earlier and more scientific learners of this mode 
of dividing the heavens, *and of computing time, than 
the Chinese ; as the Chinese adaptation of the 28 
asterisms involves a more modern astronomical de- 
parture, than that which is observable in the ancient 
Hindoo and Coptic systems ; and their method of 
arranging them seems to have no scientific basis. 

There should be however, a distinction drawn 
between the first knowledge of the 28 sieu acquired by 
the Chinese, and the after knowledge of the same, 


V^hich has been shown to have come to them from the 
3iiidoos. Burgess shows that this first knowledge of 
ihe 28 sieu, was not derived from the Hindoos, but 
iroin another source ; as the Hindoo and Chinese systems 
lo not agree. The knowledge of the 28 asterisms 
proceeding from west to east, must have belonged to the 
first knowledge ; of which only a vague portion, uncon- 
sciously, remains in the the minds of Chinese. It is 
quite possible, and even probable, that the Chinese 
Teceived this first knowledge through the astronomers 
of Balkh, who had learned it from the Babylonians 
as part of an astronomical system. The knowledge of 
the sieu and their consequences, from whatever 
source derived, has always remained equally unin- 
telligible to the Chinese, though they have used it in 
a fanciful way, to build upon them an equally imaginary 

From the above examination, and analysis, of the 
Chinese cycles, on which the whole structure of their 
chronology is based, the conclusion requires to be ad- 
mitted, that the cycles, of 60, 28, 12 and 10, as used 
by them, had no historical existence in China, in the 
early periods of history, to which Chinese have assigned 
them. Moverover, that the 60 year cycle is traceable 
to the Hindoo cycle of Jupiter, which is known to have 
been introduced into China, at comparatively a much 
more recent time, than that at which it is gratuitously 
supposed to have originated there : that the cycle of 10, 
is known historically to have been certainly used by 


other nations, before Chinese reliable history affords any 
record of its use in China : and that any claim made by 
Chinese, for priority, in the knowledge of this, is critically 
unsustainable : that the cycle of 12, was not used for 
reckoning years, until long after the date assigned by 
Chinese for its introduction, and employment, for that 
purpose ; and that it is subsequent to, and derived from, 
the cycle of 28, or the 28 sieu ; and that at the utmost, 
the Chinese themselves confess that they know nothing 
certain, about the commencement of their knowledge of 
either the 12, or 28 cycle, as represented by animal 
symbols ; and that consequently, they can offer no 
reliable data for the time of their first appearance in 
China ; so that there is every reason for believing, from 
the evidence above adduced, that they both came to 
China from the Hindoos, in quite recent times ; and that 
they were even never understood scientifically by the 
Chinese, until still later times ; and that any argument 
drawn from the superficial acquaintance the Chinese 
possessed of those cycles, can not lead to establishing 
that they even were capable of devising, and much less 
that they were anciently intelligent enough, for scienti- 
fically employing, the chronological cycles and tables, 
which they parade before the unlearned, as the genuine 
chronological record of an enlightened antiquity. 

The chronology of the Chinese can therefore only be 
considered as an elaborate fictitious contrivance, to put 
in narrative and historical order, the traditions that 
have filtered through the outskirts of ancient civilised 


Central Asia, towards Chinastan ; where at different 
periods, outcasts and adventurous military chiefs, and 
even colonies, have found a dwelling place, and have 
brought thither with them, the traditions of their former 
homes, which gradually their descendants have imagnied 
were those of ancestors, who had lived all the times of 
those traditions in China ; and thus they appropriated 
them, for their own glorification, and that of their 
adopted contry. 

The natural consequence of this, would necessitate a 
chronology, in order to give consistency, and specious- 
ness, to the historical narrative ; and it is at least credit- 
able to the Chinese ingenuity, that they could devise a 
system of dates, and epochs, by which they compose a 
history, and make it pass current, as the records of their 
race, during periods in which they had no national ex- 


P P E N D I X. 

EGr ARDING the preeminence, or even the presence 
of the Rat in the Chinese animal cycle of twelve, 
and which, considering the material insignificance 
of this little creature, suggests some special reason for 
even assigning it any position in a highly symbolical 
series of animals ; the following extracts from writers 
on the subject are here inserted, for reference, and to 
suggest further investigation as to the origin of this 
singular prominence given to the Rat by the Chinese. 

Klaproth, in his "Memoires relatifs d TAsie," Vol. ii. 
page 296, gives an extract from Remusat's **Histoire de 
" la ville de Khotan," and presents it, as a singular con- 
nexion, between the traditions preserved among the 
peoples of Central Asia, and those of the Egyptian 
priests, related by Herodotus. It throws some light on 
the fact, that the Rat is connected with the sacred 
animals forming the zodiac. 

" A considerable army of Huns, (Hioung Nou) or 
" Turks, made an invasion into the Kingdom of Khotan. 
" The King of that country, had not sufficient forces, to 
" oppose to the enemy. He therefore prepared a sacri- 
" fice to the Rats of the desert, and supplicated them 
'^ to become his auxiliaries. The same night, he saw a 


" large Rat, who said to him ; You have claimed our 
" succour ; dispose your troops for giving battle to- 
" morrow morning, and you will he the conqueror. The 
" next morning, the King suddenly attacked the Hioung 
" nou. These being taken unawares, wanted to mount 
" tl^eir horses, and to don their armour ; but it so hap- 
" pened, that the harness of their horse.^^, and the clothes 
" of their soldiers, and the strings of their bows, and 
'* the straps of their armour ; in fact, all that was made 
" of stuff or thread, had been entirely gnawed and torn 
*' in pieces, by the Rats ; and thus the whole army were 
" made prisoners. The King of Khotan, wished to 
" testify his gratitude to the Rats, for such an important 
" service : he built a temple, offered sn orifices, and ever 
*' since they have unceasingly made offerings there." 

The Egyptian tradition, is, that Sethos, a priest of 
Vulcan, succeeded Anysis, and having neglected to keep 
up his army, they refused to march, when Sennacherib, 
King of the Assyrians, and Arabs, attacked Egypt. 
Sethos, alarmed, went to the temple of Vulcan to ask 
help, and he fell asleep, and saw the deity in a dream, 
who promised him assistance, and bid him not to fear. 
Sethos, then marched to Pelusium, with all the men be 
could muster. When he reached it, a multitude of 
field Rats, spread over the enemy^s camp, and during 
the night, gnawed the bow strings, the quivers, and 
the thongs of the shields, so that the army was obliged 
to flee. In memory of this, there was placed in the 
temple of Vulcan, a stone statue ot Sethos, with a Rat 


in his hand; and this inscription " While beholding 
me, we learn to revere the Gods." 

With reference to the Rat in Tartary, Klaproth, op : 
cit : page 299, writes : — " During my stay at Irkutsk in 
* * 1806, a report was received from the commandant of 
" Okhotsk, which stated, that an innumerable troop of 
" Rats, having crossed the sea, had not only eaten up 
** all the stores in the government magazines, but that 
** they had even eaten the magazines." 

The Rat in the Chinese cycle is sometimes called the 
Mouse, and this little animal held a place in Turanian 
mythology. Keany, in the ** Dawn of history," page 
" 172, 173, writes : — " The Slavonic dwellers of Hameln 
" in the legend of the Pied Piper of Hameln, had a 
" notion which likens the soul to a mouse, and spoke 
** mythically of the deaths of children, as " the 
" departure of the mice :" perhaps because " the mouse 
" which hibernates like the sleeping earth " : just as 
** for a similar reason the Beetle was made a symbol of 
" -the soul, or of immortality, among the Egyptians." 

Was the Rat amongst the primitive Chinese or 
Tartars the symbol of the future state of the souls of 
theis ancestors ? 

Bon wick, ** Egyptian worship and modern thought " 
" London 1878, Chapter, Animal worship ; writes : — In 
" the Egyptian scriptures, the worship or ** adjuration 
" of the Rat, took place at Heracleoplis. The Ich- 
" neumon, and Rat, were more feared, than honoured, 
" as they represented destruction." 



Gustave Schlegel, in his " TJranographie Chinoise " 
page 768, thus writes about the Rat in the cycle of 
twelve animals : — ** The emperor Kanghi, two centuries, 
" ago> g^-ve the following description of the Mam- 
moth in his ** Phsysical observations'" (See Mem- 
oires des Chinois, iv, 481,) The cold is extreme, and 
" almost continual, in the place where is found the 
" animal called Ping-chou, (The Ice Rat) the shape 
" of which resembles that of a Rat, but which is as 
" large as an elephant : It inhabits obscure caverns 
" and unceasingly shuns the light. An ivory is taken 
** from it which is as white as that of the elephant. 
** The ancient book, Chin-y-king, speaks of this animal 
*' in these terms. There is in the extreme north, a- 
" midst the snow and ice that covers that country, a 
" Rat, which weighs as much as one thousand pounds ; 
" the Tse chow-le, calls it the Ping-chou, or Ice Rat, 
" and mentions, another species which is no larger than 
" a buffalo." 

A question suggest itself here, as to whether the 
Rat of the Chinese cycle was originally the elephant, 
that represents the 20th and 21st Indian mansions, 
of the lunar cycle of 28. 

End of Part the First. 

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