Astrology and Cosmology in Early China: Conforming Earth to Heaven

  • ISBN: 9781107539013
  • 2015, 616 pages


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The ancient Chinese were profoundly influenced by the Sun, Moon and stars, making persistent efforts to mirror astral phenomena in shaping their civilization. In this pioneering text, David W. Pankenier introduces readers to a seriously understudied field, illustrating how astronomy shaped the culture of China from the very beginning and how it influenced areas as disparate as art, architecture, calendrical science, myth, technology, and political and military decision-making. As elsewhere in the ancient world, there was no positive distinction between astronomy and astrology in ancient China, and so astrology, or more precisely, astral omenology, is a principal focus of the book. Drawing on a broad range of sources, including archaeological discoveries, classical texts, inscriptions and paleography, this thought-provoking book documents the role of astronomical phenomena in the development of the Celestial Empire from the late Neolithic through the late imperial period.

A revolutionary approach to understanding Chinese history and civilization
Introduces readers to a seriously understudied field, explaining how astronomy shaped the culture and social organization of ancient China
Draws on a formidable array of sources and scholarship, ranging from classical texts to archaeology to astronomy
Reviews & endorsements
David Pankenier’s examination of traditional cosmology and astrology in China is the authoritative work in the area. It draws on the latest evidence and most recent scholarship to make a compelling case for the central role of the sky in Chinese religion, philosophy, political thought and social organisation. This book makes a significant contribution both to our understanding of Chinese history and culture, and to the wider history of ideas.
Nicholas Campion, Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture, University of Wales, Trinity Saint David




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