What Are The Stars In Qimen Dunjia


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Figure 4.3 Fortnightly periods and Qimen Dunjia Configurations, from Wujing zongyao {houji): zhanhou 5.

between one to eight days after the fortnightly period concerned, the process to be used is called cbaoshen. When a day falls nine or more days after the fortnightly period concerned, then one of the processes runqi and jieqi has to be correctly determined. When the fortnightly period concerned falls between mangzhong irfjt and the summer solstice xiazbi KM or between daxue ^cS and the winter solstice dongzhi then the same fortnightly period can continue to be used and the process is known as runqi. These are exceptional cases. Normally, when a day falls nine or more days after the fortnightly period concerned, the following fortnightly period has to be used instead. This is the process of jieqi. For the gengchen day that comes three days after qingming, clearly the process to be used is that of chaosben. This is what is hinted at in clause (83) in the Huangdi yinfujing. In fact, the repetition of this part of the procedure in clause (80) to clause (84) serves as a reminder of its importance.

The importance of the above cannot be given more emphasis than by an example of an examination question from the traditional Chinese Astronomical Bureau given in the Mishujianzhi iftltiiJfe (Annals of the Secretariat). The question on the Qimen Dunjia system for admission as astronomy students (tianwensheng %'X'iL) into the Astronomical Bureau of that time was in the nature of a 'stock' question that read:

'Explain what is meant by "Winter solstice 1 7 4".'

A different fortnightly period might be substituted for the winter solstice for different examinations. This was meant to be an essay-type question to test both the candidate's knowledge and his ability to express himself in good literary style. The Astronomical Bureau would enlist successful candidates as astronomy students and train them to interpret prognostications for meteorological forecasting.

The sexagenary cycle beginning with either jia or ji, i.e. the futou, immediately ahead of gengchen is jimao. The branch of the futou determines which of the three settings is to be used. Zi, mao, wu and you give the upper setting, yin, si, shen and hai give the middle, while chou, chen, wei and xu give the lower. For jimao, therefore, the upper setting is indicated, and the upper setting shows the number 4. Hence the operation known as Yangdun siju PJ§jsSE3 ill (Ascending Movement in Setting 4) is used in the present case.

The earth board is now ready for setting. Moving in the ascending order wu (jiazi) is placed in sun Palace Four with its corresponding Tianfu star and Rejection Gate, ji (jiaxu) in Palace Five but shifted to kun Palace Two with its corresponding Tianrui star and Death Gate, geng (jiashen) in qian Palace Six with its corresponding Tianxin star and Admission Gate, xin (jiawu) in dui Palace Seven with its corresponding Tianzhu star and Fright Gate, ren (jiachen) in ken Palace Eight with its corresponding Tianren star and Life Gate and gut (jiayin) in li Palace Nine with its corresponding Tianying star and View Gate. Moving in the descending order starting from one palace after sun Palace Four, the Distinguished-One yi (riqi) is placed in zhen Palace Three with its corresponding Tianchong star and Injury Gate, the Distinguished-One bing (yueqi) in kun Palace Two sharing the same palace with ji (jiaxu), and the Distinguished-One ding (xingqi) in kan

Figure 4.4 Dip an with the day-stem added.

Palace One with its corresponding Tianpeng star and Rest Gate. The above completes the setting of the earth board. See Figure 4.4.

Stems and branches, the Nine Stars and the Eight Gates on the heaven board rotate with time, but directions indicated by the Trigrams and the palaces of the jiugong magic square remain unchanged. The time here is the yiyou double-hour. Counting backwards, find the closest previous cyclic number beginning with a jia stem. This is found to be jiashen and is known as xunsbou ^"i" (first of the decan). Xunshou, in this case jiashen, is on duty taking charge of affairs. Its stem jia is the Zhifu Mffi (Duty Warrant Officer) and its branch shen is the Zhishi Jli'Si (Duty Messenger). Jiashen lies in qian Palace Six on the earth board, while yi, the stem of the double-hour, lies in zhen Palace Three. Zhifu moves to zhen Palace Three on the heaven board taking along with it Tianxin star and geng from qian Palace Six. Subsequently, ding the Distinguished-One takes along Tianpeng star to move to sun Palace Four on the heaven board from kan Palace One, ren moves with Tianren star to li Palace Nine on the heaven board from gen Palace Eight, yi the Distinguished-One moves with Tianchong star to kun Palace Two on the heaven board from zben Palace Three, ivu and the star Tianfu move to Dui Palace Seven on the heaven board from sun Palace Four, gui and Tianying star move to qian Palace Six on the heaven board from li Palace Nine, bing the Distinguished-One, ji, and the stars Tianqin and Tianrui all move to kan Palace One on the heaven board from kun Palace Two, and xin moves with Tianzhu star to gen Palace Eight on the heaven board from dui Palace Seven on the earth board.

Zbisbi (Duty Messenger), which is the branch of the double-hour, governs the movements of the Eight Gates. Here Zbisbi is sben. From qian Palace Six (where sben lies on the earth board) count in ascending palace order for each of the next branch until it comes to dui Palace Seven for you, which is the branch of the double-hour. Zbisbi brings the Life Gate from qian Palace Six on the earth board to dui Palace Seven on the heaven board, the Gate of Rest from kan Palace One on the earth board to qian Palace Six on the heaven board, and so forth, resulting in all the gates moving one palace in the anticlockwise direction from the earth board to the heaven board.

Lastly, from the Warrant-Duty Officer Zbifu in zben Palace Three, place in order in the clockwise direction the other seven 'Deception Gates', i.e. Tengsbe in sun Palace Four, Taiyin in li Palace Nine, Liuhe in kun Palace Two, Gouzhen in dui Palace Seven, Zhuque in qian Palace Six, Jiudi in kan Palace One, and Jiutian in gen Palace Eight. The now completed earth board and heaven board for Yangdun siju (Ascending Movement for Setting 4) for a gengcben day at the yiyou double-hour is shown in Figure 4.5. This completes the operation of the Qimen Dunjia system. The next step is to discuss its applications and interpretations.

Military operations

The Huangdi yinfujing confines itself to the applications of the system of Qimen Dunjia to military use. Clauses (11), (12) and (38) refer to the auspicious signs indicated by combinations of the three Distinguished-Ones, yi, bing and ding, with the three auspicious gates, kai (Admission), xiu (Rest) and sbeng (Life), which gave the system its name. It would be even more auspicious if there are further combinations with the three auspicious 'Deception Gates' Taiyin, Liuhe and Jiudi, mentioned in Clause (38). The combinations indicate the favourable direction for military action, but in time of urgency Clause (21) says that one might use only the 'Deception Gates'. Clauses (19) and (20) tell us that Jiudi is the ideal direction for laying an ambush or to hide from the enemy, Jiutian is the direction of choice for displaying one's military might, and both Liuhe and Taiyin indicate the favourable directions for hiding.

Figure 4.5 Qimen Durtjia Configuration complete with earth board and heaven board in place.

But first the stem of the day, the stem of the time and their mutual relations should be noted, as said in Clause (22) to Clause (27) of the Huangdi yinfujing text. One generating the other is auspicious, while one dominating the other is evil. In the tiangan stem cycle any member encountering its third member is auspicious, but encountering its fifth member is bad. Clause (28) refers to the relation of the branches zi and wu coming together which would be an ominous sign for launching an attack. For the gengchen and yiyou double-hour, geng Metal dominates yi Wood and therefore it is not advisable to initiate military operation. It might be necessary to operate on the Qimen Dunjia cosmic boards resulting in Figure 4.5. Here we observe that the Distinguished-One bing, the auspicious Gate Life and the auspicious 'Deception Gate' Jiudi are together in the kan Palace One on the heaven board, indicating that the north would be the most




Figure 4.6 Modern earth board and heaven board model illustrating Configuration shown in Figure 4.5.

favourable direction for launching an attack on the enemy, but it is not the right day and time. In case of emergency, a decision has to be made on the choice of directions most favourable for keeping low and this would be between Taiyin and Liube, in the south and southwest respectively. Referring also to Table 4.1, in the southwest the kun Palace Two, which belongs to the xing of Earth, is dominated by the Wood Tianchong star, favouring the 'guest', that is, the enemy launching an attack. Therefore south is the direction of choice.

The rest of the clauses dealing with the combination of stems on both the heaven and the earth boards are self-explanatory. It is interesting to note the use of terms like Dragon, Tiger, Bird and Snake to denote Wood, Metal, Fire and Water respectively and the operation of the principles of wuxing.

The examples given in the Huangdi yinfujing are by no means complete. More examples can be found in Yang Weide's writings and we can find one such in Figure 4.5. In zhen Palace Three, Zhifu, which is jia Wood on the heaven board, is above yi Wood on the earth board. This is called 'Two Dragons Fighting' (er long xiangzheng Hjtlil"?"), an ominous event. Palace Three is very bad in any case. Being of Wood it already suffers from the subjugation by the Metal Tianxin star, which is an ominous sign. Furthermore, geng is above the double-hour stem yi, giving rise to 'Time Blockage' mentioned in the annotation of Clause (58), and is also a bad sign.

To complete the interpretations of the palaces in Figure 4.5 we are left to consider Palace Four, Palace Six, Palace Seven, Palace Eight and Palace Nine. In sun Palace Six, Tianpeng (Water) subjugates View Gate (Fire), but sun Palace (Wood) generates the View Gate (Fire) and thus neutralizes the bad effect. In qian Palace Six, Tianying star (Fire) subjugates qian (Metal) Palace Four itself, which should favour the aggressor coming from the northwest, but then both the Rest Gate (Water) and ren (Water) control this process by subjugating Fire, and hence there is no advantage for the attacker. In dui Palace Seven, Tianfu (Wood) star on the heaven board is subjugated by xin Metal on the earth board. To be subjugated by one below is a very ominous sign indeed. Gen (Earth) Palace Eight seems to be rather bad, because it is subjugated by the Injury (Wood) Gate, but the situation is saved by Tianzhu (Metal) star and xin Metal both subjugating the Wood Injury Gate. In li Palace Nine, only the presence of the auspicious Taiyin 'Deception Gate' is noteworthy.

It is perhaps significant that the application of the Qimen Dunjia method in the Huangdi yinfujing is strictly confined to military matters and so does the Dunjia fa section in the military compendium Wujing zongyao, but that the latter includes liturgical magic which does not involve using the cosmic boards. The explanation is that the Huangdi yinfujing deals exclusively with the Qimen Dunjia method, while military compendia such as the Wujing zongyao, the Wubeizhi and the Binglu contain a mixture of Qimen Dunjia and other Dunjia methods in various proportion, all under the general name of Dunjia.

Conjectural origin of the Huangdi yinfujing

Both the authorship and the date of writing of the Huangdi yinfujing cannot be known precisely. The material in the text is partly similar to the chapter on the Qimen Dunjia in juan 9 of Li Quan's Taibai yinjing dated ad 795, although written in a different style. We have sufficient evidence to show that the Qimen Dunjia method was known in China not later than the eighth century. It is fair therefore to speculate that the earliest date for the compilation of the Huangdi yinfujing text would not have been earlier. As we have seen, the text was written in mnemonic rhymes, containing only what was considered as essentials of the Qimen Dunjia method and rendering it quite incomprehensible to a reader without guidance from an expert. It could not have been meant to be a textbook or a teach-yourself book but rather as some sort of a handbook to help a learner to commit to memory the essentials of the art. Being involved with military knowledge, the composer of the book had taken due precaution to guard against the method falling into the wrong hands. The readership of the book would be the exclusive few who could avail themselves of expert advice and instructions. It seems therefore that the book was originally composed for the candidates in the Astronomical Bureau examinations and perhaps also for the information of military commanders and their advisers in eleventh-century Song China. The composer was perhaps someone who had served in the Astronomical Bureau but later retired to live in Yanbo. Being a handbook, he did not use his own name but rather borrowed that of the Yellow Emperor to enhance the prestige and authority of the book. The eleventh century would be a likely period because it was the golden age for the Qimen Dunjia method when it came under the patronage of Emperor Renzong. In the early twelfth century, Guo Jing SiS claimed to have used the Dunjia method against the Jurchen but with disastrous results. He sent his troops outside the city walls and left the gates wide open to meet the invaders. This method is not contained in books on Qimen Dunjia, although his decamping without ceremony in the face of the advancing enemy can also be described by the same word 'dun' that has the meaning of 'fleeing and disappearing'.18 Nevertheless, without a proper understanding of the difference between Qimen Dunjia and the other forms of Dunjia people generally became rather cautious with Dunjia and there would be a lack of motive to write a handbook on the subject. It would seem reasonable therefore to place the Huangdi yinfujing not later than the eleventh century and we can speculate that it was written between the eighth and the eleventh century, probably closer to the latter than the former.

The date and the authorship of the Yanbo diaosouge also remain unknown. Yu Zhengxie in his Guisi leigao refers to it as a work of the Song period, but says nothing about the identity of its author. Yanbo is the name of a lakeside spot in Hubei province popular with the recluse or retiree. Yanbo diaosou, the Elder Fisherman of Yanbo, sounds like an appellation used by one such person. There were several who adopted this place name as an appellation. For example, Song Boren i^iSC in the Song period called himself Yanbo yuyin (Recluse Fisherman of Yanbo) and

Gu Shoujian H* ft in Ming China styled himself Yanbo Sou te$L& (Elder of Yanbo). It is interesting that a nineteenth-century Japanese scholar Inoue Take ^JlS also adopted an appellation written in exactly the same Chinese characters as Yanbo diaosou. However, a nineteenth-century scholar cannot be considered as the candidate for a work of which a commentary had already been written in the seventeenth century. There were several others using the place name Yanbo as part of their style, but there is no record showing any of them as being distinguished in the knowledge of shushu, not even in the case of the Song recluse Song Boren. There is however an eligible candidate in the person of Zhang Zhihe Hifeffl who lived during the reign of the Tang emperor Suzong Mtk (reigned 756-761) and who styled himself Yanbo diaotu MMtilii (Student Fisherman of Yanbo). He was noted for his expertise on shushu, although we are told only about his writings on the applications of the system of the Yijing. A recently published Supplement to the shushu section of the Gujin tushu jicheng includes a work on Dunjia by Yanbo diaotu. He had served as a military advisor, suggesting that he was knowledgeable in the applications of shushu to military matters. He became a recluse and adopted a Daoist style Xuanzhenzi ^MT'. As he was highly respected both in public and private life it would not be surprising if those who knew him referred to him as the 'Elder Fisherman' instead of the 'Student Fisherman' which he called himself in modesty. Another small clue is the personal name Guiling ilfif that he used in his youth. In the item on the Dunjia yanyi H in the Siku quanshu zongmu tiyao PS are found the characters

'wu zong gui yanbo diaosou jue' Jltfe. One wonders whether there is any significance in having a common character 'gw/' with his personal name. Whether Zhang Zhihe was the actual Yanbo diaosou who wrote the Yanbo diaosouge is nothing more than mere conjecture. However, if this is proved to be correct then it would place the Yanbo diaosouge in the middle of the eighth century. The early part of that century saw the activities of experts on various forms of shushu. Yixing, for example, was knowledgeable in many of them, such as the system of the Yijing and astrology, although we have yet to find evidence on his knowledge of the Qimen Dunjia system. Yan Dunjie's findings showed that the Qimen Dunjia system was known in the eighth century. It would not be unreasonable to think it possible for Li Quan to incorporate the Huangdi yinfujing in his military manual in the eighth century. It is an educated guess therefore to place the date of origin of the Huangdi yinfujing as some time between the early eighth and the early eleventh century.

The Huangdi yinfujing is a military handbook that deals exclusively with the Qimen Dunjia method, although it is by no means a complete text on the system. Other military compendia such as the Wujing zongyao and the Wubeizhi have their own sections on the Dunjia methods, which include Qimen Dunjia and other Dunjia methods that involve the selection of auspicious dates and the use of magic in the form of Daoist liturgy, talismans, offerings, incantations, spells, curses, etc. Even Cheng Daosheng's Dunjia yanyi contains other forms of Dunjia, which includes four types of Qimen nfF1!, namely Nianjia Qimen ^^rJ'PI (year Qimen school), Yuejia Qimen sic^f H (month Qimen school), Rijia Qimen 0 ^"SfPI (day Qimen school) and Shijia Qimen ffil^HjP'j (hour Qimen school). They are more closely related to the zeri W 0 (date selection) astrology for selection of auspicious dates than the Qimen Dunjia system. The year is supposed to be based on a Superior Epoch when the planets together with the sun and the moon were all in conjunction and when the year, the month and the day at midnight started with the sexagenary number jiazi. A cycle of 60 years can be in one of the three epochs shangyuan _h.7U (upper epoch), zbongyuan ^TU (middle epoch) and xiayuan T7G (lower epoch). For a jiazi year in the upper epoch, begin with Palace One on the jiugong magic square, for a jiazi year in the middle epoch begin with Palace Four and for a jiazi year in the lower epoch begin with Palace Seven. The three Distinguished-Ones are to be placed in ascending order one step before the palace concerned, while the six Outward-Signs are to be placed in descending order from the palace concerned. For example, 1984 was a jiazi year in the lower epoch and one would begin with Palace Seven. Counting one palace in the reversed order for each year, 1994, the jiaxu year, would begin with Palace Six, 1998, a wujin year, would begin with Palace Two, and 1999, a jimao year, would begin with Palace One placed at the centre of the jiugong magic square.

The method also employed the 'nine stars', which were different from those of the Qimen Dunjia system. These nine stars are shown in Table 4.2

Table 4.2

Nine Palaces

Nine Stars

good/bad omens


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  • dennis
    What are the stars in qimen dunjia?
    6 years ago

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