1.30-31 [Qinding siku quanshu edition].

According to the calculations (of your most humble servant) in the 5th year of Han Gaozu iHiEffl. (237 bc) Taiyi was within Palace Four; both the host and the guest received auspicious (signs).5 One can reckon that the side taking the initiative in war would win. That year Gaozu defeated (the State of) Chu H.

In the 2nd year of the Yuanxing 7Up| reign-period of the Jin # dynasty (ad 364), Taiyi was within Palace Seven. (Now) Taiyi represents the emperor, and Tianmu ^ @ (Celestial Eye) [represents] his adjutant. (Here is a case of Tianmu) harassing (poxie ii.il) Taiyi. That year Emperor Andi was forced out of his palace by Huan Xuan fe^. (Further) the Dajiang jzffi (General) was within Palace One while the Canxiang -H^l (Deputy Minister) was in Palace Three, blocking (ge M) Taiyi.6 The manual says that blockage means putting oneself in position to block the person in authority, to isolate him from those under his control in order to replace him. This sign is (also) unfavourable for planning (military) movements. Therefore in time of peace it is inadvisable to start any (military) campaign.

In the 3rd year of the Yuanxing tuM reign-period (ad 365), Taiyi was within Palace Seven. (This would not favour the side embarking on a military campaign.) (Emperor) Song Wudi defeated Huan Xuan (who had started the war in that year).

In the 1st year of the Yuanjia 7uS reign-period (ad 424), Taiyi was within Palace Six. (The Scholar (Wenchang JCB1) was in the shen ^ segment harassing Taiyi.) This did not favour any initiation of (military) action. (In that year) Xu Fu ^ffi stripped Prince Yingyang UPM of his title.

In the 7th year of the Yuanjia reign-period (ad 430), Taiyi was within Palace Eight. This was a bad year for confinement and imprisonment (guanqiu ¡Mj0). Neither the General nor the Xiaojiang /J\$f (Lieutenant) could be established (li ±L). That year Dao Yanzhi set out on his northern campaign. Initially he won, but eventually he suffered defeat. (The prognostication said that) it was unfavourable for both the guest and the host.

In the 18th year (of the Yuanjia reign-period) (ad 441), Taiyi was within Palace Two. This was unfavourable for both the guest and the host. That year the Di E (tribal leader) Yang Nandang fil His invaded Liang (zhou) and Yi (zhou) ¡¡rH'IH (prefectures). The next year (he was defeated and) Chouchi f^LYtk fell (to the troops of Liu Song

In the 19th year (of the Yuanjia reign-period) (ad 442), Taiyi was within Palace Three, while both the General and the Lieutenant were being confined (guan HI) and could not be established (li).1 This was an ominous sign (for the guest). That year Pei Fangming H^l^ attacked Chouchi and captured the Baiqing WtM

(mountain), but the next year he was defeated and lost (what he had gained).

In the 1st year of the Taishi reign-period (ad 466), Taiyi was within Palace Two, being hemmed in and attacked (yanji by the General and the Lieutenant.8 That year (Liu Ziye the eldest son of Emperor Xiaowudi ascended the throne and adopted the reign-period) Jinghe jftfd. (He was assassinated and his brief reign-period title) was terminated (being replaced by that of Taishi).

In the 2nd year of the Taishi reign-period (ad 467), Taiyi was within Palace Three, an ominous sign for taking initiative in making the first move, as victory would favour the host. That year (Liu) Zixun ®J (who was) Prince Jin'an (third son of Emperor Xiaowudi) rebelled (but came to a disastrous end).

In the 2nd year of Yuanhui tgWi (ad 474), Taiyi was within Palace Six, foreboding defeat for the side that made the first move. That year Xiufang Prince Guiyang (eighteenth son of Emperor Wendi), rebelled but was slain.

In the 4th year of Yuanhui (ad 476), Taiyi was within Palace Seven. The side that made the first move would be the guest; [the prognostication was that the guest would lose and] flee in the northwest direction. That year, Jingsu MM, Prince Jianping suffered defeat.

In the 1st year of the Shenming ff-^l reign-period (ad 477), Taiyi was within Palace Seven, which was unfavourable for the guest.9 In times of peace, the side that takes the initiative to make the first move is the host, while the side that responds is the guest. Yuan Can Mlfe and Shen Youzhi rebelled, but were (defeated and) slain.

That year Taiyi was within the Gate of Rejection (dumen ti.H) descending upon Palace Eight.10 Emperor Andi abdicated. The sign was unfavourable to the guest. In times of peace the side that made the first move would be the host. Hence the response in human (affairs) was the abdication of Andi (in favour of Xiao Daocheng itSLsK, founder of the Southern Qi dynasty).

Xiao Zixian (489-537), the compiler of the Nan Qi shu as well as the Jinshi gao Wjfeil (Draft History of the Jin Dynasty), belonged to the same family clan as the emperors of Liang. He enjoyed a reputation as a boy prodigy and was later known as the most talented scholar of the dynasty. His biography in the Liangshu describes him with the words 'shi cai ao wu St^J - relying on his own talent, he gave way to pomposity'. Therefore, he was apparently an arrogant person. It also mentions that Emperor Wudi ¡Ki'Sr (reigned 501-556) had bestowed upon him the posthumous name 'Jiao' HI (Pride).11 It appears that Xiao Zixian had availed himself of a suitable occasion to display his talent and knowledge of the obscure method of Taiyi while writing the Nan Qi shu. As we can see, he was trying to use the Taiyi jiugong method to work out and rationalize major historical events from the 5th year of the Han emperor Gaozu (202 bc) to the 1st year of Emperor Shundi of the (Liu) Song dynasty (ad 477), over a period of 679 years, and to explain the coming into being of the Southern Qi dynasty. Xiao Zixian in the sixth century was making a public demonstration of his skill in calculating the 'numbers of the heavens' (tianshu ¡^cft). Knowing the numbers of the heavens was knowledge held in the highest esteem in traditional China. It was the traditional Chinese equivalent to solving the riddle of the universe to people in our modern age.

In traditional Chinese scholarship, an account in an official dynastic history, particularly in the Chronicles of the Emperors (benji ^$5), deserved special attention. A great deal of importance ought to be given to the Historiographer's 'Remarks' in the Nan Qi shu since they attempt to elucidate the numbers of the heavens. Yet few scholars have seen fit to annotate or comment on the 'Remarks', and historiographers after Xiao Zixian never emulated him in trying to calculate the numbers of the heavens in any of the other official dynastic histories. The vast majority of scholars seem to have found the passage too technical, because of the difficult calculations, and simply passed over the 'Remarks', feeling that they could move on to the next passage in the text without missing any historical events of import. Most of the historiographers after Xiao Zixian probably could not understand the method well enough to make another attempt. One exception might perhaps have been Li Chunfeng (602-670), the compiler of the Astronomical Chapters in both the Jinshu iMr and the Suishu PhU. He ought to have been acquainted with the method, but even he did not get himself as heavily involved as Xiao Zixian, for very good reason, as we shall see presently.

One significant omission in the 'Remarks' is the year 420 when Emperor Gongdi of the Jin dynasty abdicated and marked the beginning of the (Liu) Song dynasty. Xiao Zixian seems to have been unable to calculate the appropriate position of Taiyi to rationalize this important event because none can be found. Furthermore, one of the results given in the 'Remarks' appears to have been manipulated to suit the occasion - something that seems to have gone unnoticed hitherto. I would like to reiterate here that, to traditional scholars, understanding 'the numbers of the heavens' was simply regarded as far beyond their reach. Hence, few annotations and commentaries were attempted on the 'Remarks'.

Xiao Zixian gives no explanation on the method he uses. Through his 'Remarks' in the Nan Qi shu he has, however, rendered invaluable service to our understanding of the Taiyi method which was later adopted officially in China for a duration of six or seven hundred years beginning in the eleventh century. The earliest book that we have on the particular form of

the Taiyi method, that was included within the sanshi (three cosmic board systems) of the Song period, is the Taiyi jinjing shijing ^Z^isS^M [Taiyi Golden Mirror Manual), which is included in the Qinding siku quanshu It was written by Wang Ximing 3E#BJ| in the Tang period, but the edition in the Qinding siku quanshu has other later additions appended to it, and therefore causes uncertainties in dating. Yan Dunjie identified one Taiyi cosmic board among several boards of the Han period unearthed in recent archaeological excavations (see Figure 3.2). However, at best we can only regard this specimen as a rudimentary form of that used in the Song three cosmic board systems. Yamada Keiji has studied the scripts on the same board, but has only associated it with the Nine Palaces.12 Until the 'Remarks' by the Historiographer Xiao Zixian were studied, the Taiyi method used in the Song three cosmic board systems could be traced back only to the time of Wang Ximing, and with some uncertainty. A reconstruction of the method employed by Xiao'Zixian from his 'Remarks' in the Nan Qi shu shows that it is essentiatty~the s&me as that in the Tang text and it is also essentially the same as that in a Ming work, Taiyi taojinge i^Z^Miftifc (Mnemonic Rhymes on [Retaining the Essentials of] the Taiyi Method [like the process of] Gold Washing), included in the Gujin tushu jicheng i^li®^. This Ming text was written by Liu Yangkun f'Jflll, with a preface dated 1627. Hence Xiao Zixian's 'Remarks' prove that the Taiyi method used in the Song three cosmic board systems was known at least by the sixth century.

The term Taiyi in the Taiyi method

The character for Tai in the term Taiyi is generally written as A, but sometimes as Likewise, yi appears in two interchangeable forms as Zi or —, both having identical meanings when used in the term Taiyi, but not necessarily so in other instances. Taiyi A- was the name of a faint star within the circumpolar constellations, according to the Astronomical Chapter (tianguansbu AUTlf) of Sima Qian's W] J§3I Shiji (Historical Memoirs). It could perhaps be the star (184) Draconis. As a rule, certainty of the identification of stars varies according to their brightness. A star nearby to Taiyi is Tianyi (Heavenly Unity), which is probably lOi Draconis. In Chinese astrology, stars played a material-cum-spiritual role, behaving sometimes as celestial bodies and sometimes as spirits-in-residence within the stars, with the freedom to travel outside their abodes. One may recall the days before the invention of the telescope when the physical nature of heavenly bodies was similarly unknown to people in Europe.13 According to an old story, China was ruled by three legendary kings, namely Tianhuang (Heavenly Emperor), Dihuang iffeM (Earthly Emperor) and Renhuang AH (Human Emperor). After their deaths the spirit of Tianhuang became known as Tianhuang Taidi AMA'Sf and resided in the star Yaopobao BiPllH (Polaris). The spirit of Dihuang became the resident-deity of the star Tianyi, and that of Renhuang became the resident-deity of Taiyi. Both of the latter two deities were subordinate to the first.14 There was also a conflicting story in the Shiji claiming that Taiyi was the deity of the Pole Star itself and saying that (the Spirit) Taiyi normally resides at the star Beiji dt® (the Pole Star).15 This discrepancy illustrates the many different, often conflicting, arguments on the identity of Taiyi. Those who wish to pursue the matter further may refer to Xiao Ji's H pf Wuxing dayi I^tAIS that took even the Han scholar Zheng Xuan to task for his mistaken interpretation. They may also see the elaborate references to Taiyi in Yu Zhengxie's "h^IE^ (1775-1840) Guisi leigao HEH^I and in a more recent work by Qian Baozong.16 Yu Zhengxie, for example, defended Zheng Xuan by saying that there are two meanings for the term Taiyi, depending on whether it stood alone or was mentioned together with Tianyi. When mentioned alone, Tianyi and Taiyi were two different names for the same Supreme Deity who resided at Polaris. However, when Taiyi and Tianyi were mentioned together they referred to two of the 12 deities found residing outside the walls of the Ziwei enclosure.17

In the Astronomical Chapters of the Jinshu IFilr one finds the following quotation:18

The star Tianyi (Heavenly Unity) is north of the star on the right-hand side at the Gate of the Purple Palace. It is the Spirit of an emperor in the heavens. Also governing wars and combats, it knows the good and bad fortunes of man. The star Taiyi (Great Unity) is south of and near the star Tianyi. It is also the Spirit of an emperor in the heavens, controlling sixteen other spirits, and knowing the incidences in different states of wind and rain, flood and drought, weapons and armaments, hunger and famine, diseases and epidemics, and damage caused by calamities.

The above seems to serve as the basis of the belief in the three cosmic board systems in general and the Taiyi method in particular.

The presence of the Taiyi deity need not necessarily be confined to the star Taiyi itself. For example, the Jinshu also has the following to say:19

The stars of Santai Hn (Three Platforms) (identified as t, k, X, v, and Ursae Majoris) are also said to form the steps of the heavens - the steps on which Taiyi, an emperor of the heavens, sets foot when he ascends and descends (from his throne).

Hence the star Taiyi would seem to be the principal residence of its spirit namesake who, as in the case of the Taiyi method, makes regular movements within the jiugong magic square, corresponding to his visits among the stars of the Plough.

In mentioning Taiyi as the name of a deity, Sima Qian's Shiji (Historical Memoirs) tells about a certain Miu Ji memorializing Emperor Han Wudi iHS^ on how to worship the deity Taiyi. Consequently, a temple was built at the southeastern outskirts of the capital for this purpose.20 Taiyi also frequently featured in Daoist liturgy and meditation practice as found in the Daoist Tripitaka. However, such references have little bearing on the three cosmic boards. Later on, the number of deities bearing the same name proliferated. By the time of the Song period there were 10 Taiyi deities, and various temples were built to worship them individually. Shen Gua's tfcig (1031-1095) Mengxi bitan lists them as Taiyi

Wufu Taiyi —, Tianyi Taiyi X—"ic—, Diyi Taiyi —, junji

Taiyi USA—, Cbenji Taiyi ESjc-, Minji Taiyi RSi—, Dayou Taiyi ASIA—, Qi Taiyi and Sbishen Taiyi A~.21 These were not all. Other deities with the name Taiyi appeared in books on the Taiyi method. The Taiyi jinjing shijing mentions the names Tianbuang Taiyi AH Difu Taiyt ^rffiXZj, Tianshi Taiyi ABi AZj, Taizun Taiyi A^AZl, Feiniao Taiyi ffit^AZL, Wuxing Taiyi Hft'XZj, Sanfeng Taiyi HStAZL, Wufeng Taiyi EJSLAZi, and Bafeng Taiyi AJIHAZ,.22 Some of these deities featured in a method for meteorological forecasting, and others became deities in the Siji Taiyi HftAZ^ and the Taiyi rendao mingfa AZjAiSiipft variations of the system, as will be described later in this chapter.

It only remains to mention two other entirely different interpretations of Taiyi. The first is found in writings on bamboo slips of the fourth century bc, unearthed from a tomb of the Chu period at Guodian in 1993. The term 'Taiyi' appears in a short passage entitled 'Taiyi sheng shui A—

which is regarded by some as part of the Laozi and by others as a separate text. A recent explanation of the passage interprets Taiyi as the fundamental substance from which all things were derived.23 A second interpretation appears in the Preface of the Taiyi taojinge, which mentions a connection between Taiyi and the Supreme Pole Taiji ^C® in the system of the Yijing. It says:

Taiyi is Taiji; the two Eyes (ermu ZLg) are the two cosmological forces (liangyi ffiH); and the four Senior and Junior Warriors (daxiao sijiang are the four Symbols (sixiang EHJ^).

Together (Taiyi plus two Eyes and plus four Warriors) make up the number 7 of the Seven Regulators.

Hence, Taiyi in the Taiyi method has something to do with a star, a deity, the Supreme Pole Taiji, a combination of a deity and a star, or a combination of a deity and the Supreme Pole.

The Taiyi cosmic board

The Taiyi cosmic board consisted of concentric circles, usually five in number. The first circle in the centre corresponded to Palace Five of the jiugong magic square, but was usually left empty. The other circles were each divided into 16 equal segments. Within the second circles were the numbers 1 to 9 (minus the number 5) of the jiugong magic square, the twelve terrestrial branches (dizhi) and four of the eight Trigrams, qian, kun, ken, and sun, such that the four cardinal points (of the compass) were zi, wu, you and mao in the traditional Chinese fangwei '¿TiiL order, corresponding to N, S, W and E, and also occupied by jiugong Palace Eight, Palace Two, Palace Six and Palace Four respectively. Then the points NW, SW, NE and SE in the traditional Chinese siwei order were taken up by the Trigrams qian, kun, ken and sun and the jiugong Palaces One, Seven, Three and Nine respectively. The other segments in the second circle were occupied by the remaining eight terrestrial branches chou, yin, chen, si, wei, shen, xu and hai in their sequence in a cyclic order beginning with chou next to the first branch zi. In the third circle were placed the names of the deities corresponding to the twelve terrestrial branches and the siwei NW, SW, NE and SE. They were the so-called 16 deities (shiliu shen ~t"7\#). Details concerning the names of the 16 deities in subordination to the deity Taiyi are given in the Wuxing dayi,24 In the fourth circle were the names of the geographical regions in China associated with the 16 positions. The first to the fourth circles were fixed, forming what we may like to call the dipan J&IS (Earth Board), although this name was not often used in literature on the Taiyi method (see Figure 3.3).

The outermost circle indicated the positions of Taiyi and other deities that were to be determined by calculations. As the positions were variable

Figure 3.3 Basic Taiyi board [based on Gujin tushu jicheng: yishu dian, ch. 689].

this circle could well be given the name tianpan (Heaven Board), although again this term is not often encountered in literature on the Taiyi method. Taiyi would move only among the eight palaces in the outermost circle. Then came the two Eyes (ermu — 0), namely the Celestial Eye (tianmu or Host Eye (zhumu i§) and the Terrestrial Eye (dimu Kkl=j) or Guest Eye (kemu @ ). They were more popularly known respectively as the Scholar (Wenchang 3tH) and the Attack Initiator (Shiji There were also the four Warriors (sijiang comprising the Host General

(zhu dajiang the Host Lieutenant (zhu canjiang otherwise known as zhu xiaojiang i/h^f), the Guest General (ke dajiang ^^ItIIF) and the Guest Lieutenant (ke canjiang otherwise known as ke xiaojiang Lastly came the Planner deity (jishen #Hi), otherwise known as the Superintendent (jianjiang SiW). The four Warriors together with the Superintendent were also referred to as the five Warriors (wujiang E^f). The positions of the two Eyes and the five Warriors on the outermost circle had to be determined from calculations.

According to the Taiyi taojinge,

Taiyi travels and sojourns in one (of the jiugong) palaces once every three years (Taiyi san nian yi gong you ^CZiH^F—UHl?) [and] Taiyi, being itself from the position of Water, comes to a halt when approaching Earth. Hence (Taiyi) avoids Palace Five at the centre and does not enter there. During the first year of visits to the other palaces Taiyi governs matters in the heavens, the second year happenings on earth, and the third year human affairs.

When calculations were made after winter solstice and before the next summer solstice Taiyi would move among the palaces in the order One, Two, Three, Four, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, One, Two, missing Five at the centre. This was called progressive movement (shunxing Jlllfl) or, more popularly, Yang order counting (Yangdun When calculations were made after summer solstice and before the next winter solstice, Taiyi would move among the palaces in the order Nine, Eight, Seven, Six, Four, Three, Two, One, Nine, Eight, etc., missing Five at the centre. This was called reversed movement (nixing M-fT) or, more popularly, Yin order counting (Yindun I^M). It is found that all cases in the Historiographer's 'Remarks' in the Nan Qi shu employed only progressive movement in their calculations. If the palaces of the jiugong were regarded as representations of stars in the Plough, then Taiyi under such circumstances could not be the star referred to in the Shiji, but rather the deity of that star that would make regular visits to the stars in the Plough. The first objective of the Taiyi method was to pinpoint the locations of Taiyi, the two Chiefs and the five Warriors, using a process of^cakulations described below.

In theory, it was essential for a practitioner of the Taiyi method to use a correct interval of an ancient Superior Epoch. Wang Ximing at about the time of Yixing used an interval of 1,937,281 years, quite different from those employed by calendar-makers that we know of. It was likely that Wang Ximing made his own calculations. It is interesting to note that an interval of 10,155,341 years for the Superior Epoch was used in the seventeenth-century Ming text Taiyi jinjingge, when Guo Shoujing had already discarded the Superior Epoch for calendar-making four centuries earlier. Reading this far, one has probably formed the impression that to understand the Historiographer's 'Remarks' in the Nan Qi shu would require a knowledge of calculating the ancient Superior Epoch, or at least what the historiographer Xiao Zixian himself used as the ancient Superior Epoch. The 'Remarks' gives no indication of the value used by Xiao.

In the Taiyi method a Superior Epoch comprised 360 years, or six jiazi sexagenary cycles (ji IS) of 60 years each. Taiyi remained three years in each of the eight palaces he visited, thus taking 24 years to make one circuit and to return to the same palace. This would give rise to 24 different configurations (ju Mi) on the Taiyi cosmic board by the Yang order counting (Yangdun), if the calculations were performed after the winter solstice, and another 24 different configurations by the Yin order counting (Yindun), if carried out after the summer solstice. For the next 24 years, another 24 different configurations of the Taiyi cosmic board for each of the Yang and Yin order counting would result, and the same would apply for the third round of 24 years. After 72 years, the 72 configurations on the Taiyi cosmic board for both Yang and Yin counting would repeat themselves.

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