Chinese constellation

From Citizendium
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This article is developing and not approved.
Main Article
Related Articles  [?]
Bibliography  [?]
External Links  [?]
Citable Version  [?]
This editable Main Article is under development and subject to a disclaimer.

The Chinese have a tradition of grouping stars in constellations that is completely different from the Western one.

In traditional Chinese thought, the arrangement of the sky reflects the political arrangements on Earth: the most northern stars represents the most elevated figures, and Polaris represent the Emperor - around which all other stars revolve. [1] Also, the sky around the North Celestial Pole (the circumpolar region) is divided into Three Enclosures (三垣 sān yuán).

In addition, for the Chinese, the region of sky passed through by the ecliptic is not divided into 12 zodiacal constellations, but into Twenty-eight Mansions (二十八宿 èrshíbā xiù). In each day of the month, the Moon occupies one of these mansions. The Twenty-eight Mansions reflect the movement of the Moon, whereas the Zodiac reflects that of the Sun. (Indian astronomy also has a system of lunar mansions, called Nakshatras.)

Three Enclosures

The Three Enclosures (三垣 sān yuán) are:

Twenty-eight Mansions

The Twenty-eight Mansions (二十八宿 èrshíbā xiù) are:

Four Symbols
"Xiu" (宿)
name pinyin literal translation [2] approx. localization due
to official constellations
The Azure Dragon of the East
Jiăo Horn Virgo, around Spica
Kàng Neck Virgo
Root Libra
Fáng Room Libra
Xīn Heart Scorpius, around Antares
Wěi Tail Scorpius
Winnowing Basket Sagittarius
The Black Tortoise of the North
Dǒu Dipper Sagittarius
Niú Ox Capricornus
Girl Aquarius
Emptiness Aquarius
Wēi Rooftop, Danger Aquarius/Pegasus
Shì Encampment, Room Pegasus
Wall Pegasus, around Algenib
The White Tiger of the West
Kuí Legs Andromeda
Lóu Bond Aries
Wèi Stomach Aries
Mǎo Hairy Head Taurus, around The Pleiades
Net Taurus
Turtle Beak Orion
Shēn Three Stars Orion
The Vermillion Bird of the South
Jǐng Well Gemini
Guǐ Ghost, Demon Cancer
Liǔ Willow Hydra
Xīng Star Hydra, around Alphard
Zhāng Extended Net,Growth Crater
Wings Corvus
Zhěn Chariot,
Strongly (as of emotion)


  1. Ronan, Colin A. The Cambridge Illustrated History of the World's Science, Vol. 2. 1984: Cambridge University Press.
  2. Translations of the Xiu names are done literally and may not be the true and original meaning