The ten Heavenly Stems or Celestial Stems : 天 干 ; pinyin :tiāngān) are a Chinese system of ordinals that first appear during the Shang dynasty, c. 1250 BC, as the names of the ten days of the week. They were also used in Shang-period ritual as names for dead family members, who were offered sacrifices on the corresponding day of the Shang week. The Heavenly Stems were used in combination with the Earthly Branches, a similar cycle of twelve days, to produce a compound cycle of sixty days. Subsequently, the Heavenly Stems lost their original function as names for days of the week and dead kin, and acquired many other uses, the most prominent and long lasting of which was their use together with the Earthly Branches as a 60-year calendrical cycle. The system is used throughout East Asia.(Chinese
|Vietnamese|| Yin and Yang |
| Wu Xing |
|1||甲||ㄐㄧㄚˇ||jiǎ||ciaeh43||gaap3||コウ (kō)||きのえ (kinoe)||갑 (gap)||ᠨᡳᠣᠸᠠᠩᡤᡳᠶᠠᠨ (niowanggiyan, "green")||giáp||陽 (yang)||木 (wood)||東 East|
|2||乙||ㄧˇ||yǐ||ieh43||jyut6||オツ (otsu)||きのと (kinoto)||을 (eul)||ᠨᡳᠣᡥᠣᠨ (niohon)||ất||陰 (yin)|
|3||丙||ㄅㄧㄥˇ||bǐng||pin51||bing2||ヘイ (hei)||ひのえ (hinoe)||병 (byeong)||ᡶᡠᠯᡤᡳᠶᠠᠨ (fulgiyan, "red")||bính||陽 (yang)||火 (fire)||南 South|
|4||丁||ㄉㄧㄥ||dīng||ting44||ding1||テイ (tei)||ひのと (hinoto)||정 (jeong)||ᡶᡠᠯᠠᡥᡡᠨ (fulahūn)||đinh||陰 (yin)|
|5||戊||ㄨˋ||wù||vu231||mou6||ボ (bo)||つちのえ (tsuchinoe)||무 (mu)||ᠰᡠᠸᠠᠶᠠᠨ (suwayan, "yellow")||mậu||陽 (yang)||土 (earth)||中 Middle|
|6||己||ㄐㄧˇ||jǐ||ci51||gei2||キ (ki)||つちのと (tsuchinoto)||기 (gi)||ᠰᠣᡥᠣᠨ (sohon)||kỷ||陰 (yin)|
|7||庚||ㄍㄥ||gēng||keng44||gang1||コウ (kō)||かのえ (kanoe)||경 (gyeong)||ᡧᠠᠨᠶᠠᠨ (šanyan, "white")||canh||陽 (yang)||金 (metal)||西 West|
|8||辛||ㄒㄧㄣ||xīn||sin44||san1||シン (shin)||かのと (kanoto)||신 (sin)||ᡧᠠᡥᡡᠨ (šahūn)||tân||陰 (yin)|
|9||壬||ㄖㄣˊ||rén||nyin223||jam4||ジン (jin)||みずのえ (mizunoe)||임 (im)||ᠰᠠᡥᠠᠯᡳᠶᠠᠨ (sahaliyan, "black")||nhâm||陽 (yang)||水 (water)||北 North|
|10||癸||ㄍㄨㄟˇ||guǐ||kue51||gwai3||キ (ki)||みずのと (mizunoto)||계 (gye)||ᠰᠠᡥᠠᡥᡡᠨ (sahahūn)||quý||陰 (yin)|
The Japanese names of the Heavenly Stems are based on their corresponding Wu Xing elements, while their Manchu names are based on their respective elements' colors.
The Shang people believed that there were ten suns, each of which appeared in order in a ten-day cycle (旬; xún). The Heavenly Stems (tiāngān 天干) were the names of the ten suns, which may have designated world ages as did the Five Suns and the Six Ages of the World of Saint Augustine. They were found in the given names of the kings of the Shang in their Temple Names. These consisted of a relational term (Father, Mother, Grandfather, Grandmother) to which was added one of the ten gān names (e.g. Grandfather Jia). These names are often found on Shang bronzes designating whom the bronze was honoring (and on which day of the week their rites would have been performed, that day matching the day designated by their name). David Keightley, a leading scholar of ancient China and its bronzes, believes that the gān names were chosen posthumously through divination.Some historians think the ruling class of the Shang had ten clans, but it is not clear whether their society reflected the myth or vice versa. The associations with Yin-Yang and the Five Elements developed later, after the collapse of the Shang Dynasty.
The literal meanings of the characters were, and are now, roughly as follows.Among the modern meanings, those deriving from the characters' position in the sequence of Heavenly Stems are in italics.
|甲||shell||first (book I, person A etc.), methyl group, helmet, armor, words related to beetles, crustaceans, fingernails, toenails|
|乙||fishguts||second (book II, person B etc.), ethyl group, twist|
|丙||fishtail||third, bright, fire, fishtail (rare)|
|丁||nail||fourth, male adult, robust, T-shaped, to strike, a surname|
|己||threads on a loom||self|
|庚||evening star||age (of person)|
|辛||to offend superiors||bitter, piquant, toilsome|
|壬||burden||to shoulder, to trust with office|
|癸||disposed grass||(not used)|
The Stems are still commonly used nowadays in East Asian counting systems similar to the way the alphabet is used in English. For example:
The traditional Chinese calendar, is a lunisolar calendar which reckons years, months and days according to astronomical phenomena. In modern days, it is defined in China by GB/T 33661–2017, "Calculation and promulgation of the Chinese calendar", issued by the Standardisation Administration of China on 12 May 2017.
The Shang dynasty, also historically known as the Yin dynasty, was a Chinese dynasty that ruled in the Lower Yellow River Valley in the second millennium BC, succeeding the semi-mythical Xia dynasty and followed by the Zhou dynasty. The classic account of the Shang comes from texts such as the Book of Documents, Bamboo Annals and Records of the Grand Historian. According to the traditional chronology based on calculations made approximately 2,000 years ago by Liu Xin, the Shang ruled from 1766 to 1122 BC, but according to the chronology based upon the "current text" of Bamboo Annals, they ruled from 1556 to 1046 BC. The Xia–Shang–Zhou Chronology Project dated them from c. 1600 to 1046 BC based on the carbon 14 dates of the Erligang site.
Chinese astrology is based on the traditional astronomy and calendars. Chinese astrology came to flourish during the Han Dynasty.
The Pig (豬) is the twelfth of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in Chinese zodiac, in relation to the Chinese calendar and system of horology, and paralleling the system of ten Heavenly Stems and twelve Earthly Branches. Although the term "zodiac" is used in the phrase "Chinese zodiac", there is a major difference between the Chinese usage and Western astrology: the zodiacal animals do not relate to the zodiac as the area of the sky that extends approximately 8° north or south of the ecliptic, the apparent path of the Sun, the Moon, and visible planets across the celestial sphere's constellations, over the course of the year.
The twelve Earthly Branches or Terrestrial Branches are a Chinese ordering system used throughout East Asia in various contexts, including its ancient dating system, astrological traditions, zodiac and ordinals.
Oracle bones are pieces of ox scapula or turtle plastron, which were used for pyromancy – a form of divination – in ancient China, mainly during the late Shang dynasty. Scapulimancy is the correct term if ox scapulae were used for the divination, plastromancy if turtle plastrons were used.
Tiān (天) is one of the oldest Chinese terms for heaven and a key concept in Chinese mythology, philosophy, and religion. During the Shang dynasty, the Chinese referred to their supreme god as Shàngdì or Dì (帝,"Lord"). During the following Zhou dynasty, Tiān became synonymous with this figure. Heaven worship was, before the 20th century, an orthodox state religion of China.
The sexagenary cycle, also known as the Stems-and-Branches or ganzhi, is a cycle of sixty terms, each corresponding to one year, thus a total of sixty years for one cycle, historically used for reckoning time in China and the rest of the East Asian cultural sphere. It appears as a means of recording days in the first Chinese written texts, the Shang oracle bones of the late second millennium BC. Its use to record years began around the middle of the 3rd century BC. The cycle and its variations have been an important part of the traditional calendrical systems in Chinese-influenced Asian states and territories, particularly those of Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, with the old Chinese system still in use in Taiwan, and to a lesser extent, in Mainland China.
Tai Sui is a Chinese term for the stars directly opposite the planet Jupiter during its roughly 12-year orbital cycle. Personified as deities, they are important features of Chinese astrology, Feng Shui, Taoism, and Chinese Buddhism to a lesser extent.
Zhòng Rén is traditionally held to be a Shang dynasty King of China but recent archaeological evidence has thrown this into doubt.
Tai Jia or Da Jia was the son of Prince Da Ding and a king of the ancient Chinese Shang dynasty.
Bu Ren or Wai Ren was a Shang dynasty King of China.
The Four Pillars of Destiny, as known as "Ba-Zi", which means "eight characters" or "eight words" in Chinese, is a Chinese astrological concept that a person's destiny or fate can be divined by the two sexagenary cycle characters assigned to their birth year, month, day, and hour. This type of astrology is also used in Japan and Korea.
The Rokusei Senjutsu is a kind of Chinese astrology and a handy approximation of the Four Pillars of Destiny.
Qimen Dunjia is an ancient form of divination from China. It is still in use in China, Taiwan, Singapore and the Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia. It is one of the Three Styles of Chinese divination, with Da Liu Ren and Tai Yi Shen Shu.
Da Liu Ren is a form of Chinese calendrical astrology dating from the later Warring States period. It is also a member of the Three Styles of divination, along with Qi Men Dun Jia (奇门遁甲) and Taiyi (太乙).
Radical 102 is number 102 out of 214 Kangxi radicals. It is one of 23 radicals composed of five strokes. With 192 signs derived from this character in the Kangxi dictionary, it has a frequency somewhat below average.
The Chinese Chemical Society lays out a set of rules based on those given by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) for the purpose of systematic organic nomenclature in Chinese. The chemical names derived from these rules are meant to correspond with the English IUPAC name in a manner that is close to one-to-one, while being adapted to and taking advantage of the logographic nature of the Chinese written language. A standard set of characters invented during the 20th century, along with characters for the chemical elements and characters corresponding to standard chemical prefixes and suffixes, are used for this purpose.
Zhang Zhu, courtesy name Zhongju (仲舉), was a Yuan Dynasty poet.
Wen Wang Gua is a method of interpreting the results of I Ching divination that was first described in writing by Jing Fang in Han dynasty China. It is based on correlating trigrams to the Celestial Stems and Earthly Branches of the Chinese calendar, and then using the stem and branch elements to interpret the lines of the trigrams and hexagrams of the I Ching. The method is popular in South East Asia. It is known by various names: refers to the fact that it interprets the meaning of six symbols; the Najia method, indicates its logic of elemental values derived from the Chinese calendar; Wu Xing Yi ; or Wen Wang Ke.