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  • Introduction

    Chinese astronomy was developed independently and Chinese had its own system to connect the stars. The first Chinese star charts appeared during the Warring States Period (circa 400 B.C.) or before, when SHI Shen-fu, GAN De and WU Xian created their own star maps for calendrical and astrological needs. Later in the Period of Three Kingdoms, CHEN Zhuo (circa 230-320 A.D.) combined the threee star maps to form a new star catalogue comprising 283 asterisms and 1464 stars.

    In his poem which was written to help memorising the asterisms in the sky, WANG Xi-ming of Tang Dynasty divided the sky into 31 regions – the so-called Three Enclosures and Twenty-eight Mansions. The Three Enclosures, which mean three walled regions, are the Purple Forbidden Enclosure, the Supreme Palace Enclosure and the Heavenly Market Enclosure. Seven Mansions form one Symbol. The Four Symbols are the Azure Dragon, the Vermilion Bird, the White Tiger and the Murky Warrior. The Twenty-eight Mansions are the regions near the ecliptic and the lunar path, where the Sun, the Moon and the planets pass by.

    By the end of Ming Dynasty, XU Guang-qi, when editing the book "Chong Zhen Reign-Period Treatise on Calendrical Science", introduced 23 new asterisms situated near the Celestial South Pole based on the western star catalogue. DAI Jin-xian and LIU Song-ling of Qing Dynasty made further revision and correction to the positions and numbers of stars in the book "Complete Studies of Astronomical Instruments", which now becomes the standard for traditional Chinese star-mapping.

    As the scholars are still divided in explaining the meanings of some of the names, only one of the meanings is employed here.

  • Glossary

三 垣 Three EnclosuresTop


紫 微 垣 Purple Forbidden EnclosureBack

星官 Asterism 星名 Star name
北極 Northern pole 太子 Crown prince
庶子 Son of Concubine
後宮 Imperial Concubine
天樞 Celestial pivot
四輔 Four Advisors -
勾陳 Curved Array -
天皇大帝 Great Emperor of Heaven -
天柱 Celestial Pillar -
御女 Maids-in-waiting -
女史 Female protocol -
柱史 Official of royal archives -
尚書 Royal secretary -
天床 Celestial bed -
大理 Chief judge -
陰德 Hidden virtue -
六甲 Six Jia -
五帝內座 Interior seats of five emperors -
華蓋 Canopy of the emperor Canopy Support
紫微左垣 Left wall 左樞 Left pivot
上宰 First premier
少宰 Second premier
上弼 First minister
少弼 Second minister
上衛 First imperial guard
少衛 Second Imperial guard
少丞 Second prime minister
紫微右垣 Right Wall 右樞 Right pivot
少尉 Second chief judge
上輔 First minister
少輔 Second minister
上衛 First imperial guard
少衛 Second imperial guard
上丞 First prime minister
天乙(天一)Celestial Great One -
太乙(太一) Frist Great one -
內廚 Inner kitchen -
北斗 Northern dipper 天樞 Celestial pivot
天璇 Celestial rotating jade
天機 Celestial shining pearl
天權 Celestial balance
玉衡 Jade sighting-tube
開陽 Opener of heat
搖光 Twinkling brilliance
天槍 Celestial spear -
玄戈 Sombre lance -
三公 Three excellencies -
Prime minister -
天理 Judge for nobility -
太陽守 Guard of the Sun -
太尊 Royals -
天牢 Celestial prison -
Eunuch -
文昌 Administrative centre -
內階 Inner steps -
三師 Three top instructors -
八榖 Eight kinds of crops -
傳舍 Guest house -
天廚 Celestial kitchen -
天棓 Celestial flail -

太 微 垣 Supreme Palace EnclosureBack

星官 Asterism 星名 Star name
五帝座 Seats of the five emperors -
太子 Crown prince -
從官 Retinue -
幸臣 Officer of honour -
五諸侯 Five feudal kings -
九卿 Nine senior officers -
三公 Three excellencies -
內屏 Inner screen -
太微左垣 Left wall 左執法 Left law administrator
東上相 First eastern minister
東次相 Second eastern minister
東次將 Second eastern general
東上將 First eastern general
太微右垣 Right wall 右執法 Right law administrator
西上將 First western general
西次將 Second western general
西次相 Second western minister
西上相 First western minister
郎將 Captain of the bodyguards -
郎位 Official of imperial guard -
常陳 Imperial guards -
三台 Three steps 上台 Upper step
中台 Middle step
下台 Lower step
虎賁 Emperor's bodyguard -
少微 Junior officers -
長垣 Long wall -
靈台 Astronomical observatory -
明堂 Cosmological temple -
謁者 Usher of the court -

天 市 垣 Heavenly Market Enclosure Back

星官 Asterism 星名 Star name
帝座 Emperor's seat -
Astrologer -
宦者 Eunuch official -
Dipper for liquids -
Dipper for solids -
列肆 Jewel market -
車肆 Commodity market -
市樓 Municipal office -
宗正 Official for royal clan -
宗人 Official of Religious Ceremonies -
Patriarchal clan -
帛度 Textile ruler -
屠肆 Butcher's shops -
天市左垣 Left wall WEI
天市右垣 Right wall 河中 HEZHONG
天紀 Celestial Discipline -
女床 Woman's bed -
貫索 Coiled thong -
七公 Seven excellencies -

二 十 八 宿 Twenty-eight MansionsTop

四 象
Four Symbols
二 十 八 宿
Twenty-eight Mansions
青 龍 (東)
Azure Dragon (East)
Horn Neck Root Room Heart Tail Winnowing-basket
玄 武 (北)
Murky Warrior (North)
Dipper Ox Girl Emptiness Rooftop Encampment Wall
白虎 (西)
White Tiger (West)
LegsBondStomachHairy headNetTurtle beakThree stars
朱雀 (南)
Vermilion Bird (South)
Well Ghosts Willow Star Extended net Wings Chariot

角 宿 Horn Mansion Back

星官 Asterism 星名 Star name
Horn -
平道 Flat road -
天田 Celestial farmland -
周鼎 Tripod of the ZHOU -
進賢 Recommending virtuous man -
天門 Celestial gate -
Judging -
庫樓 Arsenal -
Pillars -
Railings -
南門 Southern gate -

亢 宿 Neck Mansion Back

星官 Asterism 星名 Star name
Neck -
大角 Great horn -
左攝提 Right conductor -
右攝提 Left conductor -
折威 Executions -
頓頑 Trials -
陽門 Gate of YANG -

氐 宿 Root Mansion Back

星官 Asterism 星名 Star name
Root -
亢池 Boats and lake -
帝席 Mattress of the emperor -
梗河 Celestial lance -
招搖 Twinkling indicator -
天乳 Celestial milk -
天輻 Celestial spokes -
陣車 Battle chariots -
車騎 Chariots and cavalry -
騎陣將軍 Chariot and Cavalry general -
騎官 Imperial guards -

房 宿 Room Mansion Back

星官 Asterism 星名 Star name
Room 鉤鈐 Lock
鍵閉 Door bolt -
Punishment -
東咸 Eastern door -
西咸 Western door -
Sun -
從官 Retinue -

心 宿 Heart Mansion Back

星官 Asterism 星名 Star name
Heart -
積卒 Group of soldiers -

尾 宿 Tail MansionBack

星官 Asterism 星名 Star name
Tail 神宮 Changing room
天江 Celestial river -
傳說 FUYUE -
Fish -
Tortoise -

箕 宿 Winnowing-basket Mansion Back

星官 Asterism 星名 Star name
Winnowing basket -
Chaff -
Pestle -

斗 宿 Dipper Mansion Back

星官 Asterism 星名 Star name
Dipper -
天龠 Celestial keyhole -
天弁 Market officer -
Establishment -
天雞 Celestial cock -
Dog -
狗國 Territory of dogs -
天淵 Celestial spring -
農丈人 Peasant -
River turtle -

牛 宿 Ox Mansion Back

星官 Asterism 星名 Star name
Ox -
天桴 Celestial drumstick -
河鼓 Drum at the river -
左旗 Left flag -
右旗 Right flag -
織女 Weaving girl -
漸臺 Clepsydra terrace -
輦道 Imperial passageway -
羅堰 Networks of dykes -
天田 Celestial farmland -
九坎 Nine water wells -

女 宿 Girl Mansion Back

星官 Asterism 星名 Star name
Girl -
離珠 Pearls on ladies' wear -
敗瓜 Rotten gourd -
瓠瓜 Good gourd -
天津 Celestial ford -
扶筐 Basket for mulberry leaves -
十二國 Twelve countries ZHOU

虛 宿 Emptiness Mansion Back

星官 Asterism 星名 Star name
Emptiness -
司命 Deified judge of life -
司祿 Deified judge of rank -
司危 Deified judge of disaster and good fortune -
司非 Deified judge of right and wrong -
Crying -
Weeping -
璃瑜 Jade ornament on ladies' wear -
天壘城 Celestial ramparts -
敗臼 Decayed Mortar -

危 宿 Rooftop Mansion Back

星官 Asterism 星名 Star name
Rooftop 墳墓 Tomb
蓋屋 Roofing -
虛梁 Temple -
天錢 Celestial money -
Humans -
Pestle -
Mortar -
車府 Big yard for chariots -
造父 ZAOFU -
天鉤 Celestial hook -

室 宿 Encampment Mansion Back

星官 Asterism 星名 Star name
Encampment 離宮 Resting palace
螣蛇 Flying serpent -
雷電 Thunder and lightning -
土公吏 Official for materials supply -
壘壁陣 The line of ramparts -
羽林軍 Palace guard -
天綱 Materials for Making Tents -
北落師門 North gate of the military camp -
鈇鉞 Axe -
八魁 Net for catching birds -

壁 宿 Wall Mansion Back

星官 Asterism 星名 Star name
Wall -
天廄 Celestial stable -
土公 Official for earthworks and buildings -
霹靂 Thunderbolt -
雲雨 Cloud and rain -
鈇鑕 Sickle -

奎 宿 Legs Mansion Back

星官 Asterism 星名 Star name
Legs -
Whip -
附路 Auxiliary road -
軍南門 Southern military gate -
閣道 Flying corridor -
外屏 Outer fence -
天溷 Celestial pigsty -
土司空 Master of constructions -

婁 宿 Bond Mansion Back

星官 Asterism 星名 Star name
Bond -
天大將軍 Great general of the heaven -
左更 Official in charge of forest -
右更 Official in charge of pasturing -
天倉 Square celestial granary -
天庾 Ricks of grain -

胃 宿 Stomach Mansion Back

星官 Asterism 星名 Star name
Stomach -
大陵 Mausoleum -
積尸 Heaps of corpses -
天船 Celestial boat -
積水 Stored water -
天廩 Celestial foodstuffs -
天囷 Circular celestial granary -

昴 宿 Hairy Head Mansion Back

星官 Asterism 星名 Star name
Hairy head -
天阿Celestial river -
Moon -
卷舌 Rolled tongue -
天讒 Celestial slander -
礪石Whetstone -
天陰 Celestial YIN force -
芻蒿 Hay -
天苑Celestial meadows -

畢 宿 Net MansionBack

星官 Asterism 星名 Star name
Net 附耳 Whisper
天街 Celestial street -
天高 Celestial high terrace -
諸王 Feudal kings -
五車 Five chariots -
Pillars -
威池 Pool of harmony -
天潢 Celestial pier -
天關 Celestial gate -
天節 Celestial tally -
九州殊口 Interpreters of nine dialects -
參旗 Banner of three stars -
九斿 Imperial military flag -
天園 Celestial orchard -

觜 宿 Turtle Beak Mansion Back

星官 Asterism 星名 Star name
Turtle beak -
司怪 Deity in charge of monsters -
座旗 Seat flags -

參 宿 Three Stars Mansion Back

星官 Asterism 星名 Star name
Three stars Punishment
玉井 Jade well -
軍井 Military well -
Screen -
Toilet -
Excrement -

井 宿 Well Mansion Back

星官 Asterism 星名 Star name
Well Battle axe
水府 Official for irrigation -
天樽 Celestial wine cup -
五諸侯 Five feudal kings -
北河 North river -
積水 Accumulated water -
積薪 Pile of firewood -
水位 Water level -
南河 South river -
四瀆 Four channels -
闕丘 Palace gate -
軍市 Market for the soldiers -
野雞 Wild cockerel -
天狼 Celestial wolf -
丈人 Grandfather -
Son -
Grandson -
老人 Old man -
弧矢 Bow and arrow -

鬼 宿 Ghosts Mansion Back

星官 Asterism 星名 Star name
Ghosts -
積尸 Cumulative corpses -
Beacon fire -
外廚 Outer kitchen -
天記 Judge to estimate the age of animals -
天狗 Celestial dog -
天社 Celestial earth god' s temple -

柳 宿 Willow Mansion Back

星官 Asterism 星名 Star name
Willow -
酒旗 Banner of wine shop -

星 宿 Star Mansion Back

星官 Asterism 星名 Star name
Star -
天相 Celestial premier -
天稷 Celestial cereals -
軒轅 XUANYUAN 御女 Maids-in-waiting
內平 High judge -

張 宿 Extended Net Mansion Back

星官 Asterism 星名 Star name
Extended net -
天廟 Celestial Temple -

翼 宿 Wings Mansion Back

星官 Asterism 星名 Star name
Wings -

軫 宿 Chariot Mansion Back

星官 Asterism 星名 Star name
Chariot 左轄 Left linchpin
右轄 Right linchpin
青丘 Green hill -
軍門 Military Gate -
土司空 Master of Construction -
器府 House for Musical Instruments -

南 極 星 區 Southern Sky Top

星官 Asterism 星名 Star name
海山 Sea and mountain -
十字架 Cross -
馬尾 Horse's tail -
馬腹 Horse's abdomen -
蜜蜂 Bee -
三角形 Triangle -
異雀 Exotic bird -
孔雀 Peacock -
波斯 Persia -
蛇尾 Snake's tail -
蛇腹 Snake's abdomen -
蛇首 Snake's head -
鳥喙 Bird's beak -
Crane -
火鳥 Firebird -
水委 Crooked running water -
附白 White patches nearby -
夾白 White Patch Attached -
金魚 Goldfish -
海石 Sea rock -
飛魚 Flying fish -
南船 Southern boat -
小斗 Little dipper -