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The ancient Chinese were profoundly influenced by the Sun, Moon and stars, making persistent efforts to mirror astral phenomena in shaping their civilization. Pankenier introduces readers to a seriously understudied field, illustrating how astronomy shaped the culture of China from the very beginning and how it influenced areas as disparate as art, architecture, calendrical science, myth, technology, and political and military decision-making.
As elsewhere in the ancient world, there was no positive distinction between astronomy and astrology in ancient China, and so astrology, or more precisely, astral omenology, is a principal focus of the book.
Drawing on a broad range of sources, including archaeological discoveries, classical texts, inscriptions and paleography, this thought-provoking book documents the role of astronomical phenomena in the development of the 'Celestial Empire' from the late Neolithic through the late imperial period.
‘David Pankenier’s examination of traditional cosmology and astrology in China is the authoritative work in the area.
It draws on the latest evidence and most recent scholarship to make a compelling case for the central role of the sky in Chinese religion, philosophy, political thought and social organisation.