2012. Vol.1, No.3, 23-36
Published Online November 2012 in SciRes (http://www.SciRP.org/journal/chnstd) http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/chnstd.2012.13005
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 23
The 1911 Revolution in China, the Chinese Calendar, the
Imaginary Qi and Healing: Translating Li Fa into an Australian
Chinese Calendar and into an English Edition of the Northern
Hemispherical Chinese Calendar*#
School of Historical an d Philosophical Studies, The University of Melbourne, M e l b o u rne, Australia
Received September 22nd, 2012; revised October 2nd, 2012; accepted October 31st, 2012
One of the consequences of the 1911 Revolution in China was the political demise of the traditional Chi-
nese calendar li fa. As China adopted the Gregorian Calendar, the modern Western time system replaced
the premodern Chinese time system. This resulted in the fracturing of the ‘unified field of all existence’ of
various premodern traditional Chinese practices including traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Using a
new understanding of science and other knowledge systems as local and situated, I translate and adapt the
traditional Chinese calendar to the conditions of the Southern Hemisphere in Australia. An English rendi-
tion of the Northern Hemisphere Chinese Calendar is also made. I see the concepts of qi, yin and yang,
the five-elements/agents/phases wu xing and the Eight Trigrams/Hexagrams of the Book of Changes yi
jing as imaginaries, which animate both our human bodies and other bodies in the universe. Thus, in
commemoration of the centenary of the 1911 Revolution or Xin Hai Ge Ming in China, we celebrate the
birth of a Chinese Calendar in the Southern Hemisphere—The Australian Chinese Calendar.
Keywords: 1911 Revolution Xin Hai Ge Ming; Traditional Chinese Calendar Li Fa; Traditional Chinese
Medicine; Qi; Western Science; Modernity; Translation; Imaginary; Unified Field of All
Existence; Yu Zhou; Sexagenary Gan Zhi Cycle; Tian Gan Di Zhi
The 1911 Revolution and the Traditional
Chinese Calendar Li Fa
One of the consequences of the 1911 revolution in China was
the political demise of the Traditional Chinese Calendar or li fa1.
On the first of January 1912, Sun Yat-sen announced the estab-
lishment of the Republic of China in Nanjing and was inaugu-
rated as the provisional president of China’s first republic. In
the “Inaugural Announcement of the Provisional President”, the
unity of “Chinese races as one” was greatly emphasized. Sub-
sequently, on January 2, 1912, Sun Yat-sen informed all prov-
inces that participated in the uprising against the Qing imperial
rule that ‘the Yin calendar, had been abolished and replaced by
the Yang calendar’ [Wikipedia, 2011]. The “fourth year of the
Xuantong 宣統 emperor (1911), calculated using the lunar
calendar would be followed by the first year of the Republic
(1912), calculated using the solar calendar”2 [Harrison, 2001;
Qiu et al., 1994]. The “Era of the Republic of China” was
promulgated, and 1912 was officially declared as the first year
of this historical period. January 1st 1912 was declared offi-
cially as the first day of the Republic and years would be
counted successively from 1912. On October 1, 1949, the Peo-
ple’s Republic of China adopted the Western Gregorian Calen-
dar [Wilkinson, 2000]3. Hence, since 1912, as China adopted
the Western Gregorian Calendar and the Greenwich Mean Time,
the modern Western time system replaced the pre-modern Chi-
nese time system. The traditional Chinese calendar was trans-
lated or rendered in a one-sided fashion into the image of the
‘universe’ of the Western Gregorian Calendar and the Green-
wich Mean Time. The ‘primordial unity of the system of space
with the system of time’ or yu zhou 宇宙 in Chinese was re-
placed by the Newtonian ‘doctrine of absolute space and time’
According to Shu hsien Liu in a paper entitled ‘Time and
Temporality: The Chinese Perspective’ published in Philosophy
East and West in 1974, this doctrine never developed in
pre-modern China. Instead, Shu Hsien Liu (quoting the late
Chinese contemporary philosopher Thomé H. Fang) saw The
‘Universe’ or ‘Cosmos’, as expressed in Chinese, is ‘Yü-Chou’,
designating Space and Time.
#This paper was presented before the Chinese Studies Association of Aus-
tralia (CSAA) 12th Biennnial Conference held at the Australian National
University on July 13-15, 2011.The theme of the conference was an as-
sessment of the historical impact of the Xinhai Revolution of 1911.This
paper was also subsequently presented before an Academic Seminar organ-
ized by the Asia Institute at the Sidney Myer Asian Centre , The University
of Melbour n e on April 4, 2012.
1Li fa is a Chinese word which refers to the traditional Chinese calendar
TCC in conte mporary times.
2Hence, 1913 is referred to then as min guo er nian while 1914 would be
referred to as min guo san nian while min guo ba jiu nian would be the year
2000 [Wilki nson 2000].
What we call ‘Yü’ is the collocation of three-dimensional
3Annotated Al so please refer to the ex act date when the People’s Republ ic
of China adopted the Gregorian Calendar in Fang Shi Ming’s
lishi jinianb i ao 中国历史纪年表 [Ming, 1982].
spaces; what we call ‘Chou’ (zhou) is constituted by the
one dimensional series of changes in succession—the past
continuing itself into the present and the present, into the
future. Yü and Chou, taken together, represent the pri-
mordial unity of the system of Space with the system of
Time. Yüchou without a hyphen, is an integral system by
itself to be differentiated, only later on, into Space and
Time. The four-dimensional unity of Minkowsky and the
Space-Time of S. Alexander even cannot adequately con-
vey the meaning of that inseparable connection between
Space and Time that is involved in the Chinese term
‘Yüchou’. The nearest equivalent to it would be Einstein’s
‘Unified Field’. Yüchou as the Chinese philosophers have
conceived it, is the unified field of all existence.
In the pre-modern Chinese time system (which is the Tradi-
tional Chinese Calendar), Shu Hsien Liu contended that ‘space
and time are not to be separated from the actual content or
happenings of the world, material and spiritual’. ‘The ‘Uni-
verse’ or Yüchou is seen by the Chinese philosophers to em-
brace within itself a physical world as well as a spiritual world,
so interpenetrated with each other as to form an inseparable
whole. It is not to be bifurcated, as is done in Western thought
into two realms which are mutually exclusive or even diamet-
rically opposed’ [Liu, 1974].
I believe these ‘two realms’ refer to the ‘realm of the ab-
stracted theoretical world’ (theory) and the ‘realm of the real
world’ (practice) [Tiquia, 2011]. This is a received view in
Western science which looks at all knowledge including the
pre-modern ‘traditional Chinese natural studies’ [Elmam, 2003]
as “a mere abstraction of the world out there” [Tiquia, 2011].
The American philosopher of science Joseph Rouse in his cri-
tique of this representational view in science said that “theo-
retical representations is indifferent to local conditions” [Rouse,
In essence, the political demise of the traditional Chinese
calendar in 1911 fractured the ‘unified field of all existence’
[Liu 1974] i.e. the ontology and epistemology of various
pre-modern traditional Chinese natural studies and their corre-
sponding practices including traditional Chinese medicine
chuantong zhongyi 傳統中醫, chronoacupuncture ziwuliuzhu,
astronomy tianwenxue calendrical studies li fa, geomancy feng
shui etc. In the process, we lost a valuable pre-modern calen-
drical tool that mimics nature’s temporal order tianshi 天時
which in reality enhances the organic unity between humanity
and nature tian ren heyi 天人合一.
What Is the Traditional Chinese Calendar
Li fa is a Chinese word which refers to the traditional Chi-
nese calendar in contemporary times. The Chinese character li
was translated into English as ‘calendar’ and ‘astronomy’
[Wieger, 1965]. The Taiwan based International Encoded Han
Character and Variant Database defines li fa as “a methodol-
ogy of calculating the motion of the sun, moon, stars and plan-
ets as well as the flow of the seasons” [Zhongyang yanjiuyuan,
2010]. Wang Bing 王冰, a Tang Dyn asty medical scholar who
re-arranged and made commentaries on the Plain Questions Su
Wen [Fan, 1984] volumes of The Yellow Emperor’s Manual of
Corporeal Medicine4 Huangdi Neijing, referred to the Chinese
calendar as ‘calendrical records’—liji 曆紀 and saw the cal-
endar as “allocated records of the movements of the sun and the
moon in 365˚ (days) around the 28 lunar lodges (asterisms)
ershiba xiu 二十八宿 in the celestial sphere5.”
The traditional Chinese calendar li fa is also referred to in the
Chinese language as lishu 曆書, yinli 陰曆, huangli 黃曆,
tongshu 通書, etc. It is currently referred to as jiuli 舊曆or
‘the old calendar’ [Wilkinson, 2000]. Richard Smith in his book
Chinese Almanacs saw the traditional Chinese calendar as a
‘distinctly Chinese response to the universal need of societies to
compartmentalise time and order space [Smith, 1992]. Lu Yang
卢央 in a chapter he penned for the Anthology of Research on
the Inner Cannons Neijing yanjiu luncong saw the traditional
Chinese calendar as a system of arranging the temporal cycles
of the year nian 年, lunar months yue 月days ri 日and dou-
ble-hour time periods shi 時 to suit the economic production
and life needs of society. According to Lu, to suit the needs of
medical treatments and the discipline of ‘nurturing life’ yang
sheng and in line with the outlook of seeing an intimate rela-
tionship between nature and human life, The Yellow Emperor’s
Manual on Corporeal Medicine repeatedly cited the phenom-
ena of the flow of the seasons as well as climate and weather
changes. In this way it could not but deal with the issue of the
traditional Chinese calendar [Yang, 1982].
The pre-modern Chinese lunisolar calendar is a very complex
but very reliable spatio-temporal map, which aids us to “calcu-
late our position in time, space and the universe” [Dalby, 2007].
It affords one the opportunity to experience the universe (that is
the continua of space-time) in both the Northern and Southern
hemispheres of the globe. It is a time tested reference tool in
“comprehending the rhythms of the earth and the seasons”
But the traditional Chinese calendar (TCC) is an “instinctive
calendar” that “all nature (humans and non-humans6) follows”
[Bredon & Mitrophanow, 1927]. It is an embodiment of the
pre-modern traditional “beliefs, habits and preferences”7 of the
Chinese people. It is a fundamental component of Chinese clas-
sical culture which evolved over four millennia. A significant
component of this pre-modern culture and system of belief is
4This is Joseph Needham’s English translation of the Chinese medical
classical literature Huangdi Neijing [Needham, 1970.] which was compiled
around the tim e of the Warring Stat es in China (475-221 B C) [Chun, 19941].
During this historical period,the Chinese calendar which was in operation
was the Zhuan Xu calendar which was consider ed as one of the ‘Six Ancient
Calendars’ gu liu li [Re n , 1997; Lu, 2007].
5The original Chinese quote was: Li ji, wei ri yue xing yu tian ershiba xiu
sanbailiushiwu du wei fenji ye [Chun, 1991].
6“Non-human (also written nonhuman) is a term used to refer to non-human
actors. Its use marks a shift in how the role of humans is perceived and
discussed. Rather than traditional perceptions of humankind as a superior
species, the term is used to highlight that humans co-exist with other living
species and are embedded within complex systems that support their sur-
vival on Earth” [Wikipedia, 2011].
7Professo r Jocelyn Chey, a Chinese Studies academic and former diplomat
saw ‘culture’ as ‘intangible’ ‘being composed of beliefs, habits and prefer-
ences’largely preserved and propagated through language. In a speech
before the New South Wales branch of Charteris, Prof. Chey stated that
‘culture is intangible, being composed of beliefs, habits and preferences. It
is preserved and disseminated largely through language (which is why it is
so important to preserve Aboriginal languages in Australia) but it is not the
same as language. It is not preserved or embodied in cultural institutions.
For instance, religious belief is part of culture, but churches are institutions
and, as everyone knows,there is a considerable gap between churches and
religious belief. Religious and other beliefs evolve and change, while insti-
tutions struggle to keep up,the former evolving more quickly than the
latter.’ [Chey, 2011].
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
the philosophy and culture of qi.
The Centrality of the Philosophy of Qi in the
Traditional Chinese Calendar and in the
“Unified Field of All Existence” of Traditional
Chinese Medicine (TCM)
The idea of qi 氣 which is sometimes transliterated as chi or
chhi8, or ‘Ki’9 or translated into English as ‘primary ether’
[Graham, 1958], ‘material force’ [Ng, 1993], or as the origin of
the universe, as expressed in the chapter ‘Disquisition on As-
trology’ tian wen xun in the ancient classic Huai Nan Zi 淮南
子 (written in 120 BC). The Huai Nan Zi, stated:
In the beginning, nothing had physical shape, and the first
spontaneous formations were the continua of space and
time (yu zhou). Out of these were produced the original
chi. This Chi was heavy and stable, but its lighter part
rose an d became the sky. The heavy an d turbid part gath-
ered and became earth. The gathering of the heavy sub-
stance took time, and hence the sky was formed earlier.
Then the chi of sky and earth met and became yin and
yang. The active chi of the yin and yang became the four
seasons, and as this chi of the seasons scattered it formed
the various phenomenal things of the earth. The hot chi of
yang gathered and became Fire. Next, the essence of the
chi of Fire became the sun. The cold chi of yin gathered
and became Water. The essence of the chi of Water be-
came the moon. The encounter of the chi of the sun and
the moon gave rise to the stars [Yosida, 1973].
Together with the concepts of the Yin and Yang, Five Ele-
ments Wuxing, the Eight Trigrams and Sixty Four Hexagrams
of the Yijing (Book of Changes)10, I see qi as an ontologi-
cal/epistemological entity or ‘imaginary’. It can be seen as an
‘imaging figure, a metaphor or a narrative that has realness
achieved in the emergence of gradually clotting and eventually
routinized, sets of embodied, in-place actions’ [Verran, 2005].
Imaginaries, imaging figures and narratives can be seen as
similar to “Foucault’s epistemes, Kuhn’s paradigms, Callon,
Law and Latour’s actor-networks, Hacking’s self-vindicating
constellations, Fujimura and Star’s standardized packages and
boundary objects and Knorr-Certina’s reconfiguration” [Turn-
bull, 1996], David Turnbull’s ‘assemblage’ [Turnbull, 2000],
and Donna Haraway’s ‘vision metaphor’ [Haraway, 1991]. An
assemblage is a translation medium [Tiquia, 2011] through
which an equivalent version of an entity is rendered. Qi, to-
gether with the yin and yang 陰陽, the five elements/agents/
phases and the eight trigrams of the Book of changes 八挂易
經, animate both our human bodies and the bodies of the uni-
verse around us [Tiquia, “The Qi”, 2011].
Qi, in its earlier uses referred to ‘floating clouds’, the breath
and the atmosphere between heaven and earth. The Chinese
character is written with one set of strokes signifying flowing
current, and another representing a ‘seed’ or ‘grain’, signifying
minuteness [Tiquia, 1986] and a ‘tangible physical form’ wu
xing zhi zhi 有形之质 [San & Sun, 1985]. Origin stories have
it that the universe emerged from cosmological confusion pe-
riod as the light, bright Yang qi ascended to become Heaven,
and the thick heavy yin qi descended to become Earth. During
the historical period of the Warring States in China (475-221
BC) it became accepted that ‘all things with tangible physical
form’ you xing zhi zhi 有形之质 [San & Sun, 1985] in the
universe originated from an ‘invisible qi’ wu xing zhi qi 无形
之气 [San & Sun, 1985]. Later, during the Eastern Han Dy-
nasty, qi came to be understood as the most basic substance
which constitute the cosmos, and that things are the products of
its multitudes of transformations or ‘evolutionary operations’
hua. During the Song dynasty, Neo-Confucianism11 drew on
the Confucian classics as well as early texts such as the Huai
Nan Zi to formulate a cosmogony predicated on the “Dichot-
omy of principle”, contrasting li and qi; this in turn paved the
way to a new vitalist ontology that emerged in the seventeenth
century. Founded on materiality and the actualities of life, this
new way of thinking gave rise to a vitalism centered upon qi
Harmonizing with Nature’s Temporal Order
Tian Shi: Restoring Traditional Chinese
Medicine’s Pre-Modern Spatio-Tsemporal Or-
der in a Postmodern Globalised World
At the threshold of this postmodern epoch of “humanized
modernity” characterized by a growing “disbelief in the
metanarratives of science, rationality and objectivity, where
liv ed l ives , the diverse, the complex the unique” are favore d,
and more importantly the local, which “acknowledges indi-
viduality, complexity and subjectivity of personal experience”
[Chan & Chan, 2000] as well as the organic unity of man (hu-
manity) and heaven (nature) tian ren he yi i.e. “the natureworld
and the humanworld being organically of one qi” tian ren tong
qi ye 天人同气也 [San & Sun, 1985], there is a pressing need
for restoring traditional Chinese medicine’s pre-modern spa-
tio-temporal order in a postmodern globalised world [Tiquia,
In pre-modern traditional Chinese medicine, climate change
qihou bianyi 氣候變易is always contingent upon the ‘time and
season’ shi 時, ‘two-hour time period’ shi chen 時辰, ‘day’ ri
日, ‘lunar month’ yue 月, ‘seventy two pentads’ qishier hou
七十二候, ‘twenty four Climactic Periods’ ershisige jieqi二十
四個節氣, ‘four seasons’ si shi 四時, ‘year’ nian 年 or sui 歲
and ‘sixty spatio-temporal units’ jia zi 甲子 [Tiquia, 2008].
And ‘climate change’, which is now referred to in modern Chi-
nese as qihou bianhua, as seen from the perspective of the Yel-
low Emperor’s Manual on Corporeal Medicine is one of those
‘natural time sequences’ shi xu 時序 that ‘mark’ changes and
transformations in ‘nature’ tian 天. Paraphrasing the Yellow
Emperor’s Manual, the pre-modern TCM scholar/ practitioner
8Joseph Needham uses this Wade Giles transliteration of qi. He also t rans-
lates qi as ‘pneuma, subtle matter, matter-energy, or energy present in
organize d fo rm’ [Needham ,1962].
9Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz refers to qi as ki [Rosemont & Cook, 1977].
Yuasa Yasuo, in his book The Body Self-Cultivation and Ki-Energy,also
transliterates qi as ‘ki’ or ‘ki-energy’ [Yasuo, l993].
10“Trigrams gua. The basic fo rms of the Book of Changes are provided by
the eigh t trigr ams. The li nes fo rming th ese tri grams are eith er whol e (male)
or broken (female). Each trigrams consists of three male or female lines;
and accord ing to the make-up, the t rigram symbo lises heav en, earth, wat er,
fire, dampness, wind, thunder or mountains. The trigrams can be superim-
posed upo n each oth er, and in this way 8 × 8 = 64 hexag rams are ob tained.
These 64 hexagrams provide the essential text of the oracle book,the
Yi-jing; the rest of the material consists of commentary, elaboration and
legend. Marcel Granet has described it as ‘the cosmos in capsule form”
11Neo-Confucianism as formulated by Zhu Xi (1130-1200) saw the world
as based on dao, expressed through both principle (li) and qi (understood as
the mater ial embodiment of the dao) [Chan,19 63] .
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 25
Yang Ru Hou (1861-1928) stated:
The cosmic yin and yang qi of the ‘sky/heaven/celestial
sphere’ tian and ‘earth/terrestrial sphere’ di ascend and
descend and climatic weather conditions during the ‘four
seasons’ resonate with these changes. Humanity must
harmonize and adapt to these changes as well. During
spring and summer seasons, one must nurture the cosmic
yang qi; while during the autumn and winter seasons one
must nurture the cosmic yin qi. In this way, unusual ill-
nesses will not come about [Hou, 1941].
Guo Ai Chun’s Dictionary of The Yellow Emperor’s Inner
Cannons Huang di neijing cidian, defines tian shi (temporal
order of nature) as the ‘time sequence in the occurrence of
changes and transformation in nature including the twenty four
Climactic Periods jie qi, weather and climate qihou, the phases
of the moon yue xiang yuanque, fine and cloudy weather condi-
tions yin qing and the alternation of the seasons i.e. winter and
summer season han shu [Chun, 1991]. Quoting from the ‘Plain
Question Volumes’ of the Yellow Emperor’s Manual on Cor-
poreal Medicine, he provided a classical literary basis for his
When doing acupuncture, one must closely observe the
movements of the sun ri, moon yue, stars xing, planets
chen, the four seasons si shi, Eight Climatic Periods ba
zheng zhi qi which all together generate the qi (weather
and climate). Once qi (weather and climate) has settled
down ding, then administer acupuncture. During those
bright cloudless days when the weather is warm, human
blood flow is smooth while the Protective qi (wei qi)
floats to the surface of the body. Conversely, during cold,
cloudy days with very little exposure to the sun, one’s
blood flow becomes choppy. The Protective qi does not
flow up to the surface of the body but rather sinks deep
inside the body12. At the time when a new moon comes
about, new blood xue and qi also come about, and the
Protective qi flows unimpeded. When the moon is per-
fectly round, blood and qi fill up the muscles which make
them strong. However, as the moon becomes ‘empty’ yue
kuo kong, the acupuncture meridians jing luo also become
‘empty’; the human muscles become weak and the Pro-
tective qi ‘departs’ wei qi qu13 Hence the physical body is
left on it’s own 形獨居. Hence regulate the flow of qi
and blood in accordance with the ‘temporal order of na-
ture’ 天時 [Chun, 1991].
And it is through the medium of ‘nature’s temporal order’
tian shi that the ‘invisible qi becomes ‘visible’. In his foreword
to Chen Shu Tang’s book ziwuliuzhu shuo au (Demystifying
Chronoacupuncture), Chen Shu Tang 陈述堂 stated:
The Primary qi in the celestial sphere assumes no visible
form that one can see tian zhi yuan qi wu xing ke jian.
Observing and following the flow of the shi chen
(two-hour periods/twelve lunar months) on Earth to which
the ‘handle’ of the Big Dipper points out to, one comes to
realize its (qi) presence guan dou jian zhi chen ji ke zhi yi
In a commentary on the cosmogony of the Huainanzi, John
Major observed that an important but rarely noted feature of
this cosmogony is that “everything is made of qi. Qi is both a
process and substance, and comes into being as a concrete
manifestation of space-time” [Major, 1993].
The Natural Spatio-Temporal Order(s)
Mimicked by the Traditional Chinese Calendar
That Make Visible the Presence of Human Qi
The Twenty Four Climactic Periods
The encyclopedic reference book 中国文化知识精华
Zhongguo wenhua zhishi jinghua [Essential Reference Materi-
als on Chinese Culture and Knowledge] edited by Wang Jian
Hui 王建辉 and Yi Xue Jin 易学金 [Hui & Jin, 1989] pro-
vides good introductory materials on the Twenty Four Climac-
tic Periods. It sees the twenty-four Climactic Periods as ‘mim-
icking’ a particular natural spatio-temporal sequential order that
reflects a corresponding climate and weather changes in a par-
ticular spatial regional territory. In other words, they designate
the twenty-four spatial locales along the planet Earth’s revolu-
tionary orbit around the sun. Astronomically speaking, the
number of longitudinal degrees is used to designate the sun’s
position along the ecliptic. The whole breadth of the ecliptic
comes to 360˚. The Climactic Period of “Vernal Equinox”
chunfen dian 春分点 sits’ on 15˚ of the ecliptic. Six Climactic
Periods make one season, while twenty four Climactic Periods
collectively constitute the “four seasons”. As early as the
Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC) in China’s history,
through agricultural production, people in China began desig-
nating four of the twenty-four Climactic Periods i.e. “Vernal
Equinox”, “Summer Solstice” Xiazhi, ‘Autumnal Equinox’
Qiufen and “Winter Solstice” Dongzhi. At the time of the Qin-
Han (221-220 BC) historical period, the concept of the ‘Twenty
Four Climactic Periods’ had been firmly established and had
become an important spatio-temporal tool in agricultural pro-
duction. Below is a table showing the four seasons, the twenty-
four Climactic Periods and the date that they occur in both the
Traditional Chinese Calendar and the Western Gregorian Cal-
endar [Hui & Jin, 1989]. Please refer to Table 1.
“Gnomon”14 Gui Biao 圭表—An Ancient
Astronomic al Instru ment Used to “Locate” the
Twenty Four Climactic Periods Jie Qi
During remote antiquity yuan gu, people noticed the shadow
cast by the ray of the sun on certain bodies of things. They also
noticed that the length and orientation of the shadow changed
as the sun changed position. Gradually, people began to use
bamboo poles or erect structures made from stones as ‘tools’ to
observe these changes in the shadow cast by the sunlight. This
then gave rise to the most ancienastronomical instrument—the
12Please take note of the three different meanings that the imaginary qi
conveys (‘Climactic Period’ jie qi; Protective qi 卫气 and qi in qihou
(weather and climate).
13Yang Shang Shan elaborated on the use of the Chinese word qu which I
translate into English as ‘to depart’. He explained that ‘within the acupunc-
ture meridian jing mai, the yin qi ‘wanes’ xu as the moon’s brightness
‘wanes’. Outside the acupuncture meridian jing luo zhi wai, the yang qi o
the entity wei (Protective qi) also wanes as the moon’s brightness ‘wanes’.
Hence, I us ed the word qu (to depart) and this does not covey the meaning
that there is an absence of the Protective qi fei wu wei qi ye [Chun, 1981].
14A ‘gnomon’ is a pillar or a rod ‘which shows the time of the day by cast-
ing its shadow on a marked surface’ [Brown, 1993].
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 27
The occurrence of the twenty four climactic periods in both the traditional Chinese calendar and the western Gregorian calenda r [Hui & Jin, 1989].
The Four Se asons Chinese Calendar Month Se qu ence Climactic Period Jie Qi Gregorian Calendar Equivalen t Dates
SPRING 1st Lunar Month Zhen yue Spring Begins Li Chun February 4th or 5th
Rain Water Yu Shui
nd Lunar Month Er Yue Waking of Insects Jing Zhe February 18th or 19th
Vernal Equinox Chun Fen March 20th or 21st
rd Lunar Month San Yue Tomb Swee p ing Day Qing Ming April 4th or 5th
Grain Rain Gu Yu April 20th or 21st
SUMMER 4th Lunar Month Si Yue Summer Begins Li Xia May 5th or 6th
Grain Full Xiao Man May 21st or 22nd
th Lunar Month Wu Yue Grain in Ear Mang Zhong June 5th or 6th
Summer Solstice Xia zhi June 21st or 22nd
th Lunar Month Liu Yue Slight Heat Xiao Shu July 7th or 8th
Great Heat Da Shu July 22nd or 23rd
AUTUMN 7th Lunar Month Qi Yue Autumn Begins Li Qiu August 7th or 8th
Limit of Heat Chu Shu August 23rd or 24th
th Lunar Month Ba Yue White Dew Bai Lu September 7th or 8th
Autumnal Equinox Qiu Fen September 23rd or 24th
th Lunar Month Jiu Yue Cold Dew Han Lu October 8th or 9th
Frost’s Descent Shuang Jiang October 23rd or 24th
WINTER 10th Lunar Month Shi Yue Winter Begins Li Dong November 7th or 8th
Slight Snow Xiao Xue November 22nd or 23rd
11th Lunar Month Shi Yi Yue Heavy Snow Da Xue December 7th or 8th
Winter Solstice Dong Zhi December 21st or 22nd
12th Lunar Month Shi Er Yue Slight Cold Xiao Han January 5th or 6th
Big Cold Da Han January 20th or 21st
gui biao (gnomon) which had many uses. For example, de-
pending upon the orientation and length of the shadow cast by
the sunlight, people used it to find their bearings or locate the
Climactic Periods, as well as fix the length of a Tropical Year
huigui nian 回歸年 which comes to 365.25 days. The gnomon
is composed of an erect plate/dial biao and a ruler-like pl ate gui
placed on the surface of the ground facing true north/south
directions. This instrument was used as early as the middle of
the era of the Spring and Autumn period in Chinese history
[Ancient Astronomy of China, 2011]. [Please refer to Figure 1
Ming Dynasty Gnomon].
The Seventy Two Hous: Phenological Changes That
Occur in a Five Day Time Period or a Pentad
Qi Shi Er Hou
The classical Chinese word hou 候 is a monosyllabic
polysemous Chinese word which means ‘to observe’; ‘sites on
the surface of the human body where the movements of the
arterial pulse are felt’; ‘weather and climate’; ‘to wait’ or a
temporal order or seasonal period of five days (a ‘pentad’15)
duration when specific phenological change occur [Chun,
In Chapter 9 ‘The Six Segments and the Phenomena of the
Human Endogenous Organs’ Liu jie cang xiang lun 六節藏象
論篇弟九 of the Plain Questions volumes of the Yellow Em-
peror’s Manual used the classical Chinese word hou in the
sense of phenological changes occurring within the temporal
order of five days.
The lapse of five days brings about one hou (phenological
change). Three five days makes one Climactic Period. Six
Climactic Periods make one season shi. And four seasons
make a year sui [Nanjing zhongyi, 1981].
15Pentad ‘a g roup of five’ [Butler, 2008].
Ming Dynasty Gnomon [Ancient Astronomy of
In his book The TCM Discipline of the Circulation of Qi’
Zhongyi yunqixue [En, 1982], Cheng Shao En translated the
above quote into a modern setting with its pre-modern mean-
ings intact. Cheng first of all in analysing the phrase “the lapse
of five days brings about one hou” defined hou as ‘the external
manifestations of the transformation and motion that the yin
and yang qi undergo. Specifically, it can refer to the various
actions, motions and changes that flowers, grasses, trees, fishes,
birds and beasts manifest as they are ‘touched and propelled’迫
使 by the motions, transformations and changes that the yin
and yang qi go through. Cheng added that the phrase “five
days” refers to the cyclical flow of the five elements of wood,
fire, earth, metal and wat er16.
Diurnally, each of the elements circulates in accordance with
the temporal flow of the twelve ‘double-hour time periods’17
shi chen of Zi 子 (11:00 pm-1:00 am), Chou 丑 (1:00 am-
3:00 am), Yin 寅 (3:00 am-5:00 am), Mao 卯 (5:00 am-7:00
am), Chen 辰 (7:00 am-9:00 am), Si 巳 (9:00 am-11:00 am),
Wu 午 (11:00 am-1:00 pm), Wei 未 (1:00 pm-3:00 pm), Shen
申 (3:00 pm-5:00 pm), You 酉 (5:00 pm-7:00 pm), Xu 戌
(7:00 pm-9:00 pm) and Hai 亥 (9:00 pm-11:00 pm).
Coincidentally, in a five day time period, there are sixty
‘double-hour time periods’ shi chen (which make one Sexage-
nary Jia Zi 甲子 cycle jia zi or a Sexagenary Gan-Zhi 干支
(Stem and Branch) cy cl e.
As an example, during the Climactic Period of ‘Spring Be-
gins’ Lichun the three phenological changes which come about
1) ‘The east wind melts the ice’ dong feng jie dong 東風解
2) ‘Dormant creatures start to twitch’ zhe chong shi zhen 蟄
3) ‘Fish swim upstream, breaking the ice’ yu zhi fu shui 魚
During the span of the first phenological change chu zhi hou
初之候, with the arrival of the yang qi, that which is firm and
congealed begins to melt. In the first instance, frost starts to
melt along the eastern regions of China. As a result, ‘the east
wind melts the frost’ and gradually ‘water begins to flow’. At
this time/season, while the weather could still be very cold in
the eastern regions of China, however, ice and snow which
‘faces the sun’ begins to melt. These ‘changes’ mark the begin-
ning of the phenological period hou of ‘The east melts the ice’
[En, 1982]. In the book, Cheng Shao En arranged all the sev-
enty two pentads and the twenty four Climatic Periods in a
table and their occurrence during the twelve lunar months. On
the other hand, in her book East wind melts the ice a memoir
through the seasons (2007), Liza Dalby, an American anthro-
pologist specializing in Japanese culture translated the seventy
two pentads into English and applied the temporal order of the
seventy two pentads in tending her garden in Berkeley Califor-
nia [Dalby, 2007.]. I have adopted most of Liza Dalby’s Eng-
lish translation of the ‘seventy two pentads’.
The Flow of the Gan Zhi Sexagenary Cycle
“Time for the Chinese is forever flowing without beginning
nor end”. And ‘it is customary for the Chinese people to use the
Kan-Chih system’ [Liu, 1974] to mark the passage of space-
time. There are ten heavenly stems shi tian gan and twelve
Earthly Branches shi er di zhi. An alternating and sequential
combination of the two sets of Chinese scripts make a cycle of
sixty lunar years nian, lunar months yue, days ri and ‘two-hour
time periods’ shi chen in a day.
In his Masters degree thesis (2004), Li Shao Yao from Tai-
wan Xuan Zang Institute of Humanities and Culture argued that
the ten Celestial Stems gan and the twelve Earthly Branches zhi
constitute a system of spatio-temporal codes or symbols. He
Gan zhi refers to both the ten Celestial Stems and twelve
Terrestrial Branches. The Celestial Stems are: Jia, Yi,
Bing, Ding, Wu, Ji, Geng, Xin, Ren, Gui. While the Ter-
restrial Branches are Zi, Chou, Yin, Mao, Chen, Si, Wu,
Wei, Shen, You, Xu, Hai. The Gan [Stems] Zhi [branches]
are symbols or codes18 that the ancient people in China
used to record the passing of time as well as one’s spatial
position in the universe ji shi he ji fangwei de fuhao [Yao,
16I see the n otion of the ‘ Five Element s’ wu xing of mu 木 (wood), huo 火
(fire), tu 土 (earth), jin 金 (metal) and shui 水 (water) as co mparable to th e
Western notion of the Four Elements in the sense that in both philosophical
systems the elements constitute the ultimate roots of all natural things
[Tiquia, “The Qi”, 2011].
17This system of telling time which originated from the historical period o
the Western Ha n dynasty (202 B C-AD 23) was re ferred to i n Chinese as ‘ the
system of te lling time in accorda nce with the twelve double-hour pe riods’ shi
er chen ji shi fa. It supposedly evolved from an earlier system called tian
iang ji shi fa (‘recording time in accordance with the celestial phenomena’
In the chapter on “Chronology” of his book Chinese History
A Manual, Endymion Wilkinson pointed out that the gan zhi
sexagenary cycle was originally a significant part of the pre-
modern counting system in China. In the chapter, he described
that the gan zhi sexagenary cycle was constructed by combin-
ing two sets of ‘counters’—a ‘denary’ and a ‘duodenary’
18Codes are a “systematic modification of a language, information etc. into
letter figure or symbols for the purposes of brevity, secrecy or the machine
processing of information” [Brown, 1993].
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
counter, whereby a ‘stem’ gan and a ‘branch’ zhi are combined
sequentially without duplication generating sixty unique com-
binations. The ‘denary cycle’ is referred to in Chinese as shi
tian gan (ten Celestial Stems) while the ‘duodenary cycle’ is
referred to as shi er di zhi (twelve Terrestrial Branches). Below
is a table of the denary and duodenary counters of the Ten Ce-
lestial Stems and Twelve Terrestrial Branches gan zhi. (Please
refer to Table 2 ‘The Denary and Duodenary Counters of the
Ten Celestial Stems and Twelve Terrestrial Branches gan zhi
The individual units of the ten Celestial Stems and the twelve
Terrestrial Branches are combined without duplication in a
sequential and ordinal manner giving rise to a new set of spa-
tio-temporal ‘codes’. The first unit of the Celestial Stem in the
denary counter, Jia, is paired with Zi 子 (the first unit in the
duodenary Terrestrial Branch counter) and a ‘new spatio-tem-
poral code’ Jia Zi is 甲子 formed. Then the second unit in the
denary Stem cycle, Yi 乙, is combined with Chou 丑, (the
second unit in the duodenary Terrestrial Branch cycle) and a
new spatio-temporal code Yi Chou 乙丑 is formed. Following
this, the third unit in the denary counter of the Celestial stem
Bing 丙 is combined with Yin 寅, the third unit in the duo-
denary counter of the Terrestial Branch, and a ‘new spatio-
temporal code’ Bing Yin 丙寅 is formed. And finally, the tenth
unit in the denary counter of the Celestial Stem Gui 癸 is
paired with you酉, the tenth unit in the duodenary of the Ter-
restrial Branch and a new spatio-temporal code is formed—Gui
At this juncture, there are still two un-paired units in the de-
nary counter of the Terrestrial Branch: Xu 戌 and hai 亥.
They should be paired respectively with the first and second
units in the denary counter of the Celestials Stem. Jia is paired
with Xu 戌 forming the new code Jia Xu 甲戌 while Yi 乙is
paired with Hai 亥 forming a new code Yi Hai 乙亥. Subse-
quently, the third Celestial Stem Bing 丙 is combined with the
first unit Zi 子 in the denary of the Terrestrial Branches form-
ing the new code Bing Zi 丙子. From this point on, the rest of
the remaining units are paired in both the denary counter of the
Celestial Stems and duodenary counter of the Terrestrial
Branches. Upon reaching the new code Gui Hai 癸亥, sixty
new codes are generated. To begin another sexagenarian gan
zhi cycle one has to start again from the beginning when the
first unit in the denary counter of the Celestial Stem, Jia 甲, is
combined with Zi 子, the first unit in the duodenary counter of
the Terrestrial Branch. (To follow the sequential flow of the
sexagenary gan zhi year cycle, please refer to (Table 3) The
78th Sexagenary Gan Zhi Year Cycle19 with associated ‘Ele-
ments’, ‘Zodiac’, ‘Ordinal Sequence’ and ‘Qi categories’.
The System of Recording the Passing of Lunar
Months in accordance with the Spatio-Temporal
Codes of the Ten Decimal Celestial Stems and the
Twelve Terrestrial Branches Gan Zhi Ji Yue Fa
Using the system of recording the passing of the lunar
months in accordance with the spatio-temporal codes of the
Celestial Stems and Terrestrial Branches gan zhi, in essence, is
similar to the system of recording the passing of years as pre-
viously illustrated. Both systems generate a cycle of sixty ‘new
spatio-temporal codes’. However, one must be reminded that
according to the rules of constructing the TCC, on the lunar
month where one finds the Climactic Period jie qi of Winter
Solstice dongzhi is supposed to be the eleventh lunar month
Jian zi zhi yue 建子之月. What follows the eleventh lunar
month is the ‘twelfth lunar month’ Jian zhou zhi yue 建丑之月.
This is followed by the first Lunar Month of the following year
which is referred to in Chinese as zheng yue 正月or as Jian yin
zhi yue 建寅之月(the Terrestrial Branch yin lunar month).
As an example, if the first lunar month is Bing Yin, then the
second lunar month is Ding Mao, while the third lunar month is
Wu Chen, while the fourth lunar month is Ji Si (please refer to
Table 4). The following rules are followed:
1) When the lunar year’s Celestial Stem is Jia 甲or ji 己,
then the Celestial Stem of the 1st Lunar month will be Bing 丙.
2) When the year’s Cele stial Stem is Yi 乙or Geng 庚, then
the Celestial Stem of the 1st Lunar Month of that year will be
3) When the year’s Celestial Stem is Bing 丙 or Xin 辛, then
the Celestial Stem of the 1st Lunar Month will be Geng 庚.
4) When the year’s Celestial Stem is Ding丁 or Ren壬, then
the Celestial Stem of the 1st Lunar Month will be Ren 壬.
5) When the year’s Celestial Stem is Wu戊 or Gui 癸, then
the Celestial Stem of the 1st Lunar Month will be Jia 甲 [Hua,
As an example, the year 2011 is the xin mao nian 辛卯年
(please refer to the Sexagenary gan zhi Year Table). This year’s
Celestial Stem is xin 辛. Hence, in accordance with the
abovementioned rules, the Celestial Stem of this year’s 1st Lu-
nar Month should be Geng 庚. I referred to the Ten Thousand
Years Standard Western Gregorian Calendar and Traditional
Chinese Calendar Conversion Book-Table 標準中西對照萬年
曆 [Zhe, Sen, Long, & Hua, 2007] and checked the gan zhi for
this month and found out that it is geng yin . In order to facili-
tate the calculations of the lunar months of the year, the above
corresponding relationships between the year, lunar months,
and ten Celestial Stems and twelve Terrestrial Branches are
illustrated in (Table 4)
The Gan Zhi Sexagenary Cycle of the ‘Two-Hour
Time Periods’ Gan Zhi Ji Shi
Generally speaking, each of the ‘two-hour time period’ shi
chen is represented and recorded with the use of just one of the
twelve Terrestrial Branches. And one day and night makes one
cycle yi tian yi ge zhou qi. And when one of the twelve Terres-
trial Branches is paired with one of the ten Celestial Stems, they
then become the ‘paired stem and branch’ gan zhi system of
recording the chronology of the twelve ‘two hour time-periods’
in a day. These ‘ two-hour time period’ gang zhi cycle begins
with the paired Stem Jia and Branch Zi Jia Zi and ends with the
Stem Gui and Branch Hai forming a ‘ two-hour time period’
gan zhi sexagenary cycle’. This means that a cycle of five days
(consisting of 60 two-hour time periods) forma cycle zhou er fu
shi. Six five days cycles constitute 30 days (which is close to
the duration of one month).
19“The invention of the Sexagenary Cycle liushi huajiazi is ascribed to Ta
ao (Da Nao ) 大撓 a minister of the Emperor Huang Ti (Huangdi). Huang
Ti (The Yellow Emperor) commenced his reign in the ye ar 2697 BCand the
first year of the First Cycle dates from the sixty-first year of his reign,i.e.
2637 BC Thus the year 1905 is the 42nd year of the 76th Cycle or the 4542nd
of the system of Cycles, the longest unbroken chronological period on
record” [Kli ene, 1905].
The twelve Terrestrial Branches di zhi, which are fixed in a
day/night, are paired with the Celestial Stem of the day dang ri
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 29
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
The denary and duodenary counters of the ten celest i a l stems and twelve terrestrial branches.
The 78th Gan Zhi Sexagenary year cycle with associated elements, zodiac, ordinal s e quence and qi categories.
de tian gan forming the gan zhi (stem and branch combination)
which are used to designate the chronology of the sexagenary
gan zhi cycle of the ‘two-hour time periods’ in a number of
days. The following rules are followed in arraying the gan zhi
sexagenary ‘two-hour time periods’ cycle:
1) When the Celestial Stem of the day ri is Jia 甲 or Ji 己,
then at the Zi 子 ‘two hour-time period’ shi chen (11 pm-1
am), the Celestial Stem (of the ‘two-hour time period’ shichen)
should be Jia 甲.
2) When the Celestial Stem of the day is Yi 乙or Geng 庚,
then at the Zi 子 ‘two hour time period (11 pm-1 am), the Ce-
lestial Stem should be Bing 丙.
3) When the Celestial Stem of the day is Bing丙or Xin 辛,
then on the Zi 子 ‘two hour-period (11 pm-1 am), the Celestial
Stem should be Wu 戊.
4) When the Celestial Stem of the day is Ding 丁 or Ren 壬,
then on the Zi 子 ‘two hour-period (11 pm-1 am) the Celestial
Stem should be Geng 庚.
5) When the Celestial Stem of the day is Wu 戊 or Gui 癸,
then on the Zi 子 ‘two hour-period’ (11 pm-1 am) the Celestial
The Sexagnary gan zhi lunar months cyclical table [Hua, 1991].
sStem should be Ren 壬 .
Please refer to (Table 5). The Five Days Sexagenary gan zhi
Cyclical Flow of the ‘Two-hour Time Period’ shi chen and
Figure 2 showing a picture of a ‘Two-hour time periods’ alarm
clock shi chen xing zhong
The ‘Double-Hour Time Period’ and the Human
Chronoacupuncture Ziwuliuzhu 子午流注 is a natural pat-
tern of spatio-temporality discovered and developed by ancient
medical sages in China. It is a spatio-temporal system charac-
terized by a correspondence between the twelve ‘two-hour time
periods’ and the twelve human acupuncture meridian system.
The relationship between the twelve ‘two-hour time periods’
and the twelve human acupuncture meridians can be understood
as one whereby humanity is seen as an integral part of nature.
Human life activities and habits must correspond with the
natural spatio-temporal patterns of nature. The physiological
activities of the human endogenous organs zang fu 臟腑 must
be closely linked up in a very orderly manner with the ebb and
flow of the cycle of the twelve two-hour periods.
On account of the changes in the continuous flow of time
(‘two-hour time periods’), the circulation of the qi and blood
A double-hour time period alarm clock shi cehn xing zhong Qianlong
eriod [Pin, 2002]. P
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 31
The five days sexagenary gan zhi cyclical flow of the ‘ two-hour time periods’ shi chen [Hua, 1991].
11 pm-1 am
1 am-3 am
3 am-5 am
5 am-7 am
7 am-9 am
9 am-11 am
11 am-1 pm
1 pm-3 pm
3 pm-5 pm
5 pm-7 pm
7 pm-9 pm
9 pm-11 pm
xue along the different acupuncture meridians ebb and flow at
different times of the day/night. Grasping the natural spatio-
temporal pattern of the flow and pooling of the qi and blood xue
along the twelve acupuncture meridians is of great benefit to
the practice of ‘nurturing life’ yang sheng 養生 and the use of
The medical philosophy of TCM holds that one should ‘fol-
low nature’s temporal order’ yin tian zhi xu 因天之序. This
means that we should follow the human body’s own natural
order of motion21 i.e. the motion oriented towards the east,
south, west and northern cardinal directions which in turn cor-
responds respectively to the seasons of spring, summer, autumn
and winter. The four seasons in turn correspond to the phases of
life development i.e. ‘the coming-into-being sheng fa 生發,
growth sheng zhang 生長, gathering-in shou lian 收斂, hiber-
nation and storage shou cang 收藏. If one goes against this
natural order of motion, one then can fall ill. And if one abides
by this natural order of motion, one will have good health and
Hence, in TCM’s disciplinary study of chronomedicine
Zhongguo shijian yixue 中國時間醫學, the twelve Terrestrial
Branches are referred to as the ‘circadian (‘about a day’)
rhythm of the flow of qi and blood along the twelve human
meridians’. The circadian rhythm of the flow of qi and blood in
general refers to the ebb and flow of the yin (blood) and yang
(qi) in the human body. The circulatory flow begins from the
Lung Meridian at the Yin two-hour period (3 am-5 am) and
terminates at the Liver Meridian at the Chou two-hour period (1
am-3 am). One two-hour time period equals two hours of the
modern time system [Wu & Song, 2009]. (Please refer to Table
6 on the correlations between the twelve two-hour time periods
and twelve human meridians)22.
Translating the Traditional Chinese Calendar Li
Fa into the Conditions of the Southern
At this threshold of a new epoch of humanist modernity, a
new understanding of science as a knowledge system is emerg-
ing. In place of universalizing theories, there is recognition of
locatedness and situatedness as the fundamental characteristics
of scientific knowledge. Situatedness of scientific knowledge is
‘feminist objectivity’ and ‘limited location’ which makes us
‘become answerable for what we learn how to see’ [Haraway,
1991]. This recognition comes from several sources: the soci-
ology of knowledge (SSK) as developed in Great Britain,
French translation theory, the work of symbolic interactionist
20Yao wu 藥物 are routine therapeutic practices designed to move and
transform a patient’s qi [Tiquia, 2011].
21As ontological entity , qi animates the huma n body in four direc tional sta tes
of orientation: upwards, downwards, inwards and outwards [Tiquia, “The
22This segment of the paper is a translation of the introduction to the Ap-
pendix of the book Huangdi neijing shi er shichen yangshengfa “Nurturing
lifemethods based upon the Yellow Emperor’s Manual On Corporeal
Medicine s ystem of the twelv e double-hour periods.” [Wu & Son g, 2009].
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
The Natural Spatio-temporal Pattern of the Flow and Pooling of the Qi and blood along the Twelve Human Acupuncture Meridians [Wu & Song,
Time 時辰 Terrestrial Branches地支 Endogenous Organ Systems 臟腑 Twelve Human Acupuncture Meridians 十二經
3 am-5 am Yin 寅 Lungs Hand Great Yin
5 am-7 am Mao 卯 Large Intestines Hand Yang Bright
7 am-9 am Chen 辰 Stomach Foot Yang B r ight
9 am-11 am Si 巳 Spleen Foot Great Yin
11 am-1 pm Wu 午 Heart Hand Small Yi n
1 pm-3 pm Wei 未 Small I nt estines Hand Great Yang
3 pm-5 pm Shen 申 Urinary Bladder Foot Great Yang
5 pm-7 pm You 酉 Kidne ys Foot Small Y i n
7 pm-9 pm Xu 戌 Heart Protector Hand Terminal Yin
9 pm-11 pm Hai 亥 Triple Energizer Hand Small Yang
11 pm-1 am Zi子 Gall Bladder Foot Smal l Yang
1 am-3 am Chou 丑 Liver Foot Terminal Yin
group in North America [Verran and & Turnbull, 1995].
Bruno Latour, an authority in science and technology studies
(STS) refers to ‘translation’ as ‘the interpretation given by
fact-builders of their interests and those of the people they en-
rol.’ In his seminal work Science in Action: How to follow sci-
entists and engineers through society, he writes:
It should be clear why I used the word translation. In ad-
dition to its linguistic meaning (relating versions in one
language to versions in another one) it has also a geomet-
ric meaning (moving from one place to another). Trans-
lating interests means at once offering new interpretations
of these interests and channeling people in different direc-
tions [Latour, 1987].
This offers the possibility of a local and situated interpreta-
tion of other knowledge systems. Using this methodology, I
translate the traditional Chinese calendar li fa to the local con-
ditions of Australia.
Living in our contemporary world dominated by abstract,
universalizing and modernistic temporal systems such as the
Gregorian calendar (with its Northern Hemispherical bias) and
Greenwich Mean Time (with its de-localizing bias) presents
huge challenges for those of us living in the Southern Hemi-
sphere who wish who wish to follow health practices according
to the principles of living in harmony with local space, local
time and local culture.
Furthermore, for those of us living in the Southern Hemi-
sphere, there is the added challenge of practising TCM accord-
ing to the foundation principle of ‘differentiating clinical pat-
terns and associating yao’ 辯證論藥. This is a practice based
on highly situated health and therapeutic practices dispensed in
accordance with clearly defined complex temporal phases and
periods set on the basis of the ancient Northern Hemispherical
traditional Chinese calendar li fa. In the absence of an adapta-
tion of the Traditional Chinese Calendar for the Southern
Hemisphere, it is almost an impossibility to practise ‘differenti-
ating clinical patterns and associating yao’.
To address this problem, I researched the ancient Traditional
Chinese Calendar and adapted its core principles to produce the
Australian Chinese Calendar. With this calendar, it will now
make it possible to follow best practice in TCM and harmonize
the flow of our qi with the flow of nature’s temporal order here
in the Southern Hemisphere. In addition, through the use of this
calendrical tool, we can ‘reverse’ the clinical activities of ‘dif-
ferentiating clinical patterns and associating yao in accordance
with the flow of the seasons here. For example, by using this
calendar, it is now possible to forecast, prevent and clinically
manage ‘seasonal diseases’ shi bing 時病 brought about by
external factors wai gan bing (influenza type conditions) as the
calendar will indicate the likely spatio-temporality of this con-
dition’s genesis, its prevention, and specific, effective diurnal
time periods in which to treat it effectively [Tiquia, 2010].
Finding the Twenty Four Climactic Periods Jie Qi in
the Southern Hemisphere
To ‘reverse’ the flow of the twenty-four Climactic Periods in
the Southern Hemisphere, I worked with scientists and as-
tronomers from the Melbourne Planetarium. To find the precise
dates and time that the twenty four Climactic Periods appear in
the Southern Hemisphere in our time zone (AEST), I establish
the date when the solar longitude reaches a ‘station’ along the
ecliptic as seen from this time zone. Using an on-line Wise
Observatory computer facility <http://wise-obs.tau.ac.il/~eran/
Wise/Util/SolLon.html>, I input data on the year and the solar
longitudinal degree of the location of the twenty-four Climactic
Periods. Then I ‘hit’ the ‘calculate Julian day’ button to get the
universal time. Subsequently, I converted the universal time to
my local time zone i .e Aust ra lia n Eastern Standard Time [Bush,
2007]. Having done these calculations, I located the dates/time
that the twenty four Climactic Periods occur in the AEST time
one in Australia (Please refer to Table 7). z
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 33
The spatio-tem p o ra l po s i ti o ns o f t h e twenty four climactic periods in the southern hemisph ere (Australia) in the year 2007.
Spring Spring Begins Lichun
August 8th 135˚ Rainwater Yushui
August 24th 150˚ Waking Little Critte r s Jingzhe
September 8th 165˚
Spring Vernal E quinox Chunfen
September 23rd 180˚ Clear & Bright Qingming
October 9th 195˚ Grain Rain Guyu
October 24th 210˚
Summer Summer Begins Lixia
November 8th 225˚ Grain Full Xiaoman
November 23rd 240˚ Grain in Ear Mangzhong
December 7th 225˚
Summer Summer Solstice Xiazhi
December 22nd 270˚ Slight Heat Xiaoshu
January 6th 85˚ Great Heat Dashu
January 20th 300˚
Autumn Autumn B egins Liqiu
February 4th 315˚ Limit of Heat Chushu
February 1 9th 330˚ White Dew Bailu
March 5th 345˚
Autumn Autumnal Equinox Qiufen
March 20th 360˚ Cold Dew Hanlu
April 5th 15˚ Frost’s Descent Shuangjiang
April 20th 30˚
Winter Winter Begins Lidong
May 6th 45˚ Slight Snow Xiaoxue
May 21st 60˚ Heavy Snow Daxue
June 6th 75˚
Winter Winter Solstice Dongzhi
June 22nd 90˚ Slightly Cold Xiaohan
July 7th 105˚ Big Cold Dahan
July 23rd 120˚
Locating the First Day of the First Lunar Month in
the Southern Hemisphere and the Completion of the
Construction of the Calendar
To locate the first days of the lunar months in Australia/, I
consulted the book Easy Organic Gardening 2006 by Lyn
Bagnall [Bagnall, 2006] which contains a table in the appendix
section of the book of the various phases of the moon in the
Southern Hemisphere from the years 2006-2010. According to
the rules followed by Purple Mountain Observatory (1984) in
Nanjing, China, in constructing the Ch inese traditional cal end ar ,
‘the first day of a calendar month is the day on which the as-
tronomical New Moon (i.e., conjunction) is calculated to occur’
Having calculated the location of the twenty four Climactic
Periods as well as the first days of the twelve lunar m onths in the
Southern Hemisphere, I proceed ed then to set th e first d ay chu yi
of the first month zheng yue of the year of the of Rat Year. To do
this, I first marked out the exact dates of the twenty-four Cli-
mactic Periods onto a Gregorian calendar (for the years 2007-
2008). Then using a Chinese language ‘TCC-Western Grego rian
Calendar Conversion Book/Table’ [Shang Ren, 2007] which
converts the sex agenary gan-zhi cyclical years, months, d ays and
‘two-hour time periods into the Gregorian Calendarical years,
months and days, I tallied the days and months for the years
2007-2008. I wrote the Chinese gan-zhi (combination of the
Celestial Stems and Terrestrial branches) on to the days , months
and year on the wall activity calen dar for th e year s 2007-2008 23.
After executing the above procedure over a staggered period
of time, I was able to establish the first day of the first month of
the Australian Chinese Calendar for the year 2007. It fell on the
New Moon of August 13th 2007. This date was our ‘spring
festival’ or chun jie 春節 in the Southern Hemispherical region
of Australia for this year. At the same time, based upon my
calculation, our ‘Spring Festival’ turned out to be six months
ahead of the date of the festival in the Northern Hemispherical
region/countries including China. Hence, we were six months
ahead of China in celebrating the Year of the Rat wu zi nian 戊
子年. The next Spring Festival in Australia was on the 7th of
August 2008. This is also the 7th day of the 1st lunar month of
the Ox year (ji chou nian 己丑年.
After locating the twenty four Climactic Periods and aligning
them with the seventy two pentads qi shi er hou and tallying the
sixty gan zhi temporal units for the years, months and days with
the days and months of the Gregorian calendar for the year
2008 (Rat Year Ji Chou Nian), these data were entered into a
free 2008 calendar template that I secured from the world wide
web. The first Australian Chinese Calendar was thus con-
structed [Tiquia, 2008].
The Main Features of the Australian Chi nese
Firstly, like any contemporary Chinese language traditional
Chinese calendar in China, it contains both elements of the
Western Gregorian calendar and elements of the traditional
Chinese calendar. The Western Gregorian calendar days as well
as the Chinese lunar calendar days of the months are both indi-
cated. For example, for the 1st day of January 2011, the calen-
dar lists the following data:
1 NEW YEAR
27th day of the 5th lunar month
Gui Chou Day
January 1st and Saturday are days of the Gregorian Calendar
while the “27th day of the 5th Lunar month” indicates a day of
the Traditional Chinese Calendar that corresponds to January 1,
2011 of the Gregorian Calendar. Gui Chou is the Celestial Stem
and Terrestrial Branch gan zhi of this particular day in the
Southern Hemisphere. As one would have noticed, the 1st day
of January 2011 is also the 27th day of the 5th Lunar Month. If
we compare this date to the same date on the Northern Hemi-
sphere traditional Chinese calendar li fa, we will discover that
the 1st of January 2011 (Tiger Year Geng Yin Nian) of the Gre-
gorian Calendar corresponds to “27th day of the 11th Lunar
Month”. This shows that the calibrated Australian Chinese
Calendar is half a year ahead of the Northern Hemisphere tradi-
tional Chinese Calendar. The first day of the 1st Lunar Month
Zheng Yue (our Australian Spring Festival Chun Jie) occurred
in August 10th 2010. This means that we began the “Year of the
Rabbit” Xin Mao Nian six months ahead of the countries in the
23Subsequently, I was able to find a free Gregorian calendrical scheduler
template in the web, which accommodated the information that I want to
put unto the Southern Hemispherical Australian Chinese calendar. <http://
Secondly, the Australian Chinese Calendar divides the year
into twenty-four Climactic Periods which flow in the reverse
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
mode compared to the traditional Chinese calendar li fa. For
example January 20th is the Climactic Period of ‘Severely Hot’
(one of the Climactic Periods of the summer season). Compare
this with the Chinese Calendar in the Northern Hemisphere, one
will see that on the 5th day of January 2011 we find the Climac-
tic Period of ‘Slightly Cold’ 小寒; while on the 20th day of
January, we find the Climactic Period 節氣 of ‘Great Cold’
大寒. These are the Climactic Periods of the winter season.
Thirdly, in the Australian Chinese Calendar, a long discarded
element of the traditional Chinese calendar- the ‘seventy two
pentads’ qi shi er hou is added.
Finally, the spatio-temporal sexagenary gan-zhi cyclical units
are used in the Australian Chinese Calendar to array the cycli ca l
flow of the years nian, lunar months Yue, days ri and two-hour
time periods’ shi chen [Tiquia, 2011].
Using the enabling capacity of the internet, I am developing
the Australian Chinese Calendar into an i-phone appliance that
can translate the traditional Chinese sexagenary time system of
the Lunar Year Nian/Sui, Lunar Month Yue, Days ri and
‘Two-hour time periods’ shi chen into the different times zones
of the world24. This project can facilitate the reconstruction of
the ‘unified field of all existence’ of the various pre-modern
traditional Chinese art and practices in a transmodern25 world
like the traditional Chinese chronobiology Zhongguo chuang-
tong shijian shungwuxue, chronomedicine Zhongguo chuantong
shijian zhongyixue中國傳統時間中醫學, chronoacupuncture
ziwuliuzhu zhenfa 子午流注針法, feng shui 風水, traditional
Chinese organic farming Zhongguo shi de chuantong youji
gengzuo 中國式的傳統有機耕作, and the traditional Chinese
prognosticational yu ce 預測 systems of foretelling major cli-
mactic events (floods, draught), epidemics, natural disasters like
earthquakes etc. in various localities of both hemispheres of the
Commemorating the Centenary of the 1911
Revolution in China by Translating the
Traditional Chinese Calendar into the
In commemoration of the centenary of the 1911 Revolution
in China, the ‘unified field of all existence’ of the pre-modern
traditional Chinese culture and civilization is hereby reconsti-
tuted in the Southern Hemispherical region of Australia. We
celebrate the birth of the Australian Chinese Calendar in this
region on this 31st day Jia Shen ri in the month of July in the
year 2011 Ren Chen nian. This date is the first day of the ‘Year
of the Dragon’ Ren Chen Nian and hence our Spring Festival
day in Australia in this year. At the same time an English edi-
tion of the 2012 Northern Hemispherical Chinese Calendar
(Beijing Datetime) is hereby launched as well.
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