From Round to Square (and back)

For The Emperor's Teacher, scroll down (↓) to "Topics." It's the management book that will rock the world (and break the vase, as you will see). Click or paste the following link for a recent profile of the project:

A new post appears every day at 12:05* (CDT). There's more, though. Take a look at the right-hand side of the page for over four years of material (2,000 posts and growing) from Seinfeld and country music to every single day of the Chinese lunar calendar...translated. Look here ↓ and explore a little. It will take you all the way down the page...from round to square (and back again).
*Occasionally I will leave a long post up for thirty-six hours, and post a shorter entry at noon the next day.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

China's Lunar Calendar 2013 02-10 New Year's Day

Click here for the introduction to the Round and Square series "Calendars and Almanacs" 
Today's date is marked by the 
asterisk to the right:                                                    *              (Monthly Information)
This is one in a never-ending series—following the movements of the calendar—in Round and Square perpetuity. It is today's date in the Chinese lunar calendar, along with basic translation and minimal interpretation. Unless you have been studying lunar calendars (and Chinese culture) for many years, you will likely find yourself asking "what does that mean?" I would caution that "it" doesn't "mean" any one thing. There are clusters of meaning, and they require patience, reflection, careful reading, and, well, a little bit of ethnographic fieldwork. The best place to start is the introduction to "Calendars and Almanacs" on this blog. I teach a semester-long course on this topic and, trust me, it takes a little bit of time to get used to the lunar calendar. Some of the material is readily accessible; some of it is impenetrable, even after many years

As time goes on, I will link all of the sections to lengthy background essays. This will take a while. In the meantime, take a look, read the introduction, and think about all of the questions that emerge from even a quick look at the calendar.
Section One
Solar Calendar Date

Tenth Day
Weekday Sun
(Sunday, February 10
Section Two
Beneficent Stars

Heavenly Virtue
Four Facings
Jade Palace
Respectful Calm
Section Three
Auspicious Hours

23:00-01:00 In-Between
01:00-03:00 Inauspicious
03:00-05:00 In-Between
05:00-07:00 Inauspicious

07:00-09:00 In-Between
09:00-11:00 Auspicious
11:00-13:00 Auspicious
13:00-15:00 Auspicious

15:00-17:00 Inauspicious
17:00-19:00 Auspicious
19:00-21:00 In-Between
21:00-23:00 Inauspicious

*The hours above are for Hong Kong. It is up to you if you want to recalibrate or to assume that the cyclicality of the calendar "covers" the rest of the world. This is a greater interpretive challenge than you might think.
Section Four
Activities to Avoid

Cutting/styling Hair
Clipping Nails
Catching Fish
New Boats
Entering Water
 Section Five
 Cosmological Information 
  一   界
   丁   行
   水   曆

The world begins the yang calendar
Among the people, winter-time is severed 
Opening day (first lunar month)
Cyclical day: dingwei (44/60)
Phase (element): Water
Constellation: Pleiades (18/28)
Jianchu Cycle: Grasp (6/12)
Section Six
Appropriate Activities 
(and Miscellaneous Information)
吉 向 辰 貴
宜 丑 西 巳 神
出 卬 北 時 西
行 申 方 合 北
五 亥 迎 吉 財
時 貴 出 神
正 凶 神 行 正
東 寅 正 宜 西
死 卬 西 用 炷
門 時 方 子 香
截 迎 辰 宜
南 路 財 巳 用
勿 空 神 午 子
向 亡 大 時 寅 

Spring Festival
This passage has resisted translation in ways that I have rarely encountered. I am determined to find a way to make it...make English. Suffice to say (for now) that it begins with the directions in which nobility and wealth flow today (northwest and due west, respectively) before proceeding to appropriate times to burn incense and go out (appropriate for New Year's Day). From there, it gets progressively more obscure, and the Chinese question-and-answer site (百度百科) is filled with questions about what phrases such as 截路空亡 mean. I have not given up, but the references here range from the Ming literatus Feng Menglong (馮夢龍) to southern Chinese New Year's customs. I will not let you down, but some language is more resistant to translation than usual. Please give it a week for the rest of the story!

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