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.

Friday, January 31, 2014

China's Lunar Calendar 2014 01-31 New Year's Day

Click here for the introduction to the Round and Square series "Calendars and Almanacs"  
⇦⇦⇦⇦⇦ From right to left: ⇦⇦⇦⇦⇦
LEFT February 3...............January 31........................Monthly Calendar Information RIGHT
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
(top to bottom; right to left)
卅一 一二
一月     四〇
 First Month, Thirty-first Day
Astral Period Five
Friday, January 31

Section Two
Beneficent Stars 
(top to bottom, right to left)
Timely Virtue
 Facing Days
Auspicious Temporality
Jade Expanse
Ten Spirits

Section Three
Auspicious Hours
(top to bottom, right to left
23:00-01:00 In-Between
01:00-03:00 Auspicious
03:00-05:00 Auspicious
05:00-07:00 Auspicious

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

15:00-17:00 Inauspicious
17:00-19:00 In-Between
19:00-21:00 Auspicious
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  
(top-to-bottom; right to left) 
Opening Sluices
Putting-into Water
Venerating Ancestors
Inquiring-into Fortune
Opening Granaries
Cash Outlays

 Section Five 
Cosmological Information 

First Day (First Lunar Month)
Cyclical day: renyin (39/60)
Phase (element): Metal
Constellation: Ox (9/28)
"Day Personality" Cycle: Discard (2/12)

Section Six
Appropriate Activities
(and Miscellaneous Information
(top-to-bottom; right to left)
正 截出向巳官

Spring Festival 
This passage resists translation in several manners, notably in the "cultural" (not really "linguistic") difficulty of conveying meaning. I am still looking for ways (other than paraphrase) to make it make sense in English. Suffice to say (for now) that it begins with the directions in which nobility and wealth flow today (due east) before proceeding to appropriate times to burn incense and go out (appropriate for New Year's Day). This is standard "New Year" language (almost the same as last year, but with different directions). 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. Suffice it to say that it's a very good—red character—day. If I am able to tease out some ways to convey these matters better in English, I will re-post.

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