- An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art
About [Location: HOME > Literature > Four Categories > Historiography > Edicts Concerned with Seasons > Xia xiaozheng]

Chinese Literature
Xia xiaozheng 夏小正

The Four Categories of Literature
Xia xiaozheng 夏小正 "The Small Calendar of the Xia" is the oldest astronomical (see calendar) and also the oldest scientific text of ancient China. It is transmitted as a chapter of the classic text Da Dai Liji 大戴禮記. The imperial bibliography Jingjizhi 經籍志 in the official dynastic history Suishu 隋書 lists the Xia xiaozheng as a separate text.
There is much trouble about the question whether the Xia xiaozheng is really a product of the Xia period 夏 (17th - 15th cent. BCE) or if it was written in later ages, but it is for sure that the text already existed during the Spring and Autumn period 春秋 (770-5th cent. BCE), and it can be assumed that it also bases on much older sources.
For all twelve months the short text Xia xiaozheng (it is only 463 characters long) notes down the configuration and movement of the stars (the constellations appearing at dawn and at dusk at the horizon, the direction of the ladle of the Northern Dipper, or the appearance of the Milky Way), meterorological phenomena, phenology and agricultural and political activities. About the first month, for example, it is said that the star Ju 鞠 appears. At the beginning of dusk the constellation Shen 參 culminates. The tail of the Northern Dipper points downwards. At that time is favourable wind. It is necessary that there is thunder in the first month. The husbandman goes out as soon as the snow is melting. The frost fades, and people remove the remaining dirt. The hibernate animals wake up, the wild goose appears in the northern villages, the pheasant cries excitedly, the fish appear and brake the ice, in the gardens sprouts the leek, the voles come out, the otters offer fish, the eagles behave like turtledoves. The willows push, the plums, abricots and peaches begin to flower, nodules cover the herb gao 縞, and the chicks breed and feed (transl. according to Grynpas).
Unfortunately the text of the transmitted Xia xiaozeng is not complete, and in some places includes errors. A lot of statements in the received text are quite confuse and prove that it has been come into being over a long period of time. The descriptions of the constellations (with Ju 鞠 instead of Liu 柳, Huo 火 instead of Xin 心 and Chen 辰 instead of Fang 房) prove that parts of the text are very old, and this can also be seen in the position of the seven stars of the Northern Dipper that is different from reports of later times. Furthermore, later commentaries to the main text have wrongly been incorporated into the main text in later editions, so that it is difficult to separate original text from commentary text. Some scholars call the received text therefore Xia xiaozheng zhuan 夏小正傳 "Small Calendar of the Xia with Commentary".
As a separate text the Xia xiaozheng can be found in the reprint series Dainange congshu 岱南閣叢書 and Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編 that both include Sun Xingyan's 孫星衍 commented text Xia xiaozheng zhuan.
The most important commentators to the Xia xiaozheng were Fu Songqing 傅崧卿 Xia xiaozheng Daishi zhuan 夏小正戴氏傳), Huang Pilie 黄丕烈 (Xia xiaozheng Daishi zhuan 夏小正戴氏傳), Ren Beilin 任北麟 (Xia xiaoyheng buzhu 夏小正補注), Zhuang Shuzu 莊述祖 (Xia xiaozheng dengli wenju yinyi 夏小正等例文句音義), Hong Zhenxuan 洪震煊 (Xia xiaozheng shuyi 夏小正疏義), Gu Fengzao 顧鳳藻 (Xia xiaozheng jingzhuan jijie 夏小正經傳集解), Wang Yun 王筠 (Xia xiaozheng zhengyi 夏小正正義) and Ma Zhengqing 馬徵慶 (Xia xiaozheng jianshu 夏小正箋疏).

Sources: Wang Jinmin 王健民 (1980), "Xia xiaozheng 夏小正", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Tianwenxue 天文學 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), p. 442. ● Wang Yiliang 王貽梁 (1992), "Da Dai Liji Xia xiaozheng 大載禮記•夏小正", in Zhongguo xueshu mingzhu tiyao 中國學術名著提要, Keji 科技卷 (Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe), p. 95.

Dec 8, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
Chinese Literature over time