The Fundamental Principles of Old and New World Civilizations Part 22

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The order of rotation in which the emperor visited in one year the capital of each quarter, returning after each absence to the metropolis, is given as follows: "In the second month the tour was to the east. In the fifth month ... to the south. In the eighth month ... to the west. In the eleventh month ... to the north." During the next year the n.o.bles of the eastern province made their appearance at court, and the south, west and north provinces followed in turn, it being noticeable that, in each case, the circle started at the east, the place of rising.

The inst.i.tution of the calendar by the Emperor Yaou is described at length in the Shu King.(82) Confucius said of this remarkable personage, "Heaven alone is great, but Yaou is able to imitate Heaven."

The Emperor Yaou "... harmonized the various states of the empire and the black-haired people, oh! how they were reformed by this cordial agreement.

He commanded He and Ho (officers superintending the calendar and astronomical instruments) in reverent accordance with the motions of the expansive heavens, to arrange by numbers and represent the revolutions of the sun and moon and stars with the lunar mansions and then respectfully communicate to the people the seasons adapted for labor. He then separately directed He's younger brother to reside at Yu-e (the modern Tang-chow in Shan-tung), called the Orient Valley, where he might respectfully hail the rising sun, adjust and arrange the eastern (and vernal) undertakings and notice the equalization of days and whether the star (culminating at nightfall) was the middle constellation of the bird, in order to hit the centre of mid-spring; he might also observe whether the people began to disperse abroad and whether birds and beasts were beginning to pair. He commanded He's third brother to reside at the southern border (the region of Cochin-China) and adjust and arrange the southern or summer transformation and respectfully notice the extreme limit of the shadow when the days attain their utmost length and the star in the zenith that is denominated Fire (heart of Scorpio, culminated on eve of summer solstice), in order to fix the exact period of mid-summer, when the people disperse themselves more widely and the birds and beasts begin to moult and cast their skins. He then distinctly commanded Ho's youngest brother to dwell in the west, at a place called the Dark Valley, where he might respectfully attend the setting sun and equalize and adjust the western (or autumnal) completions, notice the equalizations of the nights and see whether the culminating star was Emptiness (Beta in Aquarius, which culminated at autumnal equinox which was the period at the centre of the dark principle in nature) in order to adjust the mid-autumn, when the people would be more at ease and the birds and beasts would be sleek and plump. He further directed Ho's third brother to dwell at the northern region, called the dismal city, where he might properly examine the reiterations and alterations and see whether, when the days were shortest, the culminating star was Pleiades (this culminates in the evening at winter solstice, which is the extreme of dark principle in nature and midnight seat of that principle) in order to adjust midwinter, when the people would remain at home and the birds and beasts get their down and hair. Thus careful was the sage in reverently observing heaven and labouring diligently for the people, in order that his plans might not contradict the designs of heaven nor the government miss the proper season for human labour." It is further said that "the bright influence (of Yaou's qualities) was felt through the four quarters (of the land) and reached to (heaven) above and (earth) beneath" (Shu King, book I, p. 32).

Legge cites Pritchard's (Savilian Professor, Oxford University) chart as a proof of the correctness of the chronology which places Yaou in the 24th century B.C. The precession of the equinoxes was not known in China until more than 2,500 years after the time a.s.signed to Yaou.

Pausing to renew the foregoing data, it is with particular satisfaction that I point out how clearly they reveal the basis and origin of the "Quadriform Const.i.tution" and idea of central government. In China the pole star is designated as the Imperial Ruler of Heaven and a temple to the G.o.d of the North Star stands in the sacred enclosure which marks the centre of the empire. The opposite positions a.s.sumed by Ursa Major at nightfall divide the year into four quarters and this quadruplicate division caused by rotation, a.s.suming absolute dominion over the native mind, is applied to heaven and earth and pervades every detail of civil and religious government, as in ancient America.

Forced to recognize that the primitive inhabitants of China and America derived their first principles of organization from the identical light-giving source, a fact which also indicates a community of race and of place of origin, let us now review some data which prove that the two civilizations must have been separated and isolated from each other at an extremely remote period of time.

Certain conceptions, common to all primitive people, were shared by the Chinese and Mexicans, one of these being the belief that the earth was flat and square. The name for a year in ancient Mexican was xiuitl, literally, gra.s.s, and this was represented in the picture writings by a bunch of young blades of some sort of gra.s.s, possibly maize-shoots. "The earliest written Chinese character for a year represented a stalk of wheat.... In the ancient work ent.i.tled the San Fun, part of which was probably written in the 23d century B.C., there is evidence that among some of the aboriginal tribes of China the year, as among the Egyptians and some of the people of India, was divided into three periods, known as the gra.s.s-springing, tree-reigning and tree-decaying periods. Under the higher culture of the Chinese these divisions disappeared and the twelve months became the recognized parts of the year" (Douglas, China, pp. 269 and 310). Amongst the Mexican month-names there are also some which allude to such regularly recurring and impressive natural phenomena as the sprouting of trees and the appearance of verdure or springing of the maize, etc.

An indication as to what was the most ancient and primitive method of rotation employed seems afforded by the Chinese description how, for governmental purposes, the five-year period was adopted, one year pertaining to the emperor or central ruler and the following four to the quarters of the empire. An a.n.a.logous employment of a quinary period as a means of obtaining a rotation of contribution from the four quarters of the empire to its metropolis, identified with the first day, is discernible in the Mexican inst.i.tution of the macuil-tianquiztli, or five-day market, by which means the entire year was divided into five-day groups.

A study of the ancient Chinese calendar furnishes, moreover, an indication of the way in which the numeral 12 came to be recognized and adopted by primitive people. It is obvious that the early astronomers, having determined the length of the year by observing Ursa Major at nightfall, recognized that, during the period required for its annual complete revolution around the pole star, there regularly appeared twelve new moons. In China, at a remote period, a division of the year into "months was adopted, the early names of which have, according to the author of the earliest Chinese dictionary, the Urhye, been lost." "The modern Chinese year is lunar in its divisions, though regulated by the sun in so far that New Year's day is made to fall on the first new moon after the sun enters Aquarius and varies between 21st January and 19th of February" (Douglas, _op. cit._ p. 258). It would seem as though some fresh impulse, or inst.i.tution of moon-cult, had influenced Shun, Yaou's successor, to reorganize the empire, which had been simply divided into quarters, and subdivide it into 43=12 districts.

Another interesting evolution of a numerical system, the origin of which can be traced to the four positions and seven stars of Ursa Major, is discernible in the Chinese zodiac. This, the earliest division of the ecliptic in China, consists of "28 lunar mansions, which are grouped together in four of seven each, a.s.signed to the four quarters of heaven" (Legge, vol. III, p. 24, Introduction to Shu-King). It is to the observation of precisely the same impressive phenomena that the universal adoption of the numbers 12, 4 and 7 may safely be attributed. The further division, by Emperor Yu, of the Chinese Empire into five domains or zones, finds an interesting parallelism in Mexico and Central America.

Mr. Wickersham describes Yu's division in the following concise manner: "The Imperial domain extended five hundred le in every direction from the capital, north, south, east and west, and was therefore one thousand le square, with its sides facing the cardinal points; the domain of the n.o.bles was an additional territory five hundred le broad on each of the four sides; the Peace-securing domain was then added, beyond which came the domain of Restraint, and at the greatest extremity the Wild domain. By this arrangement, the sacred center, the capital where the 'Son of Heaven'

resided, was completely surrounded by loyal officials and subjects; the most loyal were nearest the center while at the farthest extremity were the wild and dangerous tribes and criminals undergoing the greater banishment. By this square method of disposing of the population, the quiet and orderly members of society were required to reside near the capital, while the turbulent were placed toward the outer limits, serving to free the center from turmoil and to act as a barrier to the inroads of outside barbarians."

Among the Zunis and Mexicans the spider's web is met with as an image of the division of their territory into quarters, half-quarters and concentric circles.

In Peru a record exists of a system of irrigation by which means the territory surrounding the capital was divided into alternate zones of land and water. Mexico and Central America furnish records too scattered to be compiled here, showing that somewhat as in China, the territory of the state was divided into the domains of the rulers, the lords, the people, and the territory of war.

After having duly considered some salient points of fundamental agreement which are to be found underlying the widely different later growths of the Chinese and ancient American systems, let us now examine and a.n.a.lyze some of the most remarkable points of divergence.

The following tables, placed in juxtaposition, afford an opportunity of recognizing the striking and significant fact that, whereas the Mexicans and Zunis cla.s.sified air, water, fire and earth as "elements," the Chinese ignored air and identified wood and metal as their fourth and fifth elements.

Mexico. Zuni. China.

_North_. Red, Fire. Yellow, Air. Black, Water.

_West_. Yellow, Earth. Blue, Water. White, Metal.

_South_. Blue, Air. Red, Fire. Red, Fire.

_East_. Green, Water. White, Earth. Blue, Wood.

_Middle_. Many colors. Middle, All Yellow, Earth.


A deep-seated a.n.a.logy may, however, be traced between the Chinese a.s.signment of "wood" to the Middle and the Maya-Mexican employment of the tree as a symbol of life proceeding from the centre, stretching above and below and spreading its branches to the four quarters. It remains to be seen how far the Chinese a.s.signment of "wood" to the Middle approached the American tree-symbolism.

The marked differentiation in the a.s.signment of colors to the cardinal points in the above comparative table leads to the conclusion that their choice had been arbitrary and was possibly influenced by local environment, the possibility of obtaining certain pigments in given directions, or by language, the names of certain colors or elements resembling in sound those of the cardinal points, etc.(83)

After studying the above comparative lists it becomes clear that, whilst the fundamental principle of the system was identical, the mode of carrying it out was different in China and America, a fact which indicates independence and isolation at the period when elements and colors, etc., were chosen and a.s.signed to the directions in s.p.a.ce. An a.n.a.logous instance of divergence is shown in the following a.s.signment of parts of the body to the cardinal points:


North Kidneys.

West Lungs.

South Heart.

East Liver.

Middle Stomach.

Zenith -- Nadir --

Although it differs in detail, an a.n.a.logous a.s.sociation of various parts of the body with the directions in s.p.a.ce and the twenty calendar-signs, may be seen in a Mexican Codex. In this case, however, it is clear that the origin of this a.s.signment was the natural a.s.sociation between the "complete finger-and-toe count=a complete man=20=with the 20 or complete count of the day signs." I have already produced evidences showing that the human figure was employed in primitive times to represent "a complete count, or 20 years." When chieftains were elected for a term of twenty years and their names were given to their period of office, the full-length portrait of the chief was sculptured on a stela and he thus represented, primarily, "a complete count," an epoch (see p. 221).

Portraiture and accompanying inscriptions were obviously later developments, but the primitive employment of the human form as a means of expressing a fixed number, is one that claims consideration and will undoubtedly lead to a wider comprehension of the significance of the human form in aboriginal archaic sculpture. The curious conventionalized representations of Mictlantecuhtli, in which the body and limbs almost simulate a swastika, have already been discussed, as well as the inference that they symbolized Polaris and the four positions of Ursa Major=the Middle and Four Quarters.

The most striking confirmation of this inference is furnished by Mr.

Cus.h.i.+ng's account that the Zunis a.s.sociated the directions in s.p.a.ce with the imaginary form of a quadruped as follows:


North Right fore foot.

West Left fore foot.

South Right hind leg.

East Left hind leg.

Middle Heart.

Zenith Head.

Nadir Tail.

It is obvious from this that, to a Zuni, the State and its subdivisions appear under the allegorical form of a quadruped and I have traced the identical mode of thought in Mexico and Central America(84) where, owing to linguistic a.s.sociations, an ocelot is in some instances employed as a symbol for a State whilst in others the form of an eagle was adopted for the same purpose (see Appendix I).

To sum up: in ancient America the human form was employed to represent quadripart.i.te division and the complete finger-and-toe count=20, and as such became emblematic of the quadriform plan of universal application.

Owing to a variety of circ.u.mstances and suggestions arising from language, the figure of a quadruped=ocelot was adopted as a symbol of the State by some tribes and the form of an eagle by others, the inference being that the ocelot was identified with the cult of the earth and night and the eagle with the cult of heaven and day. While the ocelot and eagle occur in the codices as representative of two distinct or divisions of the State, there are some interesting and suggestive representations, to which I shall revert, of figures combining the form and claws of an ocelot with the wings and head of a bird, evidently symbolical of a union of the Above and Below, or Heaven and Earth.

Having furnished the explanation that ancient America affords of the origin of the primitive employment of the human body, the quadruped and bird in allegory and the a.s.signment of their various parts to points in s.p.a.ce, it is to Chinese scholars that I appeal for enlightenment as to the origin and development of the same idea in China. To me one point of difference between the Chinese and American list is very striking. In America although the navel was also regarded as a symbol, the heart, a.s.sociated with the Middle, had obviously been recognized as the centre or seat of life, and the tearing out of the heart had become the salient feature in human sacrifices. In China the stomach is a.s.signed to the Middle, and death by disembowelling was customary.

An a.n.a.lysis of the Chinese and Mexican numerical systems likewise proves that their ultimate development was strikingly different, although it is easy to recognize how both might have arisen from the same source. Thus whilst the Mexican and Central American calendar (and social organization) is based on the combination of 20 characters with 13 numerals, the Chinese "took two sets of 12 and 10 characters respectively and combined them."

The outcome of the combination of 20 with 13 affords a marked contrast to that of 12 with 10. In the Mexican calendar, as I have shown, there were fixed periods of 5 days (a.s.sociated with the Middle and Four Quarters) and of 20 days, the latter being "one complete count" of days, based on the primitive finger-and-toe count. In the Mexican social organization there were 4 and 16 minor clans of people, known by 20 signs. Each of these in turn was subdivided into 13 categories a.s.sociated with the directions in s.p.a.ce. By mentioning a sign and a numeral, up to 13, the exact subdivision of a clan was clearly designated while the direction of its residence, as regards the capital, was likewise conveyed. A day was a.s.sociated with each of these 20 clans and their respective 13 subdivisions, and the unit of time produced by the combination of the 20 day-signs and 13 numerals was the period of 260 days, which held 465 days and was approximately equivalent to nine lunations and to the period of human gestation. The 260-day period, as will be more clearly shown in my monograph on the Mexican Calendar System, const.i.tuted the religious year of the "Sons or Lords of Night" in their cult of the Moon, the Nocturnal Heaven, Earth and the Female principle.

Simultaneously with this lunar calendar, in which each moon had a different name, a civil or solar calendar was employed consisting of 365 days, divided into 17 periods of 20 and 1 period of 25 days. These years bore the names of four different signs in rotation combined with 13 numerals.(85) The cycles, thus produced, consisted of 413=52 years, 20, or a "complete count" of which, produced the great cycle of 1040 years.

Totally different from this numerical system is that of the Chinese, who "divided the year into 12 months of 29 and 30 days each and as these periods represent with sufficient exactness the lunar month, it follows that the new moon falls on the 1st of every month and that on the 15th the moon is at its full. The month is thus a.s.sociated with the moon and is called by the same name and written with the same hieroglyphic.... The Chinese also divide the year by seasons and recognize 8 main divisions and 16 subsidiary ones, which correspond to the days on which the sun enters the 1st and 15th degrees of a zodiacal sign ..." (Douglas, China, p. 269).

Whilst it is customary in China for years to be designated at times by the Neen-haou or t.i.tle of an emperor and an event to be alluded to as having occurred in such or such a year of a certain ruler's reign, the mode of computing years is by reckoning by s.e.xagenary cycles. According to native historians this system was introduced by the emperor Hw.a.n.g-te in the year 2637 B.C. which was the first year of the first cycle, and it has continued in use until the present day. In this system a group of ten characters, termed the "celestial stems" and a.s.sociated with the male principle, is combined with a group of twelve characters, named the "terrestrial branches" and a.s.sociated with the female principle. An unbroken series of sixty-year cycles have thus been formed, in the seventy-sixth of which the Chinese are now living. According to Biot, the calendar inst.i.tuted by Hw.a.n.g-te was a day-count only, and year-cycles were not in use until after the Christian era, having been introduced from India.

There are indications which will be more fully discussed further on, showing that the primitive day-count consisted of the seven-day period, each day being consecrated to one of the seven bright stars of Ursa Major, called the "Seven Regulators."

It is well known that Taouism was founded by Laou-tsze, who was a contemporary of Confucius and thus "lived in the sixth century before Christ, a hundred years later than Buddha and a hundred years earlier than Socrates. A mystery hangs over Laou-tsze's history ... and there is the possibility that he was a foreigner, or perhaps a member of an aboriginal frontier tribe" (Legge).

The Shoo-king, the national book of history edited by Confucius, enables us to follow the development of the state religion and government, the basis of which was Heaven and its imperial ruler, the pole-star. The almost mythical emperor Yaou, whose reign began in B.C. 2357, "imitated Heaven, harmonized the various states of the empire and divided it into four quarters." His successor, Shun, extended its organization, but it was Yu, the third ruler, in the thirteenth year of his reign (B.C. 1121), who, acknowledging his ignorance of them "went to inquire of Ke-tsze" about "the great plan of the 9 cla.s.sifications and the arrangement of the invariable principles." It is also stated in the Shoo-King, that it was "Heaven [who] gave to Yu the great plan and the 9 cla.s.sifications, so that the invariable principles were arranged, consisting of the 5 elements, the 8 regulations, and the 5 arrangers."

In China the day is divided into periods equivalent to 120 minutes=2 hours. "In speaking of these periods, however, the practice which was originally introduced into China by the Mongols, of subst.i.tuting for the twelve stems, the names of the twelve animals which are supposed to be symbolical of them, is commonly adopted. Thus the 1st period, that between 11 P. M. and 1 A. M., is known as the Rat, period 2 as the Ox, 3 Tiger, 4 Hare, 5 Dragon, 6 Serpent, 7 Horse, 8 Sheep, 9 Monkey, 10 c.o.c.k, 11 Dog, 12 Boar. The night is divided into five watches, each of two hours duration...." (Douglas, China, p. 296).

The ancient Mexican priest-astronomers marked three divisions of the night by burning incense in honor of certain stars, after dusk, at midnight and at break of day.

The mention of the introduction into China of the Mongolian hour-computation leads to a consideration of the origin of what is known as the Chinese civilization. It is, of course, impossible to do more here than touch upon the various and opposite views held on this important question by leading European and Chinese scholars. On the one hand, "the existence of the Chinese civilization in the east of Asia, separated from early centres by the whole width of Asia and intervening trackless deserts, has seemed a problem to many students and led to the conclusion of its sporadic growth, an idea which is fostered by Chinese historians."

(See Douglas on Chinese Culture and Civilization, 1890.) On the other hand, it is maintained that the Chinese entered China from Tartary and were emigrants from Babylonia who abandoned their country when Nakhunte, king of Susiana, conquered Babylon in 2295 B.C.

According to Legge, the Chinese came through central Asia about 2200 B.C.

The Fundamental Principles of Old and New World Civilizations Part 22

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