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In: T'oung Pao

The deployment of weaving/netting metaphors in ancient Chinese socio-political thought has been noted, but the degree to which those metaphors may have prefigured cosmo-political thought in the earliest period has not been explored. This essay traces the crucial role of weaving technology in providing a fertile source for the constitutive image schema nearly ubiquitous in early cosmo-political discourse.

Le déploiement des métaphores faisant intervenir le tissage ou le maillage dans la pensée socio-politique de la Chine ancienne a bien été remarqué, mais on n’a pas exploré le degré auquel ces métaphores peuvent avoir préfiguré la pensée cosmo-politique des périodes les plus reculées. Cet essai retrace le rôle crucial de la technologie du tissage dans la formation du schéma constitutif de représentation pratiquement omniprésent dans le discours cosmo-politique fondamental.

In: T'oung Pao


Portentous clusters of the five visible planets are repeatedly implicated in historical sources in connection with dynastic transitions in early China. In the medieval period, which is the focus of this investigation, the History of the Three Kingdoms records how timely planetary portents during the decline of the Later Han dynasty (184–220 CE) were exploited as the celestial signs justifying usurpation and the founding of the (Cao-)Wei 曹魏 dynasty by Cao Pi 曹丕 (ca. 187–226). Half a millennium later, in mid-Tang 唐 dynasty, the impetus for the devastating rebellion of An Lushan 安祿山 (703–757) that nearly brought down the Tang can likewise be shown to have been strongly influenced by the historical precedents, and more immediately by a conjunction of all five visible planets that occurred in 750. That ominous astral omen, coupled with portentological speculations based on Han dynasty apocryphal texts, together with the parallels between An Lushan’s and Cao Cao’s 曹操 (155–220) careers, played a role in prompting An Lushan to attempt to overthrow the Tang. In Inner Asia, the founding of the Sasanian Empire in 224 CE in parallel with the Cao-Wei, and the emergence of a political astrology based on the periodicity of Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions suggested the possibility of mutual influences in planetary astrology. However, incompatibility between the two astrological traditions may have militated against mutual influence on a theoretical level. In the absence of detailed information concerning the foundations of Sasanian planetary astrology, to all appearances, and notwithstanding extensive cultural contact, the imperial political astrologies of China and Inner Asia in the medieval period remained resistant to infiltration in either direction.

In: International Journal of Divination and Prognostication