Earthly Branches

From Academic Kids

The Earthly Branches (Chinese: 地支; pinyin: dzhī; or 十二支, shrzhī, "twelve branches") is an ancient Chinese cyclic numeral system once used to count days and years but now used only in conjunction with the Heavenly Stems in the traditional calendar and Taoism. There are twelve phonetic characters in the system, each corresponding to an animal of the Chinese zodiac, and a respective direction, season, month, and Chinese hour (a modern double hour). The association to twelve animals is still common throughout East Asia.

  Earthly
Branch
Chinese
name
Japanese
name (On and Kun)
Korean
name
Vietnamese
name
Chinese
zodiac
Direction Season Lunar Month Hour
1 shi
ne
t (T)Rat 0
(north)
winterMonth 11
(winter solstice)
12
(midnight)
2 chǒuchu
ushi
sửu Ox 30Month 122am
3 ynin
tora
dầnTiger 60springMonth 14am
4 mǎobou
u
mo (mẹo)Rabbit 90
(east)
Month 2
(vernal equinox)
6am
5 chnshin
tatsu
thnDragon 120Month 38am
6 smi tỵSnake 150summerMonth 410am
7 uma ngọHorse 180
(south)
Month 5
(summer solstice)
12pm
(noon)
8 wimi
hitsuji
miSheep 210Month 62pm
9 shēnsaru thnMonkey 240autumnMonth 74pm
10 yǒutori dậuRooster 270
(west)
Month 8
(autumnal equinox)
6pm
11 jutsu
inu
tuấtDog 300Month 98pm
12 higai
i
hợiPig 330winterMonth 1010pm

The seasons are based on the movement of the sun, not the weather. A Chinese new year usually starts on the new moon day closest to the midpoint between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox.

When a Branch is used for the exact time of a day, the listed hours are used. When used for a period, it means a period from one hour before to one hour after. For instance, 午 (the Horse) means noon or a period from 11am to 1pm.

Some cultures assign different animals: the second animal is the water buffalo in Vietnam, the fourth is the cat in Vietnam and Thailand, and the twelfth is the wild boar in Japan.

Some researchers think the origin of the Earthly Branches may be foreign, because twelve differs from the Chinese culture's preference for the decimal system. The Heavenly stems, which are clearly decimal, appeared hundreds of years before the first use of the Earthly Branches. The association to twelve animals was a later invention, probably affected by the Mesopotamian zodiac imported through India and Tibet. This is why the Chinese zodiac has no relation to Chinese constellations.

Directions

Even though Chinese has words for the four cardinal directions - 北 (běi, north), 東 (dōng, east), 南 (nn, south), and 西 (xī, west) - Chinese mariners and astronomers preferred using the twelve directions of the Earthly Branches, which is somewhat similar to using o'clock for directions. Since twelve points were not enough especially for sailing, twelve midpoints were added later. Instead of combining two adjacent direction names, they assigned new names as follows:

  • For the four diagonal directions, appropriate trigram names of I Ching were used.
  • For the rest, the Heavenly Stems were used. According to the Five Elements theory, east is assigned to wood, and the Stems of wood are 甲 (jiǎ) and 乙 (yǐ). Thus they were assigned clockwise to the two adjacent points of the east.

Here is a table of the 24 directions.

  Character Chinese
name
Japanese
name
Direction
1 ne 0
(north)
2 guǐmizunoto 15
3 chǒuushi 30
4 gnushitora 45
(northeast)
5 yntora 60
6 jiǎkinoe 75
7 mǎou 90
(east)
8 kinoto 105
9 chntatsu 120
10 xntatsumi 135
(southeast)
11 smi 150
12 bǐnghinoe 165
13 uma 180
(south)
14 dīnghinoto 195
15 wihitsuji 210
16 kūnhitsujisaru 225
(southwest)
17 shēnsaru 240
18 gēngkanoe 255
19 yǒutori 270
(west)
20 xīnkanoto 285
21 inu 300
22 qininui 315
(northwest)
23 hii 330
24 rnmizunoe 345

Advanced mariners such as Zhng H used 48-point compasses. An additional midpoint was called by a combination of its two closest basic directions, such as 丙午 (bǐngwǔ) for the direction of 172.5, the midpoint between 丙 (bǐng), 165, and 午 (wǔ), 180.

See also

External links

ja:十二支 zh:地支

vi:Can Chi
Navigation

Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Art)
    • Architecture (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Architecture)
    • Cultures (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Cultures)
    • Music (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Music)
    • Musical Instruments (http://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/List_of_musical_instruments)
  • Biographies (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Biographies)
  • Clipart (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Clipart)
  • Geography (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Geography)
    • Countries of the World (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Countries)
    • Maps (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Maps)
    • Flags (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Flags)
    • Continents (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Continents)
  • History (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/History)
    • Ancient Civilizations (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Ancient_Civilizations)
    • Industrial Revolution (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Industrial_Revolution)
    • Middle Ages (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Middle_Ages)
    • Prehistory (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Prehistory)
    • Renaissance (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Renaissance)
    • Timelines (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Timelines)
    • United States (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/United_States)
    • Wars (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Wars)
    • World History (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/History_of_the_world)
  • Human Body (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Human_Body)
  • Mathematics (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Mathematics)
  • Reference (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Reference)
  • Science (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Science)
    • Animals (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Animals)
    • Aviation (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Aviation)
    • Dinosaurs (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Dinosaurs)
    • Earth (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Earth)
    • Inventions (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Inventions)
    • Physical Science (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Physical_Science)
    • Plants (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Plants)
    • Scientists (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Scientists)
  • Social Studies (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Social_Studies)
    • Anthropology (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Anthropology)
    • Economics (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Economics)
    • Government (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Government)
    • Religion (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Religion)
    • Holidays (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Holidays)
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Solar_System)
    • Planets (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Planets)
  • Sports (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Sports)
  • Timelines (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Timelines)
  • Weather (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Weather)
  • US States (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/US_States)

Information

  • Home Page (http://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php)
  • Contact Us (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Contactus)

  • Clip Art (http://classroomclipart.com)
Toolbox
Personal tools