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1. Time, space and orientation: Figurative representations of the sexagenary cycle in ancient and medieval China

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Chapter Summary

The spatial representation of the sexagenary cycle could only be effected at the expense of its ordering in time. Yet ancient and medieval manuscript sources show that figurative representations (tu) of the sixty binomes did exist, even if they were few in number. This chapter goes through these various tu, examining how the sexagenary cycle articulates with the layout of the diagrams in each case. It suggests groupings based on the nature of the diagrams constituting the skeleton of the Tu, and on the way in which the layout of the cycle is linked to the configuration of the diagrams. The few examples examined in the chapter are show that the two forms of figuration which have been distinguished in the chapter the illustrative Tu and the functional Tu are closely linked to how the role of the sexagenary cycle in calendrical practices was envisaged.

Keywords: Ancient China; Medieval China; sexagenary cycle; tu



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