C^en Prophecy in Chinese Politics Chr.E. 265-618

p. 317 abbreviations



translation of title


author’s date (Chr.E.)


Jin S^u

Jin History

Fan Xuan-lin



Wei S^u

Wei History

Wei S^ou



Bei S^u

Northern Histories

Li Yan-s^ou

fl. 630-650


Nan Qi S^u

Southern Qi History

Xiao Zi-xian

fl. 489-537


Nan S^i

Southern Records

Li Yan-s^ou



Son S^u

Son History

S^en Yue



San Guo Z^i

3 States’ Records

C^en S^ou



Sui S^u

Sui History

Wei Z^en



Bei Qi S^u

Northern Qi History

Li Bai-yao



Zi-z^i Ton-jian

Compraehensive Mirror for Aid in Governing

Si-ma Guan



Han S^u

Han History

Ban Gu


other traditional texts


translation of title

Gu Fu C^uan Gu Lu

Records of the Transference and Transaction of the Ancient Tally

Kon Zi He Luo C^en

Confucius’ River Chart Prophecy

Wan Zi-nian Ge


Han Xi

Cold Evening (by Xiao Gan)

Yon Yue

Ode to the Moon (by Xiao Gan)

Mi Lou Ji

The Labyrinthine Chambre

Gu Yao Yan

Antient Rhymes and Proverbs (by Du Wen-lan)

Ao Nao Ge

Song of Vexation


Treatise on the 5 Agents


Treatise on Auspicious Portents

Yin-xion Ji

Records of the Heroes

p. 75 prophetic-apocryphal teaching masters


date (Chr.E.)

Z^an Hua


Wen Li

d. 279

Du Yi


Gan Bao

fl. 320

Fan Nin

fl. 365-74

Tai C^an

fl. 318-329

Son Xian

fl. 354

Z^ou Xu-z^i


Wan Jian


Xiao Yan


He Yin


Cui Lin-en

fl. 514

Xu Mao


Gu Yue


S^en Wen-e


Liu Fan


Fan Jin-xian


Liu Lan

fl. 477-514

Diao C^on

fl. 512-519

Li Ye-xin


S^en Z^on


Xion An-s^en

fl. 499-578

Li De-lin


Niu Hon


Ma Guan

fl. 510-590

Fan Hui-yuan

fl. 531-602

p. 23 traditional putative authorship of various c^en prophecies


its putative author

"Early medieval collections of chen prophecies

were often attributed to

Yao ..., Lao Zi ..., or Liu Xiang ... (ca. 79-6 B.C.).

Later collections of chen prophecies, like the Tui bei tu ... ["Pushing the Back ..."], which appear no earlier than the late Tang ...,

are under the nominal authorship of Li Chunfeng ... (602-670) and Yuan Tiangang ... (d. 627), two distinguished astrologers of the early Tang.

Later collections of chen prophecies included the Qian kun wan nian ge ... ["Songs of the History of the Eternal Universe"]

under the nominal authorship of Jiang tai gong ..., a minister and lord of early Western Zhou ... who was famous for his spirituality;

the Ma qian ke ... ["The Divination in Front of the Horse"],

"by" Zhuge Liang ... (181-234), a statesman of the state of Shu ... who was legendary for his wisdom and knowledge, which included divination;

the Mei hua shi ... ["The Poems on Plum Blossom"]

"by" Shao Yong ... (1011-1077), a Neo-Confucian philosopher who was well known for his divination skills; and

the Shao bing ge ... ["Pancake Baking Songs"]

"by" Liu Ji ... (1311-1375), a principal adviser and minister of the founder of the Ming ... ."

"All of these attributions of authorship are spurious".

"weft" texts; scripts

p. 27

"The Chinese word for canon, Jing ..., means "warp" as well as "canonical text." Thus, these new texts, as supplements to the canon, were called wei ..., meaning "weft." Wei texts were widespread during the Eastern Han. Due to the mystical nature of the texts, they were called mi jing ... (Esoteric Canon) or nei dian ... (Inner Classics)."

p. 29

"The golden age of prophetic-apocryphal texts was Eastern Han, and the following Three States period. ... The remaining Yi wei ba zhong ... ["Eight Wei Apocryphal Texts Attached to the Book of Change"], ... have been preserved intact. ... Some famous titles include the Qi wei ... ["The Seven Wei Apocryphal Texts"] by the Qing scholar Zhao Zaihan ...; and the Wei Jun ... ["Collections of Wei Apocrypha"] by the Qing scholar Qiao Songnian ... ."

p. 113

according to the "Yuan Min Bao" chapter of the C^un-qiu Wei (‘Apocryphon to the Spring and Autumn Annals’), "Chinese scripts were created by the legendary culture hero Cang Jie ... . He was born with four divine eyes and the ability to write. ... created scripts that were modeled on ... the orbits of stars, the curve of mountains, the zigzag lines of water, and the shapes and patterns of animals. When his work was done, the sky "rained with millet, ghosts tore over nights, and dragons hid them from the world.""

specific c^en prophecies ["they were possessed. Their words sometimes came true ... . Both erudite scholars and those who are fearful and prudent recorded these words, taking them to be a mirror and a means for future examination" (p. 245 – S^i San Jin Z^u S^u 1795)]



literary source



"three rams have only five eyes"


Js 112.2872; Ws 95.2075


"the progenies of the ‘old moon’ will throw the heartland of China into chaos. The ‘floods’ will occur widely, and ‘forcefully’ flow westward."


Js 114.2910


"when the emperor goes out of Wujiang, he will obtain a long [life]"

Gu Fu C^uan Gu Lu



"a sage will be the ruler. Heaven will prolong his life. In water at the northeast, a commoner will rule as king. "High" will obtain it"

Ji Lan Tu



"when a ‘ram’ drinks at Meng-ford, its horn props up the sky."


Bs 7.258


"When the years have passed seven and seven then water shall exterminate the continuity; Wind and cloud shall rise together while a dragon spreads its scales"

Kon Zi He Luo C^en

NQs 18.349


"after seventy years, water shall exterminate the continuity; Wind and cloud shall rise together while dragon spreads its scales"

Kon Zi He Luo C^en

Ns 4.115


"at the end of Jianyuan, qiu shan [hill and mountain] will collapse."


Ws 96.2099-2100

120, fn. 24

"At the time of li shi, qiu and shan will collapse."

(by Guo Pu)

Js 7.187


"two mouths both lift their pole-axes but cannot be matching. Two metals that sharpen one another develop divine sharpness. A vacated cave has no host a stranger thus occupies it. A female stands alone then finds her match again".

Kon Zi He Luo C^en

Ss 27.784


"a metal knife regulates the world yet ... later will suffer.

The sovereigns ... will make the heavenly deities angered.

Calamity will occur repeatedly".

Wan Zi-nian Ge

NQs 18.351


"the three grains are delicate while woods are flourishing.

A metal knife with a sharp blade will cut them equally".


" "


"Why does the Son of Heaven sleep amidst the grass?"




"with reed as unlined clothes, and bamboo strip as the girdle"


Sgz 64.1441


"Chu will replace Jin."


Ss 31.903


"Shan means to give away, and ling ... is not a pleasant name, either." [comment on the construction of the S^an-lin Temple in the Southern Qi Dynasty] ["Ling originally meant shaman" (fn. 78)]


NQs 19.381-2


in Eastern Jin, "hair ... with wispy knots hanging down was considered a gorgeous hairstyle among aristocratic women. ... Therefore, women prepared wigs with wispy knots in advance, keeping them on a piece of wood, which was called "mock-head." ... Some ... were buried with mock heads made of grass".


Ss 31.903


"the August Deity of the ... Mount Song ["located north of what is now Dengfeng ... County in Henan." (fn. 88)] told ... I shall confer ... thirty-two jade disks and one gold ingot as credentials." ["the thirty-two jade disks and the gold ingot underneath a stone altar in the temple of the deity of Mount Song." (p. 140)]


Ss 27.784


"dike the river weirs, block the dragon spring. Get rid of the inundation and draw the mountains and rivers".

Kon Zi He Luo C^en

Ns 4.115


"dike up the river weirs, block the dragon pool. Get rid of the inundation and draw the mountains and rivers".


NQs 18.350


"grass growing on the city wall have their roots place up above all"


Ns 13.356


"tall is Jade Mount, it will collapse into pieces".


Ns 35.938


"snow flower [snowflake] is without a calyx, and the ice mirror is not secured to any stand’

Han Xi

Ns 80.2007


"as a flying wheel it moves without a track. As a crystal clear mirror it is not secured to any stand"

Yon Yue

" "


"south of the River, where the blossoms of yang ... (poplar) and liu ... (willow) are withering; north of the River, where the blossoms of the li ... (plum) ore blooming."

Mi Lou Ji



"the stallion in the palace is used almost as a donkey, under the pressure of a great stone, it will not be able to stretch itself"


Js 1002


"a tusu grass hat shades one from sun and covers one’s two ears."


Js 28.845


"girls in Ye do not be cocky and seductive."

Gu Yao Yan 148



"five horses swim cross the Yangzi River, [but] only one of them will transform into a dragon"


Ss 27.782


"how sad it is to herd horses at the foot of a mountain. The stallion died, and the colt went hungry. The lofty peak collapsed, the rocks broke themselves"


Js 28.846


"the White Gate will be lin, the palace and court will be lin" (lin ‘condoling’)


Ss 31.917


"driving cattle to plough the imperial avenue, cultivating wheat at the White Gate"


" "


"weeds have grown long enough to tie a knot. Young girls can be embraced and carried away"

Ao Nao Ge

Ss 918-9


"with the tide of water, Lu geng deng ... (Reed stools) are flowing. Suddenly the east wind is rising. Stone City, we see no chance of entering" [‘Stone City’ (Jian-kan) = modern Nan-jin (fn. 46)]


Ss 31.920


"white brass shoes from Xiangyang ..., will have Yangzhou boys tied with their hands behind them" (Yan-z^ou was the capital of Southern Qi)


Sui 13.305


"white brass shoes from Xiangyang, the man will have Jingzhou boys killed"


NQs 19.381


"Lu zi ... (literally : little deer or fawn) opens the city gate, the city gate is opened by lu zi."


Ns 53.1313


"riding a white steed with green silk reins, one comes from Shouyang"


Ns 80.1999


"Yellow stripes, green – and white – haired steeds. Departing from the riverside of Shouyang"


Sui 22.637


"how sorry for the Ba ... [eastern Si-c^uan] horses which have to run a thousand li ... a day. ... Yellow dust dirties clothes; the Chinese honey locust cleans it up." ["Zaojia ... (Chinese honey locust) was used as soap in traditional China." (fn. 67)]


Ns 10.311


"from the end of the third month, to the beginning of the third month, winnowing dust and dirt to search for pearls" "head leaves neck, heels are side by side. Body gets on the tree, without a ladder’s help"


Ws 76.1666


"a tall bamboo pole of a hundred feet shall be broke off. A lamp burning under water shall be extinguished"


BQs 3.37


"a horse enters the stone house, days of three thousand six hundred"


Ns 7.262


"taking a golden broom with a jade handle, cleaning up the house to receive ‘the neighbor from the west’ "


Sui 22.638


"golden cock crows at the top of a white poplar" ["The setting of a cock model with a head that was decorated in gold at the top of a tall pole to signify ... a decree of amnesty" (p. 185, fn. 87)]


" "


"decrees are written on yang (poplar) board with jing (chaste tree) pen. The big horse in the palace looks like a donkey"


Ss 31.914


"colt in the Eastern Palace, do not be deaf! Approaching the twelfth month your mane will be knotted"


Js 53.1460

189, fn. 93

"colt in the Eastern Palace, do not whinny! Approaching the twelfth month your mane will be knotted"

Treatise on the 5 Agents

Js 28.844


"the fast wind from the south beats the yellow sand."


Js 53.1460


"the fast wind from the south beats the white sand. ... A thousand-year-old-skull will grow teeth"


" "


"with one’s hand touching his head, [he] is plotting"


Js 86.2232


"a great fish in the Eastern Sea changes into a dragon."


Js 112.2878


"why are the northern horses so sorrowful? They are sad and miss their homeland. Why do swallows and sparrows fly around? They wish to go back [to their] old nests"


Js 122.3060


"Take off your green robe, put on your straw sandals."


Ns 80.2013


"pitiful is the baby green sparrow ... . The wings are yet to be full-fledged, when it turns into a parrot’s chick"


BQs 2.18


"pitiful is the baby green sparrow ... . Looking back into the distance, the mother country has gone, while the [new] nest has not yet been done."


Sui 22.637


"yellow flower is about to fall down, cleaning bottle just needs to be filled with wine"


Sui 22.638


"when will this sun expire? We will all perish with thee"

Tan S^i

S^an S^u


"Heaven papa, you are doddering. Hearing-impaired, dim-sighted. You see yet seeing no one. You hear yet hearing no words. Those who are enjoying honor and wealth, are murderers and arsonists. Those who are dying of starvation, were and are the people with respect for life, norms and morality."

[rebel motto at end of Min Dynasty]

Z^on-guo Ge-yao Lun 639-40

202, fn. 144

"school shirker, grow to be jelly bean peddler. Break the jar and lose last stakes."

[1930s child’s rhyme]

Z^on-guo Ge-yao Lun 675


"A piece of meat is cowardly and small, knitting [the brow above] the horizontal mu .. (eyes)." "The pillars at the palace entrance will rot." "When a cock crows, it does not need to flap its wings"

Treatise on the 5 Agents

Ss 31.914


"a full sheng ... (liter) cannot fill up a dou ... (ten liters."


Js 28.846-7


"weeds will grow long, reaching the trunk [snout] of horses."


Ja 28.848


"you always take fine grains as granted, this year you will taste rough bran. Heaven the Grand will ... have you grip your own throat. Throat will be choked and choked"


Ss 31.918


"light carts coming from north form into lines. Without warning tribesman’s horses are drinking water in the Yangzi. ... Tribesmen intend to cross the Yangzi"


Ss 74.1913


"the Ku zhu Vacant site, a sweet well is in the south of the market."


Ns 80.2017


"a tiger comes from the north with its nose tip sweated. A dragon comes from the south climbing the city wall and watching around"


Ss 31.915


"Although the City of Pi ... [in Si-c^uan, northwest of C^en-du] is indestructible, an ang vessel [with big belly and small mouth] can be broken on its bottom. Among the small fruit pits in Pi City, plum-pit is particularly small"


Hua Yan Guo Z^i Jiao Bu Tu Z^u 480


"The head of River Bridge, and the south of City Bridge. There are eighteen guys at the Chengdu north gates"


" "


"pitiable is that impersonator [impersonating the dead to receive sacrifice] in mourning still wearing the mourning garments. The filial son is absent, and the sun takes his place weeping. A panpipe will be sounding only for a while, and when it stops, it will get its entire family exterminated."

[by Bian Bin the satire-writer]

Ns 72.1767


"one hundred liters take wing to Heaven, while bright moon lights up Chang’an"

[by Qu Yan]

Zztj 5308


"High mountain will collapse itself without a push, while a Mongolian oak tree will grow straight without any support"

" "

" "


"When the Quail Fire constellation is bright, the Tiance ... star is faint."

Zuo Z^uan, 8th mo., 5th y. of duke Xi of Lu

C^un-qiu Zuo Z^uan Z^u 310-1


"to the southern border of Yan [northeastern He-bei], to the northern border of Zhao [southern He-bei], somewhere in between, there is a discordance as big as a whetstone. Only in this place can one escape from the [chaotic] world."

Yin-xion Ji

Sgz 8.245

p. 243 "When a lord is too harsh and treats people tyrannically, and his subjects keep their mouths shut for fear of punishment, the people’s grievances and complaints will be aired, forming through folk songs and rhymes, becoming poetic portents" (Hs 27.1377)

loc. cit. "the inferiors, suffering from the behavior of their superiors and lords, and not daring to speak out squarely for fear of severe punishment, will then certainly air [their sentiments] first through song and rhyme" "When the qi ... of a mouth is obstructed, there are ... sometimes portentous rhymes" (NQs 19.381)

favorite sayings composed by kings & emperors



by ruler



"knowing that life is short, we play at night under candle light"

Xuan of Northern Zhou

Sui 22.639


"the jade trees are in blossom in the backyard; the blossoms will fall before long."

the last lord of C^en

Sui 22.637


"having the intention to fly back, no more strength left to avail myself of the wind."

"looking forward to going home, ... plum blossoms make us laugh ourselves to death."

Yan of Sui

Sui 22.639


"one gentleman you cannot be on intimate terms with, and a long bow shoots people dead"

Min of Son

Ss 85.2181

p. 192 emperor Fu S^en (of Former Qin) "saw in a great fish eating a piece of cattail in his dream." (Js 112.2878)

pp. 249-251 anthropic manifestations of spirits of the planets ["The essences of the fivee Planets would come to earth transformed into humans. ... " (p. 249)]

p. 249

"Jupiter would be in the form of a high official.

Js 12.320


Mars would be a child, chanting rhymes and playing with other children.


Saturn would be an old woman.


Venus would be a male adult.


Mercury would be a woman."

p. 250

In the state of Wu, the children of the generals and regional inspectors were being held hostage. ["During the Three States period, generals and regional inspectors had to present their sons to their lords as hostages." (fn. 114)] "While they played together, all of the sudden, a strange child appeared, beginning to chant : "... I am not human. I am Mars." Having finished this speech, he ascended. Looking up, it was like a trailing pieces of silk, which soon disappeared."

Ss 31.913

p. 251

"when children composed rhymes, they "were possessed," or inspired".

[acc. to Du Yu of Jin]


"the deity might have possessed the children."

[acc. to Kon Yin-da of Tan]

p. 251 according to the author (Zongli), the deity who possessed the children was "the essence of Mars."

{with Chinese use of "nursery rhymes" or "children’s rhymes" to make political praedictions, cf. the case "that Mother Goose has been a prime source of literary allusions and satire over the years." (http://eclipse.rutgers.edu/goose/visualchallenges/allusionandsatire.aspx )

Mother Goose has been regarded as "political satire", "political and social satire" (http://www.english.uwaterloo.ca/courses/engl208c/esharris.htm ); it has alternatively, however, been derived (by John Bellenden Ker, an orchidologist – cf. traditional Chinese fascination with orchids) from Dutch punning (http://books.google.com/books?id=C00oAAAAMAAJ&dq="John+Bellenden+Ker"&printsec=frontcover&source=bl&ots=QZIKOvdHsI&sig=Q9Ab97sBVjRjRP1bbiXMEpR2b2A&hl=en&ei=lDBeSpiiNp_FmQfMvo1-&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2 ), which is a process reminiscent of the Chinese punning in C^en prophecies.}.

Zongli Lu : Power of the Words. Peter Lang, Bern, 2003.