Four Pillars of Destiny

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Term: Birth Chart
Chinese 生辰八字
Hanyu Pinyin shēngchén bāzì
Literal meaning Birth Time Eight Characters
Term: Four Pillars
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 四柱命理學
Simplified Chinese 四柱命理学
Hanyu Pinyin sì zhù mìnglǐ xué
Literal meaning "Four Pillars of Life" Studies
Alternative Chinese name
Chinese 子平命理
Hanyu Pinyin zipíng mìnglǐ
Literal meaning Method Divination
Korean name
Hangul 사주
Hanja 四柱

The Four Pillars of Destiny (四柱命理) is a Chinese, Japanese and Korean conceptual term describing the four components that supposedly create a person's destiny or fate. The four components within the moment of birth are year, month, day, and hour. The four pillars (a translation of the Chinese dynastic phrase Shēng Chén Bā Zì; Korean Saju) are used alongside fortune-telling practices such as Zǐ wēi dòu shù within the realm of Chinese astrology. Comparisons have been made between Western astrology and Ba Zi. However, unlike astrology, Ba Zi analysis does not look at an 'alignment' of celestial bodies of stars and planets but is based on the 'alignment' of blocks of time delineated by the Wan Nian Li (萬年曆), the "10,000-year" Chinese almanac.[1][2][3]


The "four pillars" refers to the Chinese term (生辰八字, Shēng Chén Bā Zì), which translates as "The Eight Characters of Birth Time". This is also referred to by the Chinese term (四柱命理學, Sì Zhù Mìng Lǐ Xué), which translates to "Study of 'Four Pillars of Life' Principles". In Korea, it is usually called "four pillars eight characters" (四柱八字; Sajupalza).

Commonly referred to by the shortened terms, "Four Pillars" or Bā Zì, a frequently[citation needed] used alternate phrase is "Four Pillars of your birth time". It is called Bā Zì (八字), Eight Characters, because each of the four pillars (representing the year, month, day, and hour of one's birth, respectively) is represented by two characters; one character for a "Heavenly Stem" representing positive (陽; Yang) and one character for an "Earthly Branch" representing (陰; Yin). There are 10 Heavenly Stems (天干, Tiān Gān, 천간) and 12 Earthly Branches (地支, Dì Zhī, 지지). The 12-zodiac-animal reference is a folkloric representation of the 12 Earthly Branches. One four pillars text was that of the Qianlong Emperor.

10 Heavenly Stems (天干) and Positive-Negative (陰陽) Five Elements (五行):

  1. 甲 (Gab, 갑) : Positive Wood, 陽木
  2. 乙 (Eul, 을) : Negative Wood, 陰木
  3. 丙 (Byoung, 병) : Positive Fire, 陽火
  4. 丁 (Zeong, 정) : Negative Fire, 陰火
  5. 戊 (Moo, 무) : Positive Soil, 陽土
  6. 己 (Gee, 기) : Negative Soil, 陰土
  7. 庚 (Gyoung, 경) : Positive Metal, 陽金
  8. 辛 (Sin, 신) : Negative Metal, 陰金
  9. 壬 (Yim, 임) : Positive Water, 陽水
  10. 癸 (Gye, 계) : Negative Water, 陰水

12 Earthly Branches (干支):

  1. 寅 (Yin, 인) : Positive Tree, 陽木
  2. 卯 (Myo, 묘) : Negative Tree, 陰木
  3. 辰 (Zin, 진) : Positive Soil, 陽土
  4. 巳 (Saa, 사) : Positive Fire, 陽火 (changes to Negative Fire during four pillars of destiny interpretation)
  5. 午 (Oho, 오) : Negative Fire, 陰火 (changes to Positive Fire during four pillars of destiny interpretation)
  6. 未 (Mee, 미) : Negative Soil, 陰土
  7. 申 (Sin, 신) : Positive Metal, 陽金
  8. 酉 (Yoo, 유) : Negative Metal, 陰金
  9. 戌 (Sool, 술) : Positive Soil, 陽土
  10. 亥 (Hae, 해) : Positive Water, 陽水 (changes to Negative Water during four pillars of destiny interpretation)
  11. 子 (Zaa, 자) : Negative Water, 陰水 (changes to Positive Water during four pillars of destiny interpretation)
  12. 丑 (Choog, 축) : Negative Soil, 陰土

The relationship between Earthly Branches and four seasons with direction:

  1. Yin-Myo-Zin, 寅卯辰: spring, east
  2. Saa-Oho-Mee, 巳午未: summer, south
  3. Sin-Yoo-Sool, 申酉戌: autumn, west
  4. Hae-Zaa-Choog, 亥子丑: winter, north

The Schools[edit]

The schools are the Scholarly School (學院派, Xué Yuàn Pài) and the Professional School (江湖派, Jiāng Hú Pài).

The Scholarly School began with Xú Zi Píng (徐子平) at the beginning of the Song Dynasty. Xú founded the pure theoretical basis of the system. Representatives of this school and their publications include:

Song Dynasty (宋)
  • Sān Mìng Yuān Yuán 三命渊源, by Xú Dà Shēng 徐大升
  • Yuān Hǎi Zi Píng 淵海子平, compiled by Xú Dà Shēng 徐大升 (styled Zi Píng 子平)
Ming Dynasty (明)
  • Dī Tiān Suǐ 滴天髓
  • Sān Mìng Tōng Kuài 三命通會, by Wàn Mín Yīng 万民英
  • Míng Wàn Yù Wú 明萬育吾
  • Míng Liú Jī 明劉基
Qing Dynasty (清)
  • Mìng Lǐ Yuē Yán 命理約言, by Chén Sù Ān 陈素庵
  • Mìng Lǐ Tàn Yuán 命理探源, by Yuán Shù Shān 袁树珊

In Japan[edit]

Four Pillars of Destiny, the 傷官 or – in Japanese, Syō-Kan (pr: Show-can) – is a Japanese astrological concept that involves calculating a person's destiny using the values of the birth year, month, day and hour. The Chinese equivalent is 背禄 (shang guan). A study of the four components said to create a person's destiny or fate is complicated and affects the mechanisms of supposedly plotting destiny and prediction.


Syō-Kan is also the relative pronoun among the Heavenly Stems. When we have our birthday as 甲子, 甲戌, 甲申, 甲午, 甲辰, 甲寅, in the Chinese calendar, the Tei ,Hi no to (?) will belong to the Syō-Kan. When we have the Heavenly Stems as in our birthday, the acts as a Syō-Kan factor, as follows:

  • 乙 : 丙
  • 丙 : 己
  • 丁 : 戊
  • 戊 : 辛
  • 己 : 庚
  • 庚 : 癸
  • 辛 : 壬
  • 壬 : 乙
  • 癸 : 甲


  • Generally speaking, Syō-Kan stands for splendid talents, brilliant appearances, academic potential.
  • Freedom of speech, freedom of thinking and freedom of expression are said to be related to Syō-Kan.
  • When there is not the proper Syō-Kan in our daily life, we may be confused and may even become involved in anti-social acts.
  • Syō-Kan is also the symbol of a sword and slash.
  • The figures with Syō-Kan are usually bright and beautiful; however, true and real success in life is another aspect.


  • Hirohito (also known as Emperor Shōwa), born April 29, 1901, died January 7, 1989. His birthday is 29 April 1901, a day called Shōwa Day in Japan.

The chart is as follows:

  • Year of birth: 1901 : 辛丑
  • Month of birth: April : 壬辰
  • Day of birth: 29th : 丁丑
  • Time of birth: a quarter past 10 at night (10.15 pm) : 辛亥

The main structure of his chart is 傷官 (Syō-Kan), .
The day of 丁 (in the Chinese calendar) meets April, the month of Do-Yo (土用?), the month of , so that we get the Syō-Kan. The most important element and worker in his chart is the or . The Inju is also the worker which controls Syō-Kan. In 1945, in the year of 乙酉, the Inju has no effect. The Heavenly Stem is in Ku Bo (空亡 the workings are on hold?).

Additionally, the Dai Un (Japan's own long-term history) is as follows. The beginning of April in the Lunar calendar is the fifth day, so there are 24 days from day 5 to Hirohito's birthday. One month is equivalent to ten years in Dai Un, and the 24 days are equivalent to eight years. Events in the historical timeline corresponding to his life from age eight to 18 are as follows.

From the age of 8 to the age of 18 : 辛卯

  • 18 to 28: 庚寅 : corresponding to the reign and beginning of Showa Period in 1926
  • 28 to 38: 己丑 : beginning of Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937
  • 38 to 48: 戊子 : World War II, 1939–1945
  • 48 to 58: 丁亥
  • 58 to 68: 丙戌
  • 68 to 78: 乙酉
  • 78 to 88: 甲申 : end of the Showa Period in 1989
  • 88 to 98: 癸未

Advocates of the Syō-Kan system believe that Hirohito's chart somehow explains the defeat of Japan in World War II after the catastrophic atomic bomb explosions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Richard J. Smith, Mapping China and Managing the World: Culture, Cartography and Cosmology in Late Imperial Times (Oxfordshire, England: Routledge Press, 2012).
  2. ^ Traditioneller Chinesischer Mondkalender (Traditional Chinese Lunar Calendar), (Berlin: 2 Kehrer Verlag, Heidelberg, 2000)
  3. ^ T. Aylward, The Imperial Guide to Feng Shui and Chinese Astrology (London: Watkins Publishing, 2007)

External links[edit]