Twenty-Eight Mansions

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The twenty-eight mansions of the Chinese astronomy (edit: this picture is flipped: east is west)

The Twenty-Eight Mansions (Chinese: 二十八宿; pinyin: Èrshíbā Xiù), also called xiu[1] or hsiu, are part of the Chinese constellations system. They can be considered as the equivalent to the zodiacal constellations in Western astronomy, though the Twenty-eight Mansions reflect the movement of the Moon through a sidereal month rather than the Sun in a tropical year.

The lunar mansion system was in use in other parts of East Asia, such as ancient Japan; the Bansenshūkai, written by Fujibayashi Yasutake, mentions the system several times and includes an image of the twenty-eight mansions.[2]

A similar system, called nakshatra, is used in traditional Indian astronomy.[3]


Yuan dynasty illustration of the 28 mansions from Shilin Guangji by Chen Yuanjing

Ancient Chinese astronomers divided the sky ecliptic into four regions, collectively known as the Four Symbols, each assigned a mysterious animal. They are Azure Dragon (青龍) on the east, Black Tortoise (玄武) on the north, White Tiger (白虎) on the west, and Vermilion Bird (朱雀) on the south. Each region contains seven mansions, making a total of 28 mansions. These mansions or xiù correspond to the longitudes along the ecliptic that the Moon crosses during its 27.32-day journey around the Earth and serve as a way to track the Moon's progress. In Taoism they are related to 28 Chinese generals.[4]

List of mansions[edit]

The names and determinative stars of the mansions are:[5][6]

Four Symbols
Mansion (宿)
Number Name


Translation Determinative star
Azure Dragon
of the East

(東方青龍 - Dōngfāng Qīnglóng)
1 角 (Jiǎo) Horn α Vir
2 亢 (Kàng) Neck κ Vir
3 氐 (Dī) Root α Lib
4 房 (Fáng) Room π Sco
5 心 (Xīn) Heart α Sco
6 尾 (Wěi) Tail μ¹ Sco
7 箕 (Jī) Winnowing Basket γ Sgr
Black Tortoise
of the North

(北方玄武 - Běifāng Xuánwǔ)

8 斗 (Dǒu) (Southern) Dipper φ Sgr
9 牛 (Niú) Ox β Cap
10 女 (Nǚ) Girl ε Aqr
11 虛 (Xū) Emptiness β Aqr
12 危 (Wēi) Rooftop α Aqr
13 室 (Shì) Encampment α Peg
14 壁 (Bì) Wall γ Peg
White Tiger
of the West

(西方白虎 - Xīfāng Báihǔ)

15 奎 (Kuí) Legs η And
16 婁 (Lóu) Bond β Ari
17 胃 (Wèi) Stomach 35 Ari
18 昴 (Mǎo) Hairy Head 17 Tau
19 畢 (Bì) Net ε Tau
20 觜 (Zī) Turtle Beak λ Ori
21 参 (Shēn) Three Stars ζ Ori
Vermilion Bird
of the South

(南方朱雀 - Nánfāng Zhūquè)

22 井 (Jǐng) Well μ Gem
23 鬼 (Guǐ) Ghost θ Cnc
24 柳 (Liǔ) Willow δ Hya
25 星 (Xīng) Star α Hya
26 張 (Zhāng) Extended Net υ¹ Hya
27 翼 (Yì) Wings α Crt
28 軫 (Zhěn) Chariot γ Crv

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gary D. Thompson chapter 11-24 Archived 2011-01-26 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Bansenshukai 8". Archived from the original on 2010-06-01. Retrieved 2014-12-12.
  3. ^ CBETA T21 No. 1299《文殊師利菩薩及諸仙所說吉凶時日善惡宿曜經》卷1 Archived 2015-09-23 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ 统天殿 Archived 2005-11-22 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "The Chinese Sky". International Dunhuang Project. Archived from the original on 2015-11-04. Retrieved 2011-06-25.
  6. ^ Sun, Xiaochun (1997). Helaine Selin (ed.). Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures. Kluwer Academic Publishers. p. 517. ISBN 0-7923-4066-3. Retrieved 2011-06-25.