"과학문화교육"

2012-05-25 (Vol 9, No 5)

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과학문화교육의 연구와 저술

Islamic astronomy in the service of chinese Monarchs

Abstract

In traditional Chinese ideology, the tianwen 天文 (Celestial Patterns) and lifa 曆法(Calendar) are important matters in the legitimization and maintenance of a regime. From very early times, astrology and astronomy became a crucial element in statecraft and establishments were always installed in the government to take care of these matters, which formed a tradition very scrupulously observed and documented by every Chinese dynasty without substantial interruption in thousands of years. As a result, a special system consisting of astrology and astronomy was developed and kept on developing on its own track. Despite this long and independent tradition, however, most Chinese monarchs would not refuse, though sometimes with reluctance and selection, any art and knowledge from outside that might supplement and enhance the indigenous ones. Their interest provided a pivotal force under which the major introduction, adoption and documentation of foreign systems of either astronomy or astrology could happen. This is true for the dissemination of Indian astronomy in the Tang dynasty.

Here in my talk, I would like to bring up a second example, viz. the introduction of Islamic astronomy into China. In fact, this is not a new topic at all. Since the 1940s, a number of leading scholars in the field have done important works on both the general history and some specific issues such as the Arabic and Persian sources of the Chinese works on Islamic astronomy and astrology, the identification of the Islamic instruments constructed in China in the 13th century, the decipher of the titles of the Arabic-Persian books on astronomy and mathematics preserved in the Bureau of Imperial Secretariat of the Yuan dynasty, and the theoretical basis of the Chinese-Islamic system of calendrical astronomy. On the basis of these works and the new materials of very high interest I 30 Shi, Yunli have discovered in recent years, I would like to discuss the role played by Islamic astronomy in the statecraft of the Yuan and Ming dynasties in China. Meanwhile, I will also show the efforts of Chinese astronomers in studying the Islamic system and assimilating it into their own tradition.

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Shi Yunli
University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei

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