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Indian astronomy in ancient China

Jiang Xiao-yuan (Shanghai Observatory, Academia Sinica)

Indian astronomy was introduced into China with the Buddhists. There are a lot of materials in ancient Chinese historic texts about this process, while the Buddhist scriptures in Chinese translation are very important first-hand materials. We inspected 5 question as follows:

1. Early contents
(A) Cosmic model; (B) Booklist of Indian astrology that come to China.
2. Indian astrological families in the 7th-8th centuries' China
(A) Kasyapa; (B) Kumara; (C) Gautama
3. Navagraha Calendar (Jiuzhi Calendar, 718 AD) and its origin.
Navagraha Calendar was translated and edited by Qutan Xida. Its source texts are known at least Pancasidhantika (about 550 AD) of Varahamihira, and probably also Khandakhadyaka (665 AD) of Brahmagupta. All of these texts have their Greek headspring, so there are still a lot of Greek astronomical compositions in Navagraha Calendar.
4. Skill of Futian and Yusi Sutra
Two branches of Indian horoscope astrology. They were en vogue for several hundred years in the Medieval China.
5. Portraits of star-gods
Portraits of star-gods were very popular in Tang Dynasty. These portraits obviously originated from India. Their source images can be found in Buddhist sutras. These portraits of star-gods were used as the idols receive sacrifices. According to the theory of Indian horoscope astrology, offer sacrifices to star-gods can avoid the desasters and dwell on the happiness.

The astronomical materials of Buddhist scriptures in Chinese translation can be divided into five parts:
1. Cosmology, 2. Naksatras (stars and star gropes) system, 3. Knowledge of sun and moon, 4. Calendar, 5. Five planets, seven-luminaries and nine-deity.

We interpreted these materials in details. The differences and similarities between traditional Chinese astronomy and Indian astronomy that preserved in the Buddhist scriptures were compared. The influence of Indian astronomy on Chinese astronomy was also expounded.

Finally, the time and the paths by which the Indian astronomy had been introduced into China, together with the distribution area of the Indian astronomy in China, were investigated. Some astronomical knowledge in the Buddhist scriptures was traced to the Babylonian origin. Thereby a picture of astronomy's spreading gradually from the Western to the Eastern was limned.

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