Xi and He

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Xihe on her car with the golden sun in a park in Hangzhou

Xī and Hé , ( Chinese  羲 和 , W.-G. Hsi and Ho ) were two legendary court astronomers in China during the Xia dynasty .

As reported in the chapter Xia Shu of the Shujing Chronicle , they worked as civil servants in charge of astronomy and meteorology . When a solar eclipse occurred, which they had not calculated in advance, but instead were found completely drunk, Emperor Zhòng Kāng had them killed ( jiān, ).

In ancient China, solar eclipses were particularly important insofar as they were interpreted religiously and mythically: the narrowing of the solar crescent was ascribed to an evil dragon who wanted to devour the sun and was to be driven away by loud drums , music and screaming. The mistake allegedly based on laziness thus almost cost the sun its life.

The time of the eclipse in question was October 13, 2128 BC. BC or October 22nd, 2137 BC. Calculated.

According to another interpretation, Xihe is the name of a Chinese sun deity who, similar to Helios in Greek mythology, steers the sun vehicle across the sky.


Individual evidence

  1. ^ Johann Heinrich von Mädler : History of the sky science . Vol. 1, Braunschweig 1873, p. 4
  2. ^ Solar Eclipses of History
  3. ^ Herbert Franke: The Chinese Empire. Fischer Weltgeschichte 19, ISBN 3-596-60019-7 , p. 23