Page:EB1911 - Volume 06.djvu/333

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317
CHONOLOGY

To complete the year five complementary days are added in common years, and six in leap years.

The Mahommedan Era, or Era of the Hegira.—The era in use among the Turks, Arabs and other Mahommedan nations is that of the Hegira or Hejra, the flight of the prophet from Mecca to Medina, 622 A.D. Its commencement, however, does not, as is sometimes stated, coincide with the very day of the flight, but precedes it by sixty-eight days. The prophet, after leaving Mecca, to escape the pursuit of his enemies, the Koreishites, hid himself with his friend Abubekr in a cave near Mecca, and there lay for three days. The departure from the cave and setting out on the way to Medina is assigned to the ninth day of the third month, Rabia I.—corresponding to the 22nd of September of the year 622 A.D. The era begins from the first day of the month of Muharram preceding the flight, or first day of that Arabian year which coincides with Friday, July 16, 622 A.D. It is necessary to remember that by astronomers and by some historians the era is assigned to the preceding day, July 15. It is stated by D’Herbelot that the era of the Hegira was instituted by Omar, the second caliph, in imitation of the Christian era of the martyrs.

Era of Yazdegerd, or Persian or Jelalaean Era.—This era begins with the elevation of Yazdegerd III. to the throne of Persia, on the 16th of June in the year of our era 632. Till the year 1079 the Persian year resembled that of the ancient Egyptians, consisting of 365 days without intercalation; but at that time the Persian calendar was reformed by Jelāl ud-Dīn Malik Shah, sultan of Khorasan, and a method of intercalation adopted which, though less convenient, is considerably more accurate than the Julian. The intercalary period is 33 years,—one day being added to the common year seven times successively at the end of four years, and the eighth intercalation being deferred till the end of the fifth year. This era was at one period universally adopted in Persia, and it still continues to be followed by the Parsees of India. The months consist of thirty days each, and each day is distinguished by a different name. According to Alfergani, the names of the Persian months are as follows:—

Afrudin-meh. Merded-meh. Adar-meh.
Ardisascht-meh.  Schaharir-meh.  Di-meh.
Cardi-meh. Mahar-meh. Behen-meh.
Tir-meh. Aben-meh. Affirer-meh.

The five additional days (in intercalary years six) are named Musteraca.

As it does not appear that the above-mentioned rule of intercalation was ever regularly followed, it is impossible to assign exactly the days on which the different years begin. In some provinces of India the Parsees begin the year with September, in others they begin it with October. We have stated that the era began with the 16th June 632. But the vague year, which was followed till 1079, anticipated the Julian year by one day every four years. In 447 years the anticipation would amount to about 112 days, and the beginning of the year would in consequence be thrown back to near the beginning of the Julian year 632. To the year of the Persian era, therefore, add 631, and the sum will be the year of our era in which the Persian year begins.

Chinese Chronology.—From the time of the emperor Yao, upwards of 2000 years B.C., the Chinese had two different years,—a civil year, which was regulated by the moon, and an astronomical year, which was solar. The civil year consisted in general of twelve months or lunations, but occasionally a thirteenth was added in order to preserve its correspondence with the solar year. Even at that early period the solar or astronomical year consisted of 365¼ days, like our Julian year; and it was arranged in the same manner, a day being intercalated every fourth year.

According to the missionary Gaubil, the Chinese divided the day into 100 ke, each ke into 100 minutes, and each minute into 100 seconds. This practice continued to prevail till the 17th century, when, at the instance of the Jesuit Schall, president of the tribunal of mathematics, they adopted the European method of dividing the day into twenty-four hours, each hour into sixty minutes, and each minute into sixty seconds. The civil day begins at midnight and ends at the midnight following.

Since the accession of the emperors of the Han dynasty, 206 B.C., the civil year of the Chinese has begun with the first day of that moon in the course of which the sun enters into the sign of the zodiac which corresponds with our sign Pisces. From the same period also they have employed, in the adjustment of their solar and lunar years, a period of nineteen years, twelve of which are common, containing twelve lunations each, and the remaining seven intercalary, containing thirteen lunations. It is not, however, precisely known how they distributed their months of thirty and twenty-nine days, or, as they termed them, great and small moons. This, with other matters appertaining to the calendar, was probably left to be regulated from time to time by the mathematical tribunal.

The Chinese divide the time of a complete revolution of the sun with regard to the solstitial points into twelve equal portions, each corresponding to thirty days, ten hours, thirty minutes. Each of these periods, which is denominated a tsëĕ, is subdivided into two equal portions called chung-ki and tsie-ki, the chung-ki denoting the first half of the tsëĕ, and the tsie-ki the latter half. Though the tsëĕ, are thus strictly portions of solar time, yet what is remarkable, though not peculiar to China, they give their name to the lunar months, each month or lunation having the name of the chung-ki or sign at which the sun arrives during that month. As the tsëĕ is longer than a synodic revolution of the moon, the sun cannot arrive twice at a chung-ki during the same lunation; and as there are only twelve tsëĕ, the year can contain only twelve months having different names. It must happen sometimes that in the course of a lunation the sun enters into no new sign; in this case the month is intercalary, and is called by the same name as the preceding month.

For chronological purposes, the Chinese, in common with some other nations of the east of Asia, employ cycles of sixty, by means of which they reckon their days, moons and years. The days are distributed in the calendar into cycles of sixty, in the same manner as ours are distributed into weeks, or cycles of seven. Each day of the cycle has a particular name, and as it is a usual practice, in mentioning dates, to give the name of the day along with that of the moon and the year, this arrangement affords great facilities in verifying the epochs of Chinese chronology. The order of the days in the cycle is never interrupted by any intercalation that may be necessary for adjusting the months or years. The moons of the civil year are also distinguished by their place in the cycle of sixty; and as the intercalary moons are not reckoned, for the reason before stated, namely, that during one of these lunations the sun enters into no new sign, there are only twelve regular moons in a year, so that the cycle is renewed every five years. Thus the first moon of the year 1873 being the first of a new cycle, the first moon of every sixth year, reckoned backwards or forwards from that date, as 1868, 1863, &c., or 1877, 1882, &c., also begins a new lunar cycle of sixty moons. In regard to the years, the arrangement is exactly the same. Each has a distinct number or name which marks its place in the cycle, and as this is generally given in referring to dates, along with the other chronological characters of the year, the ambiguity which arises from following a fluctuating or uncertain epoch is entirely obviated.

The cycle of sixty is formed of two subordinate cycles or series of characters, one of ten and the other of twelve, which are joined together so as to afford sixty different combinations. The names of the characters in the cycle of ten, which are called celestial signs, are—

1. Keă; 2. Yĭh; 3. Ping; 4. Ting; 5. Woo;
6. Ke; 7. Kăng; 8. Sin; 9. Jin; 10. Kwei;

and in the series of 12, denominated terrestrial signs,

1. Tsze; 2. Chow; 3. Yin; 4. Maou; 5. Shin; 6. Sze;
7. Woo; 8. We; 9. Shin; 10. Yew; 11. Seŭh; 12. Hae.

The name of the first year, or of the first day, in the sexagenary cycle is formed by combining the first words in each of the above series; the second is formed by combining the second of each series, and so on to the tenth. For the next year the first word of the first series is combined with the eleventh of the second, then the second of the first series with the twelfth of the second, after this the third of the first series with the first of the second, and so on till the sixtieth combination, when the last of the first series concurs with the last of the second. Thus Keă-tsze is the name of the first year, Yĭh-Chow that of the second, Keă-seŭh that of the eleventh, Yĭh-hae that of the twelfth, Ping-tsze that of the thirteenth, and so on. The order of proceeding is obvious.

In the Chinese history translated into the Tatar dialect by order of the emperor K’ang-hi, who died in 1721, the characters of the cycle begin to appear at the year 2357 B.C. From this it has been inferred