|The museum lists these as dragons, but they also look like snake symbols used in other Chinese designs. That isn't as important as the use of the brick to record constellations. Although crude, it wasn't intended as a piece of exact data but as a decoration or perhaps worship. Astronomy was very important in Chinese history, especially to the ruling families. The culture depended on predictive systems from cracked turtle shells, burnt joss sticks, but most especially astrology. Time keeping for an agricultural culture is crucial. Setting a calendar was one of the most important functions of the emperor's court and government. Just as we occupied the night skies with all sorts of mythical beasts and gods, so did the Chinese.
This star chart was found in the region of the State of Yan of the Warring States period which occupied areas in the northeast including Beijing and parts of Hebei.
Last update: September 2013
© Marilyn Shea, 2013