While here at RocketNews24 we pride ourselves on bringing you the latest funky news from around Asia, sometimes we also like to dig into the historical archives where we often find fascinating pieces of trivia. This time, we came across this elaborate, delicate piece of functional art from 18th-century Japan. It’s a detailed star chart that combines astronomy from both the East and West.

Isn’t it fascinating to think that even back in the Edo era there is such a forward-thinking piece which combines different cultures and systems? It looks stunning too!

Attributed to artist Shiba Douryou (Sima Daoliang in Mandarin), father of the famous Edo artist Kitayama Kangan, this star chart was dated to the 7th year under the rule of the Kansei emperor, which would translate to 1795 in the Western calendar. Shiba wrote in an introduction attached to the painting that he had learned that in the West, people identified constellations by making them out to resemble certain symbols – what we know as horoscopes today. Being of Chinese descent, Shiba was familiar with the Chinese Twenty-Eight Mansions, the Eastern method of astronomy in which the night sky was divided into twenty eight constellations of varying sizes. He soon found overlaps between the two astronomical systems and decided to create this ‘conversion chart’ matching horoscopes to the Chinese zodiacal system.


▼ Here Shiba drew the equivalent of the horoscopes Leo, Virgo, Libra and Scorpio.


▼ The red curved line represents the equator. Here we can see representations of Pisces, Aries, Taurus, Gemini and Cancer.


Horoscopes today are more familiar to us as ways to determine if we are romantically compatible with our favorite idols. However, in the past, they used to be spread across the night sky as clusters of shining stars. This beautiful chart is a great manifestation of how different cultures in history had found their own ways to make sense of the world, and how one man in pre-modern Japan had foresight to combine them in one elegant artwork.

Sources: The National Diet Library, h/t Japaaan
Images: The National Diet Library