ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAOISM: Gānzhī 干支 [Celestial] Stems and [Earthly] Branches

This article shortly named gānzhī (I do like Chinese, they make new words easily just pairing the ending of one term of the two glyphs with the ending of another term of the two glyphs too) but the full picture would be nicer for us if the title will sound shi tian gan shi er di zhi, Ten Celestial Stems and Twelve Earthly Branches. Wait a second, what we can do here? Well, let’s call it TCSTEB!

十天干十二地支 shí tiān gān shí èr dì zhī, or gānzhī

Pic. 1

ganzhi01Following Christopher Cullen’s entry we can see the beginning of use a ten-day period in ancient China (xún 旬) in the Shang epoch (1600-1045 BCE), probably one millennium BCE sixty days cycle was added by pairing (!) of the ten Stems with the twelve Branches, and from the Han time (202 BCE-220 CE) a cycle of sixty years was in service.

Pic. 2


01     jiazi, for example 1984 or 2044


10     guiyou, 1993 or 2053

11      jiaxu, 1994 or 2054

12     yihai, 1995 or 2055


60     guihai, 1983 or 2043 etc.

By the way, if you will slowly follow to every number from one to sixty you will feel that your eyes make a figure ‘8′, and the process will repeat itself five times, or until you will be tired. And there is a kind of rhythm here too. Numbers will dance in the special rhythm in one place! Is that amazing!     

ERRATUM in the text of encyclopedia (unfortunately):

In the table 7 in STEMS AND BRANCHES article two signs xu 戌 and hai 亥 (11 and 12) from the left column (Stems) should be placed into right column (Branches). In my digital Kindle edition they were misplaced to the left column. Is that obvious for all readers or my eyes are especially sharp? 🙂