Yi Gauges Using Stone and Jade Knives
The previous archaeological studies of stone and jade knifes with holes have found that a complete set of stone knifes with odd ordinal numbers of holes from 1 to 13, which was uncovered at the third phase remains of Xuejiagang Culture in Xuejiagang site, Anhui Province of China, was typologically and chronologically the most complete form of the prehistoric knife-like artifact culture and of a profound calendrical knowledge background. Based on the archaeological evidences in consistent with the ancient documentary records, the present paper proves the following concludes.
- As the calendrical knowledge background of stone and jade knifes with holes, the Sifen (four quadrantal) Calendar in which the tie between solstitial points is the ordinate axis of the solar year coordinate and the tie between equinoctial points is its abscissae axis was spread in the form of Fuxi’s Bagua (the Eight Trigrams) over the Yellow, Yangtze and Liao river valleys during the Neolithic Age.
- The four cardinal points of a solar year were determined with the longest, the shortest and their average length of sun-shadow that were found by frequently measuring the sun-shadow lengths all year round in these regions.
- According to the ordinal numbers deployed by the Fuxi’s Bagua – 1, 2, 4, 8, 24, the implementing system of the Sifen (four quadrantal) Calendar experienced a long-historic process of the development of sun-shadow length measurement focus from one and two solstitial points to four cardinal points, eight periods’ points through twenty-four solar terms’ points. Correspondingly, the number of holes made on stone knives increased from 1 or 2 to 3, 5, 7 through 13 before the third phase of Xuejiagang Culture.
- The complete set of stone knifes were the gauges for measuring the sun-shadow lengths for each of the twenty-four solar terms and the highest form of implementing the Sifen (four quadrantal) Calendar by using stone and jade knives with holes as the sun-shadow measuring gauges.
- With the transition from the Neolithic Age to the Bronze Age, the Sifen (four- quadrantal) Calendar was transformed into the integrated Sifen (four quadrantal) – Wuxing (five phase) Calendar in which the cardinal points were fixed by observations of the sun, the moon and the stars. Correspondingly, the number of holes made on stone and jade knives decreased to 5, 3 through 2 or 1 and then all stone and jade knives with holes were finally replaced by the jade articles named “Yazhang”.
This paper verifies these conclusions with the prehistory of Chinese calendrical science and the evolution of sun-shadow measurement instruments in prehistoric China shown in evidences. In the end, it explains the academic significance of the discovery of the truth of stone and jade knifes with holes for exploring the origin and the prehistoric development of the Chinese civilization and science.