The Chinese have a tradition of grouping stars in constellations that is completely different from the Western one.
In traditional Chinese thought, the arrangement of the sky reflects the political arrangements on Earth: the most northern stars represents the most elevated figures, and Polaris represent the Emperor - around which all other stars revolve.  Also, the sky around the North Celestial Pole (the circumpolar region) is divided into Three Enclosures (三垣 sān yuán).
In addition, for the Chinese, the region of sky passed through by the ecliptic is not divided into 12 zodiacal constellations, but into Twenty-eight Mansions (二十八宿 èrshíbā xiù). In each day of the month, the Moon occupies one of these mansions. The Twenty-eight Mansions reflect the movement of the Moon, whereas the Zodiac reflects that of the Sun. (Indian astronomy also has a system of lunar mansions, called Nakshatras.)
The Three Enclosures (三垣 sān yuán) are:
- Purple Forbidden enclosure (紫微垣, Zǐ Wēi Yuán) - the nothersmost area of the night sky, contain the north pole, in the center of stars' movements;
- Supreme Palace enclosure (太微垣, Tài Wēi Yuán) - lies at one side of the Forbidden Enclosure;
- Heavenly Market enclosure (天市垣, Tiān Shì Yuán) - lies at the other side of the Forbidden Enclosure.
The Twenty-eight Mansions (二十八宿 èrshíbā xiù) are:
|name||pinyin||literal translation ||approx. localization due |
to official constellations
|The Azure Dragon of the East
|角||Jiăo||Horn||Virgo, around Spica|
|心||Xīn||Heart||Scorpius, around Antares|
|The Black Tortoise of the North
|壁||Bì||Wall||Pegasus, around Algenib|
|The White Tiger of the West
|昴||Mǎo||Hairy Head||Taurus, around The Pleiades|
|The Vermillion Bird of the South
|星||Xīng||Star||Hydra, around Alphard|
Strongly (as of emotion)
- Ronan, Colin A. The Cambridge Illustrated History of the World's Science, Vol. 2. 1984: Cambridge University Press.
- Translations of the Xiu names are done literally and may not be the true and original meaning