Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Thai Fortune-Telling Manuscript

Hand-painted illustrations of zodiac figures accompanied
by Thai text from an undated paper accordion manuscript

"Thai Zodiac Signs are closely related to the Chinese Zodiac as both follow the same 12 year lunar cycle. In Thai zodiac signs the dragon is replaced by a “large snake” and in Northern Thailand an elephant may be used in place of the Chinese sign for the pig." [source]



variety of individual sketches of temples & stupa & people & mythological figures



colour painted illustration of mythological gods and devils



hand-painted figures and/or gods riding animals



8 colour figures from Thailand on a page : representing zodiac year



drawings of zodiac figures implying the Year of the Goat in East Asian astrological belief system



zodiac sigils indicating Thai Year of the Monkey



East Asian zodiac year figures hand-painted colour on paper



seated Thai God drawn above 4 white rabbits



assortment of coloured drawings of Thai people, gods & animals from zodiac astrological system



seated deity and a number of sketches of rats (zodiac)



sketch of 8 figures (mascot zodiac gods, humans and animals) - part of astrological divination system



colour drawing of astrological figures from Thai zodiac



group of fortune-telling zodiac system gods & animals


The summary of this manuscript from the Hollis Catalogue page at Harvard University tells us:
"Fortune telling manual based on a 12 animal zodiac. Four-page spreads include paintings of the animal for a specific year, along with mascot-figure for that year, the corresponding tree for that year, and scenes depicting good and bad marriage matches for that animal zodiac. The monkey, rooster, dog, and pig are fully illustrated but do not have any accompanying text."
The manuscript is dated to before 1844 (presumably because that's about the time when the earliest owner of the manuscript died). There's no other online commentary about this work that I can find. [SEE BELOW]
"According to Chinese astrology, a person's destiny can be determined by the position of the major planets at the person's birth along with the positions of the Sun, Moon and comets and the person's time of birth and zodiac Sign. The system of the twelve-year cycle of animal signs was built from observations of the orbit of Jupiter (the Year Star). Following the orbit of Jupiter around the sun, Chinese astronomers divided the celestial circle into 12 sections, and rounded it to 12 years (from 11.86)." (slightly edited from [source])
UPDATE: From a comment below---
"Maria Revere Balestier (daughter of Paul Revere and wife to the first American consulate to Singapore) was actually the first documentable owner and she sent it to Eliza Susan Morton Quincy (wife of the Boston mayor and president of Harvard). There is a note on the front cover of this manuscript that indicates it was sent in 1844 and letters between the two confirm that they shared objects and books, including a biography of Raffles. 
-Emilie Hardman, Houghton Library" 
  Horse - zodiac manuscript figure
 The horse figure is cropped from its original setting 
& the background has been adjusted for layout purposes.

6 comments :

JoyCorcoran said...

Always love your blog. These are amazing drawings!

Emilie said...

I've actually been working with this manuscript and while I hope to have something more formal and descriptive soon, right now I can at least offer a link out to the ms. in a page turner format with embedded links to the translation and some notes:

http://issuu.com/ehardman/docs/ms_typ_439

One note on a detail presented here:
"The manuscript is dated to before 1844 (presumably because that's about the time when the earliest owner of the manuscript died)."
Maria Revere Balestier (daughter of Paul Revere and wife to the first American consulate to Singapore) was actually the first documentable owner and she sent it to Eliza Susan Morton Quincy (wife of the Boston mayor and president of Harvard). There is a note on the front cover of this manuscript that indicates it was sent in 1844 and letters between the two confirm that they shared objects and books, including a biography of Raffles.

-Emilie Hardman, Houghton Library

peacay said...

Thanks very much for the assistance Emilie. I've added the info to the post itself. Cheers!

richard hale said...

Very interesting article. I know these pictures look mythical to most people but in my personal opinion, all of them have elements that are true. Brilliant.

hootie017 said...

So beautiful. Thank you

sakura group said...

where can i find the meaning of the top picture? i am trying to find out more about the "decapitated head".

Thanks

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