The belief and worshipping of the Big Dipper has been around for ages and it has appeared many different cultures due to the influence of the Han culture. This is because of the popularity of Taoism as a religion. Due to the flourish of Taoism, the worshipping of Big Dipper star group bloomed among the people. However, with the fall of Taoism due to modernization and the impact of foreign religions such as Buddhism, Christianity and other religions, there has been a significant decandancy in the worshipping of stars. In this essay, I am intending to find out how the worshipping of the Big Dipper came about and the influence that it created among the different cultures in China.
The Big Dipper is a group of 7 stars in the close to the North Star (Polaris). It is made up of Dubhe, Merak, Phecda, Megrez, Alioth, Mizar and the Alkaid. It has a special shape which resembles the Plough, or the butcher’s Cleaver which is what the English called it. When we look up a clear sky, the Big Dipper will be shown as in this picture.
The Big Dipper
This group of stars is symbolic in the many cultures. In the Mongolia culture, they are called the Seven gods . In Taoism, the Big Dipper is extremely important and many myths and legends have been derived from this group of stars. If one has read Jin Yong’s Condor Heroes, the QuanZhen Sect has a special sets of martial arts where seven taoists form the shape of the Big dipper and fight using this formation. It’s called the 北斗七星阵 which is the Seven Stars of the Big Dipper Formation.
These seven stars were also noticed by ancient astronomers in China. They gave them names such as 天枢 Tian Shu 天璇 Tian Xuan 天玑 Tian Ji 天权 Tian Quan 玉衡 Yu Heng 开阳 Kai Yang 摇光 Yao Guang . This is first see...
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...ot solely built on the philosophy of the Lao Zi philosophical Taoism. Thus, it failed, in its struggle with Buddhism or other Chinese philosophies such as Confucianism and Mencius. Buddhism in turned cooperated with Confucianism and absorbed a lot of its theory to gain an upper hand among the people. Thus, Taoism lost in its battle. Therefore as time goes by, the worshipping of stars or Big Dipper is only retained in some rituals such as funeral rituals.
The Belief of Big Dipper in Cultures not within the influence of the Han Culture
During my lesson on 民间文学 (Chinese Folklore Literature), my teacher once told me the origins of the Mongolian belief of Big Dipper. It was once said that there were six brothers in Mongolia. They were of age and had to leave the family for further pursue of their careers or to have future endeavours. Before they parted, they