Heavenly Stems & Earthly Branches

Ancient Chinese people had the skill to calculate the history of five thousands years and record the chronological sequence of events. They invented a measurement by two sets of signs in a certain sequence - Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches. As early as about 2700BC, the ancestor of Chinese nation, Yellow Emperor (Huangdi), sent Da Rao Shi to create a calendar system. Da Rao Shi explored the rule of changes between sky and earth, as well as that of the four seasons. Then he created ten heavenly stems and twelve earthly branches to make combinations representing a sexagenary cycle. A year can be represented by the composition of two characters, one from the heavenly set, and one from the other. That is believed to be the start of the stem-branch calendar. Thus came a way of counting time which has been passed down through thousands of years.

The Heavenly Stems

乙   丙    戊  己  辛 
jiǎ bǐng dīng gēng xīn rén guǐ
Jia Yi Bing Ding Wu Ji Geng Xin Ren Gui

Earthly Branches can be used to count time of years, months and hours. When counting years, people use them with the 12 Chinese zodiacs and strictly one Earthly Branch corresponds to one fixed zodiac. For example, our ancestors have divided a day and night into twelve sections and named each as a 'shi chen', which is equal to today's two hours and has a fixed Earthly Branch name. From 11 pm at night to 1 am is decided to be the first one - 'zi shi', then the second two hours 'chou shi', on the analogy of this.

The Earthly Branches and Corresponding Chinese Zodiac Animal Signs  

chǒu yín maǒ chén weì  shēn yǒu haì
Zi Chou Yin Mao Chen Si Wu Wei Shen You Xu Hai
Rat Ox Tiger Rabbit Dragon Snake Horse Sheep Monkey Rooster Dog Pig

Take the year of 2016 for example, 2016 can be described as 'Bing Shen', a combination of the third sign in Heavenly Stems and the ninth one in the Earthly Branches. Then the next year 2017 will be 'Ding You' - the fourth sign and the tenth one's association. 

The Four Pillar of Life (also the Eight Characters of Birth Time or 'ba zi' in Chinese) was very popular and mostly used in fortune-telling. In four pairs of year, month, day, and hour of a person's birth, each pair includes one Heavenly Stems and one Earthly Branchs. There are compatibility and incompatibility relations among the stems and branches. The expression of one's birth time in this way has always been vital especially when it is used for fortune foretelling.
 To know the Compatibility Charts of Chinese Zodiac Animal Signs

The Five Compatibilities of Heavenly Stems – Jia and Ji, Yi and Geng, Bing and Xin, Ding and Ren, Wu and Gui
Explanation: Wood is the corresponding element in Wu Xing to Jia, so is Earth to Ji. Wood grows in earth, so they are compatible combination. The rest can be explained in the same manner. 

The Six Combinations of Earthly Branches – Zi and Chou combined into Earth, Yin and Hai combined into Wood, Mao and Xu combined into Fire, Si and Shen combined into Water, Wu and Wei combined into the sun and moon

The Three Combinations of the Early Branches – Shen, Xi, Chen combine and form Water, Hai, Mao, Wei combine and form Wood, Yin, Wu, Xu combine and form Fire, Si, You, Chou combine and form Metal, Chen, Xu, Chou, Wei combine and forms Earth.

The following content is to introduction the braches in opposition, listing from strong to week power of harms. 

Six Clashes of the Earthly Branches – Zi vs Wu, Yin vs Shen, Mao vs You, Chen vs Xu, Si vs Hai, Chou vs Wei

Earthly Branches punishment:
Special - Yin vs Si, Si vs Shen, Shen vs Yin
Ungrateful – Chou vs Xu, Xu vs Wei, Wei vs Chou
Rudeness – Zi vs Mao
Self Punishment – Chen vs Chen, Wu vs Wu, You vs You, Hai vs Hai
Earthly Branches Harm – Zi vs Wei, Chou vs Wu, Yin vs Si, Mao vs Chen, Shen vs Hai, You vs Hai

* Please select a date according to the Gregorian calendar and search for the corresponding Chinese calendar information.

- Last modified on Sep. 25, 2018 -
Questions & Answers on Heavenly Stems & Earthly Branches
Asked by Sheri Boswell from UNITED STATES | Sep. 22, 2018 11:12Reply
Want to put wallpaper of lotus flower on wall of headboard.
I have a studio room no kitchen just closet and bathroom on east side, door on south side.
Answers (1)
Answered by Sam from CANADA | Sep. 25, 2018 17:43
00Reply


Yes, it is pretty good. In Chinese culture, it means harmony and peace. Putting wallpaper of lotus flower on wall of headboard can not only increase the appreciation but also bring you good luck.
Asked by Erwin from INDONESIA | Jul. 22, 2018 22:31Reply
Looking for wedding date
Hi. I'm Erwin
I was born on June 3, 1992, 16.00(pm) (Monkey)
My girlfriend was born on September 16,1994, 21.30(pm) (Dog)

We want to celebrate our wedding in early month 2019, when is the best month and date for us?
(Someone told me that my zodiac, monkey, is not good in 2019 because 2019 is pig year, pig is harm/clash to monkey, is it real?)

My dad was born on January 25, 1962, 15.00pm (cow)
My mom was born on May 5, 1970, 5.00am (dog)

Her dad was born on July 24, 1967, 02.00am (sheep)
Her mom was born on Desember 28, 1966, 23.00pm (horse)
Answers (1)
Answered by Kent from USA | Jul. 23, 2018 19:22
00Reply


April or September of 2019 is the best month for you.
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