The rare book Tian Yuan Yu Li Xiangyi Fu in the National Central Library’s special collection of rare books on Ming Dynasty divination is a masterpiece among ancient Chinese works on astronomy and astrology. The book features such atmospheric phenomena as the sky, earth, sun, moon, meteors, the elements, rainbows, and corresponding ancient astrological content, and depicts these astronomical wonders in color. It is an excellent reference for understanding ancient astronomical phenomena, and is even one of the world’s earliest books to feature aurora. In order to promote precious national treasures to the world, the National Central Library has in recent years been vigorously cooperating with domestic publishing houses in the reproduction and publication of ancient books. On this occasion, it has cooperated with Locus Publishing to release the color picture book New Edition of the Imperial Tian Yuan Yu Li Xiang Yi Fu. It invited renowned Professor Fong-Mao Li, professor emeritus of National Chengchi University and researcher at Academia Sinica, to publish this dust-covered Ming Dynasty work, banned for hundreds of years, to enable readers to get a glimpse of ancient astronomical phenomena and the essence of ancient astronomical calendar systems.
The National Central Library and Locus Publishing held a book launch and themed lecture on the afternoon of September 17, 2020, at which National Central Library Director-General Shu-hsien Tseng and Mingyi Hao, Chairman of Locus Publishing, shared the intellectual journey of the reproduction of this precious ancient book. Director-General Tseng emphasized that the reprinting and republication of ancient books could enable the classics in the collection of the National Central Library to be reproduced today—the twenty-first century—with a brand new look. The public could get a glimpse of the true face of ancient books. At the same time, it would also facilitate utilization in much overseas sinological research, expanding the depth and breadth of such research. Tseng added that the publication of the New Edition of the Imperial Tian Yuan Yu Li Xiang Yi Fu represented the third instance of cooperation between the National Central Library and Locus Publishing. There are many versions of the Tian Yuan Yu Li Xiang Yi Fu in the National Central Library collection, she said; the reproduction on the occasion of this collaboration with Locus Publishing was the most complete and beautifully preserved.
At the book launch, Prof. Li was invited to give a lecture titled The Decryption of Celestial Phenomena: Tian Yuan Yu Li and Contemporary Society. Professor Li guided readers towards a comprehensive vision of the beauty of ancient books from rich perspectives, such as those of history, folklore, astronomy, sociology, and philology, and further explained how the ancients viewed these astronomical phenomena, and the social significance and scientific principles behind them.
The New Edition of the Imperial Tian Yuan Yu Li Xiang Yi Fu is a three-volume set with an additional appendix volume. In addition to a comparative table by Professor Li comparing five editions of Tian Yuan Yu Li, it also provides 15 links to editions related to the work that can be read at home and abroad, bringing the classics to life and facilitating their enjoyment and the reader’s absorption in them.