A RARE CELESTIAL GLOBE
Edo Period (dated 1784)
A paper-covered globe on a wooden stand showing the celestial equator, the plane of the ecliptic and stars arranged in constellations each inscribed with its name, in black, red, green and yellow ink, the Milky Way conveyed by a wash of gold colour, two single-line latitudinal circles drawn on the sphere to indicate the circle of perpetual visibility (in the north polar region) and the circle of perpetual invisibility (in the south polar region), the globe also divided longitudinally into a number of lunar lodges or mansions of varying width, inscribed near the south pole Tenmei yonen saiji kinoe-tatsu gogatsu [the fifth month of the fourth year of Tenmei (1784)]
A long Chinese inscription near the south pole lists three historic Chinese computations of the number of stars and constellations. The red dots indicate a Wei-dynasty computation of 810 stars in 138 constellations, the yellow dots a Shang-dynasty computation of 144 stars in 44 constellations, and the black dots a Qi-dynasty computation of 511 stars in 118 constellations, a total of 1,465 stars in 300 constellations to which the maker of the present globe added his own computation, in green dots, of 308 stars in 61 constellations. A further inscription explains that a combination of one black, one yellow and one red circle has been used to mark those stars which were visible in ancient times but can now no longer be seen. This globe should be compared with the bronze and copper globe attributed to Shibukawa Shunkai (1639-1715) sold in these rooms on 20 May 1998 which apparently depicted only the approximately 1460 stars known to traditional Chinese cosmology [see 1 below].
1 Christie's, Cartography, auction catalogue (20 May 1998), no. 37.
The globe 19in. (48cm.) diam.