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Article FS11/jun4
Insights from Ho Peng Yoke's "Chinese Mathematical Astrology":
Part 4: Enigma of Chang Kou Lou in Origins of Chinese Astrology

Prof. Dr.Ong Hean-Tatt 24th June 2011

Finally unveiled: age-old imperial deception of
creation of Qi Men Dun Jia, Liu Ren and Tai Yi divination from Zi Wei Dou Shu!

As astrology has scientific basis, astrological systems among ancient cultures should be the same. Evidence presented in an earlier article shows that Zi Wei Dou Shu, Western and Hindu astrology systems evolve from the same astronomical sources.

Claims have been made that Ba Zi Eight Characters,Qi Men Dun Jia, Liu Ren, Tai Yi and Zi Wei Dou Shu are different systems. It is time to expose the myths.

Emergence of the 12 Zodiac Signs

Before discussing the sanshi arts of Qi Men Dun Jia, Da Liu Ren and Tai Yi, Ho (2003) had described in his praiseworthy book "Chinese Mathematical Astrology" the possible origins of the Chinese astrology. One early astrology system existing long before the current known systems of the sanshi arts and Ba Zi Eight Characters seemed to be an early form of Zi Wei Dou Shu.

This early Zi Wei Dou Shu also appeared linked to the ancient text of Zhang Guo xingzong:

  • The introduction of the 12 palaces later facilitated the assimilation of the Hellenistic 12 houses into the Chinese system. The 12 houses here are in a different order from those used in the Zhang Guo xingzong and the Daozang Ziwei doushu, although the names of the houses remain almost identical. However, seven of the 12 houses are in the same order as those in the modern Ziwei doushu astrology and 10 of the houses among them bear the same names. 'Friend' replaces the ninth house 'Servant' in the Taiyo rendao mingfa in modern Ziwei doushu. The 11th house 'Appearance' and the 12th house 'Parents' have merged into the 12th house 'Parents' in modern Ziwei doushu, which has added the seventh house 'Migration'. (Ho. 2003. p.80-81)

His references thus note the roles in the early astrology of Chang Kou Lou, one of the well known Eight Immortals.

We have noted in an earlier article that Ho (2003) noted that the 12 Zodiac signs entered into China from the West only around AD 759:

  • text with the abbreviated Chinese title Xiuyaojing (No original Hindu title or text can be found.) According to Yano Michio, this text was simply a transliterated record in Chinese of what Amoghavajra either dictated from memory or instructed orally in Sanskrit. It was twice translated into Chinese under the supervision of Amoghavajra, first by Sima Shiyao in the year 759 and later revised by Yang Jingfeng in 764... Yano Michio shows that in the Xiuyaojing the 12 zodiac signs were introduced for the first time to China. (Ho. 2003. p.69)

The invention of Zi Wei Dou Shu was linked with the introduction of the 12 Zodiac signs into China. Whoever invented Zi Wei Dou Shu had close associations with those who brought the 12 Zodiac signs into China. Who were they?


Chen Tuan, attributed creator of Zi Wei Dou Shu, the real source of Ba Zi Eight Characters divination.
Chen Tuan's master was Lu Tong Bin, one of the Eight Immortals.

Roles of Eight Immortals in Chinese Astrology

The Eight Immortals delighted the Chinese populace with their antics in defying the traditional order of gods. Owing to their magical nature, most do not comprehend the historic existence of the Eight Immortals and their significance. The Eight Immortals who were famous for astrology skills were Chang Kou Lou, Lu Tong Bin, Han Chiang and Lan Tsai Ho. Lu Tong Bin was also the reputed teacher of Chen Xiyi, the so-called creator of Zi Wei Dou Shu.

  • I used to teach my students that the Eight Immortals were the real inventors of the Chinese Zi Wei Dou Shu. Ho's book confirms this when it notes the role of Chang Kou Lou.

It appears that this band of Eight Immortals were masters of astrology. In some unique way, Chang Kou Lou and Lu Tong Bin were involved with the origins of Chinese astrology. Chang Kou Lou is the person this article will concentrate on.


Chang Kou Lao

Chang Kou Lou

Chang Kou Lou is well known for riding on a donkey or ass being seated backward on the animal (left Figure). Chang Kou Lou gained immortality through being led into a cave by a rabbit which turned into a wolf. As a poor man he was cultivating vegetables when he realised someone was stealing his fruits. So he laid a trap and caught the rabbit. The rabbit pleaded with Chang and brought him to the cave where it turned into a wolf. Chang Kou Lou stayed with the wolf in the cave. This wolf taught Chang Kou Lou how to catch the immortal donkey which would lead him to immortality. He wore out many scandals while trying to chase the donkey. Then a blacksmith gave him a pair of metal sandals and he managed to reach the donkey. When he was leaping to ride the donkey, the animal suddenly turned and Chang landed backward, the style he was pictured as ever since.

Historical traditions show that Chang Kou Lou was called by Tang Empress Wu Zse-tian to come to the palace to give her astrology advice. But Chang Kou Lou pretended to die and did not come to the palace.

How was Chang Kou Lou involved with the origins of Chinese astrology? Perhaps, we should note that Ho (2003) wrote that Nestorians were involved with the transmission of the 12 Zodiac signs into China:

  • Perhaps this offshoot of the Taiyi system was stimulated by the impact of Western astrology brought by the Nestorians from Persia in the eighth century. From this the modern Ziwei doushu, which has stronger Iranian links than Indian than the Daozang version, was derived. Figure 3.22 shows the likely routes of transmission for the Ziwei doushu systems, both Daozang and modern. (Ho. 2003. p.81)


Syrian Nestorian Saint Anthony
Patron Saint of Divination
also Patron Saint of Donkeys

Nestorian Saint Anthony, Patron Saint of Divination

The Nestorians were Christians famous for their astrology skills. As these Nestorians were outcasts among other Christians, they migrated elsewhere. These Nestorians included Sabians famous in ancient times for their astrology skills. The Arabs used to hire them to be their astrologers. As Ho (2003) noted, these Nestorians entered China around the 8th century AD.

Among the Nestorians there was one person well known for astrology skills - he was Saint Anthony (left figure) sometimes worshipped as the deity of divination. Saint Anthony had an interesting legend. One day he tried to persuade a trader to abandon his wanton ways and become a Christian. Anthony laid a bet. He told the trader to meet him again a week later in front of the church with a donkey. On the far end of the road leading to the church will be a stack of hay. If the donkey went for the hay then the trader did not have to be a Christian. But if Anthony could make the donkey enter the church it would be a miracle from God that the trader should be a Christian.

Of course, the trader starved a donkey for 7 days. On the date appointed, the trader with his donkey were with Anthony in the middle of the road. The trader let go the hungry donkey which made a beeline for the stack of hay. But even as the donkey neared the hay, Anthony prayed and the donkey suddenly stopped in its track. To the amazement of all, the donkey turned and rushed into the church. The astounded trader had to become a Christian!

That was how Anthony became the patron saint of donkey and asses.

Anthony was also known to be led to the cave of Peter of the desert by a wolf.

Chang Kou Lou was actually a Nestorian monk and the same person as the Nestorian Saint Anthony, patron saint of divination! Both were involved with a miracle donkey, were led to a cave by a wolf. Compare their images (left Figures) and noted that both looked very similar, being slim, wore robes, had white beards and carried a Y shaped stick. Of course, both were famous for their astrology skills. According to legends both also liked and protected children.

Among the Nestorian monks, Saint Anthony was famous for his divination skills. It was his astrology art which was brought by the Nestorians into Tang China. The "Zhang Guo xingzong" text was a compilation of the astrology of Saint Anthony brought into China. That was how the Western 12 Zodiac signs entered into China.

Saint Anthony lived around AD 350, while Chang Kou Lou was involved with Tang Empress Wu Zse Tian in AD 700. It is likely that the Chang Kou Lou the empress wanted to see was of a lineage of chief monks coming down from Saint Anthony.


"Shih Board" Precusor of Luopan. Shih board and Luopan meant to track Time and never meant to measure physical dircetions.
A Transition Period for Astrology

It is not a wonder that the Zhang Guo xingzong contains much astrology themes usually known in Western astrology.

During the eighth century Tang, the capital Changan was the largest city in the world and foreigners flocked to the marvelous city from all over the world.

Nestorian Christians and Hindus astrologers came and brought along with them the Western based 12 Zodiac signs systems. Before then, the Chinese used to consult the I Jing through the yarrow sticks methods. The I Jing of course involves the eight trigrams of the Bagua.

There were attempts to integrate the original Chinese divination based on the eight trigrams of the I Jing with those 12 Zodiac signs of the West. It was in these times that Zi Wei Dou Shu with its over 140 stars was created.

The Chinese astrology then made what I consider a terrible mistake. The original astronomical planetary movements were converted into formulas and numbers. At first this was convenient. But, with Time, the associations of the numbers in the formulas with the original astronomy became lost. Inevitable deviations could not be corrected. Nowadays, the Chinese astrology systems contain "stars" which modern practitioners wrongly regard as "imaginary" and insist as having nothing to do with real astronomical stars.

  • But our research has found has recovered which astronomical movements are the basis of the so-called "imaginary stars" of Zi Wei Dou Shu ( fs09lm28ziwei.htm ). Astrological effects do not appear just like magic but must have logical scientific basis.

A product of the attempts at integration was the "shih boards", with their rings of 28 Lunar Constellations as the outermost ring, the middle tiangan and dizhi signs and the innermost ring of the 8 trigrams. These "shih boards" developed into the first Loupans. Unfortunately, the original Loupans have evolved into the modern Loupans which have deviated from the original Time tracking functions to become nonsensical physical directions indicators.

  • I used to teach my students that, in contrast to the gnomon stick as a sundial, the Luopan is a "moon-dial" using the night stars to tell Time. The use of the Luopan to measure "physical directions" is wrong. I used to teach my students how the Luopan is a necessary equipment in astrology.


Read startling highlights of our findings on Zi Wei Dou Shu, including how the emperor faked the current Zi Wei Dou Shu!

Some of the faked aspects also affect the Ba Zi Eight Characters, Qi Men Dun Jia, Liu Ren, Tai Yi, which are actually inferior astrology systems extracted from a small part of Zi Wei Dou Shu.


Anyway, Zi Wei Dou Shu, Ba Zi and even Liu Ren have charts with natural Time divisions. They primarily adopt the 12 Zodiac signs arrangements. As for systems trying to incorporate the I Jing Bagua, the integrations are not so successful, emerging with un-natural Time divisions as in Qi Men Dun Jia and Tai Yi. Later on, other un-natural Time divisions arts include Mei Hua Plum Blossom and Xuan Kong Da Gua which also try to use the Bagua.

  • All these systems could not exist before AD 759, the time when the 12 Zodiac signs first entered China. Many tried to attract adherents to their arts with impressive but false stories of how more ancient figures like Yellow Emperor Huang Di, Jiang Ziya, Chang Liang and Zhuge Liang used their arts.

    Their bluffs are matched by the nonsense their arts have become.

A residual error which has crept in to affect virtually all schools of Chinese astrology is that the Zodiac signs shift one sign every 2,000 years. The last shift was made during the Han dynasty, when the Spring Equinox rose in the sign of Yin the Tiger. The modern Chinese astrology today still take Yin as the Spring Equinox sign, when it is now actually Mao the Rabbit. All Chinese predictions have to shift one sign for the Year.

  • It is known that the Western Zodiac signs tally with those of the Hindu Zodiac signs. The Western and Hindu Zodiac signs show no correspondence with the Chinese Zodiac signs unless the Chinese Zodiac signs are shifted forward one sign ( see article in 08asindwestchin.htm ). This confirms that current Chinese astrology needs to adjust the Year signs by one Zodiac sign.

    I have also pointed out that conventional Chinese astrology places the Year 2011 as the peaceful year of Mao the Rabbit. But as there should be a shift of one sign, 2011 is actually the Year of the Dragon which is a violent year ( see article in ). The events of 2011 prove that it is indeed the Year of the violent Dragon and not the peaceful Rabbit!

In his book "Chinese Mathematical Astrology", Ho (2003) had noted that Nestorian Christians played significant roles in the evolution of Chinese astrology. One of these Nestorian astrologers was Chang Kou Lou. Zi Wei Dou Shu was an early form of astrology and it should be noted that it was Lu Tong Bin who taught Chen Xiyi Zi Wei Dou Shu. It appears that the Eight Immortals were a group of fellow astrologers immensely involved with the evolution of astrology during the Han to Tang dynasties. More studies should be made of how they transformed the Chinese astrology world.

Insights from Ho Peng Yoke's "Chinese Mathematical Astrology"


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Special articles from Dr. Ong's monumental scientific astronomical research into Chinese astrology and Feng Shui. Gui Management Centre is making available preliminary findings of our highly scientific research into Chinese astrology and Feng Shui, backed up by intensive analysis of the ancient texts.

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