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Sophie Page

Astrology is the art of predicting events on earth as well as human character and disposition from the movements of the planets and fixed stars. Medieval astrology encompassed both general concepts of celestial influence, and the technical art of making predictions with horoscopes, symbolic maps of the heavens at particular moments and places constructed from astronomical information. The scientific foundations of the art were developed in ancient Greece, largely lost in early medieval Europe and recovered by the Latin West from Arabic sources in the 12th and 13th centuries. Late medieval astrological images were successfully Christianized and were adapted to particular contexts, acquired local meanings and changed over time.

Astrology developed into a scientific branch of learning in ancient Greece, but because of the opposition of the Church Fathers it was transmitted to early medieval Europe in only fragmentary form in technically unsophisticated textbooks and popular divinatory genres. Literary and scientific texts provided more general ideas about the nature and attributes of the planets which were influential on later iconography. The first significant astrological images appear in 11th-century illustrated astronomical texts (e.g. London, BL, Cotton MS. Tiberius BV), which were acquired and produced by monasteries to aid with time-keeping and the construction of the Christian calendar....


Chu-Tsing Li

[Ts’ao Chih-pai; zi Youxan, Zhensu; hao Yunxi]

(b Huating (modern Songjiang, Shanghai Municipality), 1272; d 1355).

Chinese painter, poet and engineer. Born into a family of prominent officials, he lost his father during infancy and was brought up by his mother and grandfather. He received a traditional education in the Chinese Confucian classics. He distinguished himself first as a hydraulic engineer, serving in 1294 and again in 1298 as an imperial adviser. His engineering achievements earned him great repute and doubtless contributed to his becoming one of the richest men in the Huating district. By reclaiming large areas of local wetland, he developed a large estate and farm. In the early 1300s he became a teacher in the nearby district of Kunshan but soon resigned. Later he visited the capital, Dadu (Khanbalik; now Beijing), where many aristocrats and high officials were interested in befriending him. Cao declined all offers of patronage, however, saying that he was not one of the vulgar people who went to the capital to seek high position....