28 March 2021

TWELVE EARTHLY BRANCHES 地支  are a Chinese ordering system used throughout East Asia in various contexts, including its ancient dating system, astrological traditions, zodiac and ordinals. In correlative thinking, the 12 years of the Jupiter cycle also identify the 12 months of the year, 12 animals, cardinal directions, seasons, and the 12 traditional Chinese units of time in the form of two-hour periods that each day was divided into. In this case an Earthly Branch can refer to a whole two-hour period, or to the exact time at its center. For instance 午時 wǔshí can mean either noon or 11 am – 1 pm. Chinese seasons are based on observations of the sun and stars. Many Chinese calendrical systems have started the new year on the second new moon after the winter solstice. The Earthly Branches are today used with the Heavenly Stems in the current version of the “traditional Chinese calendar” and in Taoism. The Ganzhi (Stem-Branch) combination is a fairly new way to mark time; in the second millennium BC, during the Shang era, the 10 Heavenly Stems provided the names of the days of the week. The Branches are as old as the Stems (and according to recent archaeology may actually be older), but the Stems were tied to the ritual calendars of Chinese kings~08

27 March 2021

HEAVENLY STEMS 天干  are a Chinese system of ordinals that first appear during the Shang dynasty, c. 1250 BC, as the names of the ten days of the week. They were also used in Shang-period ritual as names for dead family members, who were offered sacrifices on the corresponding day of the Shang week. The Heavenly Stems were used in combination with the Earthly Branches, a similar cycle of twelve days, to produce a compound cycle of sixty days. Subsequently, the Heavenly Stems lost their original function as names for days of the week and dead kin, and acquired many other uses, the most prominent and long lasting of which was their use together with the Earthly Branches as a 60-year calendrical cycle~08

21 March 2021

24 SOLAR TERMS 二十四节气  is any of twenty-four periods in traditional Chinese lunisolar calendars that matches a particular astronomical event or signifies some natural phenomenon. The points are spaced 15° apart along the ecliptic and are used by lunisolar calendars to stay synchronized with the seasons, which is crucial for agrarian societies. The solar terms are also used to calculate intercalary months in East Asian calendars; which month is repeated depends on the position of the sun at the time. According to the Book of Documents, the first determined term was the Winter Solstice, also named Dongzhi by Zhou Gong, while he was trying to locate the geological center of his kingdom, by measuring the length of the sun’s shadow on an ancient timekeeper instrument named Tu Gui (土圭). Then four terms of seasons were set, which were soon evolved as eight terms; until 104 B. C. in the book Taichu Calendar, the entire twenty-four solar terms were officially included in the Chinese calendar. Because the Sun’s speed along the ecliptic varies depending on the Earth-Sun distance, the number of days that it takes the Sun to travel between each pair of solar terms varies slightly throughout the year. Each solar term is divided into three pentads [ja] (候 hòu) (ja), so there are 72 pentads in a year. Each pentad consists of five, rarely six, days, and are mostly named after phenological (biological or botanical) phenomena corresponding to the pentad. Solar terms originated in China, then spread to Korea, Vietnam, and Japan, countries in the East Asian cultural sphere. Although each term was named based on the seasonal changes of climate in North China Plain, peoples living in the different climates still use it with no changes. This is exhibited by the fact that traditional Chinese, Hanja, and Kanji characters for most of the solar terms are identical. On December 1, 2016, the Solar Terms were listed as UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage~08

20 March 2021

BAGUA 八卦  are eight symbols used in Taoist cosmology to represent the fundamental principles of reality, seen as a range of eight interrelated concepts. Each consists of three lines, each line either “broken” or “unbroken”, respectively representing yin or yang, 0 or 1 forming binary numbers 000-111 (0 to 7). Due to their tripartite structure, they are often referred to as Eight Trigrams in English. The trigrams are related to Taiji or Taegeuk philosophy, Taijiquan and the Wuxing, or “five elements”. The relationships between the trigrams are represented in two arrangements, the Primordial (先天八卦), “Earlier Heaven” or “Fu Xi” bagua (伏羲八卦), and the Manifested (後天八卦), “Later Heaven,” or “King Wen” bagua. The trigrams have correspondences in astronomy, astrology, geography, geomancy, anatomy, the family, and elsewhere. The ancient Chinese classic, I Ching (Pinyin: Yi Jing), consists of the 64 pairwise permutations of trigrams, referred to as “hexagrams”, along with commentary on each one~08

14 March 2021

FOUR SYMBOLS 四象  are four mythological creatures appearing among the Chinese constellations along the ecliptic, and viewed as the guardians of the four cardinal directions. These four creatures are also referred to by a variety of other names, including “Four Guardians”, “Four Gods”, and “Four Auspicious Beasts”. They are the Azure Dragon of the East, the Vermilion Bird of the South, the White Tiger of the West, and the Black Tortoise (also called “Black Warrior”) of the North. Each of the creatures is most closely associated with a cardinal direction and a color, but also additionally represents other aspects, including a season of the year, a virtue, and one of the Chinese “five elements” (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water). Each has been given its own individual traits and origin story. Symbolically, and as part of spiritual and religious belief, these creatures have been culturally important across countries in the East Asian cultural sphere;
TWENTY-EIGHT MANSIONS 二十八宿  are part of the Chinese constellations system. They can be considered as the equivalent to the zodiacal constellations in Western astronomy, though the Twenty-eight Mansions reflect the movement of the Moon through a sidereal month rather than the Sun in a tropical year. The lunar mansion system was in use in other parts of East Asia, such as ancient Japan; the Bansenshukai, written by Fujibayashi Yasutake, mentions the system several times and includes an image of the twenty-eight mansions~08

13 March 2021

LANCOME ADVANCED GÉNIFIQUE SERUM  Developed after 20 years of the most advanced research. Now, Lancôme’s iconic anti-aging face serum – Advanced Génifique has been updated with a new complex of 7 pre and probiotic fractions to act on the skin microbiome. Enriched with millions of probiotic fractions, including Yeast-& Bifidus-Extracts, it helps to strengthen your skin’s barrier and improve your skin’s texture, radiance, elasticity and firmness. Day and night, this powerful anti-aging face serum activates visible signs of youthful skin. In just 7 days, you have visibly younger and radiant skin. After only one bottle, faster active microbiome recovery for stronger, younger looking skin~08

7 March 2021

COGITO, ERGO SUM  is a philosophical statement that was made in Latin by René Descartes, usually translated into English as “I think, therefore I am”. The phrase originally appeared in French as je pense, donc je suis in his Discourse on the Method, so as to reach a wider audience than Latin would have allowed. It appeared in Latin in his later Principles of Philosophy. As Descartes explained it, “we cannot doubt of our existence while we doubt.” A fuller version, articulated by Antoine Léonard Thomas, aptly captures Descartes’s intent: dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum (“I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am”). The dictum is also sometimes referred to as the cogito. Descartes’s statement became a fundamental element of Western philosophy, as it purported to provide a certain foundation for knowledge in the face of radical doubt. While other knowledge could be a figment of imagination, deception, or mistake, Descartes asserted that the very act of doubting one’s own existence served—at minimum—as proof of the reality of one’s own mind; there must be a thinking entity—in this case the self—for there to be a thought. One common critique of the dictum is that it presupposes that there is an “I” which must be doing the thinking. According to this line of criticism, the most that Descartes was entitled to say was that “thinking is occurring”, not that “I am thinking”~08

6 March 2021

TASCHEN VIRGIL ABLOH NIKE ICONS  The book documents Abloh’s cooperative way of working and reaffirms the power of print. For its design Nike and Abloh partnered with the acclaimed London-based design studio Zak Group. Together they conceived a two-part compendium, equal parts catalog and conceptual toolbox. The first part of the book presents a visual culture of sneakers while a lexicon in the second part defines the key people, places, objects, ideas, materials, and scenes from which the project grew. Texts by Nike’s Nicholas Schonberger, writer Troy Patterson, curator and historian Glenn Adamson, and Virgil Abloh himself frame the collaborative work within fashion and design history. A foreword by Hiroshi Fujiwara places the project within the historical continuum of Nike collaborators~08