musings: time in chinese mythology
Kind of like in the Avalon myth, time is supposed to run differently in the heavens than on earth. The most common saying is that 1 day in heaven = 1 year on earth. So a 1 : 365 ratio.
Letsee, history texts estimate that the Shang/Zhou dynasty change, and thus the events that canonized most many of the well known deities in 封神榜, occurred around 1027 BC. That's about 3000 years ago from the terrestrial point of view, which equals by the above math to be about 8.3 years in the celestial court.
(Incidentally, we know that 唐僧's journey to the west took place during 唐太宗's reign, which places it around 630 AD, or about 4.5 heavenly years after 封神榜. 孙悟空's little ruckus in heaven took place 500 terrestrial years before that, or 3.2 heavenly years after 封神榜.)
The first thing which occurs to me with regards to Journey to the West is that... but then what point does the peaches of longevity (蟠桃) serve for them? Even if those deities have not stopped aging or whatever, 4 or 8 years is not going to be a significant effect on someone like 李靖, etc. And hell, even by normal reckoning 哪吒 would still be under 18. :p
(The thought occurs to me that deities such as 杨戬, 黄飞虎, etc. who held office on earth after 封神榜 would actually have lived hundreds of years longer than the heavenly officers like 李靖. Wouldn't that mean 李靖's kind would have to venerate them as elders? XD I kid.)
But then again, I recall that most of the attendants that came to the peach festival in Journey were from other places than the heavenly court. Many were deities who lived local to various mountains and islands, which likely still went by terrestrial time. I also suppose that the Buddhist... erm... realm/heaven/whatever also still went by terrestrial time.
Also, this would mean that the offices of the various stellar objects (sun, moon, stars) would have to run by terrestrial time - the sun and moon especially, otherwise, their controlling officials would be run ragged doing their thing 365 times a 'day'. The peach garden where Sun Wukong oversaw in his second short stint in heaven would also by neccessity have to be running on terrestrial time, otherwise, since supposedly they only flowered once every N hundred/thousand years.
Which... in the end means that the pocket of time going at the 1:635 rate is pretty small up there.
And which also makes me wonder why they need the time difference?
Supposedly the Jade Emperor, before he came to power, went through many a hundred of challenges (劫) each lasting hundreds of years, so it's not like he doesn't have what it takes to experience time normally like most everyone else. And you'd think that the time difference would be a big handicap whenever heaven actually needs to interfere with terrestrial matters.
Then again, bureaucracy being what it is... I guess that might be the point?
Or maybe the time difference is to make sure the heavenly court doesn't eventually lose interest in the mundane world below, so that's why they have everything stuck in fast-forward! XD
1 时辰 = 2 hours (12 in a day)
1 day in 天庭 = 1 year in 凡间 12 时辰 in 天庭 = 12 months in 凡间
1 时辰 in 天庭 = 1 month in 凡间
Assuming 30 days in 1 month (avg):
2 hours in 天庭 = 30 days in 凡间 1 hour in 天庭 = 15 days in 凡间 = 60 minutes in 天庭 4 minutes in 天庭 = 1 day in 凡间 = 24 hours in 凡间 1 minute in 天庭 = 6 hours in 凡间 10 seconds in 天庭 = 1 hour in 凡间