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''Tiān'' () is one of the oldest Chinese terms for heaven and a key concept in
Chinese mythology Chinese mythology () is mythology Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths. Since "myth" is widely used to imply that a story is not objectiv ...
,
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason, knowledge, values, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. Some ...
, and
religion Religion is usually defined as a social- cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, beliefs, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or religious organization, organizations, that generally relates hu ...
. During the
Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese royal dynasty founded by Tang of Shang (Cheng Tang) that ruled in the Yellow River The Yellow River or Huang He (Chinese: , Standard Beijing Mandarin, Mandar ...
(17th―11th century BCE), the Chinese referred to their supreme god as '' Shàngdì'' (, "Lord on High") or ''Dì'' (,"Lord"). During the following
Zhou dynasty The Zhou dynasty ( ; Old Chinese (Reconstructions of Old Chinese#Baxter–Sagart (2014), B&S): *''tiw'') was a Dynasties in Chinese history, royal dynasty of China that followed the Shang dynasty. Having lasted 789 years, the Zhou dynasty was t ...
, ''Tiān'' became synonymous with this figure. Before the 20th century
Heaven worship Chinese theology, which comes in different interpretations according to the Chinese classics, classic texts and the Chinese folk religion, common religion, and specifically Confucianism, Confucian, Taoism, Taoist and other Chinese philosophy, ph ...
was an orthodox
state religion A state religion (also called religious state or official religion) is a religion or creed officially endorsed by a sovereign state. A state with an official religion (also known as confessional state), while not secular state, secular, is not n ...
of China. In
Taoism Taoism (, ) or Daoism () refers to either a school of Philosophy, philosophical thought (道家; ''daojia'') or to a religion (道教; ''daojiao''), both of which share ideas and concepts of China, Chinese origin and emphasize living in harmo ...
and
Confucianism Confucianism, also known as Ruism or Ru classicism, is a system of thought and behavior originating in ancient China. Variously described as tradition, a philosophy, a Religious Confucianism, religion, a humanistic or rationalistic religion, ...
, ''Tiān'' (the celestial aspect of the
cosmos The cosmos (, ) is another name for the Universe. Using the word ''cosmos'' implies viewing the universe as a complex and orderly system or entity. The cosmos, and understandings of the reasons for its existence and significance, are studied in ...
, often translated as "
Heaven Heaven or the heavens, is a common Religious cosmology, religious cosmological or transcendence (religion), transcendent supernatural place where beings such as deity, deities, angels, souls, saints, or Veneration of the dead, venerated ancest ...
") is mentioned in relationship to its complementary aspect of '' '' (, often translated as "
Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. While large list of largest lakes and seas in the Solar System, volumes of water can be found throughout the Solar System, only water distributi ...
"). They are thought to maintain the two poles of the Three Realms () of reality, with the middle realm occupied by Humanity (, ''Rén''), and the lower world occupied by demons (specifically sorcery); (, ''Guǐ'') and "ghosts," the damned, specifically (, ''Mó'').


Characters

The modern
Chinese character Chinese characters () are logograms developed for the Written Chinese, writing of Chinese. In addition, they have been adapted to write other East Asian languages, and remain a key component of the Japanese writing system where they are k ...
and early
seal script Seal script, also sigillary script () is an ancient Chinese script styles, style of writing Chinese characters that was common throughout the latter half of the 1st millennium BC. It evolved organically out of the Bronze script, Zhou dynasty br ...
both combine ''dà'' "great; large" and ''yī'' "one", but some of the original characters in Shāng
oracle bone script Oracle bone script () is an ancient form of Chinese characters that were engraved on oracle bonesanimal bones or Turtle shell#Plastron, turtle plastrons used in pyromancy, pyromantic divination. Oracle bone script was used in the late 2nd millen ...
and Zhōu
bronzeware script Chinese bronze inscriptions, also commonly referred to as bronze script or bronzeware script, are writing in a variety of Chinese writing, Chinese scripts on Chinese ritual bronzes, ritual bronzes such as ''zhōng'' bell (instrument)#Ancient Chin ...
anthropomorphically portray a large head on a great person. The ancient oracle and bronze
ideograms An ideogram or ideograph (from Ancient Greek, Greek "idea" and "to write") is a graphic symbol that represents an idea or concept, independent of any particular language, and specific words or phrases. Some ideograms are comprehensible onl ...
for ''dà'' depict a stick figure person with arms stretched out denoting "great; large". The oracle and bronze characters for ''tiān'' emphasize the cranium of this "great (person)", either with a square or round head, or head marked with one or two lines. Schuessler notes the bronze graphs for ''tiān'', showing a person with a round head, resemble those for ''dīng'' "4th Celestial stem", and suggests "The anthropomorphic graph may or may not indicate that the original meaning was 'deity', rather than 'sky'." Two
variant Chinese character Variant Chinese characters (; Kanji: ; Hepburn romanization, Hepburn: ''itaiji''; ; Revised Romanization of Korean, Revised Romanization: ''icheja'') are Chinese characters that are homophones and synonyms. Most variants are allographs in most cir ...
s for ''tiān'' "heaven" are (written with ''er'' "two" and ''ren'' "human") and the
Daoist Taoism (, ) or Daoism () refers to either a school of Philosophy, philosophical thought (道家; ''daojia'') or to a religion (道教; ''daojiao''), both of which share ideas and concepts of China, Chinese origin and emphasize living in harmo ...
coinage (with ''qīng'' "blue" and " ", i.e., "blue sky").


Pronunciation and etymology

The
Modern Standard Chinese Standard Chinese ()—in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, pa ...
pronunciation of "sky, heaven; heavenly deity, god" is ''tiān'' in level first tone. The character is read as
Cantonese Cantonese ( zh, t=廣東話, s=广东话, first=t, cy=Gwóngdūng wá) is a language within the Chinese (Sinitic) branch of the Sino-Tibetan languages originating from the city of Guangzhou (historically known as Canton) and its surrounding a ...
''tin1''; Taiwanese ''thiN1'' or ''thian1''; Vietnamese ''thiên'';
Korean Korean may refer to: People and culture * Koreans, ethnic group originating in the Korean Peninsula * Korean cuisine * Korean culture * Korean language **Korean alphabet, known as Hangul or Chosŏn'gŭl **Korean dialects and the Jeju language ** ...
''cheon'' or ''ch'ŏn'' (천); and
Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally , ''Nihonkoku'') is an island country in East Asia. It is situated in the northwest Pacific Ocean, and is bordered on the west by the Sea ...
''ten'' in '' On'yomi'' (borrowed Chinese reading) and ''ama-'' (bound), ''ame'' (free), or ''sora'' in '' Kun'yomi'' (native Japanese reading). ''Tiān'' reconstructions in
Middle Chinese Middle Chinese (formerly known as Ancient Chinese) or the Qieyun system (QYS) is the historical variety of Chinese recorded in the '' Qieyun'', a rime dictionary first published in 601 and followed by several revised and expanded editions. The ...
(ca. 6th–10th centuries CE) include ''t'ien'', ''t'iɛn'', ''tʰɛn'' > ''tʰian'', and ''then''. Reconstructions in
Old Chinese Old Chinese, also called Archaic Chinese in older works, is the oldest attested stage of Chinese, and the ancestor of all modern varieties of Chinese. The earliest examples of Chinese are divinatory inscriptions on oracle bones from around 12 ...
(ca. 6th–3rd centuries BCE) include *''t'ien'', *''t'en'', *''hlin'', *''thîn'', and *''l̥ˤin''. For the
etymology Etymology ()The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) – p. 633 "Etymology /ˌɛtɪˈmɒlədʒi/ the study of the class in words and the way their meanings have changed throughout time". is the study of the history of the Phonological chan ...
of ''tiān'', Schuessler links it with the Mongolian word ''
tengri Tengri ( zh, 騰格里; otk, 𐰚𐰇𐰚:𐱅𐰭𐰼𐰃, Kök Teŋri/Teŋiri, lit=Blue Heaven; Old Uyghur: ''tängri''; Middle Turkic languages, Middle Turkic: تآنغرِ; ky, теңир; tr, Tanrı; az, Tanrı; bg, Тангра; Pro ...
'' "sky, heaven, heavenly deity" or the Tibeto-Burman words ''taleŋ'' ( Adi) and ''tǎ-lyaŋ'' ( Lepcha), both meaning "sky". He also suggests a likely connection between Chinese ''tiān'' , ''diān'' "summit, mountaintop", and ''diān'' "summit, top of the head, forehead", which have cognates such as Zemeic Naga ''tiŋ'' "sky". However, other reconstructions of 天's OC pronunciation *''qʰl'iːn'' or *''l̥ˤi ' reconstructed a voiceless lateral onset, either a cluster or a single consonant, respectively. Baxter & Sagart pointed to attested dialectal differences in
Eastern Han Chinese Eastern Han Chinese or Later Han Chinese is the stage of the Chinese language Chinese (, especially when referring to written Chinese) is a group of languages spoken natively by the ethnic Han Chinese majority and List of ethnic groups i ...
, the use of 天 as a phonetic component in phono-semantic compound Chinese characters, and the choice of 天 to transcribe foreign syllables, all of which prompted them to conclude that, around 200 CE, 天's onset had two pronunciations: coronal *'' '' & dorsal *'' x'', both of which likely originated from an earlier voiceless lateral *''l̥ˤ''.


Compounds

''Tiān'' is one of the components in hundreds of Chinese compounds. Some significant ones include: *''Tiānmìng'' ( "
Mandate of Heaven The Mandate of Heaven () is a Chinese political philosophy that was used in ancient China, ancient and imperial China to legitimacy (political), legitimize the rule of the King of China, King or Emperor of China. According to this doctrine, h ...
") "divine mandate, God's will; fate, destiny; one's lifespan" *''Tiānwèn'' (), the '' Heavenly Questions'' section of the '' Chǔ Cí''. *''Tiānzĭ'' ( "
Son of Heaven Son of Heaven, or ''Tianzi'' (), was the sacred monarchical title of the Chinese sovereign. It originated with the Zhou dynasty and was founded on the political and spiritual doctrine of the Mandate of Heaven. Since the Qin dynasty, the secula ...
"), an honorific designation for the "Emperor;
Chinese sovereign The Chinese sovereign was the ruler of a particular Monarchy of China, monarchical regime in the historical periods of History of China#Ancient China, ancient China and History of China#Imperial China, imperial China. Sovereigns ruling the same ...
" (''Tiānzǐ'' accounts for 28 of the 140 ''tiān'' occurrences in the ''Shī Jīng'' above.) *''Tiānxià'' (, lit. " all under heaven") "the world, earth; China" *''Tiāndì'' (, lit "heaven and earth") "the world; the universe." *'' Xíngtiān'' () An early mythological hero who fought against Heaven, despite being decapitated. *''Tiānfáng'' () Chinese name for
Mecca Mecca (; officially Makkah al-Mukarramah, commonly shortened to Makkah ()) is a city and administrative center of the Mecca Province of Saudi Arabia, and the Holiest sites in Islam, holiest city in Islam. It is inland from Jeddah on the Red ...
, the Islamic holy city. (Tiān is used as translation of
Allah Allah (; ar, الله, translit=Allāh, ) is the common Arabic language, Arabic word for God in Abrahamic religions, God. In the English language, the word generally refers to God in Islam. The word is thought to be derived by Contraction ( ...
)


Chinese interpretations


Confucius

The concept of Heaven (Tian, ) is pervasive in
Confucianism Confucianism, also known as Ruism or Ru classicism, is a system of thought and behavior originating in ancient China. Variously described as tradition, a philosophy, a Religious Confucianism, religion, a humanistic or rationalistic religion, ...
. Confucius had a deep trust in Heaven and believed that Heaven overruled human efforts. He also believed that he was carrying out the will of Heaven, and that Heaven would not allow its servant, Confucius, to be killed until his work was done. Many attributes of Heaven were delineated in his ''
Analects The ''Analects'' (; ; Old Chinese: '' ŋ(r)aʔ''; meaning "Selected Sayings"), also known as the ''Analects of Confucius'', the ''Sayings of Confucius'', or the ''Lun Yu'', is an ancient Chinese book composed of a large collection of say ...
''. Confucius honored Heaven as the supreme source of goodness:
The Master said, "Great indeed was Yao as a sovereign! How majestic was he! It is only Heaven that is grand, and only Yao corresponded to it. How vast was his virtue! The people could find no name for it. How majestic was he in the works which he accomplished! How glorious in the elegant regulations which he instituted!"
Confucius felt himself personally dependent upon Heaven: "Wherein I have done improperly, may Heaven reject me! may Heaven reject me!" Confucius believed that Heaven cannot be deceived:
The Master being very ill, Zi Lu wished the disciples to act as ministers to him. During a remission of his illness, he said, "Long has the conduct of You been deceitful! By pretending to have ministers when I have them not, whom should I impose upon? Should I impose upon Heaven? Moreover, than that I should die in the hands of ministers, is it not better that I should die in the hands of you, my disciples? And though I may not get a great burial, shall I die upon the road?"
Confucius believed that Heaven gives people tasks to perform to teach them of virtues and morality:
The Master said, "At fifteen, I had my mind bent on learning. At thirty, I stood firm. At forty, I had no doubts. At fifty, I knew the decrees of Heaven. At sixty, my ear was an obedient organ for the reception of truth. At seventy, I could follow what my heart desired, without transgressing what was right."
He believed that Heaven knew what he was doing and approved of him, even though none of the rulers on earth might want him as a guide:
The Master said, "Alas! there is no one that knows me." Zi Gong said, "What do you mean by thus saying - that no one knows you?" The Master replied, "I do not murmur against Heaven. I do not grumble against men. My studies lie low, and my penetration rises high. But there is Heaven - that knows me!"
Perhaps the most remarkable saying, recorded twice, is one in which Confucius expresses complete trust in the overruling providence of Heaven:
The Master was put in fear in Kuang. He said, "After the death of King Wen, was not the cause of truth lodged here in me? If Heaven had wished to let this cause of truth perish, then I, a future mortal, should not have got such a relation to that cause. While Heaven does not let the cause of truth perish, what can the people of Kuang do to me?"


Mozi

For
Mozi Mozi (; ; Latinization (literature), Latinized as Micius ; – ), original name Mo Di (), was a Chinese philosophy, Chinese philosopher who founded the school of Mohism during the Hundred Schools of Thought period (the early portion of the ...
, Heaven is the divine ruler, just as the
Son of Heaven Son of Heaven, or ''Tianzi'' (), was the sacred monarchical title of the Chinese sovereign. It originated with the Zhou dynasty and was founded on the political and spiritual doctrine of the Mandate of Heaven. Since the Qin dynasty, the secula ...
is the earthly ruler. Mozi believed that spirits and minor demons exist or at least rituals should be performed as if they did for social reasons, but their function is to carry out the will of Heaven, watching for evil-doers and punishing them. Mozi taught that Heaven loves all people equally and that each person should similarly love all human beings without distinguishing between his own relatives and those of others. Mozi criticized the Confucians of his own time for not following the teachings of Confucius. In Mozi's ''Will of Heaven'' (), he writes:
Moreover, I know Heaven loves men dearly not without reason. Heaven ordered the sun, the moon, and the stars to enlighten and guide them. Heaven ordained the four seasons, Spring, Autumn, Winter, and Summer, to regulate them. Heaven sent down snow, frost, rain, and dew to grow the five grains and flax and silk that so the people could use and enjoy them. Heaven established the hills and rivers, ravines and valleys, and arranged many things to minister to man's good or bring him evil. He appointed the dukes and lords to reward the virtuous and punish the wicked, and to gather metal and wood, birds and beasts, and to engage in cultivating the five grains and flax and silk to provide for the people's food and clothing. This has been so from antiquity to the present."


Schools of cosmology

There are three major schools on cosmology. Most other hypothesis were developed from them. *''Gaitian shuo'' () "Canopy-Heavens hypothesis" originated from the text
Zhoubi Suanjing The ''Zhoubi Suanjing'' () is one of the oldest Chinese mathematical texts. "Zhou" refers to the ancient Zhou dynasty (1046–256 BCE); "Bì" literally means " thigh", but in the book refers to the gnomon of a sundial. The book is dedicated ...
. The earth is covered by a material tian. *''Huntian shuo'' () "Egg-like hypothesis". The earth surrounded by a tian sphere rotating over it. The celestial bodies are attached to the tian sphere. (See , Chinese creation myth.) *''Xuanye shuo'' () "Firmament hypothesis". The tian is an infinite space. The celestial bodies were light matters floating on it moved by '' Qi''. A summary by Ji Meng () is in the astronomical chapters of the
Book of Jin The ''Book of Jin'' is an official Chinese historical text covering the history of the Jin dynasty from 266 to 420. It was compiled in 648 by a number of officials commissioned by the imperial court of the Tang dynasty The Tang dynast ...
. Sometimes the sky is divided into ''Jiutian'' () "the nine sky divisions", the middle sky and the eight directions.


Buddhism

The Tian are the heaven worlds and
pure land A pure land is the celestial realm of a buddhahood, buddha or bodhisattva in Mahayana, Mahayana Buddhism. The term "pure land" is particular to East Asian Buddhism () and related traditions; in Sanskrit the equivalent concept is called a buddha- ...
s in
Buddhist cosmology Buddhist cosmology describes the planes and realms in which beings can be reborn. The spatial cosmology consists of a vertical cosmology, the various planes of beings, into which beings are reborn due to their merits and development; and a hori ...
. Some devas are also called Tian.


Taoism

The number of vertical heaven layers in Taoism is different, the most common saying is the 36 Tian developed from Durenjing ().


I-Kuan Tao

In I-Kuan Tao, Tian is divided into three vertical worlds. ''Li Tian'' () "heaven of truth", ''Qi Tian'' () "heaven of spirit" and ''Xiang Tian'' () "heaven of matter".


Meanings

The semantics of ''tian'' developed diachronically. The '' Hanyu dazidian'', an historical dictionary of Chinese characters, lists 17 meanings of ''tian'' 天, translated below. # Human forehead; head, cranium. # Anciently, to tattoo/brand the forehead as a kind of punishment. # The heavens, the sky, the firmament. # Celestial bodies; celestial phenomena, meteorological phenomena. # Nature, natural. A general reference to objective inevitability beyond human will. # Natural, innate; instinctive, inborn. # Natural character/quality of a person or thing; natural instinct, inborn nature, disposition. # A reference to a particular sky/space. # Season; seasons. Like: winter; the three hot 10-day periods [following the summer solstice]. # Weather; climate. # Day, time of one day and night, or especially the time from sunrise to sunset. Like: today; yesterday; busy all day; go fishing for three days and dry the nets for two [a '' xiehouyu'' simile for "unable to finish anything"]. # God, heaven, celestial spirit, of the natural world. # Heaven, heavenly, a superstitious person's reference to the gods, Buddhas, or immortals; or to the worlds where they live. Like: go to heaven ["die"]; heavenly troops and heavenly generals ["invincible army"]; heavenly goddesses scatter blossoms [a Vimalakirti Sutra reference to "Buddha's arrival"]. # Anciently, the king, monarch, sovereign; also referring to elders in human relationships. # Object upon which one depends or relies. # Dialect. A measure of land [''shang'', about 15 acres]. # A family name, surname. The Chinese philosopher Feng Youlan differentiates five different meanings of ''tian'' in early Chinese writings:
(1) A material or physical ''T'ien'' or sky, that is, the ''T'ien'' often spoken of in apposition to earth, as in the common phrase which refers to the physical universe as 'Heaven and Earth' (''T'ien Ti'' ).
(2) A ruling or presiding ''T'ien'', that is, one such as is meant in the phrase, 'Imperial Heaven Supreme Emperor' (''Huang T'ien Shang Ti''), in which anthropomorphic ''T'ien'' and ''Ti'' are signified.
(3) A fatalistic ''T'ien'', equivalent to the concept of Fate (''ming'' ), a term applied to all those events in human life over which man himself has no control. This is the ''T'ien'' Mencius refers to when he says: "As to the accomplishment of a great deed, that is with ''T'ien''" ([''
Mencius Mencius ( ); born Mèng Kē (); or Mèngzǐ (; 372–289 BC) was a Chinese Confucianism, Confucian Chinese philosophy, philosopher who has often been described as the "second Sage", that is, second to Confucius himself. He is part of Confuc ...
''], Ib, 14).
(4) A naturalistic ''T'ien'', that is, one equivalent to the English word Nature. This is the sort of ''T'ien'' described in the 'Discussion on ''T'ien in the ['' Hsün Tzǔ''] (ch. 17).
(5) An ethical ''T'ien'', that is, one having a moral principle and which is the highest primordial principle of the universe. This is the sort of ''T'ien'' which the ['' Chung Yung''] (Doctrine of the Mean) refers to in its opening sentence when it says: "What ''T'ien'' confers (on man) is called his nature."
The ''
Oxford English Dictionary The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' (''OED'') is the first and foundational historical dictionary of the English language, published by Oxford University Press (OUP). It traces the historical development of the English language, providing a com ...
'' enters the English
loanword A loanword (also loan word or loan-word) is a word at least partly assimilated from one language (the donor language) into another language. This is in contrast to cognates, which are words in two or more languages that are similar because the ...
''t'ien'' (also ''tayn'', ''tyen'', ''tien'', and ''tiān'') "Chinese thought: Heaven; the Deity." The earliest recorded usages for these spelling variants are: 1613 ''Tayn'', 1710 ''Tien'', 1747 ''Tyen'', and 1878 ''T'ien''.


Interpretation by Western Sinologists

The sinologist Herrlee Creel, who wrote a comprehensive study called "The Origin of the Deity T'ien", gives this overview. Creel refers to the historical shift in ancient Chinese names for "god"; from Shang oracles that frequently used ''di'' and ''shangdi'' and rarely used ''tian'' to Zhou bronzes and texts that used ''tian'' more frequently than its synonym ''shangdi''. First, Creel analyzes all the ''tian'' and ''di'' occurrences meaning "god; gods" in Western Zhou era
Chinese classic texts Chinese classic texts or canonical texts () or simply dianji (典籍) refers to the Chinese texts which originated before the imperial unification by the Qin dynasty The Qin dynasty ( ; zh, c=秦朝, p=Qín cháo, w=), or Ch'in dynasty ...
and bronze inscriptions. The '' Yi Jing'' "Classic of Changes" has 2 ''tian'' and 1 ''di''; the '' Shi Jing'' "Classic of Poetry" has 140 ''tian'' and 43 ''di'' or ''shangdi''; and the authentic portions of the '' Shu Jing'' "Classic of Documents" have 116 ''tian'' and 25 ''di'' or ''shangdi''. His corpus of authenticated Western Zhou bronzes mention ''tian'' 91 times and ''di'' or ''shangdi'' only 4 times. Second, Creel contrasts the disparity between 175 occurrences of ''di'' or ''shangdi'' on Shang era oracle inscriptions with "at least" 26 occurrences of ''tian''. Upon examining these 26 oracle scripts that scholars (like Guo Moruo) have identified as ''tian'' "heaven; god", he rules out 8 cases in fragments where the contextual meaning is unclear. Of the remaining 18, Creel interprets 11 cases as graphic variants for ''da'' "great; large; big" (e.g., ''tian i shang'' for ''da i shang'' "great settlement Shang"), 3 as a place name, and 4 cases of oracles recording sacrifices ''yu tian'' "to/at Tian" (which could mean "to Heaven/God" or "at a place called Tian".) The ''Shu Jing'' chapter "''Tang Shi''" ( "Tang's Speech") illustrates how early Zhou texts used ''tian'' "heaven; god" in contexts with ''shangdi'' "god". According to tradition,
Tang of Shang Cheng Tang (), personal name Zi Lü (), recorded on oracle bones as Da Yi (大乙), was the first King of China, king of the Shang dynasty in Chinese history. Traditionally considered a virtuous ruler, he overthrew Jie of Xia, Jie, the last ruler ...
assembled his subjects to overthrow King
Jie of Xia King Jie (; traditionally 1728–1675 BC) was the 17th and last ruler of the Xia dynasty of China. He is traditionally regarded as a tyrant and oppressor who brought about the collapse of a dynasty.劉煒/著. 002(2002) Chinese civilization in ...
, the infamous last ruler of the Xia Dynasty, but they were reluctant to attack. Having established that ''Tian'' was not a deity of the Shang people, Creel proposes a hypothesis for how it originated. Both the Shang and Zhou peoples pictographically represented ''da'' as "a large or great man". The Zhou subsequently added a head on him to denote ''tian'' meaning "king, kings" (cf. ''wang'' "king; ruler", which had oracle graphs picturing a line under a "great person" and bronze graphs that added the top line). From "kings", ''tian'' was semantically extended to mean "dead kings; ancestral kings", who controlled "fate; providence", and ultimately a single omnipotent deity ''Tian'' "Heaven". In addition, ''tian'' named both "the heavens" (where ancestral kings and gods supposedly lived) and the visible "sky". Another possibility is that ''Tian'' may be related to ''
Tengri Tengri ( zh, 騰格里; otk, 𐰚𐰇𐰚:𐱅𐰭𐰼𐰃, Kök Teŋri/Teŋiri, lit=Blue Heaven; Old Uyghur: ''tängri''; Middle Turkic languages, Middle Turkic: تآنغرِ; ky, теңир; tr, Tanrı; az, Tanrı; bg, Тангра; Pro ...
'' and possibly was a loan word from a prehistoric Central Asian language.


See also

* Amenominakanushi (天御中主), the Japanese concept of God as the ultimate creator * Haneullim, the Sky God of Cheondoism * Hongjun Laozu * Names of God in China *
Shangdi Shangdi (), also written simply, "Emperor" (), is the Chinese term for "Supreme Deity" or "Highest Deity" in the Chinese theology, theology of the classical texts, especially deriving from Shang dynasty, Shang theology and finding an equivalen ...
* Shen * Taiyi Tianzun *
Tengri Tengri ( zh, 騰格里; otk, 𐰚𐰇𐰚:𐱅𐰭𐰼𐰃, Kök Teŋri/Teŋiri, lit=Blue Heaven; Old Uyghur: ''tängri''; Middle Turkic languages, Middle Turkic: تآنغرِ; ky, теңир; tr, Tanrı; az, Tanrı; bg, Тангра; Pro ...
, the Turkic-Mongolic sky God


Tian related terms

* Tian Xia ('' All under Heaven'') * Tian Chao ('' Dynasty of Heaven'') * Tian Kehan ('' Khan of Heaven'') * Tian Ming (''
Mandate of Heaven The Mandate of Heaven () is a Chinese political philosophy that was used in ancient China, ancient and imperial China to legitimacy (political), legitimize the rule of the King of China, King or Emperor of China. According to this doctrine, h ...
'') * Tian Zi (''
Son of Heaven Son of Heaven, or ''Tianzi'' (), was the sacred monarchical title of the Chinese sovereign. It originated with the Zhou dynasty and was founded on the political and spiritual doctrine of the Mandate of Heaven. Since the Qin dynasty, the secula ...
'') *
Tiandihui The Tiandihui, the Heaven and Earth Society, also called Hongmen (the Vast Family), is a Chinese fraternity, fraternal organization and historically a secret society, secretive Chinese salvationist religions, folk religious sect in the ve ...
(''Heaven and Earth Society'') * Tiandiism (''Heavenly Deity religion'') * Tianzhu ('' Chinese Rites controversy'')


References


Citations


Sources

* * * Supplemental materials available a
their webpage
* * * * * * * * * * * * *


External links


Oracle, Bronze, and Seal characters for 天
Richard Sears {{Names of God Chinese deities Chinese gods Locations in Chinese mythology Conceptions of God Religious Confucianism East Asian traditional religion Heaven Names of God Sky and weather gods Taoist cosmology God Relationship between Heaven and Mankind