The Seven Luminaries
July 15, 2007 6:33 PM   Subscribe

This site explains the link, apparently via Mesopotamia, between the ancient Roman and modern Japanese calendrical systems.
posted by Heywood Mogroot (8 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Each element was equated to (among others) (...) a musical note in the pentatonic scale.

Water (水 shuǐ) was equated to north, black, winter, midnight, the planet Mercury, and note 6 in numbered musical notation.
There are only five notes in a pentatonic scale. Hence, "penta" and "tonic".

By "note 6", do they mean the octave? Or something else? Or is this just wrong?

Does anyone have enough knowledge of Chinese language, music, and/or "the five elements" to comment one way or the other?

I am asking this not because I care about it in particular. I am asking this because the main claim of the link (i.e. "days of the week are the same in English and in Japanese") is pretty neat, and I'm wondering if it's just bullshit or not.
posted by Flunkie at 7:02 PM on July 15, 2007

I think they probably mean "note 4". Wikipedia says that the 7-day week was brought from Europe around 800CE, so this is all pretty believable.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:39 PM on July 15, 2007

No, note 4 is apparently skipped:

"For a typical Pentatonic Scale, the numbers 1,2,3,5,6 were used" wikpediai

I lived in Japan for ~8 years and never got the connection between the DoW, Japanese planet names, and the Roman equivalents (eg. Venus = Friday = elemental metal = 金星 [kinsei] = 金曜日 [kinyoubi])

I did notice the correlation between Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday (Mars Day / kasei / fire planet), which led me to deeper research a number of years ago, during which I found the fpp site.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 7:49 PM on July 15, 2007

Very interesting information about the days of the week, and the names given to them. Another interesting correlation between the musical scale and planetary orbits (i.e. the "music of the spheres") is discussed in Jamie James' thoroughly intriguing book The Music of the Spheres">The Music of the Spheres: Music, Science, and the Natural Order of the Universe.
posted by spaceproject at 9:14 PM on July 15, 2007

Don't stop at this page—Bathrobe's site is full of goodies. In particular I call your attention to the writing systems page and the incredibly obsessive Harry Potter page.
posted by languagehat at 8:35 AM on July 16, 2007

It's not bullshit at all, Flunkie, calendrical systems are such a bitch to come up with independently that it seems that human civilization has only really ever come up with a very small handful of them.

Being a fan of cut-and-paste, I'm okay with this.
posted by blacklite at 5:15 AM on July 17, 2007

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