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Recently, before the South challenge, I worked on a round robin quilt which had a mariner’s compass as the beginning. In no time, I found myself thinking South in re to a Chinese compass and learned that astronomy in China is different than in the Western World. For a long time, South for the Chinese was placed at the top of the compass: South, being the direction where the sun reached its highest elevation, is more important than North, and was considered the reference direction on maps. The ancient Chinese grouped the stars into Chinese constellations very different from the modern Western constellations which the International Astronomical Union based on Greco-Roman astronomy.
The Vermillion bird of the South, or Red-bird of Summer, is one of the Four (or five) Symbols of the Chinese constellations and is a mythological spirit creature. It is not to be confused with the Phoenix of Western mythology. It is an elegant and noble bird in appearance and behavior. Its seven mansions or moon stations are Well, Ghost, Willow, Star, Extended Net, Wings and Chariot which in the future I may crochet or bead into this sky. These constellations, when strung out almost look like the appliqued Fire Bird which is shaped from many different animal parts and associated with good fortune.