Deutsch Intern
Sinologie in Würzburg

Public lecture: Dr. Erling Hagen Agøy, "Climate, Omens and Prognostication in 17th Century China" (15.12.2021)


The Department of Sinology welcomes all students as well as everybody who is interested for the last public lecture in 2021. The lecture will be held on December 15th 18:00 in Hörsaal 2 (Philosophiegebäude) by Dr. Erling Hagen Agøy (Oslo / IKGF Erlangen) on "Climate, Omens and Prognostication in 17th Century China".


An airborne flame and the sound of weapons in 1624. Blood rushing from the ground in 1659. Lake Tai freezing in 1690. Such strange observances and deadly natural calamities held meaning for people in pre-modern societies. At the same time, most societies relied on good climatic conditions for agriculture, and people were eager for any way to foretell the weather and climate. The lecture will examine how people in 17th century China related to the climate, on the one hand seeing weather events as omens for changes in human society and on the other developing methods to predict weather conditions. In China, this period saw not only the dramatic dynastic change from the old Ming to the new Qing dynasty, but also a turn to a cooler and more unstable climate. While it has often been said that throughout Chinese history, natural calamities were seen as omens for political changes, did this also apply to the contentious Ming-Qing transition? And were people helpless in predicting how the weather conditions their lives depended on would unfold?