Page from Qing Veritable Records
The Qing court used a twelve-month lunar calendar based on the sexagenary cycle, distinct from the solar Gregorian calendar used by most of the world today. This page from the Qing Veritable Records (Da Qing shilu) provides a good example. Here, the date is given in the following format: Qianlong year 2, dingsi [year], month 4, jiaxu [date]. To make this date comprehensible to my readers, I provide both the original date and the Gregorian equivalent in my work: Qianlong 2.4.jiaxu=5/15/1737. At the same time, the practice of dating the years according to the reign era of the current emperor (the Qianlong emperor in this case) highlights the centrality of the institution of the emperorship for one’s sense of time in late imperial China.