Thursday, June 2. 2011
In this article no in-depth explanation of Chinese characters, hardly references, just an interesting story. There is a fascinating link with hexagram 29 and a passage from the Mozi 墨子. The name of this hexagram, kan 坎, means 'pit, hole in the ground, trap'. But used doubled (kan-kan 坎坎) it is an onomatopoeia for the sound of drumming, as in the poem Fa Tan 伐檀 in The Book of Odes:
Often when a character is doubled it is a representation of a sound. We find this doubling in the third line of hexagram 29:
Something which produces a kan-kan sound is approaching.
The trigram Water is associated with danger, and with the ears, with listening. All these elements of
...can be found in a passage from the Mozi, which describes an alarm system to discover enemies who are approaching a city through underground tunnels. It can be found on p. 799 of Ian Johnston's translation.
Ralph Sawyer describes it like this:
Mo-tzu's counter-methods were premised upon intensively observing the enemy's activities from high lookout towers in order to detect any evidence of excavations, such as new earthen mounts or sudden turbidity in moat or river water. These visual efforts were to be supplemented with a virtual network of listening wells positioned every five paces around the wall's interior, excavated to a minimum depth of fifteen feet or three feet below the water line. Guards, whose task was facilitated by large earthen jars fashioned specifically for the purpose with thin leather membranes stretched over the mouths, were posted at the bottom to carefully listen for any indication of enemy tunneling. Once detected, these multiple wells would allow a fairly accurate determination of the tunnel's location preliminary to mounting countermeasures."
The drum in a pit, listening for approaching danger - it all fits the imagery of hexagram 29 pretty well. We can even find it in the text of hexagram 29:
The drums are sounding, meaning that enemies are approaching! The lord has to inspire confidence in his people and his army to defend the city. The central offering in the city has to be protected. Proceeding the enemy (as Mozi suggests) is helpful.
The sound that the digging soldiers produce enters the pit through the drums. Danger is coming!
The sound the drums make signifies danger. (As an oracular omen this means only small results can be achieved.)
The enemies are getting closer, and have reached the drum pits which are close to the city. (see for 'nearing' as a meaning of 枕 the 漢語大詞典, Vol. 4, p. 880).
A description of the type of vessel to be used (I translate 納約 as 'to cover' because 納 can mean 'to wear' and 約 'to tie up') and what to do with it.
The drums do not sound, so nothing is wrong.
I don't see how the sixth line can be linked with all this, and no doubt I am translating the texts in a direction which fits my purpose. Nevertheless I found it a very interesting connection which gives additional meaning & interpretation to hexagram 29 when you receive it as an answer from the Yi.
The Mythbusters have tested the Chinese invasion alarm in one of their episodes.
Sunday, July 12. 2009
The Yi often talks about fu 孚, a character which is many times translated as 'trust', 'confidence' or 'truth'. But what is fu? With many hexagrams the Yi mentions that there is fu: 有孚. But where is it?
On bronze inscriptions we see
孚 mainly used as a verb:
to capture people, chariots, or other materials during a battle (see the entries
春秋戰國卷 on p. 100). It was the act of acquiring war booty, and sometimes it also
referred to the booty itself. But it mainly was a verb. This meaning was lost in
later centuries, instead of a verb it became a quality. The Shijing
詩經, The Book of Odes, contains a good example of fu as a quality:
On bronze inscriptions we see 孚 mainly used as a verb: to capture people, chariots, or other materials during a battle (see the entries in 金文引得, 春秋戰國卷 on p. 100). It was the act of acquiring war booty, and sometimes it also referred to the booty itself. But it mainly was a verb. This meaning was lost in later centuries, instead of a verb it became a quality. The Shijing 詩經, The Book of Odes, contains a good example of fu as a quality:
Here Fu is translated as ‘confidence’, but it is not the confidence of the king, it is the confidence that the king inspires in his people. That is the quality of fu: through sincerity you inspire confidence or trust in others, the others have confidence in you. Fu is a quality, just as de 德, ‘virtue’, is a quality. This quality is visible in the fifth line of hexagram 14:
I’m reading jiao 交 as “兩者相接觸” (漢語大詞典-2.327) and wei 威 as “顯示的使人畏懼懾服的力量” (漢語大詞典-5.218). The quality of fu enables the king to connect with his people and make them stand in awe with respect and trust.
At the sixth line of hexagram 37 fu again is connected with wei, ‘creating awe/reverence’:
At the fifth line of hexagram 51 there is again mention of a connection:
Reading luan 攣 as “牽繫不斷；連綴”
At the fifth line of hexagram 58 the fu is severed:
Reading bo 剝 as “傷害” (漢語大詞典-2.713). If the king was not able to inspire confidence this surely would lead to trouble.
The link between fu in the old meaning of ‘capturing’ or ‘captive’ and the meaning of 'inspiring confidence in others' can be seen in the bronze inscriptions: these inscriptions often commemorated the captures that were made during a siege. The captures were trophies, which had to be recorded to inspire confidence in the current generation and the ones to come: the king was/had been a trustworthy and reliable leader.
So what does it mean when you read in the Yijing that there is fu? It depends on the situation, but it could indicate that there is sincerity (genuineness, naturalness, authenticity), which enables to connect with the goals that are set, or with the means that can be put to use. Without fu there is no connection and it will be very difficult (though not impossible) to achieve anything. Fu works on the long term, without fu you are only able to achieve limited goals on the short term. Fu enables you to get and keep processes going, it is the oil that keeps the motor running smoothly and avoids damage. If there is no fu in you or the person(s) involved, it is better to reconsider your plans and think about your motivations and intentions. Fu is a quality that is essential when you work with other people. Without it, cooperation can be pretty tough.
Saturday, August 2. 2008
There are several stories about the etymology of bo 剝, the name of hexagram 23. Han Boering says:
Alfred Huang says:
These explanations are based on the form as found in the Shuowen, which is written in small seal script.The Shuowen itself says:
裂也. 从刀从彔. 彔, 刻割也. 彔亦聲.
When it comes to meanings of characters the Shuowen can be considered reasonably reliable, but for etymological information you should not turn to this book, the given explanations are often wrong or incomplete. But in the case of bo the Shuowen is right when it says that the 彔 part represents the pronunciation. We will talk about this later in this article.
The character bo in its complete form does not appear on bone inscriptions, but the component 彔 does. On bones it looks a bit like the small seal form. The 新編甲骨文字典 dictionary says about the form of this character:
The last three characters from this quote, 彔, 㯟 and 麓 are variant characters from each other, and all three mean '(a place at) the foot of a hill or mountain'. This is the meaning that is most used in bone inscriptions. All three characters are pronounced lu, and this is probably the reason why they are used as loans for each other. In later periods we find the component 彔 on bronzes in almost the same form as on bones, but then the most used meanings are lu 祿, 'good luck' and lu 麓, 'a name for an official position regarding mountains and forests' (金文常用字典, p. 712-713).
But is the component 彔 important for the meaning of the character bo 剝, the name of hexagram 23? We have seen that the description of the form, the shape of this character, does not have any connection to the meanings for which the component was used. This is a strong clue that this component (as the Shuowen indicates) has a phonetic function: it is a pointer to the pronunciation. Not that it ends here, in the case of 剝 it makes things more complicated. Most characters which have 彔 as (main) component are pronounced lu, but 剝 is pronounced bo or bao. This is probably a clue that 剝, or its component 彔, should be considered a loan for another character which has the sound bo, bao, or something close to that.
There are other facts which point to this. The Shuowen gives a variant of 剝 which contains the component bu 卜 (see the long image right to the quote from the Shuowen above, click to enlarge). Where the Shuowen gets this from is not known, there are no known texts in which this character is used. But there is one (yes, one) fragment of a bone inscription in which this character is used. Ma Rusen 馬如森 says of this character:
This little information would be hardly useful if we didn't have some other texts which, in combination with this variant , put the meaning of 剝 and hexagram 23 in a different light. For this we have to look into a few Yijing texts which have been excavated during archaeological digs in the last 30 years. The Fuyang Yijing which has been excavated in 1977 in the vicinity of Fuyang 阜陽 gives a different name for hexagram 23. In this variant text it is called pu 僕. The most significant meanings of this character are:
These meanings show that a pu did not have a high position. But more important is the pronunciation of this character, pu, and the fact that it is another name for hexagram 23. The Fuyang Yijing is not the only source in which 剝 is replaced by 僕. The version of the Guizang 歸藏 which was excavated in 1993 does not contain hexagram 23, but there are sources which quote hexagram 23 from the Guizang - and mention that this hexagram is called pu 僕 (Han Ziqiang 韓自強, 阜陽漢簡《周易》研究, p. 121; Zhu Xingguo 朱兴国, 三易通义, p. 341).
The two characters are also exchanged in another excavated text. At the second line of hexagram 56 the text mentions 僕:
Lu translates 剝 as pu 撲, meaning 'to beat' (Karlgren, Loan Characters in Pre-Han texts, entry 1264. Karlgren does not agree with Lu's reading). 撲 is a variant of 僕 (阜陽漢簡《周易》研究, p. 121. In his translation of the Fuyang Yijing (forthcoming) Edward Shaughnessy translates 僕 also as 'to beat'). We also know that 剝 is used in the meaning of pu 攴, which means 'to beat' (漢語大字典, p. 346; Wang Li 王力, 王力古漢語字典, p. 73).
剝 and 僕 are exchangeable, which brings us to the earlier mentioned variant character from the Shuowen and the bone fragment, the character : the assumed pronunciation of this character, bu, is almost the same as the pronunciation of 僕, pu, which strengthens the link between the characters. But reading bo 剝 as pu 僕 has consequences for the translation of the text of hexagram 23. The character bo 剝 appears in five of the six line texts, and these texts will get another reading.
The character zhi 之 can have the meaning of 'it' as personal pronoun ('he makes it') at the end of a sentence, and in that case the word before it becomes a verb.
Xiaoren 小人is a noun, just like lu 廬. Because of this the sentence gets the standard subject-verb-object pattern.
This shows that 剝 is a verb in the Yijing. The most used meanings of this character are 'peel/cut (fruit and vegetables), remove the outside, cut in halves', but a hut is not easily peeled or cut in halves. The Mawangdui text doesn't talk about a lu, 廬, a hut, but about a lu 蘆. The characters look almost the same, but the latter has the 艹 component instead of the 广 component. The component 艹 is the 'abbreviation' of the full form character 艸, and characters with this component often have to do with vegetation and crops, while 广 has to do with housing. According to the 漢語大字典 some of the meanings of 蘆 are:
The most plausible meaning might be the first one, 'radish'. Probably it refers to the white radish with large roots, which is quite common in China. In Song M210 from the Shijing 廬 can also be read as 'radish', where the traditional rendering is 'hut':
The complete text of line six will then be translated as
Here we translate 剝 as 'to cut'. Let's see if this also holds for the other lines which have 剝:
(1), (2), (4) 剝牀.....
Chuang 牀 means 'bed', which would turn the translation of these three lines start with 'cut - bed', 'cut the bed' or something like that. That sounds a bit strange, 'bed' doesn't really fit 'to cut'. The MWD version doesn't talk about a bed but about zang 臧, a character with almost the same pronunciation. The Fuyang Yijing does mention a bed, but in his book 阜陽漢簡《周易》研究 Han Ziqiang 韓自強 gives a detailed exposé about homonyms and he concludes that characters like chuang 牀, zang 臧 and zhuang 壯 can all be read as qiang 戕, 'to kill' or 'to wound'. The composition 僕牀 in the Fuyang Yijing is read by Han as 'wounding the servant' or 'the wounded servant', and the harm to the servant is inflicted by beating him (as we have seen 剝/僕 is also used in the meaning of 撲 or 攴, 'to beat'). Han then subtly remarks that earlier many people arrived at statements that where not convincing, but because of the Fuyang and Mawangdui Yijings it suddenly is all so obvious. That is somewhat exaggerated, because the grammar of the line texts show that 剝/僕 should be translated as a verb and not as a noun, like Han does. If we sustain that for 剝/僕, but accept his assumption that 牀 should be read as 戕, 'to wound' (and Han knows to substantiate this quite well; it should also be noted that the component 爿 is a picture of a bed, and it is related to 疒, which on oracle bones depicted a person lying in bed; characters with this component often have to do with illnesses or other inflictions to the body), then the remaining lines are translated as follows:
Sunday, March 23. 2008
(I first wrote this article in Dutch for my own Yijing study group, and translated it to English. Because of this the language might sometimes sound a little bit, ehrm, awkward.)
When you search for information about the etymology of the character yi 易 you will find several stories which tell about this character's origin. Are these stories all true? Let's see what a little research will come up with.
First, let's get rid of some wrong information which haunts this character for almost two thousand years. The traditional account of this character's origin is that it is a picture of a lizard, chameleon, or gecko. This comes from the Shuo Wen 說文 dictionary, which says:
And Duan Yucai 段玉裁 adds in his commentary that it is a picture of a head, and four legs. But this is not the only explanation the Shuo Wen gives. It also says:
Duan explains that the phrase 日月爲易 comes from the Can Tong Qi 参同契, a cryptic Daoist alchemical text attributed to the Daoist immortal Wei Boyang 魏伯陽 from the Eastern Han Dynasty (AD 25-220). The supposed dates of the Shuo Wen and the Can Tong Qi do not seem to match, however. The Shuo Wen is written in 121 AD, and the Can Tong Qi in 142 AD (although others maintain a much later date; see Roel Jansen's introduction to the Dutch translation of Bertschinger's Can Tong Qi, p. 13-14). Nevertheless, the phrase is supposed to describe the composition of the character yi: the top part is the sun 日, and the lower part is the moon 月, written in its old form as 勿.
In the first line the trigram Kan, Water, is linked to the fifth Heavenly Stem, wu of the Chinese calendar, and to the moon; in the second line the trigram Li, Fire, is linked to the sixth Heavenly Stem ji and to the sun (see also my article about the Eight Palaces, p. 13. The paragraph from the Can Tong Qi mentioned here does not appear in Bertschinger's translation). 'Sun and moon make yi 易' is the next line, and seen in the light of the foregoing two sentences it is clear that this sentence does not describe the composition of the character yi 易 but is a philosophical explanation of the principles of yin and yang, mainly for the purpose of alchemical practices. If you take the sentence 日月為易 out of this context you could see it as an explanation of the character yi 易 and its components, but I don't think this was the intention in the Can Tong Qi.
The two explanations from the Shuo Wen do not agree with the latest findings about the etymology of the character yi and may be regarded as outdated.
The character yi 易 on oracle bones
Give us the sun
This explanation agrees with the picture that Marshall gives about the shape of the character. On oracle bones yi often has the meaning of 'to give, to grant', with or without ri 日, and it alway refers to a high placed person who grants something to a person with a lower status. This specific meaning is still found in the earlier mentioned ci 賜, the successor of yi (Matthews' Dictionary 6988).
The right part of the character, , is harder to interpret because during Shang times it had two meanings: it is the old character for yue 月, 'moon', but it as also used for xi 夕, 'evening, sunset'. Liu however says that on oracle bones yue 月 was written as , while xi 夕 was mostly written as , with an extra dot in the center (see also Yu Shengwu 于省吾, 甲骨文字釋林, p. 449). If we combine this with what we know of the component , then it is possible that refers to an offering to the moon, or at least in the dark, to get the sun back. Yi 易 could have been a sacrifice to the ancestors or spirits (indicated by ) during the evening or in the night (indicated by ) to make sure that the sun is returning, that it is 'given' by the ancestors or spirits.
This description tells us what a yi change means: a yi action or happening should lead to a better situation. You change from something which is (potentially) harmful to something which is favorable, positive. This corresponds with the earlier mentioned offering to the ancestors, with the wish to get the sun back - here we also have an unfavorable situation which by yi has to change for the better.
On oracle bones we see this a lot in sessions about diseases, often concerning diseases of the teeth (see right picture):
In this case the outcome was unfavorable and more sacrifices would be made to the spirits and ancestors, until they were in the proper mood and a hopeful answer would be received.
The other variant
Indeed the oracle bone form of yi 益 is very similar to this presumed variant form of yi (see right picture). However, of many oracle bone characters which have a 'vase' component the modern form has the component 皿. If really was a precursor of yi 易 you would expect that the modern form still contains the 皿 component. The fact that this is not the case might be a clue that has nothing to do with yi 易.
There were times when I said the opposite. The small book 周易：古代中國的世界圖示 by Wu Enbo 烏恩博 mentions oracle bone and bronze forms of yi (p. 1-2), and I turned this into the following picture:
This picture seems very plausible, but actually it is not true. It gives the impression that the version was used before the form, and that is simply not correct. Both forms were used during Period I according to the system of Dong Zuobin 董作賓 (see table below; based on 甲骨文字典, 凡例 p. 1 ; David N. Keightley, Sources of Shang History, p. 23 table 14 and 228 table 38).
During the Shang dynasty (ca. 1600 BC - ca. 1046 BC) probably had the meaning of 'give, grant' without religious connotations, while was used with a religious meaning, and emphasizing positive change. The religious meaning of disappeared when the Shang dynasty was thrown over and the 易日 sacrifice became disused. Both forms and got the meaning of 'give, grant', as can be seen in bronze inscriptions from later periods.
On the site of Donald Sturgeon (www.chineseetymology.org) the 'vase' variant is seen as a precursor of yi 匜, the name of a low type of vessel/basin for pouring out liquid. In the 金文引得 index of bronze inscriptions an inscription is mentioned in which 易 is read as 匜 (p. 351 entry 5421), but I have not found other sources which motivate that is the old form of 匜.
Wednesday, August 30. 2006
Volume 3 of the Gushi Bian 古史辨 (ISBN 5550110350), which contains the famous articles by Gu Jiegang 顧頡剛 (1893-1980), also has a small article by Ma Heng 馬衡 (1881-1955), titled 漢熹平石經周易殘字跋, 'Annotations of the remnant characters in the Zhouyi Stone Classic from the Han dynasty Xiping period' (p. 70-73). The article deals with the variant characters that are found on a stone fragment of the Yijing text that was engraved in stone in 175 AD (not 180 BC as is said here; image from Gushi Bian 古史辨, vol. 3, p. 70/71, click to enlarge).
In his book Warp & Weft - In search of the I-Ching, William de Fancourt tells about the making of these Stone Classics (ISBN 1861630069, p. 100):
Stuart V. Aque quotes Zhou Yutong's commentary to Pi Xirui 皮錫瑞 (1850-1908) his Jingxue lishi 經學歷史 in his dissertation Pi Xirui and Jingxue lishi (p. 589, n. 108; see also p. 697-703):
One side of the fragment that Ma discusses contains parts of the texts of hexagram 37 to hexagram 54; the other side contains fragments of the Wenyan and Shuogua chapters of the Ten Wings. Even though it's a small fragment Ma recognizes quite some differences with the received text of the Yijing. I will not discuss all these differences (unless by popular demand), there is one variant character I would like to bring forward. In chapter four of the Shuogua there is the line '坤以藏之'. This line is also found on the stone fragment, but the character 坤 (the name of hexagram 2 in the standard edition of the Yijing) is replaced by . It is the same character that is found in the Mawangdui version of the Yijing: chuan 川.
When I read this my first reaction was "this is interesting!". But during my research of the origin, history and language of the Stone Classics, and the usage of this specific character, it turned out not to be so spectacular. Often the character 川 is translated as 'flow' (Shaughnessy), 'waterway' or something similar, but you might seriously doubt if this is a correct translation in the given context. Yes, 川 means 'stream' or 'flow', but on many stone tablets from the Han dynasty 川 is used as a substitute for 坤 (Wu Xinchu 吳新楚, "Zhouyi" yiwen jiaozheng 《周易》异文校证, ISBN 7218037194; p. 38). The Li Bian 隸辨, a dictionary of characters from Han stone tablets which was compiled by Gu Aiji 顧藹吉 in 1718, lists five of these cases (ISBN 7101041442; p. 38-39. See image on the left; click to enlarge. Picture from Dictionary of Chinese Character Variants). In the Dictionary of Chinese Character Variants 川 is listed under 坤. Tang dynasty scholar Lu Deming 陸德明 (556-627) says in his Zhouyi Shiwen 周易釋文 about 坤 (古史辨, vol. 3, p. 73):
(For the phrase 今字 meaning 'Lishu style of writing from the Han dynasty' see 漢語大詞典 1.1079-B).
But there is more. The variant characters of 川, namely 巛, 𡿦 and 𡿭, are also long known substitutes for 坤 (漢語大字典 2.1097). If you rotate these variant characters 90° CW they turn into the trigram Earth (see also Deng Qiubo 邓球柏, Boshu Zhouyi jiaoshi 帛书周易校释, ISBN 7543812975; p. 260). Well, maybe not the first one, but the other two do. The characters 𡿦 and 𡿭 could be two ways of writing the trigram. Because 巛 and 𡿦 are very similar it is easy to mix them up, and therefore I believe that hexagram 2 was never meant to be named 巛 with the meaning of 'stream', or 'flow', but instead 𡿦 was originally intended, as an alternative form of the trigrams that form the hexagram.
Summarizing: the character 川 and its variants 巛, 𡿦 and 𡿭 were during the Han dynasty (206 BC–AD 220) well-known substitutes for 坤. To me this indicates that hexagram 2 was not meant to be named 'stream', flow', or 'waterway' or similar names. For the meaning of the name of hexagram 2 we can only rely on the Shuogua, which says that Kun stands for 'earth' (chapter 11). Because the earliest appearance of the character 坤 is found in the Yijing, and all other instances of it in later books are references to the Yi, it is hard to find the original meaning without the aid of commentaries like the Ten Wings.
Tuesday, August 29. 2006
A few months ago someone asked me what the panther change in the sixth line of hexagram 49 might refer to. This is what I answered him:
It seems to be an age old fixed expression, and to find out what it
refers to we have to look at the context. The Yi says
Baobian is an improvement for the better. Gemian 革面 however, is not:
I think that in the Yi the first meaning is meant. Baobian is a transformation which takes place in one's nature, it cannot be controlled, it has to take it's natural course. Gemian is a change only in the face, the outside expression which can be controlled by ones will and intentions. Follow nature is good, follow the will is not good. Therefore 征凶.居貞吉. A (planned, will-driven) journey would not do any good. Stay put and perform the divination at one's own place (that is where nature is) is good.
Tuesday, June 20. 2006
The shishu 鼫鼠 animal in the fourth line of hexagram 35 is most often recognized as some sort of rat, mouse or hamster. Even in old China there was speculation about the true meaning of this word: what animal did the author(s) of the Zhouyi refer to? The word 鼫鼠 is quite rare, we hardly find it in other old books. But the Mawangdui Yijing might help us to find the meaning that the authors intended.
形似松鼠，尾長，腹旁有飛膜, 目前肢之腕起，至後肢跗部而達尾根，能在樹上飛躍。But if the 鼫鼠/碩鼠/梧鼠 refers to a 'flying squirrel', then the translation of the poem from the Shijing becomes a little awkward: "Flying squirrel, flying squirrel, do not eat our millet". I would not expect a flying squirrel to eat millet, because it is an animal which lives in the forest. In the Shijing, and most likely also in the Yijing, another animal must be intended.
According to the Shuowen a 鼫鼠 is a 五技鼠, a 'Five Skills Rat'. In a small rhyming verse the abilities of the Five Skills Rat are mentioned:
能飛不能過屋， Néng fēi bùnéng guò wū，It is often thought that the Five Skills Rat is the same as the flying squirrel, because the description of the poem describes this animal quite well. But the word 鼫鼠 has one other meaning, a meaning we never read about in Western translations of the Yijing.
The Shuowen gives an additional meaning of 鼫鼠, it describes it as a lougu 螻蛄, which is in the West known as a mole cricket.
The mole crickets comprise a family (Gryllotalpidae) of thick-bodied insects about 3-5 cm (1-2 inches) long, with large beady eyes and shovel-like forelimbs highly developed for burrowing and swimming. They are also equipped with wings, and the ability to fly. (...) Mole crickets are omnivores, feeding on grubs, worms, roots, and grasses. (...) Mole crickets are relatively common, but because they are nocturnal and spend nearly all their lives underground in extensive tunnel systems, they are rarely seen. They inhabit agricultural fields, rice paddies, lawns, and golf courses. Five out of the seven species present in North America are immigrants from Europe, Asia, and South America, and are commonly considered pests. In Asia, however, they are sometimes used as food (fried), and are considered quite delicious.The mole cricket is considered a pest because it eats the roots of crops. Considering this, the poem of the Shijing might refer to a mole cricket. But since the word 鼫鼠 contains the character shu 鼠 for 'rat', it is equally possible that the poem refers to some sort of rat. The same goes for the Yijing; the complete sentence in which the word occurs does not give a clue about the intended meaning. Surprisingly the Hanyu Da Cidian 漢語大詞典 refers to hexagram 35 as a source for the meaning of 'mole cricket'. It quotes the Zhouyi commentary of Kong Yingda 孔穎達 (574-648), which says
[Update 25-6: The 周易大辭典 dictionary attributes this exact phrase to Wang Bi (p. 113), but I can't find anything that relates to it in Richard Lynn's translation of Wang Bi's Yijing commentary, nor do I find it in an electronic version of Wang's commentary.]
Although Kong Yingda is sure about the meaning of 'mole cricket' we must acknowledge the fact that the meaning of 'rat, mouse' etc. is still equally valid. Fortunately the Mawangdui version of the Yijing helps us to decide. The MWD does not talk of a 鼫鼠, but of a zhishu 炙鼠. According to the HYDCD this can be a roasted rat, but it is also another name for.....螻蛄, the mole cricket (漢語大詞典, Vol 7.39-B). The HYDCD quotes the Guang Ya 廣雅, a dictionary from the San Guo 三國 period (220-265).The fact that both 鼫鼠 and 炙鼠 are different names for the mole cricket convinces me that line 4 of hexagram 35 also refers to the mole cricket, and that this is the meaning the author(s) of the Zhouyi intended. What this means for the complete sentence "晉如鼫鼠" is something I will try to address in my upcoming article about hexagram 35.
Wednesday, September 28. 2005
Firefox, it does a much better job.)
Most Yijing translations translate sheng 升, the name of hexagram 46, as 'pushing upwards', 'advancing' or 'ascending'. 'Pushing upwards' and 'advancing' are not good translations to my taste, but 'ascending' is perfectly alright. But there is more to this character (as always), if we look at the etymology and the first uses of this character, we can get a picture of what is ascended and why. The text of the Yijing also helps getting this clear.
On oracle bones we find this character with two meanings:
- a unit for measurement,
The original form of this character seems to depict some kind of ladle, with the same shape of the early form of dou 斗. But sheng often has little drops added to it (picture left), and in the bronze forms there is actually something in the ladle, where dou 斗 is empty (picture right). Already on oracle bones is dou 斗 used to refer to the star constellation beidou 北斗, the Northern Ladle, in the West known as Ursa Major or the Great Bear. The 甲骨文字典 explains dou as "疑用為星名,即北斗,夕至翌日祭之.", "probably the name of a star (constellation), namely beidou, from the evening to the next day sacrifices are made to it". However, the 甲骨文簡明詞典 adds a fragment from a bone inscription: "月庚從斗, 𢓊雨", which is read as 'when the moon passes through dou the rain will be prolonged'. It is impossible for the moon to go through the Northern Ladle, but there is also a nandou 南斗, a Southern Ladle, a constellation in the south which has the same shape as beidou but is smaller in size. As far as we know nandou was never receiving sacrifices, beidou was far more important. The Tianguan Shu 天官書 from Sima Qian 司馬遷 (135-87 BC) says:
Whether beidou had a similar meaning during the Shang and Zhou dynasties is not known, but we do know from the oracle bones that sacrifices were made to this constellation.
Sheng 升 is also the precursor of 𥘥, a character which is described in the 甲骨文字典 as a utensil for measurement, used in sacrifices (p. 27). The old forms of this character sometimes have hands added to it, and/or an altar, to express the presenting of an offering.
Sheng 升 was the name of a certain sacrifice, and because of the close resemblance between the old forms of sheng and dou, I believe that sheng could refer to a sacrifice made to the constellation beidou. Dou is empty, and this emptiness is already recognized in the Shijing 詩經, where we read:
Sheng, however, is full. Maybe a sheng 升 sacrifice was done to 'fill' the ladle by offering goods to it and thereby pleasing the gods, ancestors or spirits who regulated the movement of the constellation and the seasons. A logical object in this sacrifice would be a ladle. The meaning of 'ascending' comes from this sacrifice. According to Tsung-Tung Chang sheng is used in the meaning of another homophone verb which means 'bringing an offer at a high located altar ("Das zeichen steht in Orakelinschriften wie im späteren Zeichensysteem für das homophone Verb "Opfergabe auf einen höher gelegenen Kultplatz bringen" "; Der Kult der Shang-Dynastie im Spiegel der Orakelinschriften, p. 128). Chang does not specify which verb he refers to, but probably it is deng 登, of which certain old forms depict an altar with footsteps. The 王力古漢語字典 says that sheng and deng share a common root ("同源字", p. 89). In the Mawangdui 馬王堆 Yijing and the Fuyang 阜陽 Yijing deng 登 is the name of hexagram 46.
The line texts of hexagram 46 tell a lot about sheng 升:
Yun 允 is used on oracle bones with the meaning of 'truly, really', as in 'it really did rain on that day' (甲骨文字典, p. 958) and is always used before a verb (甲骨文簡明詞典, p. 288). Tsung-Tung Chang says it probably depicts a person who nods his head in agreement ("Es zeigt vermutlich einen Menschen, der zustimmend nickt"; Der Kult, p. 212). According to the Shuowen 說文 the Yi originally used 𡻏(𡴞) instead of 允. 𡻏 consist of 山, 𠦍(=夲) and 允. 山 is a mountain, 夲 means 'to advance', but the 漢語大字典 adds that it happens with joy ('進趣', 1.60). Advancing on a mountain with joy seems to be connected with 允.
允升 could therefore mean 'really (and joyous) sheng sacrifice'. The offering is successfully taking place, the ladle is actually 'filled' (maybe stars were appearing in the container of the ladle, the little dots in the early form of sheng?). This brings great fortune (大吉).
Fu 孚 means 'captives of war' (甲骨文字典, p. 265, 895; 甲骨文簡明詞典, p. 164, 333; 金文大字典, p. 2694; 金文常用字典, p. 301).
Nai 乃 is a so-called 'empty character' (xuzi 虛字), in most ancient texts it has a more or less abstract meaning which is not always easy to translate, but it comes close to 'thereupon', 'only then', etc., equal to nai 迺 (甲骨文簡明詞典, p. 293). On bronzes we also find nai with the meaning 'this is/has' (金文常用字典, p. 498), like in sayings as 貧乃禍中福: 'poverty, this is misfortune's blessing' (poverty is a blessing in disguise). But nai also signifies that what follows it is somewhat special, it is used to emphasize a fact or situation which needs special attention.
Liyong 利用 is an old fixed expression and means '(put to) use things, objects or people' (漢語大詞典, 2.635b), like in the Guanzi 管子: "春秋冬夏，陰陽之推移也；時之短長，陰陽之利用也", "Spring and autumn, winter and summer represent shifts in the yin and yang. The shortening and lengthening of the seasons represents their appliance." (see W.A. Rickett, Guanzi, p. 117). Li signifies that the use of the object gives results and that these results are known; yong without li means that a result is not immediately expected or anticipated.
I believe yue 禴 is a key character in understanding the meaning of sheng 升. Yue is the name of a sacrifice which was used mostly in summer, but also in spring. The Zhouli 周禮 says: "以祠春享先王. 以禴夏享先王 . 以嘗秋享先王. 以烝冬享先王", "Use the ci 祠 sacrifice to serve the ancestors in spring. Use the yue 禴 sacrifice to serve the ancestors in the summer. Use the chang 嘗 sacrifice to serve the ancestors in autumn. Use the zheng 烝 sacrifice to serve the ancestors in the winter"(周禮.春官宗伯; see also Shijing M166).
The nature of the yue sacrifice is found
in the component 龠. The oracle bone graph is the picture
of a music instrument made from bamboo, maybe related to the 'khaen'
as still used in Laos. The 甲骨文字典 says yue is the
name of a sacrifice in which music was used, in later ages it was more and more
written as 禴 (p. 199). Music was associated with joy and
Liyong 利用 signifies that what follows is probably an object, something that can be used. Putting all this together we can translate 孚乃利用禴 as 'Captives use the music instruments (of the yue sacrifice)'. To me 利用禴 does not mean that the yue sacrifice itself was used, they only used the instruments which bear the name of this sacrifice. Because I see sheng 升 itself as a sacrifice and the text of hexagram 46 as dealing with this sacrifice it would not fit to see yue 禴 as the yue sacrifice, rather I think it points to the objects of the yue sacrifice (after all, 禴 is the later form of 龠) . The fact that music is associated with joy (which reminds us of the variant form 𡴞 of 允 in the first line of hexagram 46) also adds a little bit of credit. Yue 禴 is also mentioned in the fifth line of hexagram 63: 東鄰殺牛. 不如西鄰之禴祭. Here the character ji 祭, 'sacrifice', is added to stress the act, and not the instruments used during the act. When the sacrifice itself is meant this is specifically stated, just as in 47-2: 利用亨祀 - heng 亨 being the sacrifice, si 祀, 'offer sacrifices' to stress the act.
It might seem odd to let captives play musical instruments during an important sacrifice, but captives, prisoners of war, played an important role in Shang and Zhou society. If they cooperated they would be given rewards and occasionally a high position (J.C.H. Hsu, The Written Word in Ancient China, p. 846-849). Using captives during a ceremony, be it as a sacrifice or in other ways, showed the ancestors that the conquered clan was obedient and willing to serve the ancestors of the victorious clan. Besides that, a yue instrument was not difficult to play. One of the variant forms of the oracle bone graph for yue shows an A-shaped component on top of the tubes that was probably the single mouthpiece controlling the air to all the tubes, but with each tube producing only one single note. It was constructed like the modern thirteen-reed sheng 笙 pan-pipe. This meant that the player only needed to move his fingers on the holes of the tubes without blowing into each separate tube (The Written Word, p. 674).
In most Yi translations xu 虛 is translated as 'empty'. Although this is indeed one of the many meanings of xu it does not make much sense in the context of hexagram 46. If you want to use xu in the meaning of 'empty', then you must bear in mind that xu means that there is literally nothing at all. The phrase 'empty city' is therefore nonsense, because if there would still be a city, it would not be called 'empty', no matter how little is left of it. In Tang 唐and Song 宋 times the phrase 虛邑 stood for land enfeoffed to feudal lords by the king, but the lords were not allowed to levy taxes on these lands (漢語大詞典 8.820a) - there was nothing to get, it was 'empty'. Xu is also translated as 'ruins', as in Shijing M50 quoted below. This is also a better translation than 'empty'.
Another, and concerning hexagram 46 more appropriate meaning of xu, is 'hill'. We have seen that sheng 升 means the ascending of a mountain, and in the Shijing sheng is also connected with hills or mountains: "升彼大阜", "ascend the great hill" (M180). In M50 it is said "升彼虛矣", and normally xu is translated here as 'old walls', but it would be equally correct to translate xu as 'hill', but a hill with inhabitants. The Shuowen supports this view. It says (quoting the Zhouli 周禮): "古者九夫為井，四井為邑，四邑為丘。丘謂之虛", "in ancient times 9 fu 夫 constituted a jing 井, 4 jing 井 constituted a yi 邑, 4 yi 邑 constituted a qiu 丘. A qiu 丘 is also called a xu 虛". It is interesting to see that in this context xu 虛 and yi 邑 are used, just as in line 3 of hexagram 46. Just like 龠, 斗 and 升 can 虛 and 邑 be seen as units for measurement. It gives the impression that the sheng 升 sacrifice was used to determine (and set straight) the measure units that were used in the country. But this is speculation, we can not really substantiate it by facts.
The Shijing shows that sheng has to do with climbing, and I think xu should therefore be translated as 'hill', which would make 升虛邑 "ascending to the hill settlement". The old form of yi 邑 is the picture of a square, symbolizing a marked piece of land, and a person kneeling. On bronzes it is used in the meanings of 1. a measure word for cities, 2. a small city or town (as opposed to a dou 都, a capital), and 3. a country (金文常用字典, p. 663). Another interesting meaning is that of a capital without an ancestral temple ("指古代無先君宗廟的都城"; 漢語大字典, 6.3753). It also refers in a more general sense to a region inhabited by people.
A large mountain is not just one isolated peak, normally it consists of several smaller hills which support the summit. Along the road to the top small settlements with temples would be placed, as a resting place, but also for worship during the travel. The Tai Shan 泰山 is a good example of this (see picture on the right, click to enlarge; from D.C. Baker, T'ai Shan - An Account of the Sacred Eastern Peak of China).
The original form of xiang 享 is 亯. In the small seal script (xiaozhuan 小篆), which became the standard during the Qin dynasty, 享 was written as . When the Lishu 隸書 style of writing was introduced during the Han dynasty the lower part of this character was abbreviated to 子, but the earlier form 亯 is also still in use (甲骨文簡明詞典, p. 125). 享 shares the same etymological root with 獻, 亨 and 饗. All these characters, which are close in pronunciation, share the meaning of 'serving food', to ancestors, nature spirits or guests. 享 in its earliest usage therefore referred to making offerings to please or entertain the spirits (maybe it is related to the so-called bin 賓 hosting ritual).
Qi Shan 岐山, also known as 'Phoenix Mountain', is a mountain in the north of the modern 扶風 Fufeng district, the first Zhou capital Qiyi 岐邑 was established in the plain located to the south side of Qi Shan (Maria Khayutina, Where Was the Western Zhou Capital?, p. 2. See also Shijing M237). Considering the meaning of sheng 升 I believe that this is the mountain where the sheng sacrifice took place. 王用享于岐山 translates as 'The king applied an offering at Qi Shan".
Jie 階 means 'stairs'. The complete sentence could be translated as 'The divination is auspicious. Ascend the stairs (as part of the ritual)." Before a certain ritual would take place it was customary to consult the tortoise if the ancestors would approve (see for examples D. Keightley, The Ancestral Landscape, p. 41-42). In this case the ancestors approve, it is okay to proceed.
The etymology of ming 冥 is somewhat disputed. Guo Moruo 郭沫若 says we should read 冥 as mian 娩/㝃 which means 'to bear a son'. This meaning is also derived from the fact that mian often occurs with fu 婦, a title for a woman in a high position. Tang Lan 唐蘭 follows this, but adds that the graph is related to mi 幎, a veil. The earliest form shows two hands holding a piece of cloth (甲骨文字典, p. 1573), probably supposed to shield the mother from spectators while giving birth. This 'covering' gave the later meaning of 'dim, dusky, obscure' and 'evening' or 'night'. Added to the meaning of 'giving birth' the meaning of 'nether world', the dark place where spirits dwell, is formed (漢語大字典, p. 1.304).
冥升 Could mean 'dark sheng 升 sacrifice'. The 甲骨文字典 describes dou 斗 as a constellation to which "from the evening to the next day sacrifices are made to it". If sheng is a sacrifice to the constellation dou I assume that the ritual started in the evening with the ascension of Qi Shan, which takes quite some hours, and when the top is reached it will be in the middle of the night. This is when the serious work starts, it is the most important part of the ritual, the top is where the actual sacrifice takes place.
Xi 息 means 'breath', but also 'to stop'. In bronze inscriptions it is used in the meaning of xiuxi 休息, 'to have a rest' (金文大字典, p. 1838). Buxi 不息 means 'not stopping, not resting'. The complete translation would then be 'Dark sheng sacrifice. Good result when performing divinations continuously'.
The actual performance of the sacrifice in the dark, when the constellation beidou can be seen and you are close to the spirits, you are vulnerable to their influences. To find out if the sacrifice is going to their will it is wise to consult the oracle continuously (see for an example of a continuing divination M. Puett, To Become a God, p. 42-43). This also stresses the importance of the sheng sacrifice.
From the line texts of the Yi we get the picture of a sacrifice which was performed on mountain Qi Shan, probably at the beginning of spring. A sacrifice which was performed to honor the beidou 北斗 constellation which was supposed to regulate the seasons, and maybe had something to do with setting straight the units of measurement. The sacrifice was performed from the evening through the night, and was accompanied with music to celebrate the joyous occasion.
Monday, July 18. 2005
(If you see tiny squares where Chinese characters should be you are probably using Internet Explorer. Switch to Firefox, it does a much better job.)
Through several channels the character of hexagram 44, gou 姤, has been brought to my attention. On Hilary's forum there has been some discussion about it, mainly stirred by the view of Margaret J. Pearson as expounded in her article Towards a new reading of hexagram 44 in The Oracle Vol. 2, no. 11 (September 2000). In this article she says,
There is however a problem with this suggestion, because Karlgren never said that 姤 can be read as 'queen' (thanks to Steve Marshall for mentioning this to me). Karlgren says that hou 后 is read as 'sovereign, lord' in the Shijing, as 'queen' in the Zuozhuan, and as loan for 後 in the Liji. Furthermore he says that gou 姤 is read as 'to meet' in the Yijing and as 'good' in the Guanzi (GSR p. 49-50) (this also shows that Karlgren's Grammata Serica Recensa is not a good dictionary, because he only gives a few traditional or accepted translations of a character in the context of the book in which it occurs. These meanings are often far from the original meaning of the character, as can be seen with gou 姤). But nowhere does Karlgren say that gou 姤 can be read as hou 后. Does this mean that 姤 cannot be read as 后? No, there are sources which show that this is legitimate. But these sources also have other implications for the meaning of gou 姤.
Simply put, when you read 姤 as 后, you drop the 女 radical. This is in fact a common feature in oracle bone inscriptions (See Zhang Zenglang, A Brief Discussion of Fu Tzu in K.C. Chang, ed., Studies of Shang Archeology, p. 103 and Zhang Pingchuan, A Description of the Fu Hao Oracle Bone Inscriptions, p. 124-125 in the same book). This happened with titles like fu 婦 (帚), and with clan names like hao/zi 好 (子) and jing 妌 (井). The 女 radical implies that the title concerns a woman. In other words, if you drop the 女 in 姤 and take this is a Shang feature, you imply that 后/姤 is a title or a clan name during (the later part of) the Shang dynasty.
Let's look at the etymology of 后 for a while. When you look in the 甲骨文字典 for this character (p. 997) you are redirected to the early forms of yu 育/毓 (p. 1581). The old form of this character seems to depict a woman giving birth to a baby (see image on the right, click to enlarge). Often, but not always, is the baby depicted upside down, and in some instances the woman is left out (which might imply that the child part is the important part; the meaning is the child, not the woman). Sometimes the baby carries little drops around him, which are interpreted as amniotic fluid. That 后 is another form of 育/毓 is suggested by Wang Guowei 王國維 (1877-1927), who saw 𠂆 as the modified 女, and 𠮛 as a modified 子 (in 戩壽堂所藏甲骨文字考釋 as mentioned in 甲骨文字典, p. 1581). On oracle bones 育/毓 refers to the heir, the follower, the next in line (Tsung-Tung Chang, Der Kult der Shang-Dynastie im Spiegel der Orakelinschriften, p. 99). It also refers to the posthumous title (miaohao 廟號) of an emperor (甲骨文字典, p. 1582). In bronze inscriptions it too refers to the heir or succeeder of the throne. This is in line with the Shuowen 說文, which says about 后: "后，繼體君也". Jiti 繼體 refers to the son of the first wife, who succeeds to the throne ("嫡子繼承帝位", 漢語大詞典, 9b.1046).
There is a similarity between the old forms of 后 and that of jun 君, which was also a title. For me this gives weight to the view that 后 is also a title.
What makes it difficult to narrow down the meaning of 后 is the matter that this character also occurs written backwards - a common feature in oracle bone inscriptions, especially with positive-negative charges of divination (the negative charge was written on the same plastron and often had mirrored characters of the positive charge). We also find this in bronze inscriptions (金文大字典, p. 1699; see also Zheng Zhenxiang, A Study of the Bronzes with the "Ssu T'u Mu" Inscriptions Excavated from the Fu Hao Tomb in Studies, p. 82-83, 96-97). This makes it difficult to distinguish 后 from si 司. On the other hand, it could also mean that there is a connection between these two, and that in order to find the complete meaning of 后 we also have to look at 司. In oracle bone inscriptions it is the precursor of ci 祠, which stands for the presenting of food as a sacrifice to the ancestors or nature spirits. But 司 can also refer to the sacrificial food itself, or the room where the sacrifice takes place (甲骨文字典, p. 997-998). In bronze inscriptions the meaning is broadened to 'administer, govern, take charge; manage', but just as with 后 on oracle bones 司 refers to 'heir' or 'inherit', and on bronzes it is also the precursor of 祠, 'to sacrifice food' (金文常用字典, p. 855).
But 后/育/毓 and 司 are not 100% exchangeable, as the inscription on the 史墻盤 Shi Qiang pan shows. The inscription (click image to enlarge) on this vessel contains both the character 司 and 毓. The first is with its following character, ji 稷, the name of Hou Ji 后稷, 'Lord of Millet'; Hou Ji (personal name Zhou Qi 周棄 or Ji Qi 姬棄; see also Shijing M245, M258, M275, M300) is seen as the first ancestor of the Zhou house and is also worshipped as an agricultural god. The latter, 毓, is translated by Shaughnessy as 'nurture' (Sources of Western Zhou History, p. 190), but as we have seen the character is a picture of a woman giving birth, and we can also read it as 'bring forth (heirs)'.
As we can see in the name Hou Ji 后稷, hou 后 is a title, and on bronzes we know it as a posthumous title for women in high positions (The Great Bronze Age of China, p. 183). The fact that it can be a posthumous title is strengthened by the bronze vessels found in the tomb of Fu Hao/Zi 婦好/子. Most of the vessels contained the name 'Fu Hao/Zi 婦好/子', but a few others contained inscriptions which are read as Si Mu Xin 司母辛 and Si Tu/Qiao Mu 司母. It is believed that 'Fu Hao' was the name of the occupant when she was alive, 'Xin' her ritual name, and Mu Xin the posthumous name. (Zheng Zhenxiang, A Study, p. 83). It is assumed that the vessels with the Si Mu Xin and Si Tu Mu inscriptions were made after the death of Fu Hao. The fact that the characters hou 后 and si 司 also refer to rituals of sacrifice to ancestors and deities makes the meaning of a posthumous title more plausible.
To summarize all this: 后 is mostly used as a title, for men, but occasionally also for women. For women it seems to have had a meaning like 'bringer of (a) heir(s)'.
It is possible that the 女 part was added to emphasize that the title is that of a woman. Which brings us back to gou 姤. This character is normally translated as 'to meet', this is mainly inspired by the Tuan 彖 and Xugua 序卦 parts of the Ten Wings, which say that 姤 means yu 遇, 遇 = '(to) meet'. Tang dynasty scholar Lu Deming 陸德明 says in his Zhouyi Shiwen 周易釋文
薛云，古文作 '遘'. 鄭同.
The Shuo Wen comes yet with another character for 姤, it says: 姤, 偶也. "姤 means ou 偶". 偶 has many meanings, of which one is 'a mate' or 'to mate', and this is probably the reason why several writers translate hexagram 44 as 'copulating'. But the Shuo Wen is the only dictionary which explains 姤 in this direction. There are no texts available where 姤 is used in the meaning of 'to copulate'.
Some see 姤 as a contracted form of 司母, the phrase we have seen in the Fu Hao Si Mu Xin inscription mentioned earlier. In his dissertation The Tomb of Fu Hao Kian-Chow Kwok mentions Tang Lan who "suggested that 'si' 司 (which he reads as hou 后) and 'mu' 母 (which he reads as nü 女) might be combined as a bisyllabic graph hou 姤, which meant 'queen' " (p. 50). As we have seen the character 后 is also written backwards 司, and in bronze inscriptions the old form of 母 is often similar to the old form of 女.
There is an oracle bone inscription which supports this view. Tang Lan reads 司母 as 姤, but the 甲骨文字典 does it the other way around: it shows an inscription (left; click to enlarge) with a character which is composed of the components 司 and 女, and according to the 甲骨文字典 it should be read as 司母 (p. 999). 司 and 女 can be combined to si 㚸, which Virginia Kane reads as 'mother of heirs' (Art-Historical Issues Arising from the M5 Burial at An-yang (paper), p. 23-25; quoted in Kian-Chow Kwok, The Tomb of Fu Hao, p. 51); the 漢語大字典 reads it as si 媤, 'name of a girl' (p. 1041.1, 1066.2). The bronze version of 㚸 as given by the 金文大字典 (p. 1467-1469) could equally well be seen as the precursor of 姤 (see image on the right). The 金文大字典 reads 㚸 as si 姒, a title for the wife of an elder brother (漢語大字典, p. 1034.3).
As always it is difficult to come to a final conclusion regarding the meaning of 姤. It is very well possible that it is the title of 'queen', but as we have seen it is probably a posthumous title. It is also possible to see it as 㚸, the wife of an elder brother. But the character also refers to a heir, and maybe the 女 part denotes a female heir, or at least a daughter of high descent. This is how I will see 姤 - for now. Let's see if the text of the Yi can give some clarification.
The Judgment of hexagram 44 says
If we assume that "女壯.勿用取女" says something about 姤, then the meaning of si 㚸, 'the wife of an elder brother' does not fit for 姤, after all, a married girl can not be 'taken'. The meaning of 'queen' fits better, but if we take it as a posthumous title the sentence almost becomes a shamanistic ritual, in which a shaman wants to be posessed by the spirit of a deceased queen but is advised not to do so because 'the woman is too strong'. But then we see qu 取 with a meaning that it probably did not have. 取 normally means 'to take by force', but the phrase 取女 is most probably equal to the character qu 娶, which has the same pronunciation and components, and means 'to marry' (漢語大字典, p. 1056.1). That 取 can have the meaning of 娶 is apparent in the Shijing, where it is used in the meaning 'to marry' (see odes M101, M138, M158 and M261). In the Mengzi 孟子 ode M101 is quoted, "取妻如之何、必告父母", but 取 is replaced with 娶 (Legge, The Works of Mencius, p. 345), which shows that in this case 取 and 娶 were considered as exchangeable. And 女 might be a short form for 妻.
We have seen that 后 also refers to a woman who brought forth a heir, but a heir is only possible if the woman is married. In that case 姤 meaning 'queen' in the context of the Judgment text does not make much sense, because if the title implies that she has given birth to a heir, this also means she is already married.
Zhuang 壯 means 'strong, mighty' and it is almost only used to describe strength of boys or men. The fact that in the Judgement of hexagram 44 it is used to describe a strong woman is odd. But it might agree with the sixth line of hexagram 44, where 姤 also occurs:
Although jiao 角 means 'horn' it also has a lot of other meanings. One very interesting meaning is given by the 漢語大字典，namely that of the hairstyle of a boy who is becoming a man (p. 3919.1; see also 漢語大詞典 10.1345). The Liji says it is specifically the hairstyle of a boy, and that the hairstyle of a girl has another name: "男角女羈".Jiao 角 is the hairstyle for a boy, ji 羈 that of a girl.
[Update 20-07-2005] It is interesting to notice that the phrase 其角 also occurs at 34-3 and 35-6, and that in all three instances the text is not entirely positive. Further research is necessary to see what the phrase exactly means .
In the Judgment of hexagram 44 it is said that the woman is zhuang 壯, a word only used with men or boys. In the sixth line we have a girl wearing the hairstyle of a boy. The picture we get from this is that of a Mulan, a girl who behaves like a boy, which of course is highly impropriate. Such a girl is unlikely to find a suitable partner, and will surely cause regret. It is however not misfortune caused by the ancestors (the original meaning of 咎), which could mean it will pass. The girl is of high descent, no doubt that in time she will find a husband.
Sunday, June 19. 2005
The character dui 兌 from hexagram 58 is an old character with many meanings. One of those meanings is 'happiness' or something similar, and this is how it is most often translated. But we have a better choice at hand, which might make more sense out of this hexagram.
Let's look at some early instances of 兌. The character already appears on the oracle bones, with possibly three meanings (甲骨文字典, p. 960):
In other texts, like (the received text of) the Daodejing 道德經, 兌 refers to an opening, or forcing an opening:
Or in the Shijing 詩經:
In the Shijing we see that the meaning 'to force an opening' is used, which is exactly what a salient does. I assume that in the Yi 兌 might also refer to a salient. That 兌 can have this specific meaning can be seen in the Xunzi 荀子, where we read:
Let us see how the meaning of 'salient' fits the line texts.
和 has several meanings of which many have to do with 'harmony, balanced'. It also means 'to unite, combine, integrate' (漢語大字典 1.602.1). Many meanings refer to two halves or sides which have to be equal or balanced. This is also appropriate for a salient, which consists of two sides which have to be joined and be of equal size in order to function properly. An imbalanced salient is a salient of which the two sides are not connected, or when one side is weaker than the other.
That 孚 means 'captives of war' can be seen in oracle bone and bronze inscriptions (甲骨文字典, p. 265, 895; 金文大字典, p. 2694; 金文常用字典, p. 301; R. Kunst, The Original "Yijing" p. 150). 孚兌 might refer to a salient formed by captives of war. In the Shang and Zhou dynasty captives were forced to work on the land, but also to engage in warfare, almost equal to the so-called zhongren 眾人. K.C. Chang quotes Zhang Zhenglang 張政烺 in Shang Civilization:
A salient is very dangerous for the members of the formation. Quoting Wikipedia:
For such a manoeuvre, which is likely to make a lot of casualties on the side of the attacker, war captives are convenient victims. They open the way, being followed by the rest of the army.
A salient can cause severe damage to the army it attacks. If this line is the record of an actual divination the 'misfortune' probably meant that the salient would be successful.
寧 has several meanings of which one is 'to stop, to bring down (a rebellion)' (漢語大字典 2.949.5). 疾 not only means '(minor) illness', which is the usual translation, it also refers more generally to suffering and hardships coming from outside. It is striking that the original form of 疾 was the picture of a man being hit by an arrow - an appropriate description of an army attack using a salient (= arrow shaped) formation.
引 normally refers to 'drawing a bow', and by extension means 'pull, stretch'. But it can also mean 'lead (an army)', like in the Shijing:
The 弓 component in 引 represents a bow, and it is assumed that the 丨 part refers to the stretching. If we take in mind that a salient has the shape of an arrow, the phrase 引兌 also gives the impression of a salient about to be 'launched'. An effective salient was executed fast and swift, like the firing of an arrow.
In bronze inscriptions 兌 is only found as the name of a general (金文大字典, p. 687-688; E. Shaughnessy, Sources of Western Zhou History, p. 281-283).
The trigram image itself also gives an impression of 'breaking open', the yang lines forcing their way upwards, breaking through the (open) yin line.
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