Friday, May 11. 2007
A thorough study of the original text of the Yijing should also involve an examination of the variant texts that exist of this classic. It would be a fallacy to think that the Book of Changes never changed; through archaeological excavations we now know that the text of the Yi was not as fixed as many want us to believe. Especially before the Qin dynasty, but also during the Han dynasty, there we versions of the Yijing that are different on many points from the version that we use today. The received version is only a compromise of different schools, it should never be seen as the Yijing, it is just one version of the book. To get a better picture of the Yijing and its language through the ages it is necessary to study the different variant texts alongside with the received text.
We mainly have four variant texts of the Yijing:
For each of these texts it is possible to purchase several books, as I did the last few years. A lot of books are published about the Mawangdui Yijing, but the best studies of it are the following books:
The Fuyang Zhouyi is studied in every detail in
A thorough study of the Xiping Stone Classics Yijing can be found in
The first volume deals in detail with the Shanghai Museum Manuscript.
There is nothing more for me to say. All the variant text convenient together in two volumes, in excellent quality, with interesting articles added. I you have the slightest interest in the variant texts of the Yijing, then what are you waiting for. Buy this book. It is worth the money.
Friday, December 29. 2006
The most well-known concordance of the
Yijing is the Zhouyi yinde
周易引得 (A Concordance to Yi Ching; Harvard-Yenching
Institute Sinological Index Series, Supplement 10), published by the
Harvard-Yenching Institute. The Yijing translations by Ritsema &
Karcher, Karcher, and Ritsema & Sabbadini also contain
concordances but these are not concordances for the original Chinese
text of the Yijing. Most Yijing students who study the Chinese text
of the Yi do not know that there is another concordance available:
周易逐字索引 - A
Concordance to the Zhouyi, published in 1995 by the Commercial
Press in Hong Kong. It is a publication from the Chinese
Ancient Texts Database, a project
initiated by the Institute of Chinese Studies from the Chinese
University of Hong Kong. In June of this year a reprint has been
The Zhouyi Zhuzi Suoyin is more than a concordance. It not only gives the Chinese text of the Yijing (including the Shiyi 十翼, the Ten Wings commentaries), but it also gives variant characters, and deletions or additions of characters in the text, that are found in other editions of the Yijing.
The text printed with the concordance is based on the Chongkan Songben ZhouYi zhushu 重刊宋本周易注疏, Song Edition of the Commentaries and Subcommentaries to the ZhouYi re-cut by Ruan Yuan 阮元 in 1816.
The Ten Wings are arranged in the way most Yi versions do: The Tuan 彖, Xiang 象 and Wenyan 文言 commentaries are added to the hexagram text and the line texts; the Dazhuan 大傳, the Shuogua 說卦, Xugua 序卦 and Zagua 雜卦 are added as separate chapters. The hexagrams are numbered from 1-64, the Dazhuan (in two parts), the Shuogua, Xugua and Zagua are numbered from 65-69.
For the variant characters, deletions or additions of characters the book uses nine other sources (click image to enlarge):
The used sources are not only traditional versions of the Yi but also more or less modern commentaries like Gao Heng's 周易大傳今注 Zhouyi Dazhuan Jin Zhu and 周易古經通說 Zhouyi Gu Jing Tongshuo. Three other sources are for the Mawangdui silk manuscript version of the Yi. This is the only archaeological text that is mentioned; unfortunately other finds like the Chujian Zhouyi or the Fuyang Zhouyi are not referred to. This is understandable considering the year of the first edition, 1995, nevertheless an updated edition with references to these other intruiging texts would have been most welcome.
Variant characters as found in the other sources are given in footnotes (see image on the left; click to enlarge). The characters from the MWD version are marked with an encircled 'M', but for the other variant characters the exact sources are not given. The only way to find out where a variant character comes from is to purchase the nine references they used and skim through their pages. It would have been convenient if they had used numbers, letters or symbols to refer to the source of a variant reading.
The entries in the concordance are arranged according to their pinyin transcription (see image on the right; click to enlarge); a table is provided to find a character using the number of strokes. In the concordance there is no distinction between the Zhouyi 周易 or Benyi 本易 text and the Ten Wings commentary; if you are only interested in the Zhouyi it is hard to filter out the references to the Ten Wings. If you see a reference to a chapter number higher than 64 then you know it refers to a separate added Ten Wings chapter like for instance the Shuogua; otherwise there is no way to see if an entry refers to the Zhouyi or to a Ten Wings chapter which is incorporated in the hexagram text, like the Xiang texts.
In short: the Zhouyi Zhuzi Suoyin has some room for improvement, nevertheless it is a very good concordance and a helpful aid for the study of the Yijing. The printing is crisp-clear, and the added goodies like the variant characters and other commentaries enhance your understanding of the Yijing and its language. The book is not yet available through the webstore of the Commercial Press; orders can be placed by sending a mail to Belinda Tse from the Rights & Overseas Sales Department of Commercial Press.
- A Concordance to the Zhouyi
Tuesday, February 28. 2006
Sunday, January 15. 2006
Sunday, December 11. 2005
It is a pity that the German literature about ancient China is so much neglected or ignored. There are numerous excellent studies about Chinese literature, history and culture written by German professors, but you will hardly find it mentioned in the English books that dominate this field of study. This is sad because often the German research excels in thoroughness; many German writers do not spare any effort to scrutinize the subject of their study. You will find a few examples of this below: German books in the spotlight.
The first book is an excellent study about the Mawangdui Yijing, its history and how it compares to the received text. The second book is a translation of the Mawangdui text, and just as Edward Shaughnessy does Hertzer give the MWD text in combination with the received text. But Hertzer does a better job than Shaughnessy: her translation is very well annotated (and interpreted), and often the modern version of the MWD text that she gives seems closer to the original silk manuscript. For instance, where Shaughnessy gives 溍 as the name for hexagram 51 (35 in the received text), Hertzer gives 𣸄. A slightly different character with a slightly different meaning. She also translates the name of hexagram 14 (22), fan 繁 as 'a common and versatile plant, used for medicine purposes, the "Artemisia stelleriana" ', which differs quite from Shaughnessy's 'luxuriance'. She uses this meaning throughout her translation of hexagram 14. Another remarkable difference is her translation of 34 (11) - 2: 'The drum stick is lost....', where Shaughnessy gives 'wrapped recklessness...'. These differences are worth to take note of, because they give an entirely and less traditional view of the MWD text. If you want to study the MWD text you simply cannot do without Hertzer's books.
Dennis R. Schilling
This book consists of five parts:
Hermann G. Bohn
Bohn's book is the most detailed study of xiangshu and yili philosophy and history available in a Western language. It talks in detail about the contents of the Ten Wings, the guaqi theories of Meng Xi and Jing Fang, the Eight Palaces, Wang Bi's Yijing commentary, Han Kangbo's commentary to the Xici, Kong Yingda's Zhouyi Zhengyi, the Yili school during the Song dynasty, Ouyang Xiu, Li Gou, Zhou Dunyi, Xue Jixuan, Lu Jiuyuan, Ye Shi's criticism, etc. etc. etc., illustrated with pictures and other material which is unknown in the West. This book contains so much new information that it will keep you busy (and puzzled; some systems from xiangshu are hard to comprehend) for months. It is a good company to Bent Nielsen's A Companion to Yijing numerology and cosmology. An extensive bibliography and an index make this book complete.
This book, published in 1970, is small in size but has been very influential in the studies of the original language of the Yijing. Schmitt was one of the first to look at oracle bone inscriptions and bronze inscriptions to illuminate a selection of texts from the Yi. His translations differ greatly from the traditional ones, but it is all motivated by references to ancient Chinese literature and the early inscriptions. The book is very hard to find but it is compulsory reading for everyone who is interested in the language of the Yi. Therefore I have made it available as a pdf download.
There are not many books which discuss the meanings of oracle bone characters in their context. Chang's book is one of the few; all the characters are organized by topics as 'ghost and ancestor cult', 'nature cult', 'the highest god Di' and 'magic actions'. Although it is not a dictionary it is easy to use it like that because of the radical index at the back of the book. The main value of the book is not its definition of the characters alone, but more the mentioning of the context in which a character occurs. By doing this Chang's book also explains the culture of the Shang.
Raimund Theodor Kolb
It is hard to find good books about the military in Ancient China. The excellent works of Ralph Sawyer come to mind, and I am patiently waiting for his multi-volume book History of Warfare in China. Kolb's book is a welcome addition to what we have so far: it deals with the history of the infantry in ancient China up to the Zhanguo-period (475-221 BC). The material is divided by dynasty; it starts with the Shang-Yin period, the sources we have about this period, its culture, and a short section about the chariot. After that the divisions of the infantry is discussed: zhongren 眾人, chen 臣, shi 史, doghunters etc. are discussed in detail, with many references to oracle bones. For each dynasty there is information about weapons, tactics, recrutement, etc. Extensive footnotes, lots of Chinese characters and a lenghty bibliography make this book a valuable work if you want to know how the military shaped the history of China. The only thing that I miss is an index.
This A4-sized book of 74 pages mainly deals with the Tuibeitu 推背圖, an ancient prophetic text in about 66 chapters, often compared to the work of Nostradamus. Just as with Nostradamus is the Tuibeitu used to foretell the future in todays world. But what many people do not know is that there were different versions of the TBT, and Bauer discusses four of these versions, giving images, the content of the text and the differences in each version. It also contains a complete edition of the TBT in color and BW pictures. The TBT is still an important text in China, and there is a version which links the TBT to some hexagrams of the Yijing.
This is just what I have on my shelves. Don't forget the Germans! Their work is often valuable, inspiring and very complete if we compare it with the English equivalents.
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