8 Trigrams of the I-Ching

“Ch’ien * Tui * Li * Chen * Sun * K’an * Ken * Kun

The I-Ching or Zhouyi, or the Book of Changes is the oldest of the Chinese classics, going back to oral traditions and observations of mankind at least 4,000 years old. It is essentially a collection of six-line hexagrams which are arranged in a textual eightfold pattern, which come with a set of linked values, such as an image in nature, a compass direction and an associated animal. By the use of chance (the casting of coins, dice, yarrow stalks or whatever), the sequences can be changed so that different groups of six-line hexagrams are read together, which gives it the force of a horoscope, managing questions with a cryptic and ever-changing set of responses.

The eight trigrams each have an association with a form of male or female energy, a place, a direction of the compass and a characteristic animal. For instance, the Ch’ien trigram is associated with creative force, with Heaven, the northwest, and the horse; the Tui with joyous openness, lake, west, sheep; Li, with beauty and radiant awareness, fire, south, and pheasant; Chen, with action and movement, thunder, east and dragon; Sun, with following and penetration, with wind, the south-east, and the fowl; K’an, with danger and peril, water, north, and the pig; Ken, with stopping and resting still, with mountains, the north-east and the wolf/dog; Kun with receptive, earth, southwest and the cow.”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

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