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:
Saturday, July 19. 2008
The Groninger Museum has an exposition of bronzes from the Shanghai Museum. During my vacation we visited the museum, and I made pictures with my mobile camera. It is a beautiful exposition, and I can advise everyone to go and visit it if you have the chance. For me it has been very exciting to actually see the objects that I read so much about. Unfortunately my mobile phone doesn't make very good pictures, and I was not allowed to use the flash. That's way certain pictures are blurry.
There was also an exposition of contemporary Chinese art. I especially enjoyed the Book from the Sky: hand-carved wood prints with 4000 non-existent Chinese characters!
Click on the picture below to see all the pictures.
Saturday, June 14. 2008
Some years ago I designed a set of cards as an aid to the wenwanggua 文王卦 method of Yijing usage. I never found an affordable way to publish them, but last week I found a manufacturer who is able to print the cards in the size I want and in small quantities - say 20 decks. The limited quantity makes one deck quite expensive, but at least I am able to produce the cards without a huge investment and I am not getting stuck with a ridiculous amount of decks which I will never be able to sell (regular card manufacturers usually have a minimum of about 1000 decks).
Without an explanation the cards would be difficult to use, especially for novices. I am now in the process of writing the book which comes with the cards. It will explain the intricacies of the wenwanggua system, it's elements and subsystems, with examples from traditional sources. The cards will be used as a guide through the wenwanggua system, every element of a card has its own chapter in which the background and usage of that element is explained. The book will also have chapters that will suggest ways to use wenwanggua for other uses than fortune-telling. The book will follow a step-by-step approach, but with every chapter you will be able to use the given information immediately in daily practice.
If you want to see all the cards you can take a look here. I expect to sell the cards with the book for about $ 50,-- (excl. shipping; the book will also be available as a pdf download to save on shipping and printing costs). If you would like to be informed about the progress and receive a mail when the cards are available you can send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, April 26. 2008
Irian, kijkend naar een koor op tv wat zingt "iedereen wil vrede":
(Irian, while watching a choir on tv singing 'everybody wants peace': "If you want peace you must not choose for power.")
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 1. 2007
If you would like to know which collection of Yi books is in the Siku Quanshu 四庫全書 Imperial Encyclopedia, look here. The Center for Zhouyi & Ancient Chinese Philosophy from the University of Shandong has made this treasure available as PDFs, in fine quality. Enjoy.
Monday, July 9. 2007
Lately I had an argument (for sake of a better word) with a woman who owns a group on Yahoo, and in the files section of this group she had posted a raw version of an article that I wrote for my weblog. Since a) this lady did not have the good manners to consult me about it, and b) the layout of the article was terrible ruined up to the point that it was very hard to read and c) she did not have the good manner to mention the source, I asked her to remove the file from her Yahoo group. The first time I asked this she did not agree, saying that she wrote similar content on her own website. I asked her to show me where I could find that but she didn't reply. The second time I asked her to remove the file, stating that if she didn't comply I would address the matter to Yahoo, she started to call me names like 'Mr. Feathers' and talked about 'copyright whining'. She finally removed the file, but found it necessary to send my messages with the requests for removal to the members of her group, without giving her replies, of course.
You may wonder why I don't want to see my texts & articles copied elsewhere without me knowing about it. It has nothing to do with the need for recognition as some will think. I want to be responsible for what I write, and if articles from my hand start to spread around the internet without my name under it it becomes very hard to track the source of the ideas that are presented in it. And that is something which I find very important: you have to be able to name and track your sources. It does not sound very convincing if you have to confess that what you say is based on a file you found in a vague Yijing group somewhere on the internet. Ideas easily start their own life, and when you have a certain reputation (I am told that I have one) people very easy accept what you say. But if I make a mistake I want to be able to correct it. When articles are spread around the internet without my knowledge it becomes very hard to correct misconceptions and wrong ideas that are presented in the text.
Some time ago I wrote that the traditional view of the etymology of the character yi 易 was not correct - instead of the traditional sun/moon or chameleon image I said that the original form was that of two pots which are exchanging liquid. Although I am not the first to say that, the fact that I posted it on my website with my name under it made people believe that it is actually true. But a more thorough study I did the last view days made me change my mind. It seems that the 'pouring pots' version is a different character, even though some dictionaries say otherwise (more about that later). Now, the idea that the original form of 易 is that of two pouring pots is already gaining recognition, and I am not saying that I am solely responsible for that, but I do know that my article about it has had some influence. If that article would have spread anonymously around the internet it would very easy become an urban legend. Now it is only on my website and I can correct myself, saving me from what could have become a lifetime of embarrassment.
Sunday, July 1. 2007
Three weeks ago my computer crashed: faulty memory. For some strange reason I cannot restore the backup from my external harddrive. Result: all e-mail, address book and favourites gone. Not my documents, which were on a separate partition and are not affected by the crash from Windows.Sooo.....if I have not replied to your e-mail recently then you now know the reason. If you would like to be in my address book again: write me an e-mail.
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.
Foreign visitors: Click on the category 'English' below to see all the English messages in the weblog.
Many people (including me) have problems viewing the Chinese characters on my site. Even Firefox, which is the best browser for it, does not always do the job right. To help visitors viewing the articles I have converted some of them to pdf format, which can be viewed with Acrobat Reader. If you see this icon
the beginning of an article, you can view that article as a pdf by clicking on the icon.
Disadvantage of these pdfs is that you cannot click links, or images
for enlargement. So keep it alongside with the original web article and
you should do fine.