Hexagram 7, line 2


Ximing 錫命: Appointments granted by the king.

Here the king three times grants an appointment. In the Zhouli 周禮 there are nine appointments mentioned, the jiuming 九命, each giving greater awards:

[The jiuming 九命 are] an array of official ranks ascribed to ancient times and often revived by subsequent Chou dynasties, in which the 9th honor (i.e., rank 9) was highest and the first honor was lowest.
(C. Hucker, A Dictionary of Official Titles In Imperial China, p. 176)

(…) The nine appointments were 受職 to receive official duties, 受服 to receive uniform, 受位 to receive rank, 受器 to receive equipments, 賜則 to bestow regulations,賜官 to bestow official title, 賜國 to bestow fief, 作牧 to be shepherd, and 作伯 to be leader.
(David Y. Hu, Chinese-English Dictionary of Chinese Historical Terminology; p. 469)

 The translations that Hu provides for each appointment are somewhat simplistic, for instance zuomu 作牧 does not mean that you are just a shepherd, you were governor of a state and were allowed to go on punitive expeditions without the king’s consent – ‘to be shepherd’ is merely a metaphor for this task.

Amid the army. Auspicious. There is no blame from the ancestors. Three times the king awards an imperial appointment.

Hexagram 7, line 1


Shi 師: army, armed forces.

Chu 出: to go out, set forth

 律: statutes, regulations; pitch-pipes.

In the field of Yi translators it isn’t decided whether  should mean ‘law, regulations, statutes’ or whether it should have the meaning of ‘pitch-pipes’. Both options are plausible within the context of the line text. The choice between both meanings is also found in the study of  in oracle bone inscriptions. There is a sample of an inscription in which shi, ‘army’ is linked with  just as in line 1 of hexagram 7 (click image to enlarge): Continue reading

Hexagram 7, Judgement

貞丈人吉. 無咎.

Zhangren 丈人: in early times a respectful form of address for elder people (古時對老人的尊稱).

There is difference between the pattern X貞吉 (like in the Judgement of hexagram 2) and 貞X吉 (as in the Judgement of hexagram 7): I believe X貞吉 is a divination about subject X, where 貞X吉 is a divination for subject X. See for pattern 貞…人吉 also Hexagram 32, line 5 (貞婦人吉, 夫子凶) and Judgement of hexagram  47 (貞大人吉).

Jiu 咎:
The Shuowen says that 咎 means 災, ‘disaster’. Duan Yucai 段玉裁 says in his 說文解字注, ‘Commentary to the Shuowen Explanation of Characters’,

It is thought that 災 originally was written as 烖, ‘calamities from Heaven, as floods, famines, pestilence, etc.’ (Unihan database HM). Fire of natural origin is called 災. By extension 災 means ‘disappointment from Heaven coming (to you) ‘.

See also hexagram 1, line 3.

Divination for elder people: auspicious.
There is no curse from Heaven (or the ancestors).

Hexagram 6, line 5 & 6

line 5


Disputing. Greatly auspicious.

line 6


Huo 或: ‘there is’, see H1-4

Xi 錫: ‘to grant, to bestow’ (賜予)

Pan 鞶: a large waistband, belt, or girdle made of leather, used by the gentry. Often decorated with jade ornaments.

Dai 帶: waistband, belt, sash or girdle. James C.H. Hsu says in his The Written Word in Ancient China (Vol I, p. 435-436): Continue reading

The oldest source for the coin method

20140928_100256During the last meeting of the Dutch Yijing group there was confusion about the assignment of the numbers 2 (yin) and 3 (yang) to the sides of Chinese coins. Old Chinese coins have four Chinese characters on one side and the other side is blank or has two Mongolian characters. When I looked for Chinese sources on this I found that there isn’t much agreement on the designation of the numbers, one of my books says that the side with Chinese characters is yang (see picture), and in this lecture Shao Weihua seems to follow the same designation, but there are websites that say otherwise. Curious about the origin of the coin method and wanting to know how the Chinese people in the early times did it I did some digging. Continue reading

Hexagram 6, line 4

不克訟. 復即命渝.安貞: 吉.

不克訟: see line 2.

Fu 復: return

Jiming 即命: follow the royal decrees (遵從王命)

Yu 渝: In its ordinary meaning it means ‘change’, but I could not make this fit the pattern of the sentence and its context. This character also occurs at 16-6 and 17-1, and at these occurrences the MWD text uses yu 諭, ‘to tell, inform, explain, notify, instruct’ (from a superior to an inferior, most notably an imperial decree from the emperor to his subordinates – 舊指上對下的文告或指示。亦特指皇帝的詔令; 漢語大詞典, Vol. 11, p. 345). This fits the context of the line text.

安貞: 吉: see also hexagram 2.

At line two the subject loses the dispute and flees without following the orders of the king, thereby putting a death sentence on the people from his district. At line four he complies and by doing so saves the people from his district.

Cannot win the dispute. Returns with the accepted imperial decree and informs his subordinates.
Divination about peace: auspicious.

Hexagram 6, line 3

食舊德, 貞厲 終吉, 或從王事, 无成.

Shi 食: to ‘eat it’ – to speak about it but not putting it into practice (謂言已出而反吞之,不實行).

Jiude 舊德: the virtues and good deeds of the former kings and ancestors.

食舊德 therefore means to talk about the virtues of the ancestors but not putting them into practice. Without the proper conduct based on the teachings of the ancient ones the divination (zhen 貞) will be dangerous (li 厲). The outcome will be auspicious (ji 吉), but in royal assignments there will be no accomplishments (see also hexagram 2, line 3), as you do not have the full support of the forefathers .

Talking about old virtues but not practising them.
To divine will be dangerous.
In the end auspicious.
There is participation in royal affairs,
But no accomplishments.

Hexagram 6, line 2

不克訟.歸而逋其邑人. 三百戶.無眚.

Buke 不克: unable to win (the fight or battle – 不能戰勝)

Song 訟: dispute, lawsuit, accusation

Gui 歸: return, go back. Also loan for kui 愧, ‘ashamed’

Bu 逋: flee, run away

Yiren 邑人: the people from a fief, feud

Hu 戶: measure word for households

Sheng 眚: Same as sheng 省, cut down, reduce; mitigate (a punishment)

Cannot win the dispute. Returns and flees from the people from his fief. Three-hundred households will not be spared.

Hexagram 6, Judgement


About you fu 有孚 see here.

窒惕: Many assume that zhiti 窒惕 forms a fixed phrase, and I follow that same route although this is by no means an established fact – we do not find this phrase in other books so we don’t have any reassuring references for it. But this passage consists of several set phrases: 有孚, 中吉, 終凶, 利見大人 and 不利涉大川, which makes the possibility that zhiti is a fixed phrase very likely (Lu Deming 陸德明 suggests the text should be punctuated differently: as “有孚窒.” and “惕中吉.”). But we can only guess at its meaning. To make matters more complicated the variant texts all give other characters for this phrase:

MWD: 洫寧
GD: 懥6-0-GD
XP: 懫惕

Let us start with zhi 窒 and its variants. There is a common theme, some sort of overlap, in some of the meanings that these characters have. I have singled these out:

窒: perverse behaviour; disagreeable character (乖戾;執拗)

Zigong said, “Surely even the better person must have hatreds? Confucius said, “He has hatreds. He hates those who point out what is evil in others. He hates those who dwelling in low estate revile all who are above them. He hates those who love deeds of daring but neglect propriety. He hates those who are active and venturesome, but are violent in temper.

(Lunyu 論語, tr. Arthur Waley)

洫: ruin, corrupt (敗壞). Also a loan for yi 溢, ‘excessive, overdo, go beyond the normal limit’.

懥: anger, resent, hate (憤怒;憤恨)

When you are angry, you cannot be correct.
(Daxue 大學, tr. Charles Muller)

The Kangxi Zidian 康熙字典 says that 懫, which is used in the Xiping Stone Classics 熹平石經 version of the Yijing, is a variant of 懥.

The general idea that speaks to me here is that of outrage, going over the limit, undesired behaviour. This has to be 惕: ‘watched out for’, you have to be watchful and alert, but the anger also has to be ning 寧, ‘pacified, calm down’, as the MWD text puts it.

Although anger and outrage is to some extent justified it should not be taken to the limit, nor should it be used all the way.

There is blessing and protection.
To temper anger halfway is auspicious. At the end is inauspicious.
Advantageous to see the great man.
Not advantageous to wade through the great river.