Harmen

The history of trigram circles: facts, sources and their interpretation

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Posted (edited)

Following a link on Clarity, I found a book titled "Fang Family Ink Illustrations" (dated 1588) in which there is this picture (page 121):

 

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with the Houtian Bagua.

 

In my (very limited) experience I had never seen a Bagua intertwined with text arranged this way.

Do you know if there is any significance in this arrangement? Or is it just a one-off fancy from the author?

 

Edited by remod
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On 26-8-2021 at 9:26 AM, remod said:

In my (very limited) experience I had never seen a Bagua intertwined with text arranged this way.

Do you know if there is any significance in this arrangement? Or is it just a one-off fancy from the author?

 

 

I had trouble finding information about this picture because the characters in the title were unfamiliar to me. But by searching for the start of the commentary below it ("花上八字...") I could find more information about it. This page 003八枝盘鉴图 (360doc.com) contains two modern versions of the picture and it says in the description that it is made by a woman from the Tang dynasty, but her name has been lost. It is poetry, and a transcript of the text can be found here 中贸圣佳国际拍卖有限公司官网 (sungari1995.com) with a bronze reproduction of the image. When you perform an image search on Google with "鞶鉴图" you will find more versions of it.

 

This kind of 'poetry in pictures' is not uncommon and they are often exquisite works of art.

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On 8/20/2021 at 7:20 PM, Harmen said:

 

 

Hi Harmen,

 

Thanks for this - very interesting.

 

For me this is a classic confusion of history and mythological narrative - which occurs in many areas of study which involve the ancient world of any hemisphere.  The concern, obviously, of historical analysis is date order progression and thus which came first in the texts according to date.  Clearly this is important if you want to understand how the various schools of interpretation developed their ideas about the meaning and structure of the Yi Jing and/or to help in actually divinatory readings.

 

Alternatively, and particularly within one particular school of interpretation where the two arrangements occur, then the question arises which is prior symbolically or mythologically - or in terms of Nei Dan which is prior in terms of energy dynamics (my own phrase to sum up a difficult and subtle subject :) ).  Here the Early Heaven arrangement is given as prior in terms of how the trigrams as energetic components eg. Kan and Li etc. arose from the Dao (compared somewhere and I can't remember where, to like the petals of a flower opening where opposing petals are polar 'opposites' like Heaven and Earth).  While the Later Heaven arrangement is to do with sequential transformation of one trigram to another comparable, say to how the season of the year progress Spring - Summer etc.  These two arrangements will then have related but different cosmological significances if understood in this way.  It is therefore possible to hold both the idea that one arrangement came first historically but that another is prior symbolically without confusion.

 

You can look to other religious or philosophical systems such as say, Hinduism or Buddhism and see characterisations of what is 'primordial' being introduced late in the historical record - without any contradiction arising.

 

Your video presentations are very clear and beautifully researched - thanks so much for posting them here.

 

Cheers.

 

A.

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On 28/8/2021 at 7:15 AM, Harmen said:

I had trouble finding information about this picture because the characters in the title were unfamiliar to me.

[...]

This kind of 'poetry in pictures' is not uncommon and they are often exquisite works of art.

 

Thanks for researching it, Harmen, I would have never been able to find it.

 

So, the trigrams were just there as ornaments, with no direct reference to the text.

 

Very interesting indeed.

 

Remo

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