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Book copied on silk, Zhou Yi (Book of Changes)

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Book copied on silk, Zhou Yi (Book of Changes)


Date:Western Han (206 BCE-9 CE)
Dimensions:Length:30cm; width:21.5cm; height:48cm

Origin: Unearthed from Han Tomb No.3 at Mawangdui in 1973


Written in official script on a whole length of silk, it consists of both the text and the commentaries of Book of Changes. The text here refers to the Sixty-Four Hexagrams, but compared with traditionally-accepted modern and ancient editions, this version shows significant differences in the names of the trigrams as well as the sequence and statement of the trigrams and the statement of the lines.


For these reasons, it can be called another version of Book of Changes. Some experts believe that since the sequence of trigrams in this Book of Changes is rather simple, it should be considered a fairly early version and its date of being copied out should be the first years of the reign of Han Emperor Wendi. 


The commentaries are mostly anecdotes that have not passed down, and they record discussions and interpretations of the trigrams and lines between Confucias and his disciples. The arrangement of this Book of Changes copied on silk was made after careful consideration: it begins with the text, then moves on to the explanation of the text, the connotative commentaries and the records of events beyond the interpretation, and finally ends with sayings and epigrams by great masters who passed down the book.


If we look into the process of its creation and its early application, Book of Changes was originally a book on divination. It became an extensive and profound Chinese classic of philosophy and the oldest classic of oriental philosophy after Confucian scholars made philosophical interpretations of it. It became a book that explores and interprets the principles of such issues as the universe, human life, human spirit, and material. For a long time, it was honored as the foremost of the “six classics”, and is a canon of ancient Chinese social and natural science. Therefore, the thinking mode, philosophy of life and mathematic induction as embodied in Book of Changes have profoundly influenced and even dominated the thinking pattern and life attitude of people in China as well as in other countries within the Chinese cultural circle. In the development of natural science, it also has played the role of philosophical guidance. Book of Changes holds an incomparable position in China’s cultural history and remains a brightly-shining pearl in the history of world culture.

~ Hunan Museum




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Edited by Ano Eremita
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4 hours ago, Harmen said:

See for a study and translation of the Mawangdui Yijing and its commentaries I Ching (Classics of Ancient China): Shaughnessy, Edward: 9780345421128: Books.



thank you  Harmen

. . . . .

From the Inside Flap

The I Ching (The Classic of Changes) is one of the seminal texts of Chinese culture, comparable to the Bible or the Upanishads, and readers everywhere have turned to the hexagrams, line statements, and commentaries for guidance on every imaginable life situation. 

Thus it was a momentous event when a significantly different I Ching text was unearthed in Mawangdui, China, in 1973--a manuscript buried for more than two thousand years. Now translated into English for the first time by one of the West's leading scholars of the I Ching, the Mawangdui Texts bring welcome clarity, accessibility, and novelty to this beloved classic. In addition, the Mawangdui version contains five new commentaries that had been lost for more than two thousand years, including the surprising discovery of a commentary that quotes Confucius extensively on how he had come to change his earlier, negative, views about the importance of the I Ching.

The lucid purity of this translation make this volume a work of timeless artistry, one that is surprising, illuminating, and welcome to even the most educated I Ching reader.
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