Going back to the source: the manuscripts of Richard Wilhelm (2)

20160908_125855Munich is a beautiful city, especially with the sunny weather that it has today. My mobile informs me that it is 25°C outside but it feels much warmer. When I arrived in Munich, last Monday, it was much cooler. The archive of the Akademie can only be visited on Wednesday and Thursday so I spent Tuesday by playing the tourist, walking through the center of Munich and finding out how I should walk to the Bayern Akademie der Wissenschaften. In theory this should be a 15 min. walk but because of my complete lack of any sense for direction -which even brought Google Maps to the verge of despair- the 15 minutes became half an hour. At least I knew how long it would take me to get there. I was prepared. Continue reading

Going back to the source: the manuscripts of Richard Wilhelm (1)

fb_img_1473149206866-768x1024A few months ago publisher AnkhHermes, who publish the Dutch translation of Richard Wilhelm’s Yijing, asked me if I wanted to be the chief editor of the new edition. This new edition will have a new layout but also some corrections, a change from Duyvendak transcription to pinyin, years added to persons & dynasties and other minor adjustments to the text.

As editor I had to read Wilhelm’s translation from the first page to the last. Literally. Even though I had the book for more than thirty years on my shelves this was the first time I had to read it completely, as if it was a novel.

I wish I had done this earlier. Not only do Wilhelm’s comments to the text tell a lot about his view of the Yi and its usage, they also contain references to names and sources that I never heard of before: Xiang Anshi 項安世 and his book Zhouyi Wan Ci 周易玩辭, Liu Yuan 刘沅 and his book Zhouyi Heng Jie 周易恒解, to name but a few. Wilhelm didn’t stick to the mainstream books like the Zhouyi Zhezhong 周易折中 that he used as the main source for his translation and commentary. His library of books on the Yi was extensive and he used it to the fullest.

But reading his translation also raised some questions. How did he write his translation? Where did his commentary to the text come from? And most importantly, were certain deviations from the Chinese view made intentionally or were they mistakes?
The last question mainly concerns one topic: why on earth did Wilhelm switch the names of the two symbols ‘young yin’ and ‘young yang’? Continue reading

Hexagram 9, Judgement

小畜.  亨. 密雲不雨自我西郊。

Xu 畜: accumulate, make it grow in small amounts. According to Lu Deming 陸德明 (556-627) it was originally written as xu 蓄, ‘to store, save, grow’. The top part 艹 of this character is also found in the MWD form [艹+孰]. Also, the name of this hexagram in the received fragments of the Guicang 歸藏 (as given in Ma Guohan 馬清翰: 王函山房輯佚書) is 小毒畜. The second character is known as a loan for shu 熟, ‘to grow; ripe, mature’. The MWD form also has the 孰 compound. Some (like the Kang Xi 康熙 dictionary) say that the first two characters should be combined to 𣫶. Xu 畜 and du 毒 are close in meaning. They appear both in chapter 51 of the Daodejing 道德經:

Dao gives them life and nurtures them,
Rears and develops them.
It brings them to fruition and maturation,
Nourishes and guards over them.
(Tr. Ames & Hall) Continue reading

Hexagram 8, line 5


Xian 顯: appear, become visible, make public, (to) display,  (to) manifest. Also a loan for xin 欣, ‘joyful (appearance)’. Xianbi 顯比 can mean that the alliance is made public.

Sanqu 三驅: a ceremonial royal hunt with specific features. It is mentioned in the Wen Xuan 文選: Continue reading