Hexagram 9, line 6

既雨既處。尚德載。婦貞厲。月幾望。君子征凶。

Ji 既: on oracle bone and bronze inscriptions used with the meaning of ‘finished, complete, the end, to stop, the final stage’ (Liu Xinglong 劉興隆,《新編甲骨文字典》, p. 299; Ma Rusen 馬如森, 《殷墟甲骨學》, entry 387; Chen Chusheng 陳初生, 《金文常用字典》, p. 559.)  However, it depends a lot on the context and the character that follows it how you should read it. For instance, in the case of a solar eclipse it refers to a full eclipse (J.M. Steele, ‘A comparison of astronomical terminology, methods and concepts in China and Mesopotamia, with some comments on the claims for the transmission of Mesopotamian astronomy to China’, in Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage , Vol. 16, No. 3 (2013), p. 254;  Han Y B, Qiao Q Y., ‘Records of solar eclipse observations in ancient China’ , Sci China Ser G, 2009, 52(11), p. 1642) even though you might expect that it refers to the end or final stage of an eclipse. Continue reading

Hexagram 9, line 5

有孚攣如。富以其鄰。

有孚攣如: this sentence also occurs at H61.5.

You fu 有孚: see here.

Luan 攣: to join, to connect. There are a few dictionaries (like 《新甲骨文編》) who link this character to an oracle bone character (see image). This  OBI character has the same components as 攣: silk threads 絲 with a hand 爫. But in 攣 this hand 手 is below. Most dictionaries regard the OBI form as the precursor of 𦃟 ‘to tie (up)’, following the Shuowen 說文 which says 𦃟 籀文系從爪絲: 𦃟 is the Large Seal form of 系. From 爪 ‘hand’ and 絲 ‘two threads of silk.’ Continue reading

Hexagram 9, line 4

有孚血去. 惕出. 无咎.

It has been more than a year since I wrote my last Translation Note. This has mainly to do with one word: punctuation. The original Chinese text does not have any punctuation and for months I did not know how to parse the sentence. A very similar sentence is found at hexagram 59, line 6: 渙其血去逖出无咎. I figured that knowing how to punctuate this line would also help me punctuate H9.4. I thought I was the first to struggle with this punctuation problem but at H59 Jack Kuo gives three possible options: Continue reading

Hexagram 9, line 3

輿說輻. 夫妻反目.

Yu 輿: a chariot, but also the box of the chariot:

Shuo 說: loan for tuo 脫, ‘fall off’ or ‘remove’. It also is a loan for shui 税, ‘to stop, to halt’:

蔽芾甘棠、勿翦勿拜、召伯所說。
[This] umbrageous sweet pear-tree; –
Clip it not, bend not a twig of it.
Under it the chief of Shao halted.
Shijing (tr. Legge) Continue reading

Hexagram 9, line 1 & 2

Line 1

復自道. 何其咎. 吉.

I have struggled for many months with the segmentation of the first sentence, 復自道. I was not sure if I should read it as (1) 復自 – 道, (2) 復 – 自道 or (3) 復 – 自- 道.

(1) Fuzi 復自 can mean ‘to return of one’s own accord’, like in the Lun Heng:

猶物生以青為氣,或予之也;物死青者去,或奪之也。予之物青,奪之青去,去後不能復予之青,物亦不能復自青。聲色俱通,並稟於天。青青之色,猶梟梟之聲也,死物之色不能復青,獨為死人之聲能復自言,惑也。
When a plant comes forth, its fluid is green, which is, as it were, given it. When the same plant dies, the green colour disappears, or is taken away. Endowed with the fluid, the plant is green, deprived of it, it loses the green color. After the latter is gone, it cannot be added again, nor can the plant grow green again of its own accord. Sound and colour correspond to one another, and are both derived from Heaven. The brilliant green colour is like a lugubrious cry. The color of a faded plant cannot become green again, it would, therefore, be a mistake to assume that a dead man’s cry could still be produced of itself.
– Lun Heng, 論死 (tr. A. Forke, p. 197-198)

(2) Zidao 自道 can mean ‘one’s own way/method’, like in the Liji:

誠者自成也,而道自道也。
Sincerity is the completion of oneself. Its way is your own way.

(3) Zi 自 can be read as ‘from’, just as in the Judgment of hexagram 9 and line 4 of hexagram 5.

It is therefore possible to translate 復自道 in three different ways:

(1) Returning to the way on his own accord.
(2) Return to one’s own way.
(3) Returning from the way.

The character fu 復, ‘to return’ also occurs in the 2nd line (see below) but in a different context and that made me decide to go for option (1). Fu carries a sense of ‘to regain, to recover’.

Heqi 何其: ‘how, why’.

Returning to the way on one’s own accord.
How could there be blame?
Auspicious.

Line 2

牽復. 吉.

Qian 牽: to lead, or to be led (like a cow or horse on a rope). The Mawangdui text uses qian 堅, a character related to qian 掔 and qian 摼, both known variants of 牽 (Ma Rusen, 殷墟甲骨学, p. 461; 古文字通假字典, p. 861; 漢語大字典 (2nd ed.), p. 2058). I have wondered if the MWD form might be a reference to ci/qian 㹂, a character which means almost the opposite of qian 牽 – ‘untamed cattle that refuses to be guided by a rope’ (漢語大字典, p. 2126). This idea crossed my mind because ‘untamed cattle returning (by itself)’ reads like a reinstatement of the 1st line. But there is no factual data to back this up.

At the 1st line the return is on its own accord. At the 2nd line the return is a return by being led. Maybe these lines talk about cattle used for the rain sacrifice at the Western altar (see Judgment). At the 1st line the cattle does not need guidance, at the 2nd line it does. Both lines are auspicious because either way the cattle will reach its destination.

Return by being led.
Auspicious.