Hexagram 02, Judgment


Just as with the name of hexagram 1, the name of hexagram 2, kun 坤 is difficult to translate, because the character only occurs in the Yijing and nowhere else (accept later books in which it is a reference to hexagram 2). In the Mawangdui text the name is chuan 川, ‘river’. This character is related to the character shun 順, ‘smooth; obey, follow’, which is a known symbol for kun. Shun is also known with the meaning of xun 巡, ‘make an inspection tour’ (漢語大詞典, vol. 12, p. 231), which we will see at line 2. The component 巛 in the character 巡 is a known variant of 川. The Xiping Stone Classics use a character which is almost identical: . Note the hooks at the bottom, which distinguish it from 川. It reminds me of the plough being pushed into the earth, making furrows. That is why I tentatively translate kun as ‘ploughed land’. For more about 川 and 巛 see Ding Sixin  丁四新, “楚竹書與漢帛書<周易>校注”, p. 351-353.

Tuan 彖


牝馬之貞 could refer to a divination about a mare whether it is pregnant or not. On oracle bones pi 牝 refers to a female ox (新編甲骨文字典, p. 47). It is possible that we have to read 牝馬 as separate words, ‘female ox’ and ‘horse’. See for the phrase youwang 攸往 meaning ‘far journey’ here.

Zhu 主 refers to the topic or subject of the divination (主體). The Fuyang Zhouyi fragments contain additional comments on how to interpret a certain line of the Yi, one of the fragments has the sentence …主得百病不…, ‘…the subject will have numerous diseases, will not…’.

Peng 朋 is ‘friends, allies’.

The four directions should be read separately (West, South, East, North), not combined (South-West, North-East), see Aihe Wang, Cosmology and Political Culture in Early China, p. 26-).

Ploughed Land: Greatly accepted offering.
Advantageous divination for female oxen and horses.
The lord undertakes a far journey.
First he goes astray, later he gets it.
In the West and South allies are obtained,
In the East and North they are lost.
Divining about peace: auspicious.

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