Hexagram 6, line 5 & 6

line 5


Disputing. Greatly auspicious.

line 6


Huo 或: ‘there is’, see H1-4

Xi 錫: ‘to grant, to bestow’ (賜予)

Pan 鞶: a large waistband, belt, or girdle made of leather, used by the gentry. Often decorated with jade ornaments.

Dai 帶: waistband, belt, sash or girdle. James C.H. Hsu says in his The Written Word in Ancient China (Vol I, p. 435-436):

Images on the left: Spring and Autumn period pottery figures shown wearing sashes. Top right image: Han tomb figures showing the dress worn by ordinary workers. Bottom right: Figures shown wearing two belts, one for fastening the clothes, and the other for carrying a sword. (From James C.H. Hsu, 'The Written Word in Ancient China', p. 468

Click to enlarge (From James C.H. Hsu, ‘The Written Word in Ancient China’, p. 468)

“In ancient times there were no buttons to fasten clothes and so a sash was used instead. The b.s. (bronze script HM) graph  [m.c. 帶 dài, “a sash”, “a belt”] represents the waist section of an article of clothing tied with a sash, and because of this, the portion of clothing below seems to be bunched up as though pleated. However it might represent a sash with two hanging ends. A sash or belt was not only used to hold clothing in place, but could also be used to hold tools or ornaments, and so the word has the extended meaning “to carry”. (…) The origin of the name “Yellow Emperor” may be related to the fact that he wore jade huáng 璜 ornaments on his belt instead of a weapon. Some sashes worn by the Shang were very wide and had decorations on them; they were intended to be more decorative than practical. (…) A sash had many uses; one could stick a tool into it, or a weapon in time of battle, on ceremonial occasions jade could be hung from it, and in daily life it could be used to hold a cloth to wipe off perspiration or dirt. The Neize 內則 section in the Book of Rites states “From the left and right of the girdle [sons] should hang their articles for use: on the left side, the duster and kerchief, the knife and the whetstone, the small spike, and the metal speculum for getting fire from the sun; on the right, the archer’s thimble for the thumb and the armlet, the tube for writing instruments, the knife case, the larger spike, and the borer for getting fire from wood.” Of the many things that could be carried in the belt, a cloth or towel was the most common in Zhou and Han times. Both men and women carried them at their waists and so the b.s. graph  [m.c. 佩 pèi, “to wear at the waist”, “girdle ornaments”] shows a waistband with a kerchief hanging from it. The element for “man” beside it stresses that the waistband is being worn by a human being. Ordinary people wore many other objects at the waist besides a cloth, while the aristocracy often wore jade to indicate their superior status.”

Belts or waistbands were often given as a present from the emperor to a minister, general or official, as part of an official attire:

Thereupon he bestowed on Zhou Shao the dress of the Hu robe, a hat, a great girdle with a golden clasp, in which to be the tutor of the King’s son.
Records of the Warring States (Zhanguo Ce 戰國策, tr. G.W. Bonsall)

 鞶帶: a large leather belt for carrying weapons and other heavy objects:

所以必有紳帶[者] 示謹敬自約整[也]。繢繪為結於前下垂 三分身半 紳居二焉。[男子]必有鞶帶者示有[金革之]事也。
“The reason why a sash (紳帶) must [be worn] is because it expresses [an attitude of] respect and self-constraint. The silk [girdle] is tied on the front [with slips] hanging down, and it is divided [into] three parts, halfway down the body the sash forming two [slips]. The reason why a man wears a leather girdle (鞶帶) is to indicate that he is concerned with [the use of weapons of] metal and leather.”
Bo Hu Tong 白虎通, tr. Tjan Tjoe Som

 終: to the end, the whole period

Chao 朝: when a feudal lord has an audience with the king (諸侯定期朝見天子,報告封國情況):

In five years there was one tour of inspection, and there were four appearances of the princes at court…
Shujing 書經, tr. James Legge

i 褫: to undress, either personally or through force by someone else, as a form of humiliation. In many Yijing translations it is read in the latter sense, but chi doesn’t necessarily need to have that meaning here:

I long to undo my girdle, loosen my sash…
David R. Knechtges, Wen xuan or Selections of Refined Literature, Volume III, p. 29

There are other old Yi texts that use tuo 拕 instead of chiTuo is probably a loan for tuo 捝/脱, ‘to take off clothes’ (脫掉(穿戴的衣帽鞋襪等物),解下).

This is why I follow Dennis Schilling‘s interpretation when he writes:

Pan dai 鞶帶, hier wörtlich übersetzt [as Ledergurten], nach anderer Lesung auch einfach als »breiter Gürtel« zu verstehen. Bei der Entgegennahme des Befehls des Herrschers erhielt man Gürtel, an denen der Gürtelschmuck angebracht werden konnte. (…) [Es ist] naheliegend, chi  an dieser Stelle nicht im Sinn von »der Kleider berauben« zu lesen, sondern als »die Gürtel ausziehen«, um mit einer ehrerbietigen Geste auszudrücken, daß man sich der Entgegennahme des Befehls des Herrschers als nicht würdig genug erachtet.

Pan dai 鞶帶, here translated literally as ‘leather belt’, according to another explanation also simply read as ‘broad belt’. When one accepted the command of the ruler a belt was bestowed upon him, to which the belt ornaments could be attached. (…) Here it is obvious not to read chi 褫 in the sense of ‘to deprive someone of his clothes’ but as ‘to take off the belt’, to express in a respectful gesture that you are not worthy to accept the command of the ruler.
Dennis Schilling, Yijing, p. 480


There is the bestowal of a leather belt.
At the end of the audience it has been taken off three times.

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9 Responses to Hexagram 6, line 5 & 6

  1. Markku Kotiranta says:

    I am again offering my own view against the traditional opinions.

    Let’s first take a closer look at the passage in Bo Hu Tong:


    Shouldn’t this be translated as something like “[Male people] are demanded to wear a leather belt (鞶帶) to show having a [money withdrawal] position.” This would mean that they are higher officials.

    This is my (preliminary) translation for the sixth line:

    Sometimes having granted them a leather belt,
    at the last moment many abandon it.

    This hexagram is about understanding power “challenge” being the title. The lines give different cases for things we must know about power.

    Challenge could give a good explanation for the fifth line. This was what every court was doing to extend its power.

    • I don’t know what you mean with ‘money withdrawal position’, what is that? Jinge 金革: 谓军械和军装; 偏指武器; 借指战争. See here.

      Many translators read huo 或 as ‘sometimes’, or ‘maybe’. I believe the ancient oracles were written to tell what would happen, instead of what might happen. ‘Sometimes’, ‘maybe’ leaves too much room for insecurities. I don’t think the king would be pleased with that.

  2. Markku Kotiranta says:

    I translated 金革 (jin ge) as separate words. I was ignorant about them belonging together in Bo Hu Tong. This would then refer to a military person. Still I can’t figure out why the author used this expression ([金革之]事). (I can read Chinese only with a dictionary.) With money withdrawal position I meant a post of employment where the person can make financial decisions, perhaps without asking their superiors first.

    “Sometimes” and “maybe” could be taken as warnings or advices in divination. This would mean that the king’s position is insecure in line six. Some might join his rival. I believe that Zhouyi was used also in education as wisdom literature.

    • I was ignorant about them belonging together in Bo Hu Tong.

      It is a set phrase, used in several old books. Better use good dictionaries and sources suited to the time frame that you are exploring… You need to have some background in ancient Chinese language, need to know some of the grammar and word usage or you will make serious mistakes in your translation. What sources do you work with?

      Still I can’t figure out why the author used this expression ([金革之]事)

      There are several versions of the Bo Hu Tong, the [金革之] part is probably an addition from commentaries to a former version that just said 必有鞶帶者,示有事也.

      “Sometimes” and “maybe” could be taken as warnings or advices in divination. This would mean that the king’s position is insecure in line six. Some might join his rival. I believe that Zhouyi was used also in education as wisdom literature.

      That is an odd belief, since we have no records of the Yi being used (or written) as a school book. If we look at the words used in the Yi it has all the markings of a divination system – no more, no less. It’s earliest usage seems to be just that. Why make anything else of it when we have no material that substantiate that view?

  3. Markku Kotiranta says:

    The commentators did good work by adding [金革之] as an explanation. I was fixed with the idea that line six must refer to higher officials, but military persons fit better to the ideas of power and challenge.

    Actually I am studying tree of life systems. After translating the Anglo-Saxon rune poem, which clarified my thoughts about the system, I meant only to look at some hexagrams to see, if Zhouyi was also one of them, but I was fascinated by it and could not stop. It seems that it is a complete tree of life system. I have translated it with the help of Bradford Hatcher’s Yijing Glossary, which I think is very good, and some web dictionaries (mainly http://www.mandarintools.com and http://www.chinese-tools.com). I have also used some books dealing with Chinese mythology, thinking and way of life. It makes me quite sad, that I may never be able to understand Zhouyi completely. However, I believe that I can prove this connection with the system.

    If I have not made serious mistakes, then Zhouyi itself suggests using it for learning. In my translations hexagram 1 sets the goal, 2 talks about starting school and 4 about conditions at school. School is ending in 63 and 64 gives advices how to advance after it as an official. These give some (deeper) understanding about teaching. The other hexagrams have advices for all the things that must be taken into account in an organized society. This would be good material for advanced officials. I have also tested divination using my translation and got remarkable results. Divination must also have been its objective.

    • The way I see it you are mainly interpreting and not translating. Your usage of modern dictionaries that have no regard for early old Chinese meaning & grammar can result in serious mistakes, something which I have seen happen a lot. But it all depends on what you are trying to achieve.

  4. Markku Kotiranta says:

    I want to find the meaning of the hexagrams and you are right, this is interpretation. You cannot avoid interpretation, because the words have so many meanings. I have to use whatever means there are for me to open the Chinese text. I believe that most modern words are based on something very old and are therefore good in this respect, if used carefully. Although the translation might not be exactly the same as was meant in the original text, it can still carry the same intention. But without the knowledge of the old language, I am certain to make many errors. You probably would not do these.

    • You cannot avoid interpretation, because the words have so many meanings.

      I agree that it is hard to avoid interpretation, but the fact that most Chinese characters have several meanings is not the main cause. If you look at the context and the time in which the Yi is supposed to be written you can dismiss several meanings. Specialized dictionaries can help to narrow down the meaning of a character. For instance, many translators see wang 往 and qu 去 as synonyms. But Wang Li 王力 says,

      “往”是到某地去, “去”是離開某地,詞義正相反。直到近代, “去”才有 “往”義.
      “往” is going to a certain place, “去” is leaving a certain place, it’s meaning is the opposite. Only until recent times “去” got the same meaning as “往”.

      According to Wang Li, wang was never used to stress the meaning of ‘leaving’, it was used as a verb to indicate going in a certain direction. He translates 往 as

      The opposite of lai 來. To go to a place.
      (王力古漢語字典, p. 294)

      But without the knowledge of the old language, I am certain to make many errors. You probably would not do these.

      Well, I am trying to avoid them as much as possible. But it all comes down to the sources that you are using, and the intentions that motivate your translation.

      • Markku Kotiranta says:

        I have to admit that reading the specialized dictionaries is too hard for me. I believe that my method where I try to understand the wide meaning of each word in the modern dictionaries produces quite reliable results. Most often this has yielded sensible translations that are compatible with the tree of life system and the specialized use of the lines. If not, then I have used words that produce them. Both of these are prone to the timing error. I suspect that the specialized dictionaries would not always help me. I would still have to use words that are not in them.

        Had to check what words I have used for wang 往. Forward or go forward and ahead are by far the most common. Others are further, proceed, advance, progress, move, in advance, in front, further on, continue, thenceforth, towards, to. For qu 去 there are apart and run out (become used up). These are, though, still preliminary translations.

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