Hexagram 8, Judgement


Yuan 原: many old commentaries say that yuan should be read as zai 再, ‘again’. But this meaning of yuan is quite rare. The Shanghai Museum Manuscript has 备 (not to be read as the simplified character of bei 備) instead of yuan. It is an abbreviation of the character yuan 邍 which is a known loan character of 原 (see 戰國古文字典, p. 1014; 古文字詁林, vol. 2, p. 454-455 and the Multi-Function Chinese Character Database). This also narrows down the possible meanings of 原.

The Zhou Li 周禮 says:

As for a picture of the earth below heaven, the Zhou knew the length and breadth’s numbers of the regions in the nine districts, and distinguished the names of the mountains and forests, the rivers and swamps, the mounds and hills, the high and low levels of the earth and the plateaus and marshes.

About 原 the Jingdian Shiwen 經典釋文 by Lu Deming 陸德明 says: 原, 本又作邍 – ‘原 is originally written as 邍.’ The Shuowen 說文 says: 高平曰邍 – ‘higher plains are called 邍’, to which Zheng Xuan 鄭玄 adds: 下平曰衍,高平曰原,下溼曰隰 – ‘lower plains are called yan 衍, higher plains are called yuan 原, low marsh lands is called xi 隰’.

The combination of 原 and 隰 – 原隰 – can be found in several old texts, it is a general term for plains and marshes, high land and low land. Likewise we find 邍隰 in the inscriptions on the Jin Hou Dui Xu 晉侯對盨 bronzes, which mention the enjoyment of the hunt in the 邍隰, the plains and marshes (see also this page, search for ‘晋侯對盨’).
Generally speaking 邍/原 refers to an earth feature, namely the flatlands. This is also how 原 is read in the famous sentence from the Grand Diviner 大卜 in the Zhou Li:

大卜掌三兆之法。一曰玉兆,二曰瓦兆,三曰原兆。其經兆之體,皆百有二十,其頌皆千有二百。掌三易之法,一曰連山,二曰歸藏,三曰周易。其經卦皆八,其別皆六十有四。掌三夢之法,一曰致夢,二曰觭夢,三曰咸陟。 其經運十,其別九十。
The great diviners handle the three crack omen methods. The first is called Yuzhao (Jade crack omens; like veins in jade); the second, Wazhao (Tile crack omens; like cracks in tile); and the third, Yuanzhao (Flatland crack omens; like veins in land). There are a total of 120 canonical crack forms and 1,200 oracular verses [used in each of the three methods]. [The great diviners also] handle the three Yi methods: the first is Lianshan (Arrayed mountains); the second, Guicang (Return to the storehouse); and the third, Zhouyi (Zhou dynasty [Classic of] Changes). There are a total of eight trigrams and sixty-four hexagrams in these texts. [The great diviners also] handle the three dream (i.e., oneiromantic) methods. The first is Zhimeng (Arrived dreams; Xia); the second, Qimeng (Anomalous dreams; Shang); and the third, Xianzhi (All obtained; Zhou). There are ten basic types of [celestial] haloes and ninety permutations in these texts.
– Stephan N. Kory, Cracking To Divine: Pyro-Plastromancy as an Archetypal and Common Mantic and Religious Practice in Han and Medieval China (diss.), p. 466-467.

In the book Bufa Xiangkao 卜法詳考, ‘Detailed Study of Pyromancy’ by Hu Xu 胡煦 this is explained in the following fragments:

問龜曰卜,兆灼龜而占之象也。玉兆,璺罅如玉,屬陽。瓦兆,暴裂如瓦,屬陰。原兆,拆裂如原田,陰陽雜也。 (…) 以龜占象之謂卜,以火灼龜,其象可占之謂兆。 (…) 三兆者,拆之所形,其大小有此三等也。玉無拆而有璺,故謂璺為瑕。璺字從玉,釋為器破未離,即瑕之象也。有似于拆而非拆,故以無形之拆為玉兆。 瓦以覆屋,不可有拆,陶冶之時,務期密致。或其水土未和,經火而拆出,其拆亦小,特比于璺,有形可見耳,故以小拆為瓦兆。原謂田原,土當冬令,燥而枯裂,必有大拆形焉,故謂之原兆,即兆廣者也。是則玉兆者,拆而未形者也。瓦兆者,小拆也。原兆者,大拆也。此三兆也。 (…) 原者,田原也。亢暘為旱,則田龜拆。(…) 又曰玉兆者,金兆,金不裂而玉裂,故言為玉。瓦兆者,土兆,土不裂而瓦裂,故言為瓦。原兆者,水兆,水不裂而原裂,故言為原。
To consult the tortoise is called bu 卜, zhao 兆 is when you heat the tortoise and interpret its images. A ‘jade crack’ is like a crack in jade, it belongs to yang. An ‘earthenware crack’ is a crack like in broken earthenware, it belongs to yin. A ‘flatland crack’ is like a crack in the flatlands, it is a mix of yin and yang. (…) When you use fire to heat the tortoise its images that can be interpreted are called zhao 兆. (…) The san zhao 三兆 are the forms of the cracks, its size has three categories. ‘Jade’ is a crack like a crack in jade (it is visible but the stone is not really broken HM), therefore it is called a crack like a flaw in jade. The character wen 璺 comes from yu 玉, ‘jade’, it is explained as a utensil breaking (the jade) but not splitting it, that is the image of a flaw in jade: it is broken, yet it is not in half, that is why a crack without form is called a ‘jade crack’. Earthenware tiles are used to cover the house and therefore should not have cracks. When they are made you must be sure [that the clay HM] is dense and compact. When the water and earth are not mixed properly and it passes through the fire, cracks will emerge. These cracks are also small just like flaws in jade, but their forms can be seen, therefore these small cracks are ‘earthenware cracks’. Yuan 原 means ‘open plains, flatlands’. In the winter the earth is dry and split open, having forms like big cracks. Therefore this type of crack is called ‘flatlands crack’, which means that the cracks are wide (and) spreading. So, with ‘jade cracks’ the cracks are without form, with ‘earthenware cracks’ the cracks are small, with ‘flatlands cracks’ the cracks are large. These are the san zhao 三兆. (…) Yuan 原 refers to the open plains. When the sun is high it makes the land dry, and as a result the land cracks (reading 龜拆 as 龜裂 HM). (…) It is also said that a ‘jade crack’ is a Metal crack, since Metal itself cannot crack yet it can make jade crack, that is why it is said that it governs ‘jade’. An ‘earthenware crack’ is an Earth crack, since Earth itself (as a substance HM) cannot crack but it can make earthenware crack (when it is used in pottery HM), that is why it is said that it governs ‘earthenware’. A ‘flatlands crack’ is a Water crack, since Water itself cannot crack but it can make the plains crack, that is why it is said that it governs ‘flatlands’.
– 周易函書: 附卜法詳考等四種, p. 1147-1148

In a footnote Kory says about the three methods,

The terms used above for the three different omenological methods and/or omens (i.e., yu, wa, and yuan) are said to refer to differences in the forms and hues of pyroplastromantic cracks. While the subcommentators question Du Zichun’s claims concerning attribution, they cite Zheng Xuan who points out that, just like Yijing achilleomancy, each of the three crack omen methods should be regarded as textual traditions associated with the Xia, Shang and Zhou dynasties.
(Cracking To Divine, p. 466, note 5)

Zhao does not only refer to different types of cracks, but to different schools of methods as well:

Zhao 兆 refers to the modal of the cracks on tortoise shell. ‘The three types of cracks methods’ refer to three schools, with each zhao 兆 having its own distinguishing features.
– Wang Feng 王风, 易为溢策

I assume that yuan shi 邍/原 筮 refers to a category of milfoil oracles associated with earth images. The lower trigram Earth ☷ might be a hint for this. It is interesting to notice that bi 比, the name of hexagram 8, is a name for a kind of milfoil oracle, as mentioned in the Zhou Li:

Diviners master the three Books of changes and distinguish the names of nine kinds of milfoil divination. One is called Lianshan, the second Guicang, the third Zhouyi. The names of the nine kinds of milfoil are Wugeng 巫更, Wuxian 巫咸, Wushi 巫式, Wumu 巫目, Wuyi 巫易, Wubi 巫比, Wuci 巫祠, Wucan 巫參, and Wuhuan 巫環. They distinguish the auspicious from the inauspicious.
– Lagerwey (ed.), Early Chinese Religion, Part One, p. 407

Yong zhen 永貞: long-term (長久) divination, see hexagram 2, extra text.

Bu ning 不寧: a time of unrest, instability (不安定; 不安寧)

Fang 方: used to denote a starting, coming or present continuing state (漢語大詞典, Vol. 6, p. 1550-1551; 古代汉语虚词词典, p. 134-135). Here it is paired with the directional word lai 來, ‘coming’, emphasizing an approaching situation.

Fu 夫: most often used to indicate third person, ‘one who…’, ‘those who…’ (Paul W. Kroll, A Student’s Dictionary of Classical and Medieval Chinese, p. 117). That is why hou fu 後夫 (hou 後 meaning ‘later’, ‘afterwards’), is often translated as ‘those who come late’. But used in the middle of a sentence it can also signify a certain mood or continuity which is not always translatable (古代汉语虛词词典, p. 158; 漢語大詞典, Vol. 2 p. 1455):

In the case of a sword, he opened the cover of its case, and placed it underneath. Then he put into the case a silken cloth, on which he placed the sword.
– Li Ji 禮記 (tr. James Legge)

The Master said, “If you were to eat good rice, and wear embroidered clothes, would you feel at ease?”
– Lun Yu 論語 (tr. James Legge, modified)

(Category of) flatland milfoil oracle.
Grand long-term divination.
No curse from the ancestors.
A time of unrest is coming,
Which will later on lead to misfortune.

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One Response to Hexagram 8, Judgement

  1. Han says:

    Heel interessant stuk, Harmen.
    Gaat in mijn archief, zeer informatief
    Hartelijke groet van Han.

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