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)
In the Wangjiatai 王家台 Guicang this hexagram is called shao du 少督, ‘small governing’. In the Qianhua 清華 Biegua 別卦 manuscript it is called shao du 少䈞, ‘small sincereness’.
Xu 畜 is also known as a loan for xu 滀, ‘build up (of) water’ (古代漢語通假字大字典, p. 588).
Wilhelm translates xu as ‘taming power’. This is similar to Legge’s translation of xu in the Mengzi. I will give the full paragraph in which xu occurs with Legge’s translation, otherwise the full meaning of the character and why it is translated as ‘restrain’ will be missed:
‘Formerly, the duke Jing of Qi asked the minister Yan, saying, “I wish to pay a visit of inspection to Zhuan Fu, and Chao Wu, and then to bend my course southward along the shore, till I come to Lang Xie. What shall I do that my tour may be fit to be compared with the visits of inspection made by the ancient sovereigns?” The minister Yan replied, “An excellent inquiry! When the Son of Heaven visited the princes, it was called a tour of inspection, that is, be surveyed the States under their care. When the princes attended at the court of the Son of Heaven, it was called a report of office, that is, they reported their administration of their offices. Thus, neither of the proceedings was without a purpose. And moreover, in the spring they examined the ploughing, and supplied any deficiency of seed; in the autumn they examined the reaping, and supplied any deficiency of yield. There is the saying of the Xia dynasty – If our king do not take his ramble, what will become of our happiness? If our king do not make his excursion, what will become of our help? That ramble, and that excursion, were a pattern to the princes. Now, the state of things is different. A host marches in attendance on the ruler, and stores of provisions are consumed. The hungry are deprived of their food, and there is no rest for those who are called to toil. Maledictions are uttered by one to another with eyes askance, and the people proceed to the commission of wickedness. Thus the royal ordinances are violated, and the people are oppressed, and the supplies of food and drink flow away like water. The rulers yield themselves to the current, or they urge their way against it; they are wild; they are utterly lost – these things proceed to the grief of the inferior princes. Descending along with the current, and forgetting to return, is what I call yielding to it. Pressing up against it, and forgetting to return, is what I call urging their way against it. Pursuing the chase without satiety is what I call being wild. Delighting in wine without satiety is what I call being lost. The ancient sovereigns had no pleasures to which they gave themselves as on the flowing stream; no doings which might be so characterized as wild and lost. It is for you, my prince, to pursue your course.” The duke Ching was pleased. He issued a proclamation throughout his State, and went out and occupied a shed in the borders. From that time he began to open his granaries to supply the wants of the people, and calling the Grand music-master, he said to him “Make for me music to suit a prince and his minister pleased with each other.” And it was then that the Zheng Zhao and Jiao Zhao were made, in the words to which it was said, “Is it a fault to restrain one’s prince?” He who restrains his prince loves his prince.’
Yang Cihu 杨慈湖 (1141-1226) refers to this anecdote to explain why xu in hexagram 9 means ‘to contain, to restrain’:
畜有包畜之義. 昔者齊景公問於晏子. 晏子正言而忠告之至. 㢲順也. 景公大悅召大師作君臣相悅之樂其. 詩曰畜君何尤則知畜有包畜之義.
Xu 畜 has the meaning of ‘to restrain’. When duke Jing of Qi asked Yanzi, Yanzi spoke upright and sincerely advised (him) to the fullest. (The trigram) Wind means ‘to follow, obey’. The duke of Qi being delighted (by this) summoned the Grand music-master to make music that suits a prince and minister that are pleased with each other. The Song says, “Is it a fault to restrain one’s prince?” Because of this we know that xu has the meaning of ‘to restrain’.
(Yangshi Yizhuan 楊氏易傳, , 卷五)
This restraining comes forth out of love and caring for the ruler, ‘love’ and ‘caring’ being other meanings of xu.
There is another reason why Wilhelm translated xu as ‘taming power’. The commentaries in the Zhouyi Zhezhong 周易折中 edition that he used for his translation say that xu means zhi 止, ‘to stop’.
Xiao xu 小畜 can refer to ‘small accumulation (of water)’: small amounts building up to a larger body. Here this body is still small in itself. The name of hexagram 26, da xu 大畜 can refer to a larger amount, resulting from accumulation.
Miyun 密雲: dense clouds.
Xijiao 西郊: the Western suburbs of the capital. Also a reference to the Western altar in that region. In the Yueling 月令 chapter of the Liji 禮記, which is also found in the Lüshi Chunqiu 呂氏春秋 and the Huainanzi 淮南子, we read
On the day of Li Qiu (the beginning of Autumn) , the Son of Heaven personally leads the Three Sires, the Nine Lords, and the great nobles to welcome the autumn at the altar of the western suburbs.
(Huainanzi, tr. John S. Major, p. 191)
Collectively the altars in the suburbs around the capital were known as the wujiao 五郊, the Five Suburban Altars. Each altar had its own ceremonial purpose at the start of the season, during which sacrifices were made to the corresponding God of the season and its wuxing 五行 Spirit:
(They are) called the Eastern Suburbs, the Southern Suburbs, the Western Suburbs, the Northern Suburbs and the Central Suburbs. According to the rites in ancient times the emperor performed sacrifices at the Five Suburbs to welcome the Qi (of the seasons). On the day of Lichun (the first solar term, the beginning of Spring) (he) welcomed Spring at the Eastern Suburbs and sacrificed to Qing Di and Ju Mang. On the day of Lixia (the seventh solar term, the beginning of Summer) (he) welcomed Summer at the Southern Suburbs and sacrificed to Chi Di and Zhu Rong. 18 days before Liqiu (he) welcomed Huang Ling at the Central Altar and sacrificed to Huang Di and Hou Tu. On Liqiu (the thirteenth solar term, the beginning of Autumn) (he) welcomed Autumn at the Western Suburbs and sacrificed to Bai Di and Ru Shou. At the day of Lizhong (the nineteenth solar term, the beginning of Winter) (he) welcomed Winter at the Northern Suburbs and sacrificed to Hei Di and Xuan Ming.
The suburbs themselves were also regions for ceremonial duties:
Why does the King [inaugurate] the ploughing of the fields, and the Queen the picking of mulberry-leaves in person? It is to take the lead in the work of agriculture and sericulture in all under Heaven. The Son of Heaven ploughs in person to contribute to the sacrifices in the suburb and the ancestral temple. The Queen in person gathers the mulberry-leaves to contribute the sacrificial robes. (…) Why does the ploughing take place in the eastern suburb? The east [is the region where] the yang is young and where the work of husbandry begun. The gathering of mulberry-leaves takes place in the western suburb because the west [is the region where] the yin is young, [the place where] the toil of women takes fruit.
(Baihutong 白虎通, tr. Tjan Tjoe Som, p. 493)
Another name for the Western Suburban Altar is Xi Zhi 西畤, the Western Altar which during the Qin and Han dynasties was to be used by emperors to sacrifice to the higher gods:
Reading the Chronicle of Qin, I come to the time when the Quanrong barbarians defeated King You and Zhou moved east to the city of Luo. At this time Duke Xiang of Qin was first enfeoffed among the feudal lords and constructed the altar of the west, using it to serve the Lord on High. Here is the first sign of usurpation. The Ritual says: “The Son of Heaven shall sacrifice to Heaven and Earth; the feudal lords shall sacrifice to the famous mountains and great rivers within their domains.” At this time Qin followed many of the customs of the barbarians, putting violence first and disregarding benevolence and righteousness. It held the position of an enfeoffed subject, and yet it imitated the suburban sacrifice (of the Son of Heaven). Such behavior is enough to fill a gentleman with fear!
(Shiji 史記; tr. Burton Watson)
If in this line xijiao also refers to a place or region for sacrifices then this text (in combination with line 6 and possibly line 4) might describe a sacrifice for rain, performed by the king.
The offering is accepted.
Dense clouds (but yet) no rain coming from my Western Suburban Altar.