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15 Modesty - Karcher's Grey Rat

zhongfu

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Karcher has this as Humbling and brings into the discussion the idea of The Grey One - a divinatory animal which he describes as a grey rat which indicate 'unconscious creative processes are activated'. All very fascinating, but....

Having poured over the original ideograms, especially those associated with the Image symbolism, I can find no explanation as to where this Omen animal of the grey rat comes from or how Karcher has made this association.

Can anybody enlighten me?
 

svenrus

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Richard Rutt, in his Zhouyi, Routledge 1996, simply got Rat as the tag.

John Minford, in his I Ching, Viking N.Y. 2014, got Rats as the tag in the second section of his book. He referrs to Richard Kunst (Handwritten notes Hex. 15) In the first section the tag is Humility. (He also gives a short explanation why Rat is used, in this book)

In a note to the tag Modesty, Edward L. Shaughnessy in his Mawangdui text - translation of the I Ching write "Throughout this hexagram, for qian 'Unsatisfied; Hamster' or xian 'to hold in the mouth' the received text, in which this is hexagram 15, reads qian 'Modesty'..... "

In Chinese Symbolism and Art Motifs by C.A.S. Williams about Rat: "........ 'The Rat is one of the symbolic animals corresponding to the first of the twelve terrestrial branches and is an emblem of timidity and meanness ..... '' ..... The Rat was supposed by the ancient Chinese to turn into a quail in the Spring, and quails into rats during the eight month. The actual date of transformation was recorded in the imperial almanac.' "
 
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diamanda

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an emblem of timidity and meanness
I can understand timidity and meanness symbolised by a rat.
I can understand timidity symbolised by 15.
Is 15 in any way associated with meannness then? What do you all think?
 

diamanda

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Speaking about meanness...

I have seen meanness / nastiness in many lines. I'm trying to think of an unchanging hexagram which could possibly manifest as meanness. I can't think of any specific one. Perhaps 4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 23, 29, 36, 39, 44, 56, 62, all in their different nuances. But I would never have thought of 15 as meanness. Very intriguing and would love to hear thoughts on this.
 

zhongfu

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Thank you for this. Struggling with interpreting the Kunst notes, which are entirely new to me - but this has certainly given me plenty to hold in my mouth and roll around...
Meanness is not by any means necessarily perjorative, of course...
 

svenrus

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What I meant by quoting C.A.S. Williams was that animals got specific mythologic attributes, some of those maybe also with common roots astrology (twelve terrestrial branches) and I Ching between. But maybe the meaning in chinese astrology concerning the Rat was different from the meaning in I Ching ???

Often the role played by animals in the I Ching can be traced back to ancient myth and fairytales in ancient China.

The Fox, referred to in hex. 63 or 64 got plenty attributes, as an example....

zhongfu, I can't read those handwritten notes either, just linked the link to those from Minford's book in case someone could.
 

zhongfu

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Yes, the link between the Rat here and the twelve terrestrial branches is questionable. The concepts of Rat as an astrological character type and the Rat as an Omen Animal seem disconnected to me - but as you say, the roots in myth and legend might conceivably be the same, or have become concatenated over time.

Still haven't found any etymological evidence for the meaning Rat - neither elements of the pictogram lead me to this meaning - but the scholars you have quoted are serious ones, so there must be some evidence somewhere...

I remain as ever, wishing that I had even more versions of the Yijing - just at a time when I am giving the majority of my library away and trying to disencumber my life....

Thanks again for your replies
 

svenrus

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I guess You know about LiSe's site ? ( HERE ) If not take plenty of time to surf around there. Lot's of insight to get.

Also Harmen Mesker's site HERE
 

RindaR

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"Mean " can also be used to describe something small and unimportant... ?? Not necessarily something nasty.
 

svenrus

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C.A.S. Williams, in his Chinese Symbolism and Art Motifs, probably didn't go into deeper thoughts about each and every symbolism represented in his book; I think it was like a lead as he got lists of more books to read to go deeper after each part.
Meanness, about the astrologic Rat, could also referr to it's massive population ie in such circumstances being Not too proud and selfish as an individual (Rat)....
 

diamanda

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"Mean" can also be used to describe something small and unimportant... ?? Not necessarily something nasty.
Rats are one of the strongest symbols around the world.
At best, around the world, they symbolise timidity and shrewdness and quantity breeding.
At worse, around the world, they represent enemies, disaster, bad people.

No less in Chinese.

A Chinese proverb: "蛇鼠一窩 ( she shu yi wo = snake, rat, one nest ) describes bad people teaming / colluding together" (link)
Nasty rat symbolism in dreams: "Let's see how Emperor Wen of the Zhou Dynasty (1045 BC–221 BC) interpreted dreams about rats" (link)
 

hilary

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The bizarre variety of translations for the name of hexagram 15 stem from the nature of Chinese characters. The modern character for 'Integrity'/'Humility', as found in the Yijing, has two parts: one for 'words', and a phonetic element jian that means 'double', 'combine' and shows a hand grasping two stalks of wheat. The modern character for the Rat (apparently it's a giant hamster, Cricetulus Triton, but it looks a lot more like a rat) has the same phonetic component, plus an 'animal' part. And if you replace 'words' with a bird, you have the mythical one-winged bird that needs to combine with a partner to fly - see LiSe's site.

So in modern Chinese you look to the additional component - animal, bird or words - to see what the character means. In ancient Chinese, the meaning would have been understood from the context - so what did the original authors have in mind?

In 15 lines 2 and 6, 'Integrity' is 'calling out' - a word meaning 'cry of birds, animals, insects'. That's a hint in favour of rats - or, of course, the bird. As far as I know, LiSe was the first to suggest the bird, and Stephen Field adopted it in his book. He calls it a 'Wedwing' - nice name.

We hear 'rat' and imagine something living in teeming colonies and scurrying away out of sight into dark corners. Hence the associations of craftiness, sneaking, guile and so on. But according to Rutt, 15's creature 'is a solitary, untameable animal that adopts a humanoid stance, standing on its hind legs with forepaws folded' and 'under stress screams loudly.'

So you can imagine walking round the corner of a grain store and suddenly confronting one of these - about a foot high, standing on its hind legs to face you, mimicking your own posture. It screams at you.

I imagine that's why it was called a 'Double Animal' - because it's like seeing yourself mirrored in rodent form.
 

svenrus

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The Ideograph (/pictogram) from Alfred Huangs The complete I Ching, on hex. 15:



hex 15.jpg
 

hilary

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Nice, thanks! You can see the 'doubling' element on the right - the hand holding two grain stalks. On the left is 'words'.

LiSe's site is the best place for information on hexagram names (much better than Huang). Here's her page on the ideogram of 15: https://yijing.nl/hexagram-stories/15.html
 

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