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Changes, sunbeams and pots

hilary

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Time was, every one knew what 'Yi' in 'Yijing' meant. It was the sun and moon:
sun-moon.gif


Right.
Wrong. It was a lizard.
lizard.gif


Right? Wrong. Common misconception. Steve Marshall's Mandate of Heaven put us right once and for all by referring back to the Shang oracle bones, where yi ri (yi sun) meant a change to sunny weather, and yi clearly showed the sun emerging from behind clouds:
sun-yi.gif

(All very nice for someone designing a logo for a business called 'Clarity'... )

So that's settled, right?

Wrong. It turns out that this is really the handle of a pot, and water being poured from it. There are versions of the character that show the whole pot very clearly
pot.gif

and LiSe's even found versions that show two pots, and water pouring from one to the other.

However... all the characters in this post are shamelessly lifted from the Yi page of Richard Sears' wonderful Chinese etymological dictionary. (He did give me permission, years ago, and I'm not stealing his bandwidth!) And it's noticeable, there, that although the many different interpretations - pots, lizards, sun and moon - appear in the bronze and seal characters, the oracle bone characters, the oldest ones, are remarkably consistent. All 73 in his database look something like the simple sunbeam-yi, with no pot.

I know LiSe must have found an oracle-bone pot-version. But looking at that great long row of sun-like Yis makes me think that maybe when the scribes were scratching away on oracle bones about sun rituals and sun changes, they had the sun in mind. Perhaps light flows like water.

Thoughts? Comments? Better sources?
 

rosada

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In the Tarot deck the card called Temperance is a picture of an angel tossing water back and forth between two pitchers. The card is associated with the sign Sagittarius, the sign ruling philosophy. It falls between the card for Death, endings, and the card of The Devil, harsh reality. It symbolizes that even death is not an end, that death merely leads to change, and yet after all the changes, all the tossing of ideas back and forth, the devil of it is, everything remains the same.
 
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bruce_g

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One thing which seems common to all is the idea of dispensing, and secondly, receiving, i.e. sun and moon. Even the lizard, when considered in mythological context, is a current version of the dragon, which represents heaven, which again comes back to dispensing life (pitcher).

Lizards are interesting creatures to watch; you never really fathom what's going on in their heads. The other day one pretty big and fat one (about 8") scurried along the side of the house. Mojo grabbed him in a flash, but I told him to drop it, and he did, The lizard moved like lightening, through the air, onto the ground, and he was gone. Also, the discovery of dinosaur bones in early China surely must have stirred a lot of imagination, birthing the dragon myth.

Here's one that has lived under a boulder in front of the house for at least the last two years. I think it's a bit Yi-like.

View attachment 331

Another (blue tail lizard), which found its way into a bowl of water, I put out for Mojo. Reminds me of the lake dragon.

View attachment 332
 

hilary

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Very Yi-like lizards, indeed. I especially like the first one's "I do not seek the young learner" expression. My memories of lizards (from a childhood holiday on Greek islands) is that they move so fast they almost seem to teleport. Definitely change animals - and nowadays in Chinese a Yi-reptile is a lizard.

I would love to know exactly when the pots came in, though. Is there any chance that they, like the lizards or the 'sun plus moon' version, were something read into the character later on? If there are pot-Yis on oracle bones, it looks like they're probably in a minority. So if it was originally a pot, is there a chance that way back in Shang times, people were already seeing it as a kind of visual pun, with sunbeams standing in for flowing water?

Harmen? LiSe?
 

lienshan

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And it's noticeable, there, that although the many different interpretations - pots, lizards, sun and moon - appear in the bronze and seal characters, the oracle bone characters, the oldest ones, are remarkably consistent. All 73 in his database look something like the simple sunbeam-yi, with no pot.

I know LiSe must have found an oracle-bone pot-version. But looking at that great long row of sun-like Yis makes me think that maybe when the scribes were scratching away on oracle bones about sun rituals and sun changes, they had the sun in mind. Perhaps light flows like water.

Thoughts? Comments? Better sources?
To me most of 73 pictographs look like moons?

The moon is "Dry" when waning, that'll say when the left/up side of the moon is "whole".
The moon is "Wet" when waxing, that'll say when the left/up side of the moon is "broken".

So I prefer the Richard Wilhelm version: the Dry (waning moon) and the Wet (waxing moon).

But the LiSe version too sounds very reasonable, because the Yarrowstalk Oracle developed in the Dawenkou and
related cultures, where wine and winewessels played a great role in the rituals discovered by the archaeologists.

Jacques :)
 

ewald

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I can see it as an eye, as seen from the side, the strokes portraying eye lashes.
(Some examples in Google Images.)

Perhaps a reference to the blinking of an eye?
 

lienshan

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I would love to know exactly when the pots came in, though. Is there any chance that they, like the lizards or the 'sun plus moon' version, were something read into the character later on? If there are pot-Yis on oracle bones, it looks like they're probably in a minority. So if it was originally a pot, is there a chance that way back in Shang times, people were already seeing it as a kind of visual pun, with sunbeams standing in for flowing water?
An explanation could be found in this James Legge translation of Shuo Kua:

Chapter III. 5. (The symbols of) heaven and earth received their determinate positions; (those for) mountains and collections of water interchanged their influences;

His translation of the trigram "Lake" is "collections of water" and in chapter 7 "(by) Tui, to give them joyful course".

Trigram "Lake" could maybe be understood as "winewessels"? Archaeologists and paleographers have recognized 14 of the more than 20 drawings on Dawenkou pottery as pictographs and deciphered them as seven characters, including "fan" (ordinary), "nan" (south), and "xiang" (enjoy) :)

To understand "enjoy" one have to remember, that shamans (wu) worldwide often used alcohol to travel from this world to the other world and that this might be the essential meaning of the word "change" although it's hard to understand in our modern world.

So with a blinking of an eye ... Cheers :)
 

Sparhawk

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Is there a better image of transformation than "tadpoles" and they do look strikingly similar to the old Yi characters... :D


L

PS: and they also have eyes and fins that they eventually shed...
 

heylise

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View attachment 333 I found a beautiful character of pouring from one pot into a smaller one, but did not make a note, where I found it. So lots of times I have been searching in vain where it came from. But then Harmen sent a row of characters, in which it was very clear how the pot turned into a simple image of only the handle with side, and the flow of liquid. I insert Harmen's picture. He knows where he found it, he is better at such things than I am.

The first character on the second row shows how the pot disappeared and only the handle stayed. No idea why the oracle bone characters only show the handle-version. No idea really how it actually happened. Looong ago...

LiSe
 

hilary

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Thank you, LiSe! Now we just need Harmen to tell us where they all came from :) Maybe the first ones in the series came from bones that aren't in Richard Sears' database? All his bone characters come from one source, a book with about 32,000 of them. Maybe all the pots got left out.

Actually, looking at the variety of images that are listed under a single character - not just for this one, but many others - makes me wonder how people can tell that they're examples of the same word.

At least all this gives us some good things to call the oracle.
Book of Changes
Gift Book
Book of Exchanges
Easy Book
Book of Pots... ;)
...
 

getojack

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And it's noticeable, there, that although the many different interpretations - pots, lizards, sun and moon - appear in the bronze and seal characters, the oracle bone characters, the oldest ones, are remarkably consistent. All 73 in his database look something like the simple sunbeam-yi, with no pot.

I don't know if all 73 oracle bone characters there look like a sunbeam-yi with no pot. Here's one oracle bone character that looks to me like some kind of container pouring something out...

View attachment 334

I can see a progression from oracle bone to bronze to seal to traditional characters, showing more or less of a container emptying its contents...

View attachment 334 View attachment 336 View attachment 337

My thought when I look at the wide variety of oracle bone inscriptions for the same character, is that there must have been a few time periods of standardization of the characters when only one version was deemed "correct". Further reforms would have been based on only one version of the character. The upshot of all this is that over thousands of years, containers pouring start to look like shining suns and lizards, making things very interesting.
 

lienshan

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What strikes me looking at the signs of Richard Sear's is this counting:

Bronce inscriptions: 3 dots left = 82 signs and 3 dots right = 6 signs

Oracle inscriptions: 3 dots left = 29 signs and 3 dots right = 44 signs

To me it looks like the bronce inscriptions are one phrase but the oracle inscriptions are two phrases?
 

rosada

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Your photos of the lizards simply wonderful Bruce. I don't get the connection to hex. 26?
 
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bruce_g

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Your photos of the lizards simply wonderful Bruce. I don't get the connection to hex. 26?

Thanks. The idea was containment of the beast. Has nothing to do with this thread, but I have it currently as my 26 image.
 
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lightofreason

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Lizards are interesting creatures to watch; you never really fathom what's going on in their heads.

No lizard - the specific form for the I Ching is that of a chameleon - its universal structure adapts to local context through change in surface expression - and so reflects the nature of hexagrams etc where they retain generic form but local context customises (or elicits a shift in expression - like a face and its emotional expressions responding to local context)

This dynamic related to the need to fit into the 'tao' of the local context to be able to then do things.

Chris.
 

soshin

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Last time, when we were on a trek in the lower Himalayas, we lost the way, and my Porterguide pointed to a Chameleon perched on a branch of a tree close to us.

We went into the direction in which it looked and well we went. :)

Soshin
 
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lightofreason

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Chameleon makes a lot of sense. What about the pots/pitcher?

From the chaos game, the containment of noise elicits order in the form of self-referencing - thus the pot/pitcher represents the container and the water the ordering of noise as universals. THEN comes the USE of such in local contexts and so we pour the water out to 'fall as it may' and interpret from there ;-)

Chris.
 

hilary

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The oracle bone with this scratched on it will be dug up shortly. ;)
 

getojack

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I see the image of a pitcher pouring wine/beer into a glass as a perfect image of Yi. The meaning of exchange flows easily from there. I could also imagine the original meaning being something like "outcome", in the modern sense of an end result, as well as the meaning of pouring out and receiving. This also goes along with the idea of the Creative and Receptive... Giving and receiving. So I would translate Yi Jing as "The Book of Giving and Receiving" or "The Book of Outcomes".
 

hollis

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I see the image of a pitcher pouring wine/beer into a glass as a perfect image of Yi. The meaning of exchange flows easily from there. I could also imagine the original meaning being something like "outcome", in the modern sense of an end result, as well as the meaning of pouring out and receiving. This also goes along with the idea of the Creative and Receptive... Giving and receiving. So I would translate Yi Jing as "The Book of Giving and Receiving" or "The Book of Outcomes".

"I have a flask of good wine, let me share it with you":) 61 2 to 42.
 

Trojina

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As a non scholar all this seems pretty haphazard to me - some say an image is of an eye some say a pot, some say sunbeam - whenever someone says what it is I just think well as far as I'm concerned it could be anything - and whatever meaning you go for you're bound to see all kinds of significance there. For preference give me sun/moon symbols anyday over pots - but to copy a well known phrase 'what do I know ' :mischief:
 

getojack

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As a non scholar all this seems pretty haphazard to me - some say an image is of an eye some say a pot, some say sunbeam - whenever someone says what it is I just think well as far as I'm concerned it could be anything - and whatever meaning you go for you're bound to see all kinds of significance there. For preference give me sun/moon symbols anyday over pots - but to copy a well known phrase 'what do I know ' :mischief:

"The moon nearly at the full. The team horse goes astray. No blame." 61.4 to 10

For a book supposedly about the sun and moon, the character for moon is used fairly infrequently...

9.6: The moon is nearly full...
19: When the eighth moon comes...
54.5: The moon that is nearly full brings good fortune...
61.4: The moon nearly at the full...

Seems that the moon imagery is being used more in a poetic sense in these lines, rather than an astrological sense, but what do I know?
 

lienshan

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jiaguwen bone inscriptions. Shang Anyang (1324-1122 BC) but there are examples from early Zhou as well.
jinwen bronze inscriptions. Western Zhou (1122-771 BC) but there are examples from late Shang as well.
Followed are the photographs of 45 pieces of jiaguwen oracle bone inscriptions which show readable characters:

http://www.lib.cuhk.edu.hk/uclib/bones/bones.htm

no. 34 is an example of the "Yi" (Changes) character we discuss and written very detailed.
no. 45 is an example of "Yi" (Changes) and above too the character ¤ (sun)

no. 19-35-38-39 show ½ of the "Yi" pictograph we dicuss, but not the three dots/lines.

no. 6-12-16-33 show the "Yi" pictograph we discuss doubled, but not the three dots/lines.

no. 18-21 show the character ¤ (sun)

From the above I don't think that "Yi" written in oracle bone insciptions mean "sunbeam".

By the way ... no. 40 is really funny: shows wine wessels named TUI

Jacques :)
 

rosada

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Have you created a whole set of I Ching photos, Bruce? I wish you would post them on the Memorization thread, or better yet just a separate thread so we can look at them one right after another.
 
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bruce_g

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Yup. http://www.yijing.nl/candid/hexagrams/index.htm

It's an ongoing work, and purely impressionistic. No proclamations of textual accuracy is inferred. There's just two more to go, but then I'll be going back and refining, or changing certain hexagrams entirely. Still, a couple of people who throw coins but are not interested in studying Yi, per se, report that they've been finding it very helpful. That's always nice to hear, especially when it's intended to be little more than a hobby. All graphic images and most photos are mine, but there are contributions from LiSe (coyote), Carin and Marike.
 
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bruce_g

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I'll correct myself. LiSe actually wound up contributing quite a few photos. I was stuck for awhile because most of my photos are of nature, and that gets redundant after awhile, especially since I live in the desert. LiSe/coyote has a keen eye for capturing the spirit of people and things, and so her images allowed me to go on with it. And, it was through her unceasing encouragement that I went on with it to begin with. I have a habit of deleting anything and everything I write or create. So, in reality, this is to her credit more than to mine; not to mention that she hosts the site.
 

rosada

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Oh my goodness! Not only are this wonderful to look at but you inspire me to do a collection of my own. I'm not a photographer, but I think I might start collecting images from magazines and cards etc. Where did the one for 14 come from? Are you any of these people? Is that Haylise in 25?
 

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