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The 900-800BC hexagram 50 axe

hmesker

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In 2005 Dong Shan 董珊 from the University of Beijing came across an axe that was held in a private collection. The axe, dated around 900-800 BC, contains an inscription:

一六一一一六,曰:鼑(鼎)止(趾)眞(顚);鼑(鼎)黃耳,奠止(趾)。五六一一五八,X。

'一六一一一六' and 五六一一五八 are 'numerical hexagrams' that both convert to hexagram 50 ䷱. The text that follows it contains the name of hexagram 50 as well as phrases that are reminiscent of the line texts of hexagram 50.

Although the provenance of the axe is unknown Dong Shan does not think it is a fake, considering the patina and other features on the axe. This find would be the earliest object that directly links the numerical hexagrams to the Zhouyi, and it also contains the earliest text sample of it.

Dong Shan's original article about the axe, published in 2011, can be read here http://www.gwz.fudan.edu.cn/Web/Show/2207. Pictures of the axe can be found at the end of the article.

Adam Schwartz writes in detail about the axe in his article 'Between Numbers and Images: the Many Meanings of Trigram Li 離 in the Early Yijing', published in the Bulletin of the Jao Tsung-I Academy of Sinology, Vol. 5, p. 47-84 (http://jas.hkbu.edu.hk/site/YCY/upload/mw_data/file/mw_data_2058_5b4411571ef04.pdf)

 

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Freedda

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Thanks Harmen, I could not connect with the first link - browser thingee just kept spinning, but I'll try again later.

When I tried the second link to the PDF, I got a 'Not Found' message?

Just sayin' D.
 

hmesker

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Thanks Harmen, I could not connect with the first link - browser thingee just kept spinning, but I'll try again later.
Only those who consulted the Yijing and received hexagram 65 are able to open that link. Sorry.

When I tried the second link to the PDF, I got a 'Not Found' message?
Thanks for notifying. The link got garbled up. I have repaired it.
 

hilary

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About why the text is concentrated on a part of the axe that would be partially hidden under the handle - could it just be because that's the part of the axe that most resembles the shape of li?
 

hmesker

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About why the text is concentrated on a part of the axe that would be partially hidden under the handle - could it just be because that's the part of the axe that most resembles the shape of li?
Interesting thought. There are three axes found which have the shuzigua 數字卦 '一六一' on them (see Pu Maozuo 濮茅左, 《楚竹書《周易》研究》, Vol. 2, p. 463-465 and 《近出殷周金文集录》, vol. 4, entries 1074-1076), which converts to trigram Li. All 3 trigrams are written on the mounting part, similar to the inscription of the 鼎卦戈.

What is also interesting is that the Shuogua says "離為戈兵...": Li is dagger-axes and weapons...

Food for thought. I have send a mail to Adam Schwartz about this as he does not discuss the Li dagger-axes in his article and I am curious what he thinks of it.
 

hilary

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Well... if you were going to draw a trigram picture of that piece of metal, with the empty slot, which would you draw?

I'm glad you asked Adam S - let us know if you get a reply.
 

hmesker

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Adam replied that he briefly mentions the three Li axes in footnote 55 of his paper, a footnote I completely missed so I feel a bit dumb. He says that Dong Shan writes in detail about these axes in his article so he didn't feel compelled to do the same. I haven't read Dong's article in full yet but hopefully will find the time to do that in the near future.
 

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