1. When in early antiquity Pao Hsi ruled the world, he looked upward and contemplated the images in the heavens; he looked downward and contemplated the patterns on earth. He contemplated the marking of birds and beasts and the adaptations to the regions. He proceeded directly from himself and indirectly from objects. Thus he invented the eight trigrams in order to enter in connection with the virtues of the light of the gods and to regulate the conditions of all beings.
The Pai Hu T'ung describes the primitive condition of human society as follows:
In the beginning there was as yet no moral nor social order. Men knew their mothers only, not their fathers. When hungry, they searched for food; when satisfied, they threw away the remnants. They devoured their food hide and hair, drank the blood, and clad themselves in skins and rushes. Then came Fu Hsi and looked upward and contemplated the images in the heavens, and looked downward and contemplated the occurrences on earth. He united man and wife, regulated the five stages of change, and laid down the laws of humanity. He devised the eight trigrams, in order to gain mastery over the world.
The name of the mythical founder of civilization is written in various ways; its meaning seems to point to a hunter or an inventor of cooking. There is a difference of opinion as to whether the sixty-four hexagrams or only the eight trigrams are to be ascribed to him. As he himself is a mythical personality, the dispute may rest where it stands. It would seem to be certain that the sixty-four hexagrams were already in use in the time of King Wên.
2. He made knotted cords and used them for nets and baskets in hunting and fishing. He probably took this from the hexagram of THE CLINGING.
This chapter tells us how all the appurtenances of civilization came into existence as reproductions of ideal, archetypal images. In a certain sense this idea contains a truth. Every invention comes into being as an image in the mind of the inventor before it makes is appearance in the phenomenal world as a tool, a finished thing. Since, according to the school represented by the Hsi Tz'u, the sixty-four hexagrams present, in a mysterious way, images paralleling nature, an attempt can be made here to derive from them the inventions of man that have led to the development of civilization. However, this must be understood not in the sense that the inventors simply took the hexagrams of the book and made their inventions in accordance with them, but rather in the sense that out of the relationships represented by the hexagrams the inventions took shape in the minds of their originators.
A net consists of meshes, empty within and surrounded by threads without. The hexagram Li, THE CLINGING (30), represents a combination of meshes of this sort. Furthermore, the written character means "to cling to" or "to be caught on something." For example, in the Book of Songs it is frequently said that the wild goose or the pheasant was caught in the net (li).
3. When Pao Hsi's clan was gone, there sprang up the clan of the Divine Husbandman. He split a piece of wood for a plowshare and bent a piece of wood for a plow handle, and taught the whole world the advantage of laying open the earth with a plow. He probably took this from the hexagram of INCREASE.
The primitive plow consisted of a bent pole with a pointed stick fastened on in front for scratching the earth. The advantage of this method of hoeing was that draft animals could be used and part of the work shifted to oxen.
The hexagram I, INCREASE (42), consists of the two trigrams Sun and Chên, both associated with wood. Sun means penetration, Chên movement. Then nuclear trigrams are Kên and K'un, both associated with the earth. This led to the idea of constructing a wooden instrument that would penetrate the earth and when moved forward would turn up the soil.
4. When the sun stood at midday, he held a market. He caused the people of the earth to come together and collected the wares of the earth. They exchanged these with one another, then returned home, and each thing found its place. Probably he took this from the hexagram of BITING THROUGH.
The hexagram Shih Ho, BITING THROUGH (21), consists of Li, the sun, above and Chên, movement, below. Chên also means a great road, while the upper nuclear trigram K'an means flowing water, and the lower, Kên, small paths. Thus the connotation is of movement under the sun, a streaming together. This is hardly enough to convey the idea of a market, but the words shih ho when written differently can also mean food and merchandise, and the market might be suggested in this way. Evidently the hexagram formerly had the secondary meaning of market (cf. the explanation of this hexagram in bk. I).
5. When the clan of the Divine Husbandman was gone, there sprang up the clans of the Yellow Emperor, of Yao, and of Shun. They brought continuity into their alterations, so that the people did not grow weary. They were divine in the transformations they wrought, so that the people were content. When one change had run its course, they altered. (Through alteration they achieved continuity.) Through continuity they achieved duration. Therefore: "They were blessed by heaven. Good fortune. Nothing that does not further."
The Yellow Emperor, Yao, and Shun allowed the upper and lower garments to hang down, and the world was in order. They probably took this from the hexagrams of THE CREATIVE and THE RECEPTIVE.
In this section two different strata are to be distinguished. The closing paragraph seems to be the older stratum. The introduction of clothes is depicted. Accordingly, Chêng K'ang Ch'êng says: "Heaven is blue-black, the earth is yellow; therefore they made the upper garments dark blue and the lower garments yellow."
Allowing the garments to hang down was later taken to mean that the Yellow Emperor, Yao, and Shun sat quietly without stirring, and as a result of their inaction things automatically righted themselves. Then, from previously known material, there was appended a description of their cultural activity and the blessing that grew out of it. The parenthetic sentence seems in turn to be a later addition to this description. The meaning of the activity of the three rulers is that they constantly carried out timely reforms.
6. They scooped out tree trunks for boats and they hardened wood in the fire to make oars. The advantage of boats and oars lay in providing means of communication. (They reached distant parts, in order to benefit the whole world.) They probably took this from the hexagram of DISPERSION.
The sentence in parentheses has been questioned by Chu Hsi. The hexagram Huan, DISPERSION (59), consists of the trigram Sun, wood, over K'an, water. That is why it is said in the Judgment, "It furthers one to cross the great water," and in the Commentary on the Decision, "To rely on wood is productive of merit." A boat as a means of communication across rivers and for travel to distant places is represented here. Wood over water--this is the meaning of the primary trigrams. The nuclear trigrams Kên and Chên mean large and small roads.
7. They tamed the ox and yoked the horse. Thus heavy loads could be transported and distant regions reached, for the benefit of the world. They probably took this from the hexagram of FOLLOWING.
The hexagram Sui, FOLLOWING (17), consists of Tui, liveliness, in front of Chên, movement, behind--an image of the way in which the ox and horse go ahead and the wagon moves along behind. Oxen were for heavy carts, horses for fast carriages and war chariots. The use of horses for riding was unknown to China in the earliest period.
8. They introduced double gates and night watchmen with clappers, in order to deal with robbers. They probably took this from the hexagram of ENTHUSIASM.
The hexagram Yü, ENTHUSIASM (16), consists of the trigram Chên, movement, above and K'un, the earth, below. The nuclear trigrams are K'an, danger, and Kên, mountain. K'un symbolizes a closed door, while Kên likewise means a door; hence the double gates. K'an means thief. Beyond the gates, movement, with wood (Chên) in the hand (Kên), serves as a preparation (yü also means preparation) against the thief.
9. They split wood and made a pestle of it. They made a hollow in the ground for a mortar. The use of mortar and pestle was of benefit to all mankind. They probably took this from the hexagram of PREPONDERANCE OF THE SMALL.
The hexagram Hsiao Kou, PREPONDERANCE OF THE SMALL (62), is composed of Chên, movement, wood, above and Kên, Keeping Still, stone, below. Kou also means transition. The mortar was the primitive form of the mill, and signifies the transition from eating whole grain to baking.
10. They strung a piece of wood for a bow and hardened pieces of wood in the fire for arrows. The use of bow and arrow is to keep the world in fear. They probably took this from the hexagram of OPPOSITION.
The hexagram K'uei, OPPOSITION (38), consists of Li, the Clinging, above and Tui, the Joyous, below. The nuclear trigrams are K'an, danger, and again, Li. The whole hexagram indicates strife. Li is the sun, which sends arrows from afar. Li means weapons, K'an danger. The danger is hedged around by weapons, therefore one is not afraid.
11. In primitive times people dwelt in caves and lived in forests. The holy men of a later time made the change to buildings. At the top was a ridgepole, and sloping down from it there was a roof, to keep off wind and rain. They probably took this from the hexagram of THE POWER OF THE GREAT.
The hexagram Ta Chuang, THE POWER OF THE GREAT (34), has Chên, thunder, above; the upper nuclear trigram Tui, lake, is at the top of Ch'ien, heaven, which is the lower nuclear trigram. The lower primary trigram is also Ch'ien, heaven, the atmosphere. Thus the hexagram as a whole means a heaven, a strong, protected space with thunder and rain above it. The trigram Chên also means wood, and as the eldest son it means the ridgepole at the top. The two yielding lines at the top are then thought of as the sloping roof.
12. In primitive times the dead were buried by covering them thickly with brushwood and placing then in the open country, without burial mound or grove of trees. The period of mourning had no definite duration. The holy men of a later time introduced inner and outer coffins instead. They probably took this from the hexagram of PREPONDERANCE OF THE GREAT.
The hexagram Ta Kuo, PREPONDERANCE OF THE GREAT (28), consists of the trigram Tui, the lake, above and Sun, wood, penetration, below. Forming the nuclear trigrams in the middle is Ch'ien, heaven, doubled. The hexagram must be taken has a whole; the two yin lies above and below mean the earth, within which the double coffin, represented by the double heaven, is inclosed. Entering (Sun) their last resting place in this way, the dead are made glad (Tui). Here we have a link with ancestor worship.
13. In primitive times people knotted cords in order to govern. The holy men of a later age introduced written documents instead, as a means of governing the various officials and supervising the people. They probably took this from the hexagram of BREAKTHROUGH.
The hexagram Kuai, BREAK-THROUGH (43), has Tui, words, above and Ch'ien, strength, below. It means giving permanence to words. The notch at the top also indicates the form of the oldest documents: cut in wood, they consisted of two halves that fitted into each other when held together. As a rule the ancient writings were scratched on tablets of smoothed bamboo. Here the significance of writing in the organization of a large community is emphasized.
NOTE. In its main features the sketch of the development of civilization given in this chapter corresponds to an extraordinary degree with our own ideas. The fundamental thought, that all institutions are based on the development of definite ideas, is likewise undoubtedly correct. It is not always easy to recognize such ideas in the complexes of ideas presented by the hexagrams, nor is it improbable that there were once certain connections that are now obliterated. There are indications that in the period preceding that of the Chou dynasty the hexagrams had meanings different from those which are traditional today. Possibly this chapter affords insight into these earliest meanings. That still another change in meaning took place later becomes evident when we compare the Judgments with the Images.