ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAOISM (A BIG DEAL BLACK’AN’ WHITE NOTE): Yīn and Yáng 陰陽

From Yìtú míngbiàn 易圖明辨 (Clarifications on Diagrams Related to the Book of Changes) by Hú Wèi 胡渭 (1633-1714)

From Yìtú míngbiàn 易圖明辨 (Clarifications on Diagrams Related to the Book of Changes) by Hú Wèi 胡渭 (1633-1714)


We have begun last time musing on a set of pictures: from glyphs to internationally recognized symbol (thanks, Cathay!); from 3-dimensional sphere to metal surface imitation; from black-and-white chocolate humble trial to gorgeous smoked image of calligraphy brush, …and straight to my favorite:) Today it is time for serious meditation on some quotes from Encyclopedia of Taoism, Routledge edition (2008), and I am definitely be back soon with a table of terms I have been collecting unrecognizable number of years. Still tuned to Tao? To be continued!

“In the Chinese worldview, the cosmos is generated from the undifferentiated Dao through the interaction of Yin and Yang, two principles or “pneumas” (qi) that are aspects or functions of the Dao itself. Their continued hierogamy engenders everything within space and time, giving rise to the material and spiritual manifestation. The cosmos thus is not static but in constant change.”

“Around the third century BCE, the notion of Yin and Yang was merged with the theory of the wuxing. Water and Metal correspond to winter and autumn (Yin), Fire and Wood to summer and spring (Yang), and Soil is the neutral center. This associations gave rise to finer distinctions within the cycle of Yin and Yang, now defined by four terms:
1. Minor Yang (or Young Yang, shăoyáng 少陽): East, spring
2. Great Yang (tàiyáng 太陽): South, summer
3. Minor Yin (or Young Yin, shăoyīn 少陰): West, autumn
4. Great Yin (tàiyīn 太陰): North, winter

“Another important development dating from around the same period was the combination of Yin and Yang with the eight trigrams (bagua) and the sixty-four hexagrams of the Yijing. From the Han period onward, these associations integrated all forms of classification and computation—Yin and Yang, the wuxing, the ganzhi (Celestial Stems and Earthy Branches), the trigrams and hexagrams of Yijing, and other symbols of the endless cycle of phenomenal change—into a complex system of categorization, giving rise to the system of so-called correlative cosmology.”—Farzeen Baldrian-Hussein.

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