Hexagram 6, line 5 & 6

line 5


Disputing. Greatly auspicious.

line 6


Huo 或: ‘there is’, see H1-4

Xi 錫: ‘to grant, to bestow’ (賜予)

Pan 鞶: a large waistband, belt, or girdle made of leather, used by the gentry. Often decorated with jade ornaments.

Dai 帶: waistband, belt, sash or girdle. James C.H. Hsu says in his The Written Word in Ancient China (Vol I, p. 435-436):

Images on the left: Spring and Autumn period pottery figures shown wearing sashes. Top right image: Han tomb figures showing the dress worn by ordinary workers. Bottom right: Figures shown wearing two belts, one for fastening the clothes, and the other for carrying a sword. (From James C.H. Hsu, 'The Written Word in Ancient China', p. 468

Click to enlarge (From James C.H. Hsu, ‘The Written Word in Ancient China’, p. 468)

“In ancient times there were no buttons to fasten clothes and so a sash was used instead. The b.s. (bronze script HM) graph  [m.c. 帶 dài, “a sash”, “a belt”] represents the waist section of an article of clothing tied with a sash, and because of this, the portion of clothing below seems to be bunched up as though pleated. However it might represent a sash with two hanging ends. A sash or belt was not only used to hold clothing in place, but could also be used to hold tools or ornaments, and so the word has the extended meaning “to carry”. (…) The origin of the name “Yellow Emperor” may be related to the fact that he wore jade huáng 璜 ornaments on his belt instead of a weapon. Some sashes worn by the Shang were very wide and had decorations on them; they were intended to be more decorative than practical. (…) A sash had many uses; one could stick a tool into it, or a weapon in time of battle, on ceremonial occasions jade could be hung from it, and in daily life it could be used to hold a cloth to wipe off perspiration or dirt. The Neize 內則 section in the Book of Rites states “From the left and right of the girdle [sons] should hang their articles for use: on the left side, the duster and kerchief, the knife and the whetstone, the small spike, and the metal speculum for getting fire from the sun; on the right, the archer’s thimble for the thumb and the armlet, the tube for writing instruments, the knife case, the larger spike, and the borer for getting fire from wood.” Of the many things that could be carried in the belt, a cloth or towel was the most common in Zhou and Han times. Both men and women carried them at their waists and so the b.s. graph  [m.c. 佩 pèi, “to wear at the waist”, “girdle ornaments”] shows a waistband with a kerchief hanging from it. The element for “man” beside it stresses that the waistband is being worn by a human being. Ordinary people wore many other objects at the waist besides a cloth, while the aristocracy often wore jade to indicate their superior status.”

Belts or waistbands were often given as a present from the emperor to a minister, general or official, as part of an official attire:

Thereupon he bestowed on Zhou Shao the dress of the Hu robe, a hat, a great girdle with a golden clasp, in which to be the tutor of the King’s son.
Records of the Warring States (Zhanguo Ce 戰國策, tr. G.W. Bonsall)

 鞶帶: a large leather belt for carrying weapons and other heavy objects:

所以必有紳帶[者] 示謹敬自約整[也]。繢繪為結於前下垂 三分身半 紳居二焉。[男子]必有鞶帶者示有[金革之]事也。
“The reason why a sash (紳帶) must [be worn] is because it expresses [an attitude of] respect and self-constraint. The silk [girdle] is tied on the front [with slips] hanging down, and it is divided [into] three parts, halfway down the body the sash forming two [slips]. The reason why a man wears a leather girdle (鞶帶) is to indicate that he is concerned with [the use of weapons of] metal and leather.”
Bo Hu Tong 白虎通, tr. Tjan Tjoe Som

 終: to the end, the whole period

Chao 朝: when a feudal lord has an audience with the king (諸侯定期朝見天子,報告封國情況):

In five years there was one tour of inspection, and there were four appearances of the princes at court…
Shujing 書經, tr. James Legge

i 褫: to undress, either personally or through force by someone else, as a form of humiliation. In many Yijing translations it is read in the latter sense, but chi doesn’t necessarily need to have that meaning here:

I long to undo my girdle, loosen my sash…
David R. Knechtges, Wen xuan or Selections of Refined Literature, Volume III, p. 29

There are other old Yi texts that use tuo 拕 instead of chiTuo is probably a loan for tuo 捝/脱, ‘to take off clothes’ (脫掉(穿戴的衣帽鞋襪等物),解下).

This is why I follow Dennis Schilling‘s interpretation when he writes:

Pan dai 鞶帶, hier wörtlich übersetzt [as Ledergurten], nach anderer Lesung auch einfach als »breiter Gürtel« zu verstehen. Bei der Entgegennahme des Befehls des Herrschers erhielt man Gürtel, an denen der Gürtelschmuck angebracht werden konnte. (…) [Es ist] naheliegend, chi  an dieser Stelle nicht im Sinn von »der Kleider berauben« zu lesen, sondern als »die Gürtel ausziehen«, um mit einer ehrerbietigen Geste auszudrücken, daß man sich der Entgegennahme des Befehls des Herrschers als nicht würdig genug erachtet.

Pan dai 鞶帶, here translated literally as ‘leather belt’, according to another explanation also simply read as ‘broad belt’. When one accepted the command of the ruler a belt was bestowed upon him, to which the belt ornaments could be attached. (…) Here it is obvious not to read chi 褫 in the sense of ‘to deprive someone of his clothes’ but as ‘to take off the belt’, to express in a respectful gesture that you are not worthy to accept the command of the ruler.
Dennis Schilling, Yijing, p. 480


There is the bestowal of a leather belt.
At the end of the audience it has been taken off three times.

The oldest source for the coin method

20140928_100256During the last meeting of the Dutch Yijing group there was confusion about the assignment of the numbers 2 (yin) and 3 (yang) to the sides of Chinese coins. Old Chinese coins have four Chinese characters on one side and the other side is blank or has two Mongolian characters. When I looked for Chinese sources on this I found that there isn’t much agreement on the designation of the numbers, one of my books says that the side with Chinese characters is yang (see picture), and in this lecture Shao Weihua seems to follow the same designation, but there are websites that say otherwise. Curious about the origin of the coin method and wanting to know how the Chinese people in the early times did it I did some digging.

Bent Nielsen says in his book Yi jing Numerology and Cosmology:


Nielsen says that the earliest reference to the coin method is to be found in the commentary of Jia Gongyan 賈公彥 (who lived around 650) to the Yili 儀禮 (儀禮疏). Wanting to know how Jia referred to it I looked in my digital version of the Yili, which incorporates the commentary of Jia Gongyan. I found the following passage:

今則用錢。以三少為重錢, 重錢則九也。三多為交錢,交錢則六也。兩多一少為單錢,單錢則七也。兩少一多為拆錢,拆錢則八也。

In this passage Jia uses the words shao 少, ‘few’ and duo 多, ‘much’ to name the two sides of a coin, but it isn’t clear what is what: is shao the side with the four Chinese characters or is it the other way around? My dictionaries don’t say anything about this either. But when I looked for the word danqian 單錢, which appears in Jia’s passage, the  Hanyu Da Cidian 漢語大詞典 dictionary was helpful:

古代錢筮法術語。謂擲三錢 而成二面一背,象徵少陽之爻。
Technical term from a coin divination method from antiquity. When you throw three coins and you receive two mian 面 and one bei 背 it is called like this. This symbolises a young yang-line.

‘Two mian 面 and one bei 背’. What is mian and what is bei? In this case the dictionaries also assume that this is common knowledge. The Hanyu Da Cidian says that bei is the reverse side of a coin (錢幣反面的專稱), well, that doesn’t help much. Fortunately Jack Chiu helps me out with his book The Secret of Wen-Wang Gua. He says:

Chinese people used to call the side with Chinese characters the Face or Mian 面, and the other side the Back or Bei 背.
(p. 82)

Concluding: the side with four Chinese characters (mian 面) is called duo 多 (probably because this side has ‘many’ Chinese characters?), and the other side (bei 背) is called shao 少 (because this side has no or few Chinese characters). Knowing this we can translate the passage by Jia Gongyan as follows:

bgibabia今則用錢。以三少為重錢,重錢則九也。三多為交錢,交錢則六也。兩多一少為單錢,單錢則七也。兩少一多為拆錢,拆錢則八 也。
Today coins are used. With 3 shao (= the blank side or with two Mongolian characters) one has chongqian, this is 9. With 3 duo (= the side with four Chinese characters) one has jiaoqian, this is 6. Two duo and one shao is danqian, this is 7. Two shao and one duo is chaiqian, this is 8.

If Nielsen is right, and if my sources are correct, then this would be the oldest reference to the coin method.

Hexagram 6, line 4

不克訟. 復即命渝.安貞: 吉.

不克訟: see line 2.

Fu 復: return

Jiming 即命: follow the royal decrees (遵從王命)

Yu 渝: In its ordinary meaning it means ‘change’, but I could not make this fit the pattern of the sentence and its context. This character also occurs at 16-6 and 17-1, and at these occurrences the MWD text uses yu 諭, ‘to tell, inform, explain, notify, instruct’ (from a superior to an inferior, most notably an imperial decree from the emperor to his subordinates – 舊指上對下的文告或指示。亦特指皇帝的詔令; 漢語大詞典, Vol. 11, p. 345). This fits the context of the line text.

安貞: 吉: see also hexagram 2.

At line two the subject loses the dispute and flees without following the orders of the king, thereby putting a death sentence on the people from his district. At line four he complies and by doing so saves the people from his district.

Cannot win the dispute. Returns with the accepted imperial decree and informs his subordinates.
Divination about peace: auspicious.

Hexagram 6, line 3

食舊德, 貞厲 終吉, 或從王事, 无成.

Shi 食: to ‘eat it’ – to speak about it but not putting it into practice (謂言已出而反吞之,不實行).

Jiude 舊德: the virtues and good deeds of the former kings and ancestors.

食舊德 therefore means to talk about the virtues of the ancestors but not putting them into practice. Without the proper conduct based on the teachings of the ancient ones the divination (zhen 貞) will be dangerous (li 厲). The outcome will be auspicious (ji 吉), but in royal assignments there will be no accomplishments (see also hexagram 2, line 3), as you do not have the full support of the forefathers .

Talking about old virtues but not practising them.
To divine will be dangerous.
In the end auspicious.
There is participation in royal affairs,
But no accomplishments.

Hexagram 6, line 2

不克訟.歸而逋其邑人. 三百戶.無眚.

Buke 不克: unable to win (the fight or battle – 不能戰勝)

Song 訟: dispute, lawsuit, accusation

Gui 歸: return, go back. Also loan for kui 愧, ‘ashamed’

Bu 逋: flee, run away

Yiren 邑人: the people from a fief, feud

Hu 戶: measure word for households

Sheng 眚: Same as sheng 省, cut down, reduce; mitigate (a punishment)

Cannot win the dispute. Returns and flees from the people from his fief. Three-hundred households will not be spared.

Hexagram 6, Judgement


About you fu 有孚 see here.

窒惕: Many assume that zhiti 窒惕 forms a fixed phrase, and I follow that same route although this is by no means an established fact – we do not find this phrase in other books so we don’t have any reassuring references for it. But this passage consists of several set phrases: 有孚, 中吉, 終凶, 利見大人 and 不利涉大川, which makes the possibility that zhiti is a fixed phrase very likely (Lu Deming 陸德明 suggests the text should be punctuated differently: as “有孚窒.” and “惕中吉.”). But we can only guess at its meaning. To make matters more complicated the variant texts all give other characters for this phrase:

MWD: 洫寧
GD: 懥6-0-GD
XP: 懫惕

Let us start with zhi 窒 and its variants. There is a common theme, some sort of overlap, in some of the meanings that these characters have. I have singled these out:

窒: perverse behaviour; disagreeable character (乖戾;執拗)

Zigong said, “Surely even the better person must have hatreds? Confucius said, “He has hatreds. He hates those who point out what is evil in others. He hates those who dwelling in low estate revile all who are above them. He hates those who love deeds of daring but neglect propriety. He hates those who are active and venturesome, but are violent in temper.

(Lunyu 論語, tr. Arthur Waley)

洫: ruin, corrupt (敗壞). Also a loan for yi 溢, ‘excessive, overdo, go beyond the normal limit’.

懥: anger, resent, hate (憤怒;憤恨)

When you are angry, you cannot be correct.
(Daxue 大學, tr. Charles Muller)

The Kangxi Zidian 康熙字典 says that 懫, which is used in the Xiping Stone Classics 熹平石經 version of the Yijing, is a variant of 懥.

The general idea that speaks to me here is that of outrage, going over the limit, undesired behaviour. This has to be 惕: ‘watched out for’, you have to be watchful and alert, but the anger also has to be ning 寧, ‘pacified, calm down’, as the MWD text puts it.

Although anger and outrage is to some extent justified it should not be taken to the limit, nor should it be used all the way.

There is blessing and protection.
To temper anger halfway is auspicious. At the end is inauspicious.
Advantageous to see the great man.
Not advantageous to wade through the great river.

Hexagram 5, line 5 & 6

line 5


Waiting with wine and food. The divination is auspicious.

line 6

入于穴. 有不速之客三人來敬之. 終吉.

Ru 入: in old texts often used with the meaning of ‘to accept’ (taxes, tribute or a gift; 古文字通假字典, p. 766-767). This meaning of ru is used in several bronze inscriptions, like the Song 頌 bronzes:

又膳夫山鼎、頌鼎、頌壺、頌毀有 “反入堇章” 語,即受冊命者 “返納瑾璋” 於王。
The shanfu 膳夫 Shan Ding, Song Ding, Song Hu and Song Gui have the phrase “he returned and accepted a jade tablet”, that is he who received the emperor’s order to confer titles of nobility on his relatives “returned and accepted a jade tablet” from the king.
(古文字通假字典, p. 767)

A shanfu served the king personally, “taking out and bringing in” royal commands for administrative or military purposes.
(Maria Khayutina, Studying the Private Sphere of the Ancient Chinese Nobility through the Inscriptions on Bronze Ritual Vessels, in Chinese Concepts of Privacy, p. 87)

The term for the jade scepter (…) refers not to just any jade ornament, but to one that symbolized the delegation of authority in the archaic period.
(David W. Pankenier, Caveat lector: comments on Douglas j. Keenan, ‘astro-historiographic chronologies of early china are unfounded’ in Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage, 10(2), 137-141 (2007) )

Edward Shaughnessy translates 反入堇章 as “he returned and brought in a jade tablet” (The Cambridge History of Ancient China, p. 299), but to my knowledge a jade scepter was given by a superior to its subject and not the other way around.

Bu su 不速: uninvited; unexpected.

Ke 客: distinguished guests .

Jing 敬: use gifts to show appreciation or pay respect (以禮物表示謝意或敬意).

Acceptance (of gifts) at the hole. There are three uninvited visitors coming to pay respect with this. In the end auspicious.

Hexagram 5, line 4


Xue 血: loan for xue 洫, the irrigation ditches between fields; a small water channel. (古代漢語通假字大字典, p. 769)

鄒漢勳 Zou Hanxun (1805 – 1854) also follows this hypothesis,  arguing that the fourth line is at the start of the upper trigram Water ☵ (see 古代漢語通假字大字典).

Chu zi 出自: ‘coming from, going out at':

The wife with the boy in her arms came forth from her room…
禮記 – Liji

The viands came forth from the room on the east…
春秋繁露 – Chun Qiu Fan Lu

O sun; O moon,
Which come forth from the east!
詩經 – Book of Poetry

I go out at the north gate…
詩經 – Book of Poetry

Xue 穴: water course, drain, originating with a hole in a hill or mountain. The Erya 爾雅 explains the word guiquan 氿泉, a spring coming out of a hillside, as:

A spring coming out from the side. Xuchu 穴出 means zechu 仄出, ‘coming out from the side’.
爾雅 – Er Ya

Waiting at the ditch coming forth from a hole (in the hillside).