“Alone”, as a Result of Divination: A Study of the Wangjiatai Gui cang’s Pure Yin Hexagram


In: Bamboo and Silk
Adam Craig Schwartz (施沃慈) Hong Kong Baptist University (香港浸會大學) Hong Kong (香港)

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The present study offers a new reading of the Wangjiatai Gui cang’s pure yin hexagram text. I make a comprehensive analysis of the composition and layered texture of the text, by employing a methodology to engage with its images and narratives at an emic level. I determine that there is an iconographic resemblance between the hexagram picture and the graph writing its name, identify an image program centered on being “alone”, “inhumanity”, and “water”, and provide a context for the independent but interlocking narratives of Xia king Qi and Gong gong. Taken together, evidence points to Gua “Alone” as the candidate with the lowest odds among various proposals for the hexagram’s name. The overall meaning of “Alone” is that being bad, self-serving, and immoral will lead to one being divested of spiritual blessings and support of the people. The image of water in the two narratives is a metaphor for wantonness that also functions as a conduit for its disposal.

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