|Ta Chuan - Section 2 - Chapter II|
Page 2 of 12Chapter II - Cultural history
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Anciently, when Fu Hsi had come to the rule of all under heaven, looking up, he contemplated the brilliant forms exhibited in the sky, and looking down he surveyed the patterns shown on the earth. He contemplated the ornamental appearances of birds and beasts and their different suitabilities. Near at hand, in his own person, he found things for consideration; and the same at a distance, in things in general.
On this he devised the eight trigrams, to show fully the attributes of the spiritual intelligences operating secretly, and to classify the qualities of the myriads of things.
See also: Shuo Kua, Chapter I-1.
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He invented the making of nets of various kinds by knitting strings, both for hunting and fishing. The idea of this was taken, probably, from the hexagram Li (30. Clinging Brightness).
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On the death of Fu Hsi, there arose the clan of Shen-Neng. He fashioned wood to form the share, and bent wood to make the plough-handle. The advantages of ploughing and weeding were then taught to all under heaven. The idea of this was taken, probably, from the hexagram I (42. Increase).
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He caused markets to be held at midday, thus bringing together all the people, and assembling in one place all their wares. They made their exchanges and retired, every one having got what he wanted. The idea of this was taken, probably, from the hexagram Shih Ho (21. Biting through).
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After the death of Shen-Neng, there arose Hwang Ti, Yao and Shun. They carried through the changes, so that the people did what was required of them, without being wearied; yea, they exerted such a spirit-like transformation, that the people felt constrained to approve their ordinances as right. When a series of changes has run all its course, another change ensues. When it obtains free course, it will continue long. Hence it was that 'these sovereigns were helped by heaven; they had good fortune, and their every movement was advantageous'.
Hwang Ti, Yao and Shun simply wore their upper and lower garments as patterns to the people, and good order was secured all under heaven. The idea of this was taken, probably, from the hexagrams Ch'ien (1. the Creative Principle) and K'un (2. the Passive Principle).
See also: Section 1, Chapter XII-1.
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They hollowed out trees to form canoes; they cut others long and thin to make oars. Thus arose the benefit of canoes and oars for the help of those who had no means of intercourse with others. They could now reach the most distant parts, and all under heaven were benefited. The idea of this was taken, probably, from the hexagram Huan (59. Dispersal).
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They used oxen in carts and yoked horses to chariots, thus providing for the carriage of what was heavy, and for distant journeys, thereby benefiting all under the sky. The idea of this was taken, probably, from the hexagram Sui (17. Allegiance).
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They made the double gates and the warning of the clapper, as a preparation against the approach of marauding visitors. The idea of this was taken, probably, from the hexagram Yü (16. Enthusiasm).
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They cut wood and fashioned it into pestels; they dug in the ground and formed mortars. Thus the myriads of the people received the benefit arising from the use of pestle and mortar. The idea of this was taken, probably, from the hexagram Hsiao Kuo (62. Small Excess).
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They bent wood by means of string, so as to form bows, and sharpened wood so as to make arrows. This gave the benefit of bows and arrows, and served to produce everywhere a feeling of awe. The idea of this was taken, probably, from the hexagram K'uei (38. Opposition).
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In the highest antiquity they made their homes in caves and in summer dwelt in the open country. In subsequent ages, for these the sages substituted houses, with the ridge-beam above and the projecting roof below, as a provision against wind and rain. The idea of this was taken, probably, from the hexagram Ta Chuang (34. Strength of Greatness).
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When the ancient buried their dead, they covered the body thickly with wood, having laid it in the open country. They raised no mound over it, nor planted trees around; nor had they any fixed period for mourning. In subsequent ages, for these practices the sages substituted the inner and outer coffins. The idea of this was taken, probably, from the hexagram Ta Kuo (28. Excess).
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In the highest antiquity, government was carried on successfully by the use of knotted cords to preserve the memory of things. In subsequent ages, for these the sages substituted written characters and bonds. By means of these the doings of all the officers could be regulated, and the affairs of all people accurately examined. The idea of this was taken, probably, from the hexagram Kuai (43. Resolution).