Page:Essays on the Chinese Language (1889).djvu/133

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119
Origin and Early History of the Language.

from the Yellow River, as shewn in these diagrams, is an arrangement of 55 circles, of which 30 are dark and 25 blank, in numbers from one to ten, both inclusive. The Lo-shu, or writing from the river Lo, is an arrangement of 45 dark and light circles in numbers from one to nine, such that the number fifteen is made up by the circles counted in a perpendicular, a horizontal, or a diagonal manner. According to certain old testimony, the River plan and Lo writing appeared as a supernatural phenomenon to Fu-hsi, who used them as models or hints. Setting out from these he produced the mysterious wonderful Pa-kua and its combinations. By these he shadowed forth the dark influences of all heavenly and earthly powers in a manner abstruse beyond all understanding. The figure known as the Pa-kua is greatly venerated by the Chinese, who regard it as the lineal ancestor of their writing, and also as a potent Drudenfuss. What purpose it first served or was meant to serve cannot perhaps be now ascertained, for all record of its primitive use seems to have been lost long ago. It represents, according to one statement, the primitive division of creation into male and female, and gives illustrations of odd and even. In its trigrams also is the hidden spring from which writing had its origin. Some native authors think that the combination of the two kinds of lines were meant to represent a system of counting. So also the Jesuit Missionaries Bouvet and Leibnitz were convinced that the broken line represented 0 and the unbroken line I. Leibnitz says that instead of philosophic mysteries having been hidden by Fu-hsi in the combinations of these lines, "it was the Binary Arithmetic which, as it seems, the great legislator possessed, and which I have rediscovered some thousands of years afterwards." The "Yi-ching," which interprets the mystical meanings of the Pa-kua and its permutations and combinations, is regarded by the Chinese as a sort of divine inspiration and as containing the secret possibilities of all wisdom.

Mayers, Ch. R. M., No. 177; "Yi-ching," 傳下, chap, x.; 易學蒙啓; Wuttke Geschichte d. Schrift, etc., p. 247 ; Leibnitz op. vol. iv. p. 208 (ed. Dutens). With Mayers' account of the Hb-i'w and Lo-s/iw compare the state-

ment of Tsai Yuan-ting in the introduction of the 周易本義.