Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 3.djvu/18

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.

pieces, five of which are of the time of the Shang dynasty (called also the Yin), B.C. 1766–1123. The others belong to the dynasty of Kâu, from the time of its founder, king Wăn, born B.C. 1231, to the reign of king Ting, B.C. 606–586. The whole is divided into four Parts, the last of which is occupied with 'Odes of the Temple and the Altar.' Many pieces in the other Parts also partake of a religious character, but the greater number are simply descriptive of the manners, customs, and events of the times to which they belong, and have no claim to be included in the roll of Sacred Texts. In this volume will be found all the pieces that illustrate the religious views of their authors, and the religious practices of their times.

The third work is the Yî, commonly called the Book of Changes. Confucius himself set a high value on it, as being fitted to correct and perfect the character of the learner (Analects, VII, xvi); and it is often spoken of by foreigners as the most ancient of all the Chinese classics. But it is not so. As it existed in the time of the sage, and as it exists now, no portion of the text is older than the time of king Wăn, mentioned above. There were and are, indeed, in it eight trigrams ascribed to Fû-hsî, who is generally considered as the founder of the Chinese nation, and whose place in chronology should, probably, be assigned in the thirty-fourth century B.C. The eight trigrams are again increased to sixty-four hexagrams. To form these figures, two lines, one of them whole (——) and the other divided (— —), are assumed as bases. Those lines are then placed, each over itself, and each over the other; and four bino-grams are formed. From these, by the same process with the base lines, are obtained eight figures, the famous trigrams. Three other repetitions of the same process give us successively sixteen, thirty-two, and sixty-four figures. The lines in the figures thus increase in an arithmetical progression, whose common difference is one, and the number of the figures increases in a geometrical progression, whose common ratio is two. But what ideas Fû-hsî attached to his primary lines,—the whole and the divided; what significance he gave to his trigrams; what to the