E Bruce Brooks
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Social Upgrading in the Book of Changes
Panel: Reshaping Classical Chinese Texts
AAS Convention, Washington DC, 6 April 2002
Following out Naito's suggestion that a pentagram-based system preceded our present Yi, I find that the earlier system did exist. Insofar as it can be recovered, it is structurally simpler and more consistent than the received Yi, and its imagery is more confined to the interests and experience of a sub-elite group, possibly composed of commercial traders preoccupied with journeys and prospects of profitability which still bulk large in our present text. At some point, perhaps c0350 but at a minimum early enough for the text to be quoted in the late layers of the Dzwo Jwan (completed c0312), the pentagram system was expanded into the 64-hexagram Yi, and the accompanying text, while retaining much of the earlier material, was enriched by images appropriate to the higher orders of society, including its rulers.
This paper explores the social and symbolic range of the new Yi material, and finds that for all its undoubted references to early Jou, and its evocation of later Jou terminology, it reflects the chief political and social developments of the middle and late 04th century. This result agrees with the conclusions of several scholars who have noted that, in addition to its sometimes archaistic vocabulary, the Yi also contains distinctively Warring States linguistic and literary features.
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1 Nov 2001 / Contact The Project / Conferences Page