Investigate All 64 Hexagrams

Origin of and Order in the Hexagrams

The hexagrams offer profound personal messages in each individual cast of the I Ching. Yet, seen as a system of transitions defining the world from momentary state to momentary state the progression of the hexagrams provides illumination of the acitivity of the very forces of, not only nature, but mind, too.

One of the great mysteries in the theory of I Ching is why the hexagrams were handed down in the order they are in (linked at left). Much analysis of meaning and countless mathematical calculations have been attempted to reveal the pattern behind the order in the King Wen system.

Legend states that Fu Hsi found the eight trigrams on the shell of a tortoise, and from these eight "trigrams," a stack of three lines, each of which have specific attributes relative to the Earth, Mankind, and Heaven, he derived the sixty-four line figures that the Chinese call "kua."

History records that the system was further refined by "King" Wen, who was imprisoned in 1143 by the emperor tyrant Chou Shin. During his confinement, King Wen reinterpreted the names of the kua and changed the order first established by Fu Hsi.

Wen remained in prison until his oldest son, Yu, gathered together an army and overthrew Chou Shin. As the new emperor, Yu released his father from prison and bestowed upon him the title "King;" and thus, Wen was forever after known as "King Wen," though he never ruled China, himself.

After the death of King Yu, King Wen's younger son Tan, also known as the Duke of Chou, succeeded to the throne in place of King Yu's heir, his thirteen year old son. Tan had been thoroughly instructed in the I Ching by his father, and it was he who interpreted the meanings of each of the individual lines of the I Ching. It was at this point, around 1109 BC, that the I Ching was considered complete.

So profound was the wisdom of King Wen and his sons, wisdom which was gained through the study of the I Ching, that they were able to provide a foundation sufficiently strong for their dynasty that it lasted for 800 years, the longest in the history of China.

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