“Alone”, as a Result of Divination: A Study of the Wangjiatai Gui cang’s Pure Yin Hexagram

Adam Craig Schwartz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


The present study offers a new reading of the Wangjiatai Gui cang’s pure yin hexagram text. I make a comprehensive analysis of the composition and layered texture of the text, by employing a methodology to engage with its images and narratives at an emic level. I determine that there is an iconographic resemblance between the hexagram picture and the graph writing its name, identify an image program centered on being “alone”, “inhumanity”, and “water”, and provide a context for the independent but interlocking narratives of Xia king Qi and Gong gong. Taken together, evidence points to Gua 寡 “Alone” as the candidate with the lowest odds among various proposals for the hexagram’s name. The overall meaning of “Alone” is that being bad, self-serving, and immoral will lead to one being divested of spiritual blessings and support of the people. The image of water in the two narratives is a metaphor for wantonness that also functions as a conduit for its disposal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-262
Number of pages36
JournalBamboo and Silk
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022

User-Defined Keywords

  • Wangjiatai Gui cang
  • Warring States use of the Changes
  • divination
  • pure yin hexagram
  • 王家臺《歸藏》
  • 戰國《易》學
  • 占卜
  • 純陰卦


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