The 8 trigrams of Bagua (八卦) are a set of ancient symbols with mystical meanings. These symbols pervade Chinese civilization. The 8 trigrams have influenced the development of many aspects: martial arts, fortune telling, Fengshui, literature, religion, architecture, and philosophy are just some of the areas that are based on or influenced by the 8 trigrams. The trigrams are pervasive because they represent Chinese cosmology. This cosmology has been used to understand the organization of life and the universe, and the many phenomena that occur. It is a system for organizing and understanding the forces of nature.
Each trigram has a name:
Each of trigram also corresponds to one of 8 natural phenomena:
And 1 of 8 parts of the human body:
In the 8 Trigrams theory, nature represents the large universe, and the human body represents the small universe.
The construction of the 8 trigrams
Each trigram consists of a combination of 3 lines. Each of these lines is either a broken line, representing yin, or an unbroken line, representing yang.
乾 (qián) consists of 3 unbroken lines. It signifies Heaven. It is all yang. For a country, it is the head of state; for a family, it is the father.
巽 (xún) consists of 2 unbroken lines and 1 broken line.
It implies the wind.
坎 (kǎn) consists of 1 broken line , 1 unbroken line, and 1 broken line.
It can represent a sunken area, water, or an obstacle.
艮 (gěn) consists of 1 unbroken line and 2 broken lines.
It represents a mountain, and can also imply hardness or firmness.
坤 (kūn) consists of 3 broken lines. It means earth or land. It is all yin. For a country, it is the queen; for a family, it is the mother.
震 (zhèn) consists of 2 broken lines and 1 unbroken line.
It implies thunder, shock, or terror.
離 (lí) consists of 1 unbroken line, 1 broken line, and 1 unbroken line.
It implies fire.
兌 (duì) consists of 1 broken line and 2 unbroken lines.
It means speech or to speak.
4 of the 8 trigrams are considered yang, which implies masculine and positive:
乾, 震, 坎, 艮
The other 4 are considered yin, implying female and negative:
坤, 巽, 離, 兌
The 8 trigrams are an expression of the mysticism that runs through Chinese thinking, and what has developed from Chinese thought throughout the ages. Understanding the 8 trigrams is believed to give a person the ability to know the past, the present, and to predict the future of a person, a country, or the entire world, or even the universe.