四象 – Chinese philosophy and culture

sìxiàng 四象

Four Images

“八卦”生成过程中由“两仪”分化出的四种物象或特性。《周易·系辞上》言:“易有太极,是生两仪,两仪生四象,四象生八卦。”“两仪”继续分化形成相互区别而又相互关联的四种物象或特性,就是“四象”。对于“四象”的具体内容,古人有着不同的理解:其一,从万物生成的角度来看,“四象”或指春、夏、秋、冬四时,或指金、木、水、火四种基本元素。其二,从占筮的角度来理解,“四象”或指揲(shé)分蓍草时每组被分出的四根蓍草,或指画卦时所确定的太阴、太阳、少阴、少阳等四种爻象。

This term means the four images, or features of the four images, which are engendered through the division of the two modes in the process of the formation of the eight trigrams. As explained in The Book of Changes, “Changes involve taiji (太极 the supreme ultimate), which produces two modes. The two modes generate the four images, and the four images generate the eight trigrams.” The four images are distinct from one another while also mutually related. There was no agreement among ancient scholars with regard to what the four images represent. From the point of view of the coming into being of all things, the four images might stand for the four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter; or four basic elements: metal, wood, water, and fire. Alternatively, as a term in divination, the four images could refer to the four stalks in each group when the divination stalks are divided in a fortune-telling exercise, or to four line images for divination: greater yin, greater yang, lesser yin, and lesser yang.

引例 Citations:

◎大衍之数五十,其用四十有九。分而为二以象两,挂一以象三,揲之以四以象四时。(《周易·系辞上》)

(用来广泛推演变化的数是五十,使用的有四十九根蓍草。将这些蓍草分为两份,以象征“两仪”。从其中一份抽出一根蓍草,以象征天、地、人“三才”。其余蓍草则每四根为一组进行划分,以象征“四时”。)

The total number of divination stalks is fifty; those that are used are forty-nine. These are divided into two groups representing the pair of modes. One stalk is taken from one group to represent the three images of heaven, earth, and man, and the rest are counted out in fours to represent the four seasons. (The Book of Changes)

◎“两仪生四象”者,谓金木水火,禀天地而有,故云“两仪生四象”。(《周易·系辞上》孔颖达正义)

(所谓“两仪生四象”,是指金木水火四种基本元素,禀受于天地而存有,所以说“两仪生四象”。)

The four images generated by the two modes refer to metal, wood, water, and fire. They come into existence thanks to heaven and earth, and therefore it is said that the two modes generate the four images. (Kong Yingda: Correct Meaning of The Book of Changes)

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