The Eight Trigrams (Chinese八卦, Pinyin Ba Gua oracle = eight characters) are serving for divination symbols, which form the basis of the ancient Chinese I Ching (易经, I Ching, Book of Changes ). They consist of three either solid ( Yáng ) or broken ( yin ) lines, resulting in 23 = 8 possibilities, which are often presented in the form of a circle. Two trigrams yield one of the 64 ( 26 = 82 = 64) hexagrams, their meanings are described in the Book of Changes.

Like other symbols of Chinese numerology can also be the trigrams with a variety of meanings to interpret. The design shown here differs slightly from the listed in the I Ching:

( LH - ranking of the table rows corresponding to the cyclic sequence in the picture on the right, starting at the top, clockwise)

The trigrams are to be understood as a universal orientation model, which also contains elements that influence the way of life of the people. Due to the orientation of the defining principles and design elements for the life every man is a conscious self-determination possible. The cardinal points are, for example, for interior orientation, the organs for certain mental constitutions (emotions, personality structures). So the physical qualities always corresponds to an internal ( mental ) quality.

The eight oracle characters correspond in traditional Chinese numerology and with the other systems with different number of elements. In the above table relations with nature and family are shown.

Some of the other associated with the bagua elements would be:

  • Climate
  • Colors
  • Anatomy
  • Body parts
  • Astronomy
  • Astrology
  • Animals, zodiac signs
  • Geography
  • Acupuncture
  • Geomancy


For the eight trigrams different progressions (Chinese卦 序, Pinyin Guà XU ) are usual. The order of the characters U 2630 to U 2637 in Unicode Miscellaneous Symbols block corresponds to the binary representation. The picture shows the development of the individual line elements, as a consequence results in the arrangement of the trigrams for this dual principle, as well as Zhu Xi (朱熹, Zhū Xī ) is shown in an illustration.

The circular arrangement of the trigrams based on two classification systems, the Xiantian (先天Xian Tian, literally on-the- sky ) and the Houtian (后天Hou Tian, literally After - sky). This dichotomy of order goes back to the Chinese cosmology, which detects a fundamental change before and after the entry into existence. (see Laozi: " Dao generates the unit, the unit produces the duality, the duality produces trinity, the trinity created all things in the world. "道 生 一,一生 二,二 生 三,三生 万物. )

The transition from a state of original unity ( with already created polarity) in the state of polarity ( with even immanent unity ) corresponds to the transition from the order of the Xiantian先天in the order of Houtian后天. This refers both to cosmic speculation to the creation of the world, as well as for the transition into life, the man takes place at birth. Therefore Xiantian is also called " vorkosmisch " or " prenatal ", translated Houtian accordingly as " nachkosmisch " or " postnatal ". In the Xiantian arrangement of trigrams, the polar basic forces are called " sky " (above) and "Earth " (below) in the form of pure Yang ( trigram Qian ☰ ) and pure Yin ( trigram Kun ☷ ) opposite; in the Houtian arrangement there are mixed forms "fire" in the form of Yang, interspersed with yin ( trigram Li ☲ ) and "water" in the form of Yin, interspersed with Yang ( trigram Kan ☵ ). The Xiantian - order is the legendary ruler Fu Xi (伏羲fú xī, 2852-2737 BC) attributed the Houtian - Laws shall ( wáng wén文王, 1099-1055 BC) to King Wen of the Zhou Dynasty go back.

In the assignment to the family members of the father is represented by three strokes Yang ( masculine aspect ), the mother of three yin lines ( feminine aspect); this logic is still easy to follow. In contrast, it is striking that the daughters of the combinations of two masculine are assigned with a feminine, the sons of two feminine with a masculine line.

The conventional sequence places the trigrams according to the four pairs of opposites. The table below shows the five sorting criteria.

There are many other possible and common progressions.

One of the cardinal points of the compass see also based on the Earthly Branches

The trigrams in the flag of South Korea Flag of South Korea

On the flag of South Korea those four trigrams are presented that show up (with respect to an imaginary horizontal center line ) symmetrical. The trigrams can be understood as pairs of opposites, which is obviously especially in the four symmetrical: above the sky ( ☰ ), below the earth ( ☷ ) on a vertical axis; when fire ( ☲ ) and water ( ☵ ) are arranged on an intersecting horizontal axis gives the adjacent structure.

The asymmetric pairs of opposites are thunder ( ☳ ) and wind ( ☴ ) and Berg ( ☶ ) and lake ( ☱ ). All three lines of each pair of opposites are opposed to each other ( ↔ ), in the transition between two pairs only one of the three lines is opposite.


Here are some of the many multiple and contradictory assignments are displayed.

( The order of the columns of the table ( above) and rows (bottom ) corresponds to the conventional sequence according to the four pairs of opposites )