Research Project


The transmission and transition of Yi-learning in Song literati's notes and their influences on divination (11th and 12th century)

Dr. Yingna Tao

The Yi (Book of Changes), a source of Chinese culture, is one of the most important Chinese Classics. Scholars of each dynasty who studied the Yi continued their interpretation constantly, and provided Yi with a great practical value and rich philosophical factors; they also helped it being applied in all areas of social life Northern Song dynasty is a critical time in the history of Chinese thought and culture. As the foundation upon which Song Neo-Confucianism was established, the Book of Changes was the solid theoretical basis of Confucian thought. The Yi learning began to step into a new stage: Diagrams (Tu-Shu) were applied to the interpretation of Yi as the new image-number (Xiang-Shu). Exploring Divination is also a characteristic aspect of studying the Book of Changes in Song Dynasty. Yi divination, as an age-old form of Chinese divination, evolved progressively: an increasing number of diviners and divination methods led to books like Plum-blossom Yi (梅花易數), which was said to be written by Shao Yong, Gui-ge Gua Ying (軌革卦影)was invented by Fei Xiaoxian, nowadays known as Liuren prognostication. Most of these divination methods mentioned above are still being applied in modern times. The divination practice was popular among the literati. I will trace the transmission of these New-Confucians’ Yi-learning to inquire into the correlation between divination and the changes in Yi-learning in Song dynasty. Based on notes and literary sketches in the Song Dynasty, this project also tries to explore the different divination methods in the Song Dynasty, and also the literatis' influence on the divination and social convention of the Song Dynasty.

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