Book of Changes

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Book of Changes

Book of Changes or I Ching (ē jĬng, ē chĬng), ancient Chinese book of prophecy and wisdom. The oldest parts of its text are thought to have attained their present form in the century before Confucius. Its images and concepts were taken partly from oracles and partly from the mythology, history, and poetry of earlier ages. The I Ching consists of eight trigrams, corresponding to the powers of nature, which according to legend were copied by an emperor from the back of a river creature. The trigrams are used to interpret the future with the textual help of supplementary definitions, intuitions, and Confucian commentary. The work is one of the Five Classics (see Chinese literature). The best-known English edition is that by Cary F. Baynes (3d ed. 1970); it is a translation of the German version by Richard Wilhelm.

See studies by H. Wilhelm (1976) and I. Shchutskii (1979).

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