Interaction between the Five Elements

According to Columbia University’s Asia for Educators: “In discussing Chinese religion during late-imperial times we should begin with a fundamental understanding: that “religion” as it is commonly defined today in modern, secularized societies — as a domain of thinking and practice concerned only with the “sacred” or the “supernatural” — is incompatible with the way religious thought and practice were construed in traditional China, much less anywhere else in the world until recent times. There was no such thing in traditional China as “religion” in this modern sense, which is largely a product of European “Enlightenment” thinking of the 17th and 18th centuries. In fact, the Chinese term for “religion” — zongjiao — is an invention coined in the late 19th century by a Japanese philosopher and later adopted by Chinese intellectuals. The need for the word zongjiao arose because scholars translating Western texts into Japanese and Chinese frequently encountered the word “religion,” a term for which they had no equivalent. [Source: Asia for Educators, Columbia University afe.easia.columbia]

“To understand Chinese theology (literally “discourse about gods”), we need to explore theories about human existence, and before that we need to review some of the basic concepts of Chinese cosmology.What is the Chinese conception of the cosmos? Any simple answer to that question, of course, merely confirms the biases assumed but not articulated by the question — that there is only one such authentically Chinese view, and that the cosmos as such, present unproblematically to all people, was a coherent topic of discussion in traditional China. Nevertheless, the answer to that question offered by one scholar of China, Joseph Needham, provides a helpful starting point for the analysis. [Source: Asia for Educators, Columbia University afe.easia.columbiaedu/]

“In Needham’s opinion, the dominant strand of ancient Chinese thought is remarkable for the way it contrasts with European ideas. While the latter approach the world religiously as created by a transcendent deity or as a battleground between spirit and matter, or scientifically as a mechanism consisting of objects and their attributes, ancient Chinese thinkers viewed the world as a complete and complex “organism.” “Things behaved in particular ways,” writes Needham, “not necessarily because of prior actions or impulsions of other things, but because their position in the ever-moving cyclical universe was such that they were endowed with intrinsic natures which made that behaviour inevitable for them.” [Source: “Science and Civilisation in China, vol. 2: History of Scientific Thought “ by Joseph Needham, with the research assistance of Wang Ling (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1956), p. 281.)

Good Websites and Sources: Traditional Religion in China: Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Religion Facts religionfacts.com; Video: “Ancestor Worship, Confucian Teaching, featuring Myron L. Cohen Asia for Educators, Columbia University afe.easia.columbia.edu; Feng shui Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Feng Shui Society fengshuisociety.org ;Skeptic’s Dictionary on Feng Shui skepdic.com ; Qi Gong Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Classical text sources neigong.net ; Qi Gong Institute qigonginstitute.org ; Qi Gong association of America /www.qi.org ; Skeptic’s Dictionary on Qi Gong skepdic.com ;

Traditional Chinese Beliefs About Harmony, Creation and Cosmology

According to the “Encyclopedia of World Cultures”: ““Han folk religion is centered around the efforts of individuals and communities to create and maintain harmony in relationships between the human and the cosmic order. The soul is a necessary complement to the body in forming a whole person; as the physiology of the body must harmonize internally and with the external environment, the soul must harmonize with cosmic forces of time and space. If the soul leaves the body unintentionally, listlessness, madness, and eventually death can result, but the soul can intentionally leave the body in mediumistic séance, to be replaced by a deity, or in shamanistic travel to the realms of the dead. Upon death, the soul disperses to the Earth, where it remains in the bones, to the realm of the dead, where it takes up an existence roughly similar to that on Earth, and to the wooden or paper spirit tablet where people worship it as an ancestor. [Source: Stevan Harrell, “Encyclopedia of World Cultures Volume 6: Russia - Eurasia / China” edited by Paul Friedrich and Norma Diamond, 1994 |~|]

“Like society, the cosmos has an ideal order, represented by the relationships of time and space. Every person, through the soul, is part of this order, and it is prudent to maintain a position that is harmonious with the order. To do so, people harmonize important actions in time by consulting specialist horoscope readers or widely available almanacs; they harmonize their use of space by consulting geomancers, specialists in the harmonious siting of houses, public buildings, and especially graves—where the bones must be placed in a site and a direction that will preserve harmony between soul and environment and bring good fortune to descendants. |~|

“In addition to living humans, the cosmos is inhabited by purely spiritual beings, souls without bodies, which are of three kinds. Ancestors are the souls of agnatic forebears, worshiped at graves and in tablets with daily incense and food offerings on holidays. They are ordinarily benign beings and will harm their descendants only if neglected or insulted. Ghosts are the souls of people who are angry at having died an unnatural death or being without descendants; they are malicious and capricious—dangerous particularly to children. People propitiate them on regular occasions and when they have cause to expect ghostly attack. Gods are the souls of people who have lived particularly meritorious lives and have retained spiritual power that they can use to benefit worshipers. People worship them at home and in temples; specific gods are often patrons to particular neighborhoods, villages, cities, guilds, or even social clubs, and the yearly religious ritual to a community's god is one of its most important occasions. |~|

According to the most accepted version of the Chinese Creation story, before heaven and earth were created everything was vague and amorphous. The Great Beginning produced emptiness and from this emptiness the universe was created. Everything that was clear and light rose to form heaven and everything that was heavy and turbid became the earth. The combined essences of heaven and earth became the yin and yang, the concentrated essences of the yin and yang became the four seasons, and the scattered essences of the four seasons became the creatures of the world. The hot force of accumulated yang produced fire and the essence of the fire force became the sun; the cold force of the accumulated yin became the water and the moon. What was left over from the excess force of the sun and the moon became the stars and planets. Heaven received the sun while the earth received the water and soil. When heaven and earth were joined in emptiness and all was in simplicity, then without having been created, things came into being. This was the Great Oneness. All things issued from this oneness but all became different, being divided into various species of plants, animals, birds, fish and beasts. When something moves it is called living, and when it dies it is said to become exhausted." [Source: Huai-nan Tzu, reprinted in the People's Almanac]

Rather than being created out of nothing, the world evolved into its current condition of complexity out of a prior state of simplicity and undifferentiation. The cosmos continues to change, but there is a consistent pattern to that change discernible to human beings. Observation of the seasons and celestial realms, and methods like plastromancy and scapulimancy (divination using tortoise shells and shoulder blades), dream divination, and manipulating the hexagrams of the Classic of Changes allow people to understand the pattern of the universe as a whole by focusing on the changes taking place in one of its meaningful parts.


leftAccording to Columbia University’s Asia for Educators: “The basic stuff out of which all things are made is called qi. Everything that ever existed, at all times, is made of qi, including inanimate matter, humans and animals, the sky, ideas and emotions, demons and ghosts, the undifferentiated state of wholeness, and the world when it is teeming with different beings. As an axiomatic concept with a wide range of meaning, the word qi has over the years been translated in numerous ways. [Source: Asia for Educators, Columbia University afe.easia.columbia.edu/cosmos ]

“Different translators render it into English in three different ways: 1) “psychophysical stuff,” because it involves phenomena one would consider both psychological — connected to human thoughts and feelings — and physical; 2) “pneuma,” drawing on one early etymology of the word as vapor, steam, or breath; and 3) “vital energy,” accentuating the potential for life inherent to the more ethereal forms of qi.

Dr. Eno wrote: In ancient China, “”qi” was pictured as a type of vaporous substance that penetrated the cosmos – it made the stars shine and water flow, and in people, it was a powerful force (the original graph seems to suggest steam). If properly harnessed, “qi” could help people achieve great things in the world and could also nourish the body and keep it healthy. If dissipated through careless living or unfocused activity, it could sabotage the ability to follow through in action and undermine physical health. “qi” cultivation was a basic aspect of the training of many schools, including Confucianism and Daoism. There were also schools whose Daos consisted of nothing other than “qi” cultivation. (An important product of such schools was martial arts training, both in the Classical period and later. Many contemporary East Asian martial arts still place “qi” at the center of their training.) [Source: Robert Eno, Indiana University, Chinatxt chinatxt /+/]

“These meanings of qi hold for most schools of thought in early Chinese religion; it is only with the renaissance of Confucian traditions undertaken by Zhu Xi (1130-1200; Song dynasty scholar) and others that qi is interpreted not as a single thing, part-matter and part-energy, pervading everything, but as one of two basic metaphysical building blocks. According to Zhu Xi, all things partake of both qi and li (homophonous to but different from the li meaning “ritual” or “propriety”), the latter understood as the reason a thing is what it is and its underlying “principle” or “reason.”“

Patricia Buckley Ebrey, Anne Walthall, and James B. Palais offer the following formulation of the relationship between qi and li: “The neo-Confucian explanation of the workings of principle (li) and vital energy (qi) can be seen as a response to the sophisticated metaphysics of Buddhism. The principle for something could be moral or physical; for example, the principle for wives is essentially moral in nature, that for trees, physical. For either to exist, however, there must also be the energy and substance that constitute things. The theory of principle and vital energy allowed Song thinkers to validate Mencius’s claim of the goodness of human nature and still explain human wrongdoing: principle underlying human beings is good, but their endowment of vital energy is more or less impure, giving rise to selfish impulses.” [Source: “East Asia: A Cultural, Social, and Political History” by Patricia Buckley Ebrey, Anne Walthall, and James B. Palais (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2005), p. 168]

Yin and Yang

The concept of yin and yang, which literally means "dark side" and "sunny side," is sometimes attributed to the forth century B.C. Taoist philosopher Tsou Yen, but it seems likely that the idea had been around for at least two thousand years before that. Yin and yang are thought of as two opposing forces — male and female, positive and negative, strong and weak, and light and dark — that are also attracted one another, with yang being male, strong and light and yin being female, weak, and dark. Each force needs the other to define itself and the interaction of yin and yang is believed to influence destinies and things. [Source: World Religions, edited by Geoffrey Parrinder, Facts on File Publications, New York]

The classic Chinese scholar Liu Zi explained yin and yang this way: "When the yang has reached its highest point, the yin begins to rise, and when the yin has reached its greatest altitude, it begins to decline. And when the moon has waxed to its full it begins to wane. This is the changeless Rao of Heaven. After the year's fullness follows decay, and the keener joy is followed by sadness. This is the changeless condition of man."

Yin is generally perceived as a negative force while yang is seen as a positive force Some gods are shown carrying a demon trap, which is used to catch the five noxious creatures of yin forces: centipedes, spiders, snakes, geckos and toads. Tigers are seen as powerful yang animals and they can be used to dispel negative yin forces. The heavenly dragon represents the power of heaven and is regarded as the yang force in its highest form.

Some Asians have used the concept of ying and yang to justify a hierarchal order of the human world and argue that social classes are the basic order of society and not subject to change.

According to Columbia University’s Asia for Educators: “While traditional cosmology remained monistic, in the sense that qi as the most basic constituent of the universe was a single thing rather than a duality or plurality of things, still qi was thought to move or to operate according to a pattern that did conform to two basic modes. The Chinese words for those two modalities are yin and yang. [Source: “China’s Cultural Heritage: The Qing Dynasty, 1644-1912,” 2nd ed. By Richard J. Smith, (Boulder: Westview Press, Inc., 1994), p. 4 and p. 177. Asia for Educators, Columbia University afe.easia.columbia.edu/cosmos ]

Sometimes described as “complementary bipolarity,” yin and yang can be defined as 1) cosmic forces that produce and animate all natural phenomena; 2) terms used to identify recurrent cyclical patterns of rise and decline, waxing and waning; and 3) comparative categories, describing dualistic relationships that were inherently unequal but almost invariably complementary. Virtually any aspect of Chinese experience could be explained in terms of these paired concepts, ranging from such mundane sensory perceptions as dark and light, wet and dry, to abstractions such as real and unreal, being and nonbeing. Yinyang relationships involved the notion of mutual dependence and harmony based on hierarchical difference. Yin qualities were generally considered inferior to yang qualities, but unity of opposites was always the cultural ideal. The accommodating and essentially naturalistic outlook expressed in this notion of yinyang complementarity contrasts sharply with the familiar religious dualisms of good and evil, God and the Devil, which are so prominent in the ancient Near Eastern and Western cultural traditions.

Zou Yan and Yin and Yang

Zou Yan (Tsou Yen, 305– 240 B.C.) was the main philosopher of a school that flourished in the late 4th and early 3rd centuris B.C.. He like many other Chinese philosophers of this time was a native of Shandong, who ports and location on the Yellow Sea coast led to the entrance of new ideas from elsewhere in Asia. Wolfram Eberhard wrote in “A History of China”: Zou Yan's basic ideas had their root in earlier Chinese speculations: the doctrine that all that exists is to be explained by the positive, creative, or the negative, passive action (Yang and Yin) of the five elements, wood, fire, earth, metal, and water (Wu hsing). But Zou Yan also considered the form of the world, and was the first to put forward the theory that the world consists not of a single continent with China in the middle of it, but of nine continents. The names of these continents sound like Indian names, and his idea of a central world-mountain may well have come from India. The "scholars" of his time were quite unable to appreciate this beginning of science, which actually led to the contention of this school, in the first century B.C., that the earth was of spherical shape.

“Zou Yan himself was ridiculed as a dreamer; but very soon, when the idea of the reciprocal destruction of the elements was applied, perhaps by Zou Yan himself, to politics, namely when, in connection with the astronomical calculations much cultivated by this school and through the identification of dynasties with the five elements, the attempt was made to explain and to calculate the duration and the supersession of dynasties, strong pressure began to be brought to bear against this school. For hundreds of years its books were distributed and read only in secret, and many of its members were executed as revolutionaries. Thus, this school, instead of becoming the nucleus of a school of natural science, was driven underground. The secret societies which started to arise clearly from the first century B.C. on, but which may have been in existence earlier, adopted the politico-scientific ideas of Zou Yan's school. Such secret societies have existed in China down to the present time. They all contained a strong religious, but heterodox element which can often be traced back to influences from a foreign religion. In times of peace they were centres of a true, emotional religiosity. In times of stress, a "messianic" element tended to become prominent: the world is bad and degenerating; morality and a just social order have decayed, but the coming of a savior is close; the saviour will bring a new, fair order and destroy those who are wicked.

“Zou Yan's philosophy seemed to allow them to calculate when this new order would start; later secret societies contained ideas from Iranian Mazdaism, Manichaeism and Buddhism, mixed with traits from the popular religions and often couched in terms taken from the Taoists. The members of such societies were, typically, ordinary farmers who here found an emotional outlet for their frustrations in daily life. In times of stress, members of the leading élite often but not always established contacts with these societies, took over their leadership and led them to open rebellion. The fate of Zou Yan's school did not mean that the Chinese did not develop in the field of sciences. At about Zou Yan's lifetime, the first mathematical handbook was written. From these books it is obvious that the interest of the government in calculating the exact size of fields, the content of measures for grain, and other fiscal problems stimulated work in this field, just as astronomy developed from the interest of the government in the fixation of the calendar. Science kept on developing in other fields, too, but mainly as a hobby of scholars and in the shops of craftsmen, if it did not have importance for the administration and especially taxation and budget calculations.”

Yin Yang Symbol and Symbolism

According to Columbia University’s Asia for Educators: “Yin and yang are best understood in terms of symbolism. When the sun shines on a mountain at some time other than midday, the mountain has one shady side and one sunny side. Yin is the emblem for the shady side and its characteristics; yang is the emblem for the sunny side and its qualities. Since the sun has not yet warmed the yin side, it is dark, cool, and moist; plants are contracted and dormant; and water in the form of dew moves downward. The yang side of the mountain is the opposite of the yin side. It is bright, warm, and dry; plants open up and extend their stalks to catch the sun; and water in the form of fog moves upward as it evaporates. [Source: Asia for Educators, Columbia University afe.easia.columbia.edu/cosmos ]

“This basic symbolism was extended to include a host of other oppositions. Yin is female, yang is male. Yin occupies the lower position, yang the higher. Any situation in the human or natural world can be analyzed within this framework; yin and yang can be used to understand the modulations of qi on a mountainside as well as the relationships within the family. The social hierarchies of gender and age, for instance — the duty of the wife to honor her husband, and of younger generations to obey older ones — were interpreted as the natural subordination of yin to yang. The same reasoning can be applied to any two members of a pair. Yin-yang symbolism simultaneously places them on an equal footing and ranks them hierarchically. On the one hand, all processes are marked by change, making it inevitable that yin and yang alternate and imperative that humans seek a harmonious balance between the two. On the other hand, the system as a whole attaches greater value to the ascendant member of the pair, the yang. Such are the philosophical possibilities of the conceptual scheme. Some interpreters of yin and yang choose to emphasize the nondualistic, harmonious nature of the relationship, while others emphasize the imbalance, hierarchy, and conflict built into the idea.

The Taiji diagram (taiji tu, the classic yin-yang symbol) ) first appeared in a Taoist [Daoist] context at the beginning of the Song dynasty (960-1279).... Prior to this, yin and yang were symbolized by the tiger and the dragon, and this symbolism has continued throughout the history of later Taoism [Daoism]. The diagram symbolizes the unity of the forces of yin and yang within the [D]ao. Taiji means “supreme ultimate,” and as such the diagram symbolizes the fundamental Taoist view of the structure of reality, namely that beyond the duality of phenomenal existence, created through the interaction of yin and yang, is the unity of the Tao [Dao], which exists beyond time and space.... The Compendium of Diagrams (Tushubian) is a 127-chapter encyclopedia on cosmology, geography, and human life compiled in the early Wanli reign (1573-1620) by the scholar Zhang Huang. [Source: Stephen Little, et al. Taoism and the Arts of China. (Chicago: The Art Institute of Chicago, in association with University of California Press, 2000), p. 131]

Early Yin-Yang Correlations (c. 250 B.C.): A) Yin (Earth, Night, Autumn, Small states, Inaction, Minister, Woman, Child, Guest, Silence, Receiving) ; B) Yang (Heaven, Day, Spring, Big states, Action, Ruler, Man, Father, Host, Speech, Giving).

Early Yin- Yang Correlations (c. 250 B.C.) Yin-Yang; 1) Earth-Heaven; 2) Night-Day; 3) Autumn-Spring; 4) Small states-Big states; 5) Inaction-Action; 6) Minister-Ruler; 7) Woman-Man; 8) Child-Father; 9) Guest-Host; 10) Silence-Speech; 11) Receiving-Giving.

Yin Yang and Qi in Human Beings

According to Columbia University’s Asia for Educators: “ How is human life analyzed in terms of the yin and yang modes of “material energy” (yet another rendering of qi)? Health for the individual consists in the harmonious balancing of yin and yang. When the two modes depart from their natural course, sickness and death result. Sleep, which is dark and therefore yin, needs to be balanced by wakefulness, which is yang. Salty tastes (yin) should be matched by bitter ones (yang); inactivity should alternate with movement; and so on. [Source: Asia for Educators, Columbia University afe.easia.columbia.edu/cosmos ]

“Normally the material energy that constitutes a person, though constantly shifting, is unitary enough to sustain a healthy life. When the material energy is blocked, follows improper patterns, or is invaded by pathogens, then the imbalance between yin and yang threatens to pull the person apart, the coarser forms of material energy (which are yin) remaining attached to the body or near the corpse, the more ethereal forms of material energy (which are yang) tending to float up and away.

“Dream-states and minor sicknesses are simply gentler forms of the personal dissociation — the radical conflict between yin and yang — that comes with spirit-possession, serious illness, and death. At death the material force composing the person dissipates, and even that dissipation follows a pattern analyzable in terms of yin and yang. The yin parts of the person — collectively called “earthly souls” (po) — move downward, constituting the corpse, perhaps also returning as a ghost to haunt the living. Since they are more like energy than matter, the yang parts of the person — collectively called “heavenly souls” (hun) — float upward. They — notice that there is more than one of each kind of “soul,” making a unique soul or even a dualism of the spirit impossible in principle — are thought to be reborn in Heaven or as another being, to be resident in the ancestral tablets, to be associated more amorphously with the ancestors stretching back seven generations, or to be in all three places at once.

Yin-Yang Five-Forces Theory During the Han Period

Dr. Robert Eno of Indiana University wrote: “During the early Han, the conception of the universe as governed by yin and yang and the five forces became characteristic of almost every school of thought.” The ideology was a pervasive undercurrent in the Huang-Lao texts and was a great influence in the reformulation of Confucianism undertaken by Dong Zhong-shu. These theories were a part of Warring States naturalism and are often traced to the philosopher Zou Yan. However, it was during the Han that they came to have their greatest influence. [Source: Robert Eno, Indiana University, Chinatxt chinatxt /+/]

“While theories concerning yin and yang and the five forces dominated the Han view of the world, the intellectual excitement of these theories seems somewhat elusive now. There are 2 cases where Han writers attempt to fashion a grand system by showing how the two powers of yin and yang and the five forces fit together well with cosmic systems that correlate them with the ten heavenly stems, and twelve earthly branches, and the sixty-four hexagrams of the Yi jing (we also see the twelve-year cycle of Jupiter and the twenty-eight lunar-lodge constellations figure in such designs). It is hard not to hold one’s breath while reading through some of these numerical acrobatics, but there is a certain undeniable level of tedium. The impulse to control the cosmos through dense classification and mechanistic dynamics that these theories express contrasts rather unfavorably with the earlier interest in the protean concept of qi, which underlies many of these later theories, and which was absorbed into their frameworks. /+/

Yin-Yang duality

“The role of yin-yang and five force theory in the life of imperial China was probably felt most intensely at the center, in the life of the emperor and his ritual attendants. This was particularly true after 135 B.C., when Dong Zhongshu’s adaptation of these theories to Confucianism became the foundation of an emperor-centered ideology. However, even before that time, a detailed manual for the administration of a state according to these concepts had been elaborated as a set of twelve dispersed chapters in the late Warring States text, The Almanac of Lord Lü. These chapters, corresponding to the months of the year, portrayed the progression of annual cycles through the five force fields and some of the host of correlated phenomena listed in the tables above.” /+/

“While the twin powers of yin and yang, taken in isolation, may have enhanced the creativity of some aspects of Chinese thinking by their broad and flexible natures, the five forces and the dense gridwork that those concepts generated seem stifling by comparison. The mechanistic nature of the five force “organic” cosmos led to the creation of a wealth of true pseudo-sciences, most of which emerged from fangshi cults. These appear to have strongly inhibited the development of true science in China (though there were surely more powerful social factors bearing on this issue). The five force models were systematic enough to support elaborate explanatory and predictive uses, and also complex and incoherent enough to provide secondary explanations and margins of error that could be used to mask the true nature of frequent failures. /+/

“The ideas of yin and yang and of the five forces exerted their greatest influence during the Han, but they persisted as key concepts in Chinese cosmology throughout the traditional period. Even today, Chinese culture continues to exhibit strong interest in these concepts, which play major roles in some forms of the martial arts, in the much used art of geomancy [feng shui], and in various types of popular religion and religious Daoism.” /+/

Five Forces and Phenomena Attached to Them

“An idea of the plastic nature of these concepts can be conveyed by illustrating how they were applied to a very broad range of phenomena. For example, the five forces were each assigned to a direction and a season (with the sixth month, midsummer, considered a separate season). This seasonal concept allowed the forces to be correlated with phases of the yin-yang cycle of polar influence as follows: 1) WOOD: East, Spring, Rising Yang; 2) FIRE: South, Summer, Greater Yang; 3) EARTH: Center, Midsummer, Balanced Yin and Yang; 4) METAL: West, Autumn, Rising Yin; 5) WATER: North, Winter, Greater Yin. [Source: Robert Eno, Indiana University /+/ ]

Five Elements cycle, Balance and Imbalance

With these as starting points, the system that emerged became a grand correlative scheme: WOOD was associated with: A) the number: 8; B) the color: green; C) the astral body: stars; D) the planet: Jupiter; E) the weather: wind; F) the sense organ: eye; G) the emotion: anger; H) the organ: spleen; I) the tissue: muscles; J) the taste: sour; K) the smell: goat-like; L) the animal: sheep; meters) the sage ruler: Emperor Yu; N) the tool: compass. The list could be extended indefinitely. Musical notes, constellations, government ministries, geographical regions of China, sacrifice locations – all were incorporated into this system. /+/

FIRE was associated with: A) the number: 7; B) the color: red; C) the astral body: sun; D) the planet: Mars; E) the weather: heat; F) the sense organ: tongue; G) the emotion: joy; H) the organ: lungs; I) the tissue: blood; J) the taste: sour; K) the smell: burning; L) the animal: sheep; meters) the sage ruler: King Wen; N) the tool: measures. /+/

EARTH was associated with: A) the number: 5; B) the color: yellow ; C) the astral body: earth; D) the planet: Saturn; E) the weather: thunder; F) the sense organ: mouth; G) the emotion: desire; H) the organ: heart; I) the tissue: flesh; J) the taste: sweet; K) the smell: fragrant; L) the animal: oxen; meters) the sage ruler: Yellow Emperor; N) the tool: plumb lines. /+/

METAL was associated with: A) the number: 9; B) the color: white; C) the astral body: constellations; D) the planet: Venus; E) the weather: cold; F) the sense organ: nose; G) the emotion: sorrow; H) the organ: kidney; I) the tissue: skin & hair; J) the taste: acrid; K) the smell: rank; L) the animal: dogs; meters) the sage ruler: Emperor Tang; N) the tool: T-square. /+/

WATER was associated with: A) the number: 6; B) the color: black; C) the astral body: moon; D) the planet: Mercury; E) the weather: rain; F) the sense organ: ear; G) the emotion: fear; H) the organ: liver; I) the tissue: bones; J) the taste: salty; K) the smell: rotting; L) the animal: pigs; meters) the sage ruler: First Emperor; N) the tool: balance. /+/

Image Sources: Exorcism, Bucklin archives, Wikimedia Commons,

Text Sources: Robert Eno, Indiana University, Chinatxt chinatxt /+/ Asia for Educators, Columbia University afe.easia.columbia.edu ; University of Washington’s Visual Sourcebook of Chinese Civilization, depts.washington.edu/chinaciv /=\; National Palace Museum, Taipei \=/; Library of Congress; New York Times; Washington Post; Los Angeles Times; China National Tourist Office (CNTO); Xinhua; China.org; China Daily; Japan News; Times of London; National Geographic; The New Yorker; Time; Newsweek; Reuters; Associated Press; Lonely Planet Guides; Compton’s Encyclopedia; Smithsonian magazine; The Guardian; Yomiuri Shimbun; AFP; Wikipedia; BBC. Many sources are cited at the end of the facts for which they are used.

Last updated September 2021

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