Di (Chinese concept)

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Not to be confused with di , a title used singularly or in combination for various Chinese deities or royal monarchs, or with di the irregular plural of the Latin deus, or with (also pronounced ), the short form of the ancient Chinese sky god Shangdi.
The Chinese character for .

Di (Chinese, p , w Ti, lit. "earth") is one of the oldest Chinese terms for the earth and a key concept or figure in Chinese mythology and religion. In Taoism and Confucianism, Di is often translated as "Earth" and is mentioned in relationship to its complementary aspect of Tian, most often translated as "Heaven".


is the modern Mandarin Chinese pronunciation. The Old Chinese pronunciation has been reconstructed as *lˤej-s.[1]

The Chinese character is a phono-semantic compound, combining the radical ("earth", "dirt") with the (former) sound marker (Modern Chinese , Old Chinese *lajʔ[1]). As , it was one of the characters briefly affected by Wu Zetian's short-lived character reforms.



The dualism of Heaven and Earth are important to Taoist cosmology. They are thought to maintain the two poles of the Three Realms of reality, with the middle realm occupied by Humanity.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Baxter, Wm. H. & Sagart, Laurent. "Baxter–Sagart Old Chinese Reconstruction". Archived from the original on 2013-09-27.  (1.93 MB), pp. 20 & 176. 2011. Accessed 11 October 2011.