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Hexagram (I Ching)

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The hexagrams of the I Ching in a diagram belonging to the German mathematician philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz[1]

The I Ching book consists of 64 hexagrams.[2] [3] A hexagram in this context is a figure composed of six stacked horizontal lines ( yáo), where each line is either Yang (an unbroken, or solid line), or Yin (broken, an open line with a gap in the center). The hexagram lines are traditionally counted from the bottom up, so the lowest line is considered line one while the top line is line six. Hexagrams are formed by combining the original eight trigrams in different combinations. Each hexagram is accompanied with a description, often cryptic, akin to parables. Each line in every hexagram is also given a similar description.

The Chinese word for a hexagram is "guà", although that also means trigram.


Hexagram numbers, in King Wen sequence

Classic and modern I Ching commentaries mention a number of different hexagram types:

  • Eight Trigrams
  • Original Hexagram
  • Future Hexagram
  • Contrasting (Reverse) Hexagram (is found by turning a hexagram upside down)[4]
  • Complementary Hexagram (is found by changing all the lines into their opposite)[4]
  • Hexagram of Sequence[4]
  • Nuclear (Mutual) Hexagram (hu gua) (is found by taking the inner lines of a hexagram; given that the original hexagram's lines are labeled 1 through 6 from bottom up, the nuclear hexagram contains the lines 2, 3, 4, 3, 4, 5)[4]
  • Hexagram of Change (bian gua)
  • Internal Hexagram (nei gua)
  • External Hexagram (wai gua)


The most commonly known sequence is the King Wen sequence. A totally different sequence was found in the Mawangdui Silk Texts. The hexagrams are also found in the Binary sequence, also known as Fu Xi sequence or Shao Yong sequence.

Lookup table[edit]

Upper →
Lower ↓
(qián) (duì) () (zhèn) (xùn) (kǎn) (gèn) (kūn)
Heaven Lake Flame Thunder Wind Water Mountain Earth
1 43 14 34 9 5 26 11
(qián) (qián) (guài) 大有(dàyǒu) 大壯(dàzhuàng) 小畜(xiǎoxù) () 大畜(dàchù) (tài)
Heaven Force Displacement Great Possessing Great Invigorating Small Harvest Attending Great Accumulating Pervading
10 58 38 54 61 60 41 19
(duì) () (duì) (kuí) 歸妹(guīmèi) 中孚(zhōngfú) (jié) (sǔn) (lín)
Lake Treading Open Polarising Converting the Maiden Inner Truth Articulating Diminishing Nearing
13 49 30 55 37 63 22 36
() 同人(tóngrén) () () (fēng) 家人(jiārén) 既濟(jìjì) () 明夷(míngyí)
Flame Concording People Skinning Radiance Abounding Dwelling People Already Fording Adorning Intelligence Hidden
25 17 21 51 42 3 27 24
(zhèn) 無妄(wúwàng) (suí) 噬嗑(shìhé) (zhèn) () (zhūn) () ()
Thunder Innocence Following Gnawing Bite Shake Augmenting Sprouting Swallowing Returning
44 28 50 32 57 48 18 46
(xùn) (gòu) 大過(dàguò) (dǐng) (héng) (xùn) (jǐng) () (shēng)
Wind Coupling Great Exceeding Holding Persevering Ground Welling Correcting Ascending
6 47 64 40 59 29 4 7
(kǎn) (sòng) (kùn) 未濟(wèijì) (jiě) (huàn) (kǎn) (méng) (shī)
Water Arguing Confining Before Completion Deliverance Dispersing Gorge Enveloping Leading
33 31 56 62 53 39 52 15
(gèn) (dùn) (xián) () 小過(xiǎoguò) (jiàn) (jiǎn) (gèn) (qiān)
Mountain Retiring Conjoining Sojourning Small Exceeding Infiltrating Limping Bound Humbling
12 45 35 16 20 8 23 2
(kūn) () (cuì) (jìn) () (guàn) () (bāo) (kūn)
Earth Obstruction Clustering Prospering Providing-For Viewing Grouping Stripping Field

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Perkins, Franklin. Leibniz and China: A Commerce of Light. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. p 117. Print.
  2. ^ Wilhelm, Richard (1950). The I Ching or Book of Changes.
  3. ^ Legge, James (1964). I Ching: Book of Changes.
  4. ^ a b c d "Hexagrams of context". I Ching with Clarity.