Water (wuxing)

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In Chinese philosophy, water (Chinese: ; pinyin: shuǐ) is the low point of the matter, or the matter's dying or hiding stage.[1] Water is the fifth stage of Wu Xing, the five elements.

Water is the most yin in character of the five elements. Its motion is downward and inward, and its energy is stillness and conserving.

Water is associated with the color black, with the planet Mercury, with the moon (which was believed to cause the dew to fall at night), with night, with the north, with winter or cold weather, and with the Black Tortoise (Xuan Wu) in the Chinese constellation Four Symbols.


In Chinese Taoist thought, water is representative of intelligence and wisdom, flexibility, softness, and pliancy; however, an overabundance of the element is said to cause difficulty in choosing something and sticking to it. In the same way, water can be fluid and weak, but can also wield great power when it floods and overwhelms the land. In Chinese medicine, water is believed to govern the kidney, urinary bladder and Jing. It is associated with the ears and bones. The negative emotions associated with water is fear/anxiety, while the positive emotion is fortitude and the Virtue of Wisdom.[2], the Soul associated with Water is Zhi (志).

Cycle of Wu Xing[edit]

  • In the regenerative cycle of the Wu Xing, metal engenders water, as it traps falling water from a source, and water begets wood as "rain or dew makes plant life flourish"
  • In the conquest cycle, water overcomes fire, as "nothing will put out a fire as quickly as water". Earth overcomes water as earth-built canals direct the flow, and soil absorbs water.[3]


  1. ^ 千古中医之张仲景. Lecture Room. CCTV-10.
  2. ^ Hicks, Hicks, Mole, Angela, John, Peter (2010). Five Element Constitutional Acupuncture. Elsevier Health Sciences. ISBN 9780702044489.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ Lau, Theodora (2005). The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes. London: Souvenir Press. pp. pxxix–xxx.