Hexagram #23


Po symbolizes a complete laying bare of some matter, or making complete use of something, or the finality of death.

The knife slashes downward on a tree,

Topping it, removing branches and bark.

Its life blood drips away as from a spoon.

depicts a spoon pouring out life-spirits. is a knife, or the action of a knife striking downward at something. Together, these mean to cut, flay, peel, or lay bare, and to drain away the blood or sap. Another explanation is that a knife was added redundantly to the character Lu , an old form of which specifically meant to top, or to remove the bark and branches of a tree. It depicts an ax of a special form striking downward across a tree; the horizontal stroke in the middle of the drawing represents the topping (beheading) of the tree and the four smaller strokes are falling branches and bark. An even older form indicates cutting or splitting the trunk with branches and bark falling away. It symbolizes a complete laying bare of some matter, leading to destruction; more positively it symbolizes making complete use of something - bark, branches, and all - letting nothing go to waste.


Etymological references: K1: 1208b, 1131, 1228a; K2: 574; L: 250; M: 5337; W: 68f.

Chinese writing is historically based on drawings, not spoken words. These original illustrations represent the oldest forms of the Chinese characters that later became the names the Hexagrams. Please review the Sources page for an explanation of the references. The prose and verse explanations of the significance of the Hexagrams are original, and should not be mistaken for translations of I Ching text.

© 1997 Dan Stackhouse. All rights reserved. This material may not be reproduced without written permission.

[Previous | Index | Next] [Pagetop]