A trigram (tri-line system) consists of combination of three continuous or broken lines. A continuous line represents “yang”, while a broken line represents “yin”. With two types of lines in three different positions, eight possible trigrams are formulated. Ancient chinese labelled the time before the world was created as “wuji” (ultimate nothingness). A better paraphrase would be chaos – a state of disorganized formlessness. During the passage of time, “wuji” differentiates within itself to form taichi. The law of change is then derived and described as yin and yang. The trigrams collectively represent the trinity of heaven, earth and mankind. Each trigram is assigned a direction, an element and yin and yang characteristics according to either early or later heaven arrangement.
The evolution of trigrams was founded by the emperor Fu Xi. The form of trigrams sequence by Fu Xi represents symbolically the meanings of opposites relating to Heaven and Earth. Known as Early Heaven Arrangement (“Xian Tian”), it is based on the equilibrium between heaven and the universe. However, environmental conditions changed and the equilibrium became unstable and hostile resulting in troubles. There is no movement.
Later, King Wen rearranged the trigram sequence to incorporate 8 directions in the Bagua. Closely related to the luoshu 9 stars, the new sequence is known as Later Heaven Arrangement (“Hou Tian”), where the universe is always evolving and ever changing. It describes the world where time and matter interact and exert their influence upon the living. It also describes the cycle of movement that allows progress.
These two sequences of trigram arrangements form the backbone of feng shui study. The difference in the sequences lies in the placement of the trigrams and it is these two special arrangements of the eight trigrams that give the bagua potency and power.
The Early Heaven Arrangement has “chien” in the south and “kun” in the north. “Li” and “kan” trigrams, “sun” and “chen” trigrams and “dui” and “ken” trigrams are the exact opposite of each other and the sequence is highly symmetrical.
The Later Heaven Arrangement corresponds to the luoshu. Each of the 8 trigrams occupies 45 degrees of the compass and has its respective definitions, relationships and directions. It formulates the foundation of flying stars and is broadly used in analysis of “yang” dwellings. It has “li” at the top and “kan” at the bottom.
The table shows each trigram of the bagua corresponding to an aspect of life and cardinal direction.