I Ching (Book of Changes, circa 1000 B.C.)
Richard Wilhelm & Cary F. Baynes translation, 1950
54. Kuei Mei / The Marrying Maiden
above: CHÊN THE AROUSING, THUNDER
below: TUI THE JOYOUS, LAKE
Above we have Chên, the eldest son, and below, Tui, the youngest daughter.
The man leads and the girl follows him in gladness. The picture is that
of the entrance of the girl into her husband's house. In all, there are
four hexagrams depicting the relationship between husband and wife. Hsien,
INFLUENCE, (31), describes the attraction that a young couple have for
each other; Hêng, DURATION (32), portrays the permanent relationships of
marriage; Chien, DEVELOPMENT (53), reflects the protracted, ceremonious
procedures attending THE MARRYING MAIDEN, shows a young girl under the
guidance of an older man who marries her.
THE MARRYING MAIDEN.
Undertakings bring misfortune.
Nothing that would further.
A girl who is taken into the family, but not as the chief wife,
must behave with special caution and reserve. She must not take it
upon herself to supplant the mistress of the house, for that would
mean disorder and lead to untenable relationships. The same is true
of all voluntary relationships between human beings. While legally
regulated relationships based on personal inclination depend in the
long run entirely on tactful reserve.
Affection as the essential principle of relatedness is of the greatest
importance in all relationships in the world. For the union of heaven and
earth is the origin of the whole of nature. Among human beings likewise,
spontaneous affection is the all-inclusive principle of union.
Thunder over the lake:
The image of THE MARRYING MAIDEN.
Thus the superior man
Understands the transitory
In the light of the eternity of the end.
Thunder stirs the water of the lake, which follows it in shimmering waves.
This symbolizes the girl who follows the man of her choice. But every
relationship between individuals bears within it the danger that wrong
turns may be taken, leading to endless misunderstandings and disagreements.
Therefore it is necessary constantly to remain mindful of the end. If we
permit ourselves to drift along, we come together and are parted again
as the day may determine. If on the other hand a man fixes his mind on
an end that endures, he will succeed in avoiding the reefs that confront
the closer relationships of people.
Nine at the beginning means:
The marrying maiden as a concubine.
A lame man who is able to tread.
Undertakings bring good fortune.
The princess of ancient China maintained a fixed order of rank among the
court ladies, who were subordinated to the queen as are younger sisters
to the eldest. Frequently they came from the family of the queen,
who herself led them to her husband.
The meaning is that a girl entering a family with the consent of the wife
will not rank outwardly as the equal of the latter but will withdraw modestly
into the background. However, if she understands how to fit herself into the
pattern of things, her position will be entirely satisfactory, and she will
feel sheltered in the love of the husband to whom she bears children.
The same meaning is brought out in the relationships between officials.
A man may enjoy the personal friendship of a prince and be taken into
his confidence. Outwardly this man must keep tactfully in the background
behind the official ministers of state, but, although he is hampered by
this status, as if he were lame, he can nevertheless accomplish something
through the kindliness of his nature.
Nine in the second place means:
A one-eyed man who is able to see.
The perseverance of a solitary man furthers.
Here the situation is that of a girl married to a man who has disappointed her.
Man and wife ought to work together like a pair of eyes. Here the girl is left
behind in loneliness; the man of her choice either has become unfaithful
or has died. But she does not lost the inner light of loyalty. Thought
the other eye is gone, she maintains her loyalty even in loneliness.
Six in the third place means:
The marrying maiden as a slave.
She marries as a concubine.
A girl who is in a lowly position and finds no husband may, in some
circumstances, still win shelter as a concubine. This pictures the situation
of a person who longs too much for joys that cannot be obtained in the usual
way. He enters upon a situation not altogether compatible with self-esteem.
Neither judgment nor warning is added to this line; it merely lays bare
the actual situation, so that everyone may draw a lesson from it.
Nine in the fourth place means:
The marrying maiden draws out the allotted time.
A late marriage comes in due course.
The girl is virtuous. She does not wish to throw herself away,
and allows the customary time for marriage to slip by. However,
there is no harm in this; she is rewarded for her purity and,
even though belatedly, finds the husband intended for her.
° Six in the fifth place means:
The sovereign I gave his daughter in marriage.
The embroidered garments of the princess
Were not as gorgeous
As those of the serving maid.
The moon that is nearly full
Brings good fortune.
The sovereign I is T'ang the Completer. This ruler decreed that the imperial
princesses should be subordinated to their husbands in the same manner as
other women (cf. Hexagram 11, six in the fifth place). The emperor does not
wait for a suitor to woo his daughter but gives her in marriage when he sees
fit. Therefore it is in accord with custom for the girl's family to take
the initiative here.
We see here a girl of aristocratic birth who marries a man of modest
circumstances and understands how to adapt herself with grace to the new
situation. She is free of all vanity of outer adornment, and forgetting
her rank in her marriage, takes a place below that of her husband, just
as the moon, before it is quite full, does not directly face the sun.
Six at the top means:
The woman holds the basket, but there are no fruits in it.
The man stabs the sheep, but no blood flows.
Nothing that acts to further.
At the sacrifice to the ancestors, the woman had to present harvest
offerings in a basket, while the man slaughtered the sacrificial
animal with his own hand. Here the ritual is only superficially
fulfilled; the woman takes an empty basket and the man stabs
a sheep slaughtered beforehand-solely to preserve the forms.
This impious, irreverent attitude bodes no good for a marriage.
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