I Ching: the Original King Wen Sequence

The sequence of 64 hexagrams has been displayed in various diagrams, where the order of the 8 trigrams as building blocks varies:

14 10 10 7 3 5 1 6 2 4 0 Right to Left
  • whether the original Chinese is read in columns from Right to Left – as in the diagram on the right
  • or adapted to Western reading with columns from Left to Right as in the diagrams below.

I am adding octal numbers as a new ordering principle – resulting in the diagram above on the left: 

  • an octal number is attributed to each trigram: o, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7;
  • following the King Wen sequence, trigrams are ordered by 7, 3, 5, 1, 6, 2, 4, 0: first odd digits and then the even ones.

Octal trigram numbers lead to a double digit for each hexagram:

  • in the diagram above, the diagonal from the Top Right to the Bottom Left results in 77, 33, 55, 11, 66, 22, 44, 00;
  • the same is achieved in the diagram below: the diagonal from the Top Left to the Bottom Right contains hexagrams 77, 33, 55, 11, 66, 22, 44, 00.

In both cases, Heaven with its hexagram number 1 [octal 77] is first in the prime position and Earth with its hexagram number 2 [octal 00] is last in the original King Wen sequence.

14 10 10 Chinese 7 3 5 1 6 2 4 0 Left to Right 14 10 10 7 3 5 1 6 2 4 0 Left to Right

The author of this table counts hexagrams from 0 to 63 rather than 1 to 64!

14 09 29 binary chart

It appears under Decoding the I Ching on Above Top Secret.

To help finding the number of a hexagram, Richard Wilhelm created a list at the end of his book that I call the ‘moving line sequence‘. His book explains the hexagrams in the King Wen order to which I add a double digit octal number.

Here are the three orders in King Wen sequence. It is clear how this sequence is based on the visual symmetry of the upper and lower trigram, that creates symmetrical hexagram pairs

Wilhelm King Wen Octal Short Name
1 1 77 Force
64 2 00 Not Yet Fording
51 3 12 Shake
46 4 24 Ascending
16 5 72 Providing-For
13 6 27 Concording People
59 7 20 Dispersing
62 8 02 Small Exceeding

Hexagrams 9 – 64 are on this page.

What are the value and purpose of any sequence?

  1. the moving line sequence matters when reading the interpretations of hexagrams as a story and Book of Wisdom, that Richard Wilhelm created when he translated the Chinese original;
  2. visual sequence such as King Wen matters to find the number of a hexagram when using the I Ching for divination to answer a specific question or comment on a particular life situation;
  3. my numerical sequence matters only as a Trojan horse to illustrate that there is more to Number than Western mathematics is currently teaching.

However,

  • my octal ordering adds a new way of sequencing ascending growth and descending decay in a very precise way;
  • my visual patterning shows the wisdom inherent in the construction of the hexagrams and the transitions between them.

The gallery of these four diagrams shows the King Wen sequence re-ordered in four ways, thanks to the octal numbers attributed to trigrams:

For the purpose of clicking through to individual hexagrams, here are the above four files in pdf:

Here’s another gallery of diagrams as food for thought and reflection:

And in pdf for clicking through to individual hexagrams:

And now with the trigrams in different colours for ‘visual patterning’:

Above, numbering flows from 00 to 77. Below from 77 to 00:

And in pdf:

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