I Ching

XXII. 賁 The Pî Hexagram

Pî indicates that there should be free course (in what it denotes). There will be little advantage (however) if it be allowed to advance (and take the lead).

1. The first NINE, undivided, shows one adorning (the way of) his feet. He can discard a carriage and walk on foot.

2. The second SIX, divided, shows one adorning his beard.

3. The third NINE, undivided, shows its subject with the appearance of being adorned and bedewed (with rich favours). But let him ever maintain his firm correctness, and there will be good fortune.

4. The fourth SIX, divided, shows one looking as if adorned, but only in white. As if (mounted on) a white horse, and furnished with wings, (he seeks union with the subject of the first line), while (the intervening third pursues), not as a robber, but intent on a matrimonial alliance.

5. The fifth SIX, divided, shows its subject adorned by (the occupants of) the heights and gardens. He bears his roll of silk, small and slight. He may appear stingy; but there will be good fortune in the end.

6. The sixth NINE, undivided, shows one with white as his (only) ornament. There will be no error.

贲 – Bi
















戔 = 上 (top) 戈 下 (bottom) 戈

Appendix 1

1. (When it is said that) Pî indicates that there should be free course (in what it denotes):—

2. (We see) the weak line coming and ornamenting the strong lines (of the lower trigram), and hence (it is said that ornament) 'should have free course.' On the other hand, the strong line above ornaments the weak ones (of the upper trigram), and hence (it is said) that 'there will be little advantage, if (ornament) be allowed to advance (and take the lead).' (This is illustrated in the) appearances that ornament the sky.

3. Elegance and intelligence (denoted by the lower trigram) regulated by the arrest (denoted by the upper) suggest the observances that adorn human (society).

4. We look at the ornamental figures of the sky, and thereby ascertain the changes of the seasons. We look at the ornamental observances of society, and understand how the processes of transformation are accomplished all under heaven.

Appendix 2

(The trigram representing) a mountain and that for fire under it form Pî. The superior man, in accordance with this, throws a brilliancy around his various processes of government, but does not dare (in a similar way) to decide cases of criminal litigation.

1. 'He can discard a carriage and walk on foot:'—righteousness requires that he should not ride.

2. 'He adorns his beard:'—he rouses himself to action (only) along with the (subject of the) line above.

3. 'The good fortune consequent on his ever maintaining firm correctness' is due to this,—that to the end no one will insult him.

4. 'The place occupied by the fourth six, (divided),' affords ground for doubt (as to its subject); but '(as the subject of the third pursues) not as a robber, but as intent on a matrimonial alliance,' he will in the end have no grudge against him.

5. 'The good fortune falling to the fifth six, (divided); affords occasion for joy.

6. 'The freedom from error attached to (the subject of) the topmost line, with no ornament but the (simple white),' shows how he has attained his aim.


XXII The character Pî is the symbol of what is ornamental and of the act of adorning. As there is ornament in nature, so should there be in society; but its place is secondary to that of what is substantial. This is the view of king Wăn in his Thwan. The symbolism of the separate lines is sometimes fantastic.

Line 1 is strong, and in an odd place. It is at the very bottom of the hexagram, and is the first line of Lî, the trigram. for fire or light, and suggesting what is elegant and bright. Its subject has nothing to do but to attend to himself. Thus he cultivates—adorns—himself in his humble position; but if need be, righteousness requiring it, he can give up every luxury and indulgence.

Line 2 is weak and in its proper place, but with no proper correlate above. The strong line 3 is similarly situated. These two lines therefore keep together, and are as the beard and the chin. Line 1 follows 2. What is substantial commands and rules what is merely ornamental.

Line 3 is strong, and between two weak lines, which adorn it, and bestow their favours on it. But this happy condition is from the accident of place. The subject of the line must be always correct and firm to ensure its continuance.

Line 4 has its proper correlate in 1, from whose strength it should receive ornament, but 2 and the strong 3 intervene and keep them apart, so that the ornament is only white, and of no bright colour. Line 4, however, is faithful to 1, and earnest for their union. And finally line 3 appears in a good character, and not with the purpose to injure, so that the union of 1 and 4 takes place. All this is intended to indicate how ornament recognises the superiority of solidity. Compare the symbolism of the second line of Kun (3), and that of the topmost line of Khwei (38).

Line .5 is in the place of honour, and has no proper correlate in 2. It therefore associates with the strong 6, which is symbolised by the heights and gardens round a city, and serving both to protect and to beautify it. Thus the subject of the line receives adorning from without, and does not of itself try to manifest it. Moreover, in his weakness, his offerings of ceremony are poor and mean. But, as Confucius said, 'In ceremonies it is better to be sparing than extravagant.' Hence that stinginess does not prevent a good auspice.

Line 6 is at the top of the hexagram. Ornament has had its course, and here there is a return to pure, 'white,' simplicity. Substantiality is better than ornament.

App-1-1:XXII The first paragraph is either superfluous or incomplete.

The language of paragraph 2 has naturally been pressed into the service of the doctrine of changing the figures by divining manipulation; see p. 219, on paragraph 2 of the Thwan of hexagram 6. But as the Khang-hsî editors point out, 'the weak line coming and ornamenting the two strong ones' simply indicates how substantiality should have the help of ornament, and 'the strong line above (or ascending) and ornamenting the two weak lines' indicates that ornament should be restrained by substantiality. Ornament has its use, but it must be kept in check.—The closing sentence has no connexion with what precedes. Some characters are wanting, to show how the writer passes on to speak of 'the ornamental figures of the sky.' The whole should then be joined on to paragraph 3. The 'figures of the sky' are all the heavenly bodies in their relative positions and various movements, producing day and night, heat and cold, &c. The observances of society are the ceremonies and performances which regulate and beautify the intercourse of men, and constitute the transforming lessons of sagely wisdom.

App-2-1:XXII 'A mountain,' says Khăng-žze, 'is a place where we find grass, trees, and a hundred other things. A fire burning below it throws up its light, and brings them all Out in beauty; and this gives the idea of ornament, or being ornamented. The various processes of government are small matters, and elegance and ornament help their course; but great matters of judgment demand the simple, unornamented truth.'

The subject of line 1 does not care for and does not need ornament. He will walk in the way of righteousness without it.

Paragraph 3 tells us that it is not ornament, but correct firmness, which secures the respect of others.

In the fourth place, and cut off from line 1 by 2 and 3, we might doubt how far the subject of 4 would continue loyal to the subject of it. But he does continue loyal, through the character and object of the subject of 3.

The Khang-hsî editors say:—'Line 5 occupies the place of honour, and yet prefers simplicity and exalts economy; its subject might change and transform manners and customs;—it is a small matter to say of him that he affords occasion for joy.

The subject of line 6 has more of the spirit of the hexagram than in most hexagrams. His being clothed in simple white crowns the lesson that ornament must be kept in a secondary place.