I Ching

XLIV. 姤 The Kâu Hexagram

Kâu shows a female who is bold and strong. It will not be good to marry (such) a female.

1. The first SIX, divided, shows how its subject should be kept (like a carriage) tied and fastened to a metal drag, in which case with firm correctness there will be good fortune. (But) if he move in any direction, evil will appear. He will be (like) a lean pig, which is sure to keep jumping about.

2. The second NINE, undivided, shows its subject with a wallet of fish. There will be no error. But it will not be well to let (the subject of the first line) go forward to the guests.

3. The third NINE, undivided, shows one from whose buttocks the skin has been stripped so that he walks with difficulty. The position is perilous, but there will be no great error.

4. The fourth NINE, undivided, shows its subject with his wallet, but no fish in it. This will give rise to evil.

5. The fifth NINE, undivided, (shows its subject as) a medlar tree overspreading the gourd (beneath it). If he keep his brilliant qualities concealed, (a good issue) will descend (as) from Heaven.

6. The sixth NINE, undivided, shows its subject receiving others on his horns. There will be occasion for regret, but there will be no error.

姤 – Gou
















1: 姤 = 女 + 后
2: 柅 = 木 + 尼

Appendix 1

1. Kâu has the significance of unexpectedly coming on. (We see in it) the weak (line) coming unexpectedly on the strong ones.

2. 'It will not be good to marry (such) a female:'—one (so symbolised) should not be long associated with.

3. Heaven and earth meeting together (as here represented), all the variety of natural things become fully displayed.

4. When a strong (line) finds itself in the central and correct position, (good government) will greatly prevail all under the sky.

5. Great indeed is the significance of what has to be done at the time indicated by Kâu!

Appendix 2

(The trigram representing) wind and that for the sky above it form Kâu. The sovereign, in accordance with this, delivers his charges, and promulgates his announcements throughout the four quarters (of the kingdom).

1. 'Tied and fastened to a metal drag:'—(this describes the arrest of) the weak (line) in its advancing course.

2. 'He has a wallet of fish:'—it is right for him not to allow (the subject of the first line) to get to the guests.

3. 'He walks with difficulty:'—but his steps have not yet been drawn (into the course of the first line).

4. 'The evil' indicated by there being 'no fish in the wallet' is owing to (the subject of the line) keeping himself aloof from the people.

5. 'The subject of the fifth NINE, (undivided), keeps his brilliant qualities concealed:'—as is indicated by his central and correct position.

'(The good issue) descends (as) from Heaven:—'his aim does not neglect the ordinances (of Heaven).

6. 'He receives others on his horns:'—he is exhausted at his greatest height, and there will be cause for regret.


XLIV The single, divided, line at the top of Kwâi, the hexagram of the third month, has been displaced, and Khien has ruled over the fourth month of the year. But the innings of the divided line commence again; and here we have in Kâu the hexagram of the fifth month, when light and heat are supposed both to begin to be less.

In that divided line Wăn saw the symbol of the small or unworthy man, beginning to insinuate himself into the government of the country. His influence, if unchecked, would go on to grow, and he would displace one good man after another, and fill the vacant seats with others like-minded with himself. The object of Wăn in his Thwan, therefore, was to enjoin resistance to the encroachment of this bad man.

Kâu is defined as giving the idea of suddenly and casually encountering or meeting with. So does the divided line appear all at once in the figure. And this significance of the name rules in the interpretation of the lines, so as to set on one side the more common interpretation of them according to the correlation; showing how the meaning of the figures was put into them from the minds of Wăn and Tan in the first place. The sentiments of the Text are not learned from them; but they are forced and twisted, often fantastically, and made to appear to give those sentiments forth of themselves.

Here the first line, divided, where it ought to be the contrary, becomes the symbol of a bold, bad woman, who appears unexpectedly on the scene, and wishes to subdue or win all the five strong lines to herself. No one would contract a marriage with such a female; and every good servant of his country will try to repel the entrance into the government of every officer who can be so symbolised.

Line 1 represents the bête noire of the figure. If its subject can be kept back, the method of firm government and order will proceed. If he cannot be restrained, he will become disgusting and dangerous. It is not enough for the carriage to be stopt by the metal drag; it is also tied or bound to some steadfast object. Internal and external restraints should be opposed to the bad man.

The 'wallet of fish' under line 2 is supposed to symbolise the subject of line r. It has come into the possession of the subject of 2, by virtue of the meaning of the name Kâu, which I have pointed out. With his strength therefore he can repress the advance of 1. He becomes in fact 'the lord of the hexagram,' and all the other strong lines are merely guests; and especially is it important that he should prevent 1 from approaching them. This is a common explanation of what is said under this second line. It seems farfetched; but I can neither find nor devise anything better.

With what is said on line 3, compare the fourth paragraph of the duke's Text on the preceding hexagram. Line 3 is strong, but has gone beyond the central place; has no correlate above; and is cut off from 1 by the intervening 2. It cannot do much therefore against 1; but its aim being to repress that, there will be no great error.

Line 1 is the proper correlate of 4; but it has already met and associated with 2. The subject of 4 therefore stands alone; and evil to him may be looked for.

Line 5 is strong, and in the ruler's place. Its relation to 1 is like that of a forest tree to the spreading gourd. But let not its subject use force to destroy or repress the growth of 1; but let him restrain himself and keep his excellence concealed, and Heaven will set its seal to his virtue.

The symbolism of line 6 is difficult to understand, though the meaning of what is said is pretty clear. The Khang-hsî editors observe:—'The subject of this line is like an officer who has withdrawn from the world. He can accomplish no service for the time; but his person is removed from the workers of disorder.'

App-1-2:XLIV On paragraph 1 the Khang-hsî editors say:—'"The weak line meets with (or comes unexpectedly on) the strong ones;"—the weak line, that is, plays the principal part. The case is like that of the minister who assumes the power of deciding for himself on all measures, or of a hen's announcing the morning;—is not the name of (shameless) boldness rightly applied to it? Hence nothing more is said about the symbol of the bold female; but attention is called to the second part of the Thwan.'

Paragraph 2 needs no remark. Paragraphs 3, 4, and 5 all speak of the importance of powers and parties meeting together,—in the world of nature, and in the sphere of human affairs. But I do not see how this sentiment is a natural sequel to that in i and 2, nor that it has any connexion with the teaching of the Thwan and Symbolism.

App-2-2:XLIV Wind, blowing all-under the sky, penetrates everywhere, and produces its natural effect; and it is a good application of this phenomenon that follows; but it has nothing to do with the meaning of Kâu and the interpretation of the hexagram, as taught in the Text. The Khang-hsî editors perceive this, and deal with the Symbolism after a method of their own, on which it is unnecessary to enter.

Paragraph 1. My supplement, 'This describes the arrest of,' is a conclusion from the whole of the Text on the line. All the commentaries have it.

In the 'Daily Lecture' it is said that the lesson of paragraph 2 is that 'the subject of the line should make the repression of 1 his own exclusive work, and not allow it to pass on to the subject of any of the other lines.' That view is rather different from the one indicated in my supplement.

'His steps have not been drawn into the course of the first line:'—we have to supply, land therefore there will be no great error.'

Paragraph 4. See what is said on the Text. But that the subject of the line stands alone is owing, it is here implied, to his own impatience. If he could exercise forbearance, he would find a proper opportunity to check the advance of the subject of line 1.

The subject of line 5, while mindful of his task in the hexagram,—to repress the advance symbolised by 1,—yet keeps his wise plans concealed till the period of carrying them into execution, determined by the ordinances of Heaven, has arrived. Then comes the successful stroke of his policy as if it were directly from Heaven. The subject of line 6 really accomplishes nothing to repress the advance of the unworthy; but he keeps himself from evil communication with them. He is not to be charged with blameable error, though more and better might have been expected of him.