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54. Kwei Mei [Giving the Young Lady in Marriage]


Thwan, or Overall Judgment (Attributed to King Wan)

Kwei Mei indicates that (under the conditions which it denotes) action will be evil, and in no wise advantageous.

[Whincup] A maiden marries.
Marching to war brings misfortune.
It is not favorable.

[Christensen] 54 - 歸 妹 The Marrying Woman
歸 妹 征 凶 无 攸 利 A young woman going to marry will meet misfortune if she proceeds; there is nothing of benefit in it for her.

[Pearson] (guī mèi) Coming Home
A woman enters her marital home. Starting a campaign: misfortune. Not leaving is effective.

[Redmond] 54. 歸妹 Gui Mei Marrying Maiden
54.0 Expedition calamitous, nowhere favorable. 征凶, 无攸利.

[Legge] Mei Kwei is a common way of saying that a young lady is married, or, literally, 'is going home.' If the order of the characters be reversed, the verb kwei will be transitive, and the phrase will signify 'the marrying away of a daughter,' or 'the giving the young lady in marriage.' In the name of this hexagram, Kwei is used with this transitive force. But Mei means 'a younger sister,' and not merely a young lady or a daughter. Kwei Mei might be equivalent to our 'giving in marriage;' but we shall find that the special term has a special appropriateness. The Thwan makes the hexagram give a bad auspice concerning its subject; and for this the following reasons are given:—According to Wan's symbolism of the trigrams, Tui, the lower trigram here, denotes the youngest daughter, and Kan, the upper trigram, the oldest son. And as the action of the hexagram begins with that of the lower trigram, we have in the figure two violations of propriety. First, the marriage represented is initiated by the lady and her friends. She goes to her future home instead of the bridegroom coming to fetch her. Second, the parties are unequally matched. There ought not to be such disparity of age between them. Another reason assigned for the bad auspice is that lines 2, 3, 4, and 5 are all in places not suited to them, quite different from the corresponding lines in the preceding hexagram.

Is then such a marriage as the above, or marriage in general, the theme of the hexagram? I think not. The marriage comes in, as in the preceding essay, by way of illustration. With all the abuses belonging to it as an institution of his country, as will immediately appear, the writer acknowledged it without saying a word in deprecation or correction of those abuses; but from the case he selected he wanted to set forth some principles which should obtain in the relation between a ruler and his ministers. This view is insisted on in Wan King's 'New Collection of Comments on the Yi (A. D. 1686).'

Comments on the Thwan

1. By Kwei Mei (the marrying away of a younger sister) the great and righteous relation between heaven and earth (is suggested to us). If heaven and earth were to have no intercommunication, things would not grow and flourish as they do. The marriage of a younger sister is the end (of her maidenhood) and the beginning (of her motherhood).

2. We have (in the hexagram the desire of) pleasure and, on the ground of that, movement following. The marrying away is of a younger sister.

3. 'Any action will be evil:'—the places (of the lines) are not those appropriate to them.

'It will be in no wise advantageous:'—the weak (third and fifth lines) are mounted on strong lines.

[Legge] 1. Kwei Mei in this Appendix [Appendix 1, 'Treatise on the Thwan'] has the meaning simply of marriage, and for Mei we might substitute Nu, 'daughter' or 'young lady.' This appears from the writer's going on to point out, as elsewhere, the analogy between the growth of things in nature from the interaction of heaven and earth and the increase of mankind through marriage. He does this with a delicate touch. There is no grossness in the original any more than there is in the translation.

But how are we to reconcile this reference to the action of heaven and earth with the bad auspice of the Thwan? The Khang-hsi editors felt the pressure of this difficulty, and they adduce a similar inconsistency in the account of hexagram 44 in this treatise, adding, 'From this we may say that the interaction of the yin and yang cannot be dispensed with, but that we ought to be careful about it in the beginning in order to prevent mischief in the end. This is the doctrine of the Yi.' This is very well, but it is no solution of the difficulty. The editors could not admit that the author of the ['Treatise on the Thwan'] did not understand or did not deal fairly with the Text; for that author, they thought, was Confucius.

2. The same editors say that paragraph 2 implies both that the desire for the marriage originated with the lady, and that she was aware that the gentleman was older than herself.

3. The position of a divided line above an undivided is always represented as an evil omen; it is difficult to understand why. There is less of an appearance of reason about it than in some other things which are said about the lines. The lines are where they cannot but be from the way in which the figures were formed.

Great Symbolism

(The trigram representing the waters of) a marsh and over it that for thunder form Kwei Mei. The superior man, in accordance with this, having regard to the far-distant end, knows the mischief (that may be done at the beginning).

[Legge] Thunder rolling above is supposed to produce movement in the waters of the marsh below. The combination of this symbolism in Kwei Mei is recognised as an evil omen in the case which the name denotes. The application of it is not inappropriate.

Line Statements (Attributed to the Duke of Kau)

1. The first NINE, undivided, shows the younger sister married off in a position ancillary to the real wife. (It suggests the idea of) a person lame on one leg who yet manages to tramp along. Going forward will be fortunate.

110100 changing to 010100

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 53.1

The maiden marries as a concubine.
Though she walks with a limp,
It is auspicious for her to march forth.

[Christensen] 初 九﹕ 歸 妹 以 娣 跛 能 履 征 吉 Beginning 9: A young woman going to marry as a concubine, [just like] a limp person can still walk. To go on [with the marriage] will be good.

[Pearson] Nine in the first place: A woman comes to her new family as though a younger sister. The lame can walk. With such a start, good fortune.

[Redmond] 54.1 Marrying the maiden with her younger sisters. The lame can walk. Traveling is auspicious. 初九歸妹以娣. 跛能履. 征吉.

[Smaller Symbolism] 1. 'The younger sister is married off in a position ancillary to that of the real wife:'—it is the constant practice (for such a case). 'Lame on one leg, she is able to tramp along:'—she can render helpful service.

[Legge] A feudal prince was said to marry nine ladies at once. The principal of them was the bride who was to be the proper wife, and she was attended by two others, virgins from her father's harem; a cousin, and a half-sister, a daughter of her father by another mother of inferior rank. Under line 1 the younger sister of the hexagram appears in the inferior position of this half-sister. But the line is strong, indicative in a female of firm virtue. The mean condition and its duties are to be deplored, and give the auspice of lameness; but notwithstanding, the secondary wife will in a measure discharge her service. There will be good fortune. Notwithstanding apparent disadvantages, an able officer may do his ruler good service. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] Paragraph 1. 'It is the constant practice (for such a case)' seems to mean that an ancillary wife has no right to the disposition of herself, but must do what she is told. Thus it is that the mean position of the younger sister does not interfere with the service she can render.

2. The second NINE, undivided, shows her blind of one eye, and yet able to see. There will be advantage in her maintaining the firm correctness of a solitary widow.

110100 changing to 100100

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 53.2

She sees dimly.
It is favorable for her to remain in seclusion.

[Christensen] 九 二﹕ 眇 能 視 利 幽 人 之 貞 Second 9: A one eyed can see, [likewise] the hermit’s way of correcting [his mind by being alone] can be beneficial.

[Pearson] Nine in the second place: The one-eyed can see. For a person in the shadows, persistence is effective.

[Redmond] 54.2 The blind in one eye can see. Beneficial for an imprisoned person’s divination. 九二眇能視. 利幽人之貞.

[Smaller Symbolism] 2. 'There will be advantage in maintaining the firm correctness of a solitary widow:'—(the subject of the line) has not changed from the constancy (proper to a wife).

[Legge] Line 2 is strong, and in the centre. The proper correlate is 5, which, however, is weak, and in the place of a strong line. With such a correlate, the able lady in 2 cannot do much in the discharge of her proper work. But if she think only of her husband, like the widow who will die rather than marry again, such devotion will have its effect and its reward. Though blind of one eye, she yet manages to see. And so devoted loyalty in an officer will compensate for many disadvantages.

3. The third SIX, divided, shows the younger sister who was to be married off in a mean position. She returns and accepts an ancillary position.

110100 changing to 111100

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 53.3

The maiden marries as principal wife—
She is sent back to return as a concubine.

[Christensen] 六 三﹕ 歸 妹 以 須 反 歸 以 娣 Third 6: A young woman going to marry hesitates and turns back; she marries as a concubine [instead].

[Pearson] Six in the third place: Coming home as though low in rank [literally, a concubine]. Return for a maiden marrying as though a younger sister.

[Redmond] 54.3 Marrying a maiden with concubines. Turns back, marries with her younger sister. 三歸妹以如嬬 [須]. 反歸以娣.

[Smaller Symbolism] 3. 'The younger sister who was to be married off is in a mean position:'—this is shown by the improprieties (indicated in the line).

[Legge] Line 3 is weak, where it should be strong; and the attribute of pleased satisfaction belonging to Tui culminates in its subject. She turns out to be of so mean a character and such a slave of passion that no one will marry her. She returns and accepts the position of a concubine.

4. The fourth NINE, undivided, shows the younger sister who is to be married off protracting the time. She may be late in being married, but the time will come.

110100 changing to 110000

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 53.4

The maiden's marriage is delayed.
A late marriage comes in its time.

[Christensen] 九 四﹕ 歸 妹 愆 期 遲 歸 有 時 Fourth 9: A young woman going to marry exceeds the proper time and waits; she has time enough.

[Pearson] Nine in the fourth place: The marriage is postponed. The delay is timely.

[Redmond] 54.4 The maiden arrives after the arranged time. Later returns at a suitable time. 九四歸妹愆期. 遲歸有時.

[Smaller Symbolism] 4. (The purpose in) 'protracting the time' is that, after waiting, the thing may be done (all the better).

[Legge] Line 4 is strong, where it should be weak; but in the case of a female the indication is not bad. The subject of the line, however, is in no haste. She waits, and the good time will come. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] The addition to the Text of 'the purpose' in paragraph 4 is to show that the putting marriage off is on the part of the lady and not on the other side.

5. The fifth SIX, divided, reminds us of the marrying of the younger sister of (king) Ti-yi, when the sleeves of her the princess were not equal to those of the (still) younger sister who accompanied her in an inferior capacity. (The case suggests the thought of) the moon almost full. There will be good fortune.

110100 changing to 110110

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 53.5

When King Diyi gave his sister in marriage,
One of the concubines was more beautiful
   than the lady bride.
The moon comes full.
Supremely auspicious.

[Christensen] 六 五﹕ 帝 乙 歸 妹 其 君 之 袂 不 如 其 娣 之 袂 良 月 幾 望 吉 Fifth 6: When Emperor Yi married a young lady, the sleeves of the queen’s [robe] were not as fine as that of his concubine’s [robe]. That the moon is [only] nearly full is [also] good.

[Pearson] Six in the fifth place: Lord Yi sent a maiden [his daughter?] in marriage, with lordly sleeves less impressive than those of a younger sister. After several months, hope for good fortune.

[Redmond] 54.5 Di Yi gave his daughter in marriage. The lady’s sleeves were inferior to those of her younger sister. The moon was almost full in the distance, auspicious. 六五帝乙歸妹. 其君之袂. 不如其娣之袂良. 月幾望,吉.

[Smaller Symbolism] 5. 'The sleeves of the younger sister of (king) Ti-yi, when she was married away, were not equal to those of her (half-)sister, who accompanied her:'—such was her noble character, indicated by the central position of the line.

[Legge] King Ti-yi has been already mentioned under the fifth line of hexagram 11, and in connexion with some regulation which he made about the marriage of daughters of the royal house. His sister here is honourably mentioned, so as to suggest that the adorning which she preferred was 'the ornament of the hidden man of the heart.' The comparison of her to 'the moon almost full' I am ready to hail as an instance where the duke of Kau is for once poetical. Khang-zze, however, did not see poetry, but a symbol in it. 'The moon is not full,' he says, 'but only nearly full. A wife ought not to eclipse her husband!' However, the sister of Ti-yi gets happily married, as she deserved to do, being represented by the line in the place of honour, having its proper correlate in 2.

6. The sixth SIX, divided, shows the young lady bearing the basket, but without anything in it, and the gentleman slaughtering the sheep, but without blood flowing from it. There will be no advantage in any way.

110100 changing to 110101

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 53.6

The bride offers a box
    that is empty.
The groom sacrifices a sheep
   that does not bleed.

[Christensen] 上 六﹕ 女 承 筐 无 實 士 刲 羊 无 血 无 攸 利 Top 6: The woman is holding a basket, but there is nothing in it. The man is stabbing the sheep, but no blood comes out. There is no goal that is beneficial.

[Pearson] Six at the top: A woman holds a basket without fruit. A man stabs a sheep, but no blood. Not acting is effective.

[Redmond] 54.6 The woman offers a basket; there is no fruit. The official cuts a sheep, there is no blood. There is nothing beneficial. 上六女承筐无實. 士刲羊, 无血. 无攸利.

[Smaller Symbolism] 6. '(What is said in) the sixth SIX, (divided), about there being nothing in the basket' shows that the subject of it is carrying an empty basket.

[Legge] Line 6 is weak, at the top of the hexagram, and without a proper correlate. Hence its auspice is evil. The marriage-contract is broken, according to Ku Hsi, and does not take effect. The parties mentioned in the paragraph appear engaged in the temple, offering or sacrificing to the spirits of their ancestors. But the woman's basket which should contain her offerings (The Shih, I, ii, ode 4) is empty, and the man attempts to perform his part in slaying the victim (The Shih, II, vi, ode 6.5) without effect.

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