Previous / Contents / Next

37. Kia Zan [Household]


Thwan, or Overall Judgment (Attributed to King Wan)

For (the realisation of what is taught in) Kia Zan, (or for the regulation of the family), what is most advantageous is that the wife be firm and correct.

[Legge] Kia Zan, the name of the hexagram, simply means 'a household,' or 'the members of a family.' The subject of the essay based on the figure, however, is the regulation of the family, effected mainly by the co-operation of husband and wife in their several spheres, and only needing to become universal to secure the good order of the kingdom. The important place occupied by the wife in the family is seen in the short sentence of the Thwan. That she be firm and correct, and do her part well, is the first thing necessary to its regulation.

Comments on the Thwan

1. In Kia Zan the wife has her correct place in the inner (trigram), and the man his correct place in the outer. That man and woman occupy their correct places is the great righteousness shown (in the relation and positions of) heaven and earth.

2. In Kia Zan we have the idea of an authoritative ruler;—that, namely, represented by the parental authority.

3. Let the father be indeed father, and the son son; let the elder brother be indeed elder brother, and the younger brother younger brother, let the husband be indeed husband, and the wife wife:—then will the family be in its normal state. Bring the family to that state, and all under heaven will be established.

[Legge] Paragraph 1 first explains the statement of the Thwan, about the wife, represented by line 2; and then proceeds to the husband, represented by line 5. The two trigrams become representative of the family circle, and the wide world without it. In the reference to heaven and earth it is not supposed that they are really husband and wife; but in their relation and positions they symbolise that social relation and the individuals in it.

Paragraph 2, more closely rendered, would be—'That in Kia Zan there is an authoritative ruler is a way of naming father and mother.' Does the writer mean to say that while the assertion of authority was indispensable in a family, that authority must have combined in it both force and gentleness?

Great Symbolism

(The trigram representing) fire, and that for wind coming forth from it, form Kia Zan. The superior man, in accordance with this, orders his words according to (the truth of) things, and his conduct so that it is uniformly consistent.

[Legge] The Symbolism here is certainly far-fetched. 'As wind,' it is said,' comes first from fire, so does transforming influence emanate from the family.' But the subject of the hexagram is the regulation and not the influence of the family. Then the application is good for the superior man's cultivation of himself; but this again is only connected indirectly with the regulation of the family.

Line Statements (Attributed to the Duke of Kau)

1. The first NINE, undivided, shows its subject establishing restrictive regulations in his household Occasion for repentance will disappear.

[Smaller Symbolism] 1. 'He establishes restrictive regulations in his household:—(he does so), before any change has taken place in their wills.

[Legge] Line 1 is strong, and in a strong place. It suggests the necessity of strict rule in governing the family. Regulations must be established, and their observance strictly insisted on. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] The sooner preventive measures are presented to the youthful mind the better; but does not prohibition imply that a change in the good will has taken place?

2. The second SIX, divided, shows its subject taking nothing on herself, but in her central place attending to the preparation of the food. Through her firm correctness there will be good fortune.

[Smaller Symbolism] 2. 'The good fortune attached to the second six, (divided),' is due to the docility (of its subject), operating with humility.

[Legge] Line 2 is weak, and in the proper place for it,—the centre, moreover, of the lower trigram. It fitly represents the wife, and what is said on it tells us of her special sphere and duty; and that she should be unassuming in regard to all beyond her sphere; always being firm and correct. See the Shih, III, 350. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] In paragraph 2 'docility' is suggested by the weak line. 'The humility' comes out of Sun, the upper trigram, whose attribute is pliant flexibility.

3. The third NINE, undivided, shows its subject (treating) the members of the household with stern severity. There will be occasion for repentance, there will be peril, (but) there will (also) be good fortune. If the wife and children were to be smirking and chattering, in the end there would be occasion for regret.

[Smaller Symbolism] 3. When 'the members of the household are treated with stern severity,' there has been no (great) failure (in the regulation of the family). When 'wife and children are smirking and chattering,' the (proper) economy of the family has been lost.

[Legge] Line 3 is strong, and in an odd place. If the place were central, the strength would be tempered; but the subject of the line, in the topmost place of the trigram, may be expected to exceed in severity. But severity is not a bad thing in regulating a family;—it is better than laxity and indulgence.

4. The fourth SIX, divided, shows its subject enriching the family. There will be great good fortune.

[Smaller Symbolism] 4. 'The family is enriched, and there is great good fortune:'—this is due to the docility (belonging to the subject of the line), and its being in its correct place.

[Legge] Line 4 is weak, and in its proper place. The wife is again suggested to us, and we are told, that notwithstanding her being confined to the internal affairs of the household, she can do much to enrich the family. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] Yu Yen (Yuan dynasty) ingeniously observes on paragraph 4 that the riches of a family are not to be sought in its wealth, but in the affection and harmony of its members. Where these prevail, the family is not likely to be poor, and whatever it has will be well preserved.

5. The fifth NINE, undivided, shows the influence of the king extending to his family. There need be no anxiety; there will be good fortune.

[Smaller Symbolism] 5. 'The influence of the king extends to his family:'—the intercourse between them is that of mutual love.

[Legge] The subject of the strong fifth line appears as the king. This may be the husband spoken of as also a king; or the real king whose merit is revealed first in his family, as often in the Shih, where king Wan is the theme. The central place here tempers the display of the strength and power. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] The mention 'of mutual love' is unusual in Chinese writings, and must be considered remarkable here. 'The. husband,' says Khang-zze, 'loves his helpmate in the house; the wife loves him who is the pattern for the family.' But however admirable the sentiment is, it comes from the mind of the writer, and is not drawn from the Text.

6. The topmost NINE, undivided, shows its subject possessed of sincerity and arrayed in majesty. In the end there will be good fortune.

[Smaller Symbolism] 6. 'The good fortune connected with the display of majesty' describes (the result of) the recovery of the true character.

[Legge] Line 6 is also strong, and being in an even place, the subject of it might degenerate into stern severity, but he is supposed to be sincere, complete in his personal character and self-culture, and hence his action will only lead to good fortune. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] Paragraph 6. It is said on this, that the majesty is not designedly assumed or put on; but the effect of the character remoulded and perfected. The words of Mencius are aptly quoted in illustration of the lesson:—'If a man himself do not walk in the (right) path, it will not be walked in (even) by his wife and children.'

Previous / Contents / Next


Return to Home Page

Send comments to

Editorial features of this edition © 2012 by Joseph F. Morales