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Dunjia yanyi 遁甲演義 "Explanation of the Meaning XXX of dunjia Divination"


The Dunjia yanyi 遁甲演義 "Explanation of the Meaning XXX of dunjia Divination" is a compendium on a specialized method of divination called dunjia 遁甲 "hidden shields" (better: "secret jia combinations"). Dunjia, also called qimen dunjia 奇門遁甲 "hidden shields of the wondrous gates", is one of the great divination methods, and one of the "three standards" (sanshi 三式), together with the liuren 六壬 and the taiyi 太乙 method.
The 4 juan "scrolls" long book was written by the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) master Cheng Daosheng 程道生, courtesy name Cheng Kesheng 程可生. He came from Haining 海寧, Zhejiang, but his dates of life are unknown. The text is a compendium on the dunjia method of divination. It quotes from a lot of ancient texts, like Huangyi yinfu jing 黃帝陰符經, but also gives the reader detailed explanations on the elements of the dunjia technique compiled by Cheng Daosheng himself. The Dunjia yanyi helps to understand more of the art of determining auspicous days or auspicious places for the construction of houses or tombs. The Dunjia yanyi is included in the imperial collectaneum Siku quanshu 四庫全書. It was submitted to the compilation team as a manuscript owned by Yao Youruo 姚有若.
The art of dunjia is said to go back to the "Inscription of the River Luo" Luoshu 洛書, but the name "Luoshu" actually says that this should be a text, and not a diagram in the shape as it is transmitted, like its counterpart, the "River Chart" Hetu 河圖. Ancient bibliographers indeed described the Luoshu as a text: The Han period 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE) writer Ban Gu 班固 explains in the Treatise on the Five Processes Wuxing zhi 五行志 in his dynastic history Hanshu 漢書 that the Luoshu consisted of 65 characters, while Liu Xiang 劉向 speaks of 38, and Liu Xin 劉歆 of only 20 words (compare the commentary Shangshu zhengyi 尚書正義). This is a proof that during the Han period the Luoshu was not a diagram but a short text.
In Han period texts only Feng Hou's 風后 method of the "six jia" is mentioned (Feng Hou liujia 風后六甲) and Feng Hou's method of the "solitary void" (Feng Hou guxu 風后孤虛). The term dunjia seems to be originating in the apocryphal classic Yiwei qianzao du 易緯•乾鑿度, yet it is first mentioned in a poem by Emperor Jianwen 梁簡文帝 (r. 549-550) of the Liang dynasty 梁 (502-557, where it is said that "the three gates respond to the dunjia" (sanmen ying dunjia 三門應遁甲). The first history in which the dunjia method is mentioned is the book Chenshu 陳書 (biography of Emperor Wu 陳武帝, Wudi ji 武帝紀). It can thus be seen that the dunjia method was invented during the Southern and Northern Dynasties period 南北朝 (300~600). Accordingly the treatise on the Five Processes in the history Suishu 隋書 mentiones thirteen texts on this method, like Wu Zixu dunjia wen 伍子胥遁甲文 (attributed to the politican Wu Zixu), Xin Dufang dunjia jing 信都芳遁甲經 or Gemi sanyuan dunjia tu 葛秘三元遁甲圖. During the Tang period 唐 (618-907) Li Jing 李靖 allegedly wrote the formula Wanyi dunjia jue 萬一遁甲訣 and Hu Qian 胡乾 the classic Dunjiajing 遁甲經. Unfortunately all of these scriptures are lost. Emperor Renzong 宋仁宗 (r. 1022-1063) of the Song dynasty 宋 (960-1279) ordered the compilation of the book Jingjue yuesui xinjing 景玦樂髓新經 that describes the two alternations by the Seven Masters (qizong erbian 七宗二變), which is actually a musicological concept, but the book also includes some information on the liuren 六壬 and dunjia 遁甲 methods. Emperor Renzong also ordered XXX 司天政 Yang Weide 楊維德 to write the book Dunjia yuhan fuying jing 遁甲玉函符應經, to which he personally wrote a preface. These two texts represent the fully developed dunjia theory during the Song period. These teachings were later vitiated by incorrect teachings like that of Guo Jing 郭京 and other concepts derived from talismanic methods of Daoism. These unorthodox additions contributed to the decline of the dunjia method that was more and more replaced by the liuren teachings.
In the numerology in the chapter Mingtang 明堂 "Bright Hall" of the semi-classic Da Dai Liji 大戴禮 it can be seen that the dunjia method is in fact derived from the Nine-Palace (jiugong 九宮) concept and makes use of several "warps" or additional elements like the "three odds" (sanqi 三奇), the "six propers" (liuyi 六儀), the "eight gates" (bamen 八門) and the "nine stars" (jiuxing 九星) in order to prognosticate luck and mischief. 以日生于乙,月明于丙丁,為南極,為星精,故乙丙丁皆為之 奇。而甲本諸陽首,戊己下六儀分麗于它,以配九宮而起符使,胡號遁甲。其坎離分宮、正授超神、閏奇接氣,與律呂相通;開休生之取北方三向,與大乙通;龍虎 蛇雀、刑囚旺墓之義,不外于乘承生克,與星命,六壬通。至于風云緯候,無不賅備。故神其說者以為出自黃帝、風后及九天玄女。 Feng Hou is said to have been a cowherd at Daze 大澤 but was made counsellor and general by Emperor XXX. He compiled thirteen chapters of military strategies (bingfa 兵法) and twelve chapters of XXX (guxu 孤虛). He also created the 1,080 parts (ju 局) of the dunjia system. The word dun 遁 is explained as a "secret method", and jia 甲 as "befitting, or proper". The "six befittings" (liuyi 六儀, or liujia 六甲) are the worthiest deities under the Celestial unity (tianyi 天乙) and are normally hidden beneath the six XXX (liuwu 六戊). With the help of the patterns of refined weapons and tools the warriors are able to communicate with divine virtues. Dunjia can also be translated as "secret shields" and was originally a kind of diviination used during military campaigns to determine auspicious days for attacks. Yet jia "shield" is also the first of the Ten Celestial Stems (shi tiangan 十天干) that serve to count days. The next three of the Stems are used for the method of the "three odds" (sanqi 三奇), namely yi 乙 for the day (riqi 日奇), bing 丙 for the month (yueqi 月奇), and ding 丁 to eruate the southern polestar (nanji 南極, therefore called xingqi 星奇). These are also called the "starry essence" (xingjing 星精). These three with the last six of the Stems (the so-called liuyi 六儀 "proper six") complete the Nine Palaces (jiugong 九宮) that are all based on the elementary Stem jia 甲.
The Dunjia yanyi explains that the three Celestial Odds (tianshang sanqi 天上三奇) originate as "stem agencies" (gan de 干德) of the "valuable man" (guiren 貴人) and spread with the Terrestrial Branches (shi'er dizhi 十二地支). They move smoothly with the valuable man of the Yang (yi yang guiren shunxing 以陽貴人順行). The trigram kun 坤 of the Former Heaven (xiantian 先天, i.e. an ideal of all things before they come into being) begins with the Branch zi 子. The agency of yi joins with the Branch chou 丑, that of bing with the Branch yin 寅, and that of ding with the Branch mao 卯. The agencies of the three Stems (the three odds) are linked to each other and never interrupted. They move counter-rotating with the valuable man of the Yin (yi yin guiren nixing 以陰貴人逆行). The trigram kun of the Later Heaven (houtian 後天, i.e. real life) begins with the Stem jia. The agency of yin joins with the Branch wei 未, that of bing with the Branch wu 午, and that of ding with the Branch si 巳. While the three Odds themselves can create mischief, they will nevertheless bring luck if they follow the agencies of the valuable man.
There are two mnemonic verses to illustrate the sequence:
陰貴人:甲羊戊庚牛,乙猴己鼠鄉,丙雞丁豬位,壬兔癸蛇藏,六辛到虎穴,此是陰貴方。
陽貴人:甲牛戊庚羊,乙鼠己猴鄉,丙豬丁雞位,壬蛇癸兔藏,六辛到馬場,此是陽貴方。
The Three Odds are combined with transformations of the eight trigrams (bagua 八卦) to the Eight Gates (bamenxiu 休), life (sheng 生), injury (shang 傷), obstruction (du 杜), XXX (jing 景), death (si 死), dismay (jing 驚) and opening (kai 開). The most auspicious of these Gates are xiu, kai and sheng, the others are inauspicious.
The "nine stars" (jiuxing 九星) are the five planets (wuxing 五星: Venus jinxing 金星, Jupiter muxing 木星, Mercury shuixing 水星, Mars huoxing 火星, and Saturn tuxing 土星) and four additional (imaginary) para-planets (jianxing 兼形). These are related to auspicious or inauspicious days or spots in the landscape. For the nine planets, there are two series of names, one originating in Yang Yunsong's 楊筠松 geomantic text Hanlongjing 撼龍經 from the Tang period, where the planets are called Tanlangxing 貪狼星, Jumenxing 巨門星, Lucunxing 祿存星, Wenquxing 文曲星, Wuquxing 武曲星, Lianzhenxing 廉貞星, Pojunxing 破軍星, Zuofuxing 左輔星, and Youbixing 右弼星, and one originating in the Song period, found in Liao Yu's 廖瑀 book Jiuxing chuanbian 九星傳變, where the celestial bodies are called Taiyangxing 太陽星, Taiyinxing 太陰星, Jinshuixing 金水星, Muxing 木星, Tiancaixing 天財星, Tiangangxing 天罡星, Guyaoxing 孤曜星, Zaohuoxing 燥火星, and Saodangxing 掃蕩星.

star trigram/palace (gong ) phase gate
天蓬星 Tianfengxing 一 坎 kan 水 water 休門 Xiumen
天芮星 Tianruixing 二 坤 kun 土 earth 死門 Simen
天沖星 Tianchongxing 三 震 zhen 木 wood 傷門 Shangmen
天輔星 Tianfuxing 四 巽 xun 木 wood 杜門 Dumen
天禽星 Qianqinxing 五 中央 centre 土 earth
天心星 Tianxinxing 六 乾 qian 金 metal 開門 Kaimen
天柱星 Tianzhuxing 七 兌 dui 金 metal 驚門 Jingmen
天任星 Tianrenxing 八 艮 gen 土 earth 生門 Shengmen
天英星 Tianyingxing 九 離 li 火 fire 景門 Jingmen

The Stem jia is the most important, but is often hidden behind the six XXX六儀, represented by the Stems wu 戊, yi 己, geng 庚, xin 辛, ren 壬 and gui 癸. The Three Odds and the Six Yi are distributed in the Nine Palaces, yet jia does not occupy one single palace, but overlaps into other palaces. According to the scripture Dunjia fuying jing 遁甲符應經 by Yang Weide 楊維德 from the Song period the cyclical combination jiazi 甲子 reigns the six wu 六戊, jiaxu 甲戌 the six ji 六己, jiashen 甲申 the six geng 六庚, jiawu 甲午 the six xin 六辛, jiachen 甲辰 the six ren 六壬 and jiayin 甲寅 the six kui 六癸. 《后漢書•方術傳序 says that there are the divination methods of fengjiao 風角, dunjia 遁甲 and qizheng 七政, and dunjia … “遁甲,推六甲之陰而隱遁也。今書《七志》有《遁甲經》.


Sources: Chen Yongzheng 陳永正 (ed. 1991). Zhongguo fangshu da cidian 中國方術大辭典, Guangzhou: Zhongshan daxue chubanshe, pp. 135, 296, 297, 303, 309, 311, 395.
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe, vol. 2, p. 1790.
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January 9, 2014 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail