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Hexagram 37 - Chia Jen / The Family (The Clan) - James Legge Translation

hexagram 37
  • Above Sun the Gentle, Wind
  • Below Li the Clinging, Fire


For the realization of what is taught in Chia Jen, or for the regulation of the family, what is most advantageous is that the wife be firm and correct.

Meaning Commentary

Chia Jen, 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.

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The Image

Wind comes forth from fire: The image of The Family. Thus the superior man has substance in his words and duration in his way of life.

Image Commentary

Heat creates energy: this is signified by the wind stirred up by the fire and issuing forth form it. This represents influence working from within outward. The same thing is needed in the regulation of the family. Here too the influence on others must proceed form one's own person. In order to be capable of producing such an influence, one's words must have power, and this they can have only if they are based on something real, just as flame depends on its fuel Words have influence only when they are pertinent and clearly related to definite circumstances. General discourses and admonitions have no effect whatsoever. Furthermore, the words must be supported by one's entire conduct, just as the wind is made effective by am impression on others that they can adapt and conform to it. If words and conduct are not in accord and consistent, they will have no effect.

King Wans explanation

  1. In Chia Jen 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 Chia Jen 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 a son; let the elder brother be indeed elder brother, and the younger brother younger brother, let the husband be indeed husband, and the wife a wife: then will the family be in its normal state. Bring the family to that state, and all under heaven will be established.

Legge Footnotes on King Wans explanation

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 symbolize 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?

The Lines

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.