The Foundation of Chinese Numerology

Numerology is about numbers, and the foundation of Chinese numerology is the Luo Shu Square and He Tu Diagram.

Luo Shu Square

From the diagram, we can see white circular dots and black dots. White dots represent Yang, black dots represent Yin. Calculate the dots and we will get the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

The odd numbers 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 are white circular dots and are Yang. 
The even numbers 2, 4, 6, and 8 are black dots and are Yin.

Luo Shu Square is considered a magic square. Representing the Square in numbers will make it easier to understand why. From this chart, we can see that the sum of each of the 3 rows, of each of the 3 columns, and of both diagonals are all 15. The interesting thing is that 15 is also the number of days of Qi, one of the ancient Chinese time-measuring units. As 7 days equals one week, 15 days equals one Qi.

While the Luo Shu Square divides numbers into two Yin-Yang groups, the He Tu Diagram groups numbers by the number 5, the number that is at the centre of both the Luo Shu Square and the He Tu Diagram.

He Tu Diagram

The He Tu Diagram has ten numbers. The first five numbers, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, are called generating numbers (生數).  Each number plus 5 becomes the corresponding numbers (成數), which are 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. Pairing the generating number and the corresponding number forms the He Tu Diagram. Each pair has one Yin and one Yang number, also shown in the diagram as white circular dots and black dots.

The He Tu Diagram is naturally related to the five elements, which are wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. The relationship between the five elements and numbers is:

Chinese numerology is not only used for fortune calculation, such as name numerology, it has also been applied in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for a long time. According to the theoretical book of classical Chinese medicine, “Huangdi Nei Jing“, the five internal organs are associated with numbers, and they start with number 5.

Thousands of years have passed since Luo Shu Square and He Tu Diagram were mentioned. We might never be able to fully understand ancient Chinese numerology, but we can show our recognition and respect for ancient people who perceived the world not merely intuitively but also mathematically. The journey to the understanding of nature and the human being started long ago in human history and will never end.

Notes:

  1. Book of Changes, 孫振聲,白話易經(星光出版社,1981), 509
  2. 「五日謂之候,三候謂之氣,六氣謂之時,四時謂之歲」Yellow Emperor’s Canon of Medicine: Plain Conversation [黃帝內經:素問], chapter 9, Discussion on Six-Plus-Six System and the Manifestations of the Viscera [六節髒象論], translated into English by Li Zhaoguo (Xi’an: World Publishing Corporation, 2005).
  3. 「東風青色,入通於肝,其數八;南方赤色,入通於心,其數七;中央黃色,入通於脾,其數五;西方白色,入通於肺,其數九;北方黑色,入通於腎,其數六」 Yellow Emperor’s Canon of Medicine: Plain Conversation [黃帝內經:素問], chapter 4, Discussion on the Important Ideas in the Golden [金匱真言論].

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