The Bagua or Pakua are a set of eight symbols that originated in China, used in Taoist cosmology to represent the fundamental principles of reality, seen as a range of eight interrelated concepts. Each consists of three lines, each line either "broken" or "unbroken", respectively representing yin or yang, 0 or 1 forming binary numbers 000 to 111 which are equivalent to octal digits 0 to 7. Due to their tripartite structure, they are often referred to as Eight Trigrams in English.

Bagua diagram explanation from Zhao Huiqian's (趙撝謙) Liushu benyi (六書本義, 1370s).
Chinese name
Literal meaningEight symbols
Korean name
Japanese name

The trigrams are related to Taiji philosophy, Taijiquan and the Wuxing, or "five elements".[1] The relationships between the trigrams are represented in two arrangements, the Primordial (先天八卦), "Earlier Heaven"[2] or "Fu Xi" bagua (伏羲八卦), and the Manifested (後天八卦), "Later Heaven,"[2] or "King Wen" bagua. The trigrams have correspondences in astronomy, astrology, geography, geomancy, anatomy, the family, martial arts, Chinese medicine and elsewhere.[3][4]

The ancient Chinese classic, I Ching (Pinyin: Yi Jing), consists of the 64 pairwise permutations of trigrams, referred to as "hexagrams", along with commentary on each one.


There are eight possible combinations to render the various trigrams (八卦 bāguà):

Trigram figure Possible binary value Name Translation: Wilhelm[5] Image in nature (pp.l-li) Phase[6] Later Heaven's Direction (p. 269)[6] Later Heaven's Equinox and Solstice[6] Family relationship (p. 274) Body part (p. 274) Attribute (p. 273) Stage/ state (pp.l-li) Animal (p. 273) Obtained Images[7]
1 111
the Creative, (natural) force heaven, sky
metal northwest father head strong, persisting creative
three lines
2 011
the Joyous, open (reflection) lake, marsh
metal west Fall Equinox third daughter mouth pleasure tranquil (complete devotion)
sheep, goat
flawed above
3 101
the Clinging, radiance fire, glow
fire south Summer Solstice second daughter eye light-giving, humane "dependence" clinging, clarity, adaptable
hollow middle
4 001
the Arousing, shake thunder
wood east Spring Equinox first son foot inciting movement initiative
face-up jar
5 110
the Gentle, ground wind, air
wood southeast first daughter thigh penetrating gentle entrance
broken below
6 010
the Abysmal, gorge water
water north Winter Solstice second son ear dangerous in-motion
full middle
7 100
Keeping Still, bound mountain
earth northeast third son hand resting, stand-still completion
face-down bowl
8 000
the Receptive, field ground, earth
earth southwest mother (consort) belly devoted, yielding receptive
six fragments
Alternative conversion of the trigrams to binary

Relation to other principlesEdit

Derivation of the bagua

Book of Changes listed two sources for the eight trigrams. The chapter Xì Cí shàng; 'The Great Treatise I' explains the first source thus:[8]


Yì yǒu tài jí ,
shì shēng liǎngyí ,
liǎng yí shēng sìxiàng ,
sìxiàng shēng bāguà ,

    [I]n (the system of) the Yi there is the Grand Terminus (太極; Taiji),
   which produced the two elementary Forms. (兩儀; Liangyi)
   Those two Forms produced the Four emblematic Symbols, (四象; Sixiang)
   which again produced the eight Trigrams (八卦; Bagua).

Another chapter, 說卦; Shuō Guà; 'Discussing the Trigrams', characterizes the ; Qián trigram, which represents Heaven, and ; Kūn, which represent earth, as father and mother, respectively, of the six other trigrams, who are their three sons (; Zhèn, ; Kǎn, ; Gèn) and three daughters (; Xùn, ; , ; Duì).[9]

The trigrams are related to the five elements of Wu Xing, used by Feng Shui practitioners and in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Those five elements are Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal. The Water (Kan) and Fire (Li) trigrams correspond directly with the Water and Fire elements. The element of Earth corresponds with both the trigrams of Earth (Kun) and Mountain (Gen). The element of Wood corresponds with the trigrams of Wind (Xun) (as a gentle but inexorable force that can erode and penetrate stone) and Thunder (Zhen). The element of Metal corresponds with the trigrams of Heaven (Qian) and Lake (Dui).[9][6]

Hexagram lookup tableEdit

64 Hexagrams
Upper →
Lower ↓
(qián) (duì) () (zhèn) (xùn) (kǎn) (gèn) (kūn)
Heaven Lake Flame Thunder Wind Water Mountain Earth
1 43 14 34 9 5 26 11
(qián) (qián) (guài) 大有(dàyǒu) 大壯(dàzhuàng) 小畜(xiǎoxù) () 大畜(dàchù) (tài)
Heaven Force Displacement Great Possessing Great Invigorating Small Harvest Attending Great Accumulating Pervading
10 58 38 54 61 60 41 19
(duì) () (duì) (kuí) 歸妹(guīmèi) 中孚(zhōngfú) (jié) (sǔn) (lín)
Lake Treading Open Polarising Converting the Maiden Inner Truth Articulating Diminishing Nearing
13 49 30 55 37 63 22 36
() 同人(tóngrén) () () (fēng) 家人(jiārén) 既濟(jìjì) () 明夷(míngyí)
Flame Concording People Skinning Radiance Abounding Dwelling People Already Fording Adorning Intelligence Hidden
25 17 21 51 42 3 27 24
(zhèn) 無妄(wúwàng) (suí) 噬嗑(shìhé) (zhèn) () (tún) () ()
Thunder Innocence Following Gnawing Bite Shake Augmenting Sprouting Swallowing Returning
44 28 50 32 57 48 18 46
(xùn) (gòu) 大過(dàguò) (dǐng) (héng) (xùn) (jǐng) () (shēng)
Wind Coupling Great Exceeding Holding Persevering Ground Welling Correcting Ascending
6 47 64 40 59 29 4 7
(kǎn) (sòng) (kùn) 未濟(wèijì) (jiě) (huàn) (kǎn) (méng) (shī)
Water Arguing Confining Before Completion Deliverance Dispersing Gorge Enveloping Leading
33 31 56 62 53 39 52 15
(gèn) (dùn) (xián) () 小過(xiǎoguò) (jiàn) (jiǎn) (gèn) (qiān)
Mountain Retiring Conjoining Sojourning Small Exceeding Infiltrating Limping Bound Humbling
12 45 35 16 20 8 23 2
(kūn) () (cuì) (jìn) () (guàn) () (bāo) (kūn)
Earth Obstruction Clustering Prospering Providing-For Viewing Grouping Stripping Field

Fu Xi's "Earlier Heaven"Edit

Fuxi "Earlier Heaven" bagua arrangement
 Qián Sky (Heaven) Summer Creative  Father 南 South Expansive energy, the sky. For further information, see tiān.
 Xùn 風 Wind Summer Gentle 長女 Eldest Daughter 西南 Southwest Gentle penetration, flexibility.
 Kǎn Water Autumn Abysmal 中男 Middle Son 西 West Danger, rapid rivers, the abyss, the moon.
 Gèn Mountain Autumn Still 少男 Youngest Son 西北 Northwest Stillness, immovability.
 Kūn Earth Winter Receptive  Mother  North Receptive energy, that which yields. For further information, see .
 Zhèn Thunder Winter Arousing 長男 Eldest Son 東北 Northeast Excitation, revolution, division.
 Lí Fire Spring Clinging 中女 Middle Daughter  East Rapid movement, radiance, the sun.
 Duì Lake Spring Joyous 少女 Youngest Daughter 東南 Southeast Joy, satisfaction, stagnation.

This is also known as the "binary sequence" or Shao Yong sequence. A binary interpretation of each hexagram is made by interpreting yin as "0" and yang as "1", and reading the leading "digit" from the inside of the diagram, so the hexagram kūn is interpreted as 0, and gèn as 1. The hexagrams are in binary order when read up from the bottom around on the right, then up again on the left to the top.[clarification needed][citation needed]

King Wen's "Later Heaven"Edit

King Wen "Later Heaven" bagua arrangement
Li  Fire Summer Clinging 中女 Middle Daughter  South Pulsing motion, radiance, the luminaries.
 Kun  Earth Summer Receptive  Mother 西南 Southwest Receptive energy, that which yields.
 Dui  Lake Autumn Joyous 少女 Youngest Daughter 西 West Joy, satisfaction, stagnation.
 Qian  Heaven Autumn Creative  Father 西北 Northwest Expansive energy, the sky.
 Kan  Water Winter Abysmal 中男 Middle Son  North Danger, rapid rivers, the abyss, the moon.
 Gen  Mountain Winter Still 少男 Youngest Son 東北 Northeast Stillness, immovability.
 Zhen  Thunder Spring Arousing 長男 Eldest Son  East Excitation, revolution, division.
 Xun  Wind Spring Gentle 長女 Eldest Daughter 東南 Southeast Gentle penetration, flexibility.

Bagua used in Feng ShuiEdit

The Bagua is an essential tool in the majority of Feng Shui schools. The Bagua used in Feng shui can appear in two different versions: the Earlier Heaven Bagua, used for burial sites, and the Later Heaven Bagua, used for the residences.

Primordial BaguaEdit

In Primordial Bagua, also known as Fu Xi Bagua or Earlier Heaven Bagua, the Heaven is in the higher part and the Earth is in the lower part. The trigram Qian (Heaven) is at the top, the trigram Kun (Earth) is at the bottom (in the past, the South was located at the top in Chinese maps). The trigram Li (Fire) is located on the left and opposite to it is the trigram Kan (Water). Zhen (Thunder) and Xun (Wind) form another pair, while being one opposite the other, the first on the bottom left next to Li while the second is next to Qian on the top right of the Bagua. Gen (Mountain) and Dui (Lake) form the last pair, one opposite the other, both in balance and harmony. The adjustment of the trigrams is symmetrical by forming exact contrary pairs. They symbolize the opposite forces of Yin and Yang and represent an ideal state, when everything is in balance.

Manifested BaguaEdit

The sequence of the trigrams in Manifested Bagua, also known as the Bagua of King Wen or Later Heaven Bagua, describes the patterns of the environmental changes. Kan is placed downwards and Li at the top, Zhen in the East and Dui in the West. Contrary to the Earlier Heaven Bagua, this one is a dynamic Bagua where energies and the aspects of each trigram flow towards the following. It is the sequence used by the Luo Pan compass which is used in Feng Shui to analyze the movement of the Qi that practitioners believe affect them.

Western BaguaEdit

Feng shui was made very popular in the Occident thanks to the Bagua of the eight aspirations. Each trigram corresponds to an aspect of life which, in its turn, corresponds to one of the cardinal directions. Applying feng shui using the Bagua of the eight aspirations (or Bagua map for short) made it possible to simplify feng shui and to bring it within the reach of everyone. Western Bagua focuses more heavily on the power of intention than the traditional forms of feng shui.[10]

Masters of traditional feng shui disregard this approach,[11] for its simplicity, because it does not take into account the forms of the landscape or the temporal influence or the annual cycles. The Bagua of the eight aspirations is divided into two branches: the first, which uses the compass and cardinal directions, and the second, which uses the Bagua by using the main door. It is clear that, not taking into account the cardinal directions, the second is even more simplified.

Bagua mapEdit

A bagua map is a tool used in Western forms of feng shui to map a room or location and see how the different sections correspond to different aspects in one's life. These sections are believed to relate to every area or aspect of life and are divided into such categories as: fame, relationships/marriage, children/creativity, helpful people/travel, career, inner knowledge, family/ancestors/health, and wealth/blessings.

In this system, the map is intended to be used over the land, one's home, office or desk to find areas lacking good chi, and to show where there are negative or missing spaces that may need rectifying or enhancing in life or the environment.

For example, if the bagua grid is placed over the entire house plan and it shows the toilet, bathroom, laundry, or kitchen in the wealth/blessings area it would be considered that the money coming into that particular environment would disappear very fast, as if to be 'going down the drain.'

A Tibetan "Mystic Tablet" containing the Eight Trigrams on top of a large tortoise (presumably, alluding to the animal that presented them to Fu Xi), along with the 12 signs of Chinese zodiac, and a smaller tortoise carrying the Lo Shu Square on its shell

In UnicodeEdit

The bagua symbols are in the Miscellaneous Symbols block of Unicode:

Miscellaneous Symbols Unicode block
Official Name Glyph Unicode # HTML Element
Trigram for Heaven  ☰ U+2630 ☰ Metal
Trigram for Lake  ☱ U+2631 ☱
Trigram for Fire  ☲ U+2632 ☲ Fire
Trigram for Thunder  ☳ U+2633 ☳ Wood
Trigram for Wind  ☴ U+2634 ☴
Trigram for Water  ☵ U+2635 ☵ Water
Trigram for Mountain  ☶ U+2636 ☶ Earth
Trigram for Earth  ☷ U+2637 ☷


A LaTeX package TikZ-Bagua can be used to draw the symbols.

In cultureEdit

In Peking Opera, a role that has Taoist technique or military strategy wears a costume decorated with Taiji and Bagua.

Baguazhang and Taijiquan are two Chinese martial arts based on principles derived from bagua.

The principles of Bagua are used in a form of traditional Acupuncture where the prenatal, early heaven arrangements and the postnatal, later heaven arrangements are used to select points specifically related or tailored to the patients constitution to treat illness or disease.

Other adoptionsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ CHEN, Xin (tr. Alex Golstein). The Illustrated Canon of Chen Family Taijiquan Archived 2016-05-03 at the Wayback Machine, INBI Matrix Pty Ltd, 2007. page 11. (accessed on, December 14, 2009.)
  2. ^ a b Wilhelm, Richard (1950). The I Ching or Book of Changes. translated by Cary F. Baynes, foreword by C. G. Jung, preface to 3rd ed. by Hellmut Wilhelm (1967). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. pp. 266, 269. ISBN 069109750X.
  3. ^ TSUEI, Wei. Roots of Chinese culture and medicine Archived 2012-08-12 at the Wayback Machine Chinese Culture Books Co., 1989.
  4. ^ ZONG, Xiao-Fan and Liscum, Gary. Chinese Medical Palmistry: Your Health in Your Hand, Blue Poppy Press, 1999.
  5. ^ Wilhelm, R. & Baynes, C., (1967): "The I Ching or Book of Changes", With foreword by Carl Jung, Introduction, Bollingen Series XIX, Princeton University Press, (1st ed. 1950)
  6. ^ a b c d Bagua in
  7. ^ Zhouyi Jie (Explaining the Zhou's [Book of] Changes) "Bagua Quxiang Ge (Song about how the Eight Trigrams Obtained Their Images)" quote:《八卦取象歌》「☰乾三連,☷坤六斷,☳震仰盂,☶艮覆碗,☲離中虛,☵坎中滿,☱兌上缺,☴巽下斷。」
  8. ^ Book of Changes "繫辭上 - Xi Ci I (The Great Treatise) 11.3" Translated by James Legge
  9. ^ a b Yi Jing "Shuo Gua 10". Translated by James Legge
  10. ^ Cisek, Jan. Feng Shui London blog, 2007.
  11. ^ Moran, Elizabeth and Master Yu, Joseph. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Feng Shui, 3rd Edition, Penguin, 2005.