yin-yang


yin-yang
In East Asian thought, the two complementary forces or principles that make up all aspects and phenomena of life.

Yin is earth, female, dark, passive, and absorbing; it is present in even numbers and in valleys and streams and is represented by the tiger, the colour orange, and a broken line. Yang is heaven, male, light, active, and penetrating; it is present in odd numbers and mountains and is represented by the dragon, the colour azure, and an unbroken line. Together they express the interdependence of opposites.

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▪ Eastern philosophy
Pinyin  Yinyang,  Japanese  In-yō,  
      in Eastern thought, the two complementary forces, or principles, that make up all aspects and phenomena of life. Yin is conceived of as earth, female, dark, passive, and absorbing; it is present in even numbers, in valleys and streams, and is represented by the tiger, the colour orange, and a broken line. Yang is conceived of as heaven, male, light, active, and penetrating; it is present in odd numbers, in mountains, and is represented by the dragon, the colour azure, and an unbroken line. The two are both said to proceed from the Supreme Ultimate ( T'ai Chi), their interplay on one another (as one increases the other decreases) being a description of the actual process of the universe and all that is in it. In harmony, the two are depicted as the light and dark halves of a circle.

      The concept of yin-yang is associated in Chinese thought with the idea of the five agents, or elements ( Wu hsing)—metal, wood, water, fire, and earth—both of these ideas lending substance to the characteristically Chinese belief in a cyclical theory of becoming and dissolution and an interdependence between the world of nature and human events.

      The origins of the yin-yang idea are obscure but ancient. In the 3rd century BC in China, it formed the basis of an entire school of cosmology (the Yin-Yang school), whose main representative was Tsou Yen. The significance of yin-yang through the centuries has permeated every aspect of Chinese thought, influencing astrology, divination, medicine, art, and government. The concept entered Japan in early times as in-. A government bureau existed in Japan as early as AD 675 to advise the government on divination and on control of the calendar according to in- principles, but it later fell into disuse. In- notions permeated every level of Japanese society and persist even into modern times, as evident in the widespread belief in lucky and unlucky days and directions and in consideration of the zodiac signs when arranging marriages.

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Universalium. 2010.

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