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The traditional Chinese characters for the words "yin" and "yang" both combine the "mound" or "hill" radical with phonetic indicators. "Yin" (cloudy) ideographically combines "jin" (now; present) and "yun" (cloud), denoting the "presence of clouds;" "yang" (bright) originally pictured the "sun" with "rays coming down," and the phonetic was expanded with the "sun" radical into "yang" (rising sun; sunshine). The semantic meaning, then, combines "shady/dark side of a hill" and "sunny/light side of a hill." Thus, "Yin yang" describes how opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary, interconnected, and interdependent and how they give rise to each other. Everything has both aspects, (for instance, shadow cannot exist without light). This duality is at the heart of classical Chinese science and philosophy, a primary guideline of traditional Chinese medicine, and a central principle of martial arts and exercise, such as baguazhang, taijiquan (t'ai chi), and qigong (Chi Kung). The phrase also means astrology, geomancy, occult arts, and their practitioners. The concept is at least as old as the "I Ching," a divination manual of the Western Zhou period (ca. 1000–750 BCE), in which yin is represented by broken lines and yang by solid ones, which are combined into trigrams. The positions and numbers of the yin yang lines within the trigrams determines its meaning, and then the trigrams are combined into hexagrams, which can depict complex interrelations. As part of organized philosophy the concept first appeared in the School of Naturalists (Yīnyángjiā, the School of Yin-yang) founded by Zou Yan (305–240 BCE), who explained the universe in terms of basic forces in nature: yin yang and the "wu xing" (five elements -- wood, fire, earth, metal, and water). After the philosophy was fully developed in the 1st/2nd centuries BCE it was employed in many fields, including geomancy (feng shui), astrology, medicine, music, military strategy, and martial arts. In Daoism, all distinctions between good/bad and other dichotomous moral judgments are perceptual, not real, so, the duality of yin yang is an indivisible whole. In Confucianism, especially in the work of Dong Zhongshu (2nd century BCE), the idea of yin yang contains a moral aspect. In the tradition of the "Gongyang Commentary" (Gōngyáng Zhuàn), Dong emphasized the importance of the "Chunqiu" (Spring and Autumn Annals) as a source for both political and metaphysical ideas. ("Chūnqiū" was the official chronicle of the state of Lu from 722 to 481 BCE. Since it was exceedingly succinct, with some entries only a single character, and the longest has only 47 -- the average length is 10, a number of commentators elaborated on its meaning.) Dong originated the doctrine of Interactions Between Heaven and Mankind, which lays down rules for deciding the legitimacy of a monarch as well as providing a set of checks and balances for a reigning monarch.
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