Taipei 101 and the I ching

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From Tom Ace:  "It looks like hexagram 43 is at the top of Taipei 101 in the attached photo.  I remember you saying in 2017 that you and your brother hoped to complete a translation of the I Ching. I hope that's still possible."

The postmodernist, green skyscraper Taipei 101 was the world's tallest building — the first to exceed half a kilometer — from 2004 to 2009.  It was preceded by Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and succeeded by Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Observation by Denis Mair:

Yes, that's definitely Hexagram 43, Breakthrough! Kind of makes sense for a building that's reaching for the sky.

At the top right of this list, Hexagram 43 is referred to as "Displacement", and in this essay, it is called "Determination".
Denis and I are still wrestling with the abstruse terminology and dense imagery of the I Ching, but the end is in sight.
Selected readings



  1. Mehmet Oguz Derin said,

    February 27, 2022 @ 1:17 pm

    Interesting that none of the listings include the "Resolute" naming. I find that choice of Edward Shaughnessy in Unearthing the Changes more reflective, though I admire the work and rigor in that book a lot.

  2. Terpomo said,

    February 27, 2022 @ 3:14 pm

    Ah, yes, the I Ching… or as my mother once called it, the /aɪ tʃɪŋ/.

  3. Chia-hui Lu said,

    February 27, 2022 @ 3:51 pm

    This is so interesting. I never noticed that before! Hexagram 43 is 夬卦, yes, determination!

  4. Philip Taylor said,

    February 27, 2022 @ 4:45 pm

    I don't think your mother was alone, Terpomo, or even in a minority. Amongst the Britons whom I know who are aware of the I Ching, the majority use that pronunciation, as did I until I learned better …

  5. Jenny Chu said,

    February 27, 2022 @ 8:22 pm

    Does Tom Ace imply that the I Ching resemblance is on purpose? It looks to me as if it's just a missing pixel.

  6. V said,

    February 28, 2022 @ 3:03 am

    I have a translation of the "I Ching" somewhere around. I bought in the mid '90s in a Bulgarian translation which I'm pretty sure went through English, but it might have been through some other language. It's probably somewhere around this house, but I'm not sure. It might be in several other locations.

  7. V said,

    February 28, 2022 @ 3:09 am

    Anyway, it was with a lot annotations, and I could find it it would help.

  8. V said,

    February 28, 2022 @ 3:10 am

    It was mostly annotations.

  9. Richard Futrell said,

    February 28, 2022 @ 1:48 pm

    While the hexagram itself makes sense here, its prognostication is not something I think I'd want to get if I was in Ukraine's position. It includes:


    There is danger. A pronouncement from the capital. Not favorable for taking arms. Favorable for going somewhere.

  10. Victor Mair said,

    February 28, 2022 @ 1:58 pm

    I have to go get my magus.

  11. V said,

    February 28, 2022 @ 6:32 pm

    Found it! The Hanzi are quite well printed, but PRC.

  12. Victor Mair said,

    February 28, 2022 @ 10:13 pm

    From Denis Mair:

    From my inspection of the photo, the eight trigrams were arrayed in circular fashion at the bottom, one in each of the archways containing a heavenly immortal. Of course the eight trigrams include a Kun trigram. But there was no "Kun hexagram" displayed on the stupa, unless it's on the bottom, top or obverse. The Kun hexagram posted beside the photo is a doubled Kun trigram. I found that a bit puzzling. Then I thought that the round cycle of trigrams around the base of the stupa does make me think of a round yoni, and the symbolism of the yoni is related to Kun. That is the only reason I can think of that a Kun hexagram symbol would be placed beside the photo in this context.

  13. Terpomo said,

    March 2, 2022 @ 1:46 pm

    Philip, don't get me wrong, I don't intend to impugn my mother's linguistic aptitude; frankly I think she has more of it than quite a few people I know. But I still found her mistake somewhat amusing.

  14. Philip Taylor said,

    March 2, 2022 @ 2:53 pm

    I wonder how she might have pronounced it, Terpomo, had it been spelled "Y Ching" rather than "I Ching". In English (as as far as I know), an isolated "I" can only be pronounced /aɪ/, whereas an isolated "Y" is so uncommon (completely uattested ?) that one would be forced to guess at its pronunciation rather than infer it from other examples.

  15. Terpomo said,

    March 2, 2022 @ 8:51 pm

    She might just read it as /waɪ/. But I can't very well ask her now- she already knows it's /i/. You can't just un-know something that you know. Honestly, I think the best spelling to get a naïve English speaker closer would be "ee" or "yee". But we seem reluctant to respelling loanwords in English, though I know some languages do it. That's the advantage of having your own script, I suppose- you can transliterate every name according to pronunciation.

  16. Philip Taylor said,

    March 3, 2022 @ 2:16 am

    Well, here's a test : ask your mum to pronounce "Betws-y-Coed", forewarning her (if necessary) that the name is Welsh — I will bet that she won't render the middle element as /waɪ/ …

  17. Terpomo said,

    March 4, 2022 @ 9:22 pm

    Probably not, but the hyphens are a big clue that it's in some sense one word.

  18. Philip Taylor said,

    March 5, 2022 @ 5:00 am

    Hmm, not convinced — are "Newcastle-under-Lyme" or "Weston-super-mare" in any sense one word ? IMHO they are hyphenated phrases. "Betws-y-Coed" translates as "prayerhouse-in-the-woods", which is clearly a hyphenated phrase, although in translation the hyphens would normally be omitted. Anyhow, we're rather straying from the original point, so I'll stop here.

  19. Terpomo said,

    March 5, 2022 @ 10:28 pm

    Do people not treat them as single phonological words at a certain point?

  20. Philip Taylor said,

    March 6, 2022 @ 10:08 am

    My gut feeling is that Betws-y-coed might well be treated by some as single phonological word (abbreviable to "Betws"), Weston-super-Mare as two words (Weston Supermare) and Newcastle-under-Lyme as three. All are abbreviable to the first element where no ambiguity might result.

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