Agni is a Sanskrit word meaning fire, connotes the Vedic fire god of Hinduism. He is the guardian deity of the southeast direction, is found in southeast corners of Hindu temples. In the classical cosmology of the Indian religions, Agni as fire is one of the five inert impermanent constituents along with space, water and earth, the five combining to form the empirically perceived material existence. In Vedic literature, Agni is a oft-invoked god along with Indra and Soma. Agni is considered the mouth of the gods and goddesses, the medium that conveys offerings to them in a homa, he is conceptualized in ancient Hindu texts to exist at three levels, on earth as fire, in the atmosphere as lightning, in the sky as the sun. This triple presence connects him as the messenger between gods and human beings in the Vedic thought; the relative importance of Agni declined in the post-Vedic era, as he was internalized and his identity evolved to metaphorically represent all transformative energy and knowledge in the Upanishads and Hindu literature.
Agni remains an integral part of Hindu traditions, such as being the central witness of the rite-of-passage ritual in traditional Hindu weddings called Saptapadi or Agnipradakshinam, as well being part of Diya in festivals such as Divali and Aarti in Puja. Agni is a term that appears extensively in Buddhist texts, in the literature related to the Senika heresy debate within the Buddhist traditions. In the ancient Jainism thought, Agni contains soul and fire-bodied beings, additionally appears as Agni-kumara or "fire princes" in its theory of rebirth and a class of reincarnated beings, is discussed in its texts with the equivalent term Tejas; the Sanskrit word Agni means "fire". In the early Vedic literature, Agni connotes the fire as a god, one reflecting the primordial powers to consume and convey, yet the term is used with the meaning of a Mahabhuta, one of five that the earliest Vedic thinkers believed to constitute material existence, that Vedic thinkers such as Kanada and Kapila expanded namely Akasha, Vayu, Ap, Prithvi and Agni.
The word Agni is used in many contexts, ranging from the fire in stomach, the cooking fire in a home, the sacrificial fire in an altar, the fire of cremation, the fire of rebirth, the fire in the energetic saps concealed within plants, the atmospheric fire in lightning and the celestial fire in the sun. In the Brahmanas layer of the Vedas, such as in section 5.2.3 of Shatapatha Brahmana, Agni represents all the gods, all concepts of spiritual energy that permeates everything in the universe. In the Upanishads and post-Vedic literature, Agni additionally became a metaphor for immortal principle in man, any energy or knowledge that consumes and dispels a state of darkness and procreates an enlightened state of existence; the etymology of Agni is uncertain and contested. Significant proposals include: from agnir, which means "leader, going in front", based on the Vedic premise that fire leads and is the chaplain of the gods, he is the divine priest, who connects and brings the gods and men together, the first among all gods whose presence can be felt and who attends a ceremony, the first among all priests around whom other priests gather, he is the one who leads and guides all men.
From agri, the root of which means "first", referring to "that first in the universe to arise" or "fire" according to Shatapatha Brahmana section 6.1.1. According to the 5th-century BCE Sanskrit text Nirukta-Nighantu in section 7.14, sage Śakapūṇi states the word Agni is derived from three verbs – from'going', from'shining or burning', from'leading'. From Indo-European root Ag or "to move", with the cognates Latin ignis, Sclavonian ogni. There are many theories about the origins of the god Agni, some tracing it to Indo-European mythologies, others tracing to mythologies within the Indian tradition; the origin myth found in many Indo-European cultures is one of a bird, or bird like being, that carries or brings fire from the gods to mankind. Alternatively, this messenger brings an elixir of immortality from heaven to earth. In either case, the bird returns everyday with sacrificial offerings for the gods, but sometimes the bird hides or disappears without trace. Agni is molded in similar mythical themes, in some hymns with the phrase the "heavenly bird that flies".
The earliest layers of the Vedic texts of Hinduism, such as section 6.1 of Kathaka Samhita and section 1.8.1 of Maitrayani Samhita state that the universe began with nothing, neither night nor day existed, what existed was just Prajapati. Agni originated from the forehead of Prajapati, assert these texts. With the creation of Agni came light, with that were created day and night. Agni, state these Samhitas, is the same as the Brahman, the truth, the eye of the manifested
Tattva is a Sanskrit word meaning'thatness','principle','reality' or'truth'. According to various Indian schools of philosophy, a tattva is an element or aspect of reality. In some traditions, they are conceived as an aspect of deity. Although the number of tattvas varies depending on the philosophical school, together they are thought to form the basis of all our experience; the Samkhya philosophy uses a system of 25 tattvas. In Buddhism, the equivalent is the list of dhammas. Jain philosophy can be described in various ways, but the most acceptable tradition is to describe it in terms of the Tattvas or fundamentals. Without knowing them one cannot progress towards liberation. According to major Jain text, these are: Jiva - Souls and living things Ajiva - Non-living things Asrava - Influx of karma Bandha - The bondage of karma Samvara - The stoppage of influx of karma Nirjara - Shedding of karma Moksha - Liberation or SalvationEach one of these fundamental principles are discussed and explained by Jain Scholars in depth.
There are two examples. A man rides a wooden boat to reach the other side of the river. Now the man is Jiva, the boat is ajiva. Now the boat has a water flows in; that incoming of water is Asrava. Now the man tries to save the boat by blocking the hole; that blockage is Samvara. Now the man reaches his destination, Moksha. Consider a family living in a house. One day, they were enjoying a fresh cool breeze coming through their open doors and windows of the house. However, the weather changed to a terrible dust storm; the family, realizing the storm, closed the windows. But, by the time they could close all the doors and windows some of the dust had been blown into the house. After closing the doors and the windows, they started clearing the dust that had come in to make the house clean again; this simple scenario can be interpreted as follows: Jivas are represented by the living people. Ajiva is represented by the house. Asrava is represented by the influx of dust. Bandha is represented by the accumulation of dust in the house.
Samvara is represented by the closing of the windows to stop the accumulation of dust. Nirjara is represented by the cleaning up of collected dust from the house. Moksha is represented by the cleaned house, similar to the shedding off all karmic particles from the soul. In Buddhism the term "dhamma/dharma" is being used for the constitutional elements. Early Buddhist philosophy used several lists, such as namarupa and the five skandhas, to analyse reality; the Abhidhamma tradition elaborated on these lists. The Samkhya philosophy regards the Universe as consisting of two eternal realities: Purusha and Prakrti, it is therefore a dualist philosophy. The Purusha is the centre of consciousness, whereas the Prakriti is the source of all material existence; the twenty-five tattva system of Samkhya concerns itself only with the tangible aspect of creation, theorizing that Prakriti is the source of the world of becoming. It is the first tattva and is seen as pure potentiality that evolves itself successively into twenty-four additional tattvas or principles.
In Kashmir Shaivite philosophy, the tattvas are inclusive of consciousness as well as material existence. The 36 tattvas of Shaivism are divided into three groups: Shuddha tattvas The first five tattvas are known as the shuddha or'pure' tattvas, they are known as the tattvas of universal experience. Shuddha-ashuddha tattvas The next seven tattvas are known as the shuddha-ashuddha or'pure-impure' tattvas, they are the tattvas of limited individual experience. Ashuddha tattvas The last twenty-four tattvas are known as ` impure' tattvas; the first of these is prakriti and they include the tattvas of mental operation, sensible experience, materiality. Within Puranic literatures and general Vaishnava philosophy tattva is used to denote certain categories or types of being or energies such as: Krishna-tattva The Supreme personality of Godhead; the causative factor of everything including other Tattva. Vishnu-tattva Any incarnation or expansion of Krishna. Sakti-Tattva The multifarious energies of the Lord Krishna.
It includes his internal potency Yoga Maya and material prakrti. Jiva-tattva The living souls. Siva-tattva Lord Siva is not considered to be a jiva. Mahat-tattva The total material energy. In Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy there are a total of five primary tattvas described in terms of living beings, which are collectively known as the Pancha Tattva and described as follows: "Spiritually there are no differences between these five tattvas, for on the transcendental platform everything is absolute, yet there are varieties in the spiritual world, in order to taste these spiritual varieties one should distinguish between them". In Hindu tantrism there are five tattvas creating global energy cycles of tattvic tides beginning at dawn with Akasha and ending with Prithvi: Akasha – symbolized by a black egg Vayu – symbolized by a blue circle Tejas – symbolized by a red triangle Apas – symbolized by a silver crescent Prithvi – symbolized by a yellow squareEach complete cycle lasts two hours; this system of five tattvas which each can be combined with another, was adapted by the Golden Dawn.
The Siddha system of traditional medicine of ancient India was derived by Tamil Siddhas or the spiritual scientists of Tamil Nadu. Accordi
Mercury is a chemical element with symbol Hg and atomic number 80. It is known as quicksilver and was named hydrargyrum. A heavy, silvery d-block element, mercury is the only metallic element, liquid at standard conditions for temperature and pressure. Mercury occurs in deposits throughout the world as cinnabar; the red pigment vermilion is obtained by synthetic mercuric sulfide. Mercury is used in thermometers, manometers, sphygmomanometers, float valves, mercury switches, mercury relays, fluorescent lamps and other devices, though concerns about the element's toxicity have led to mercury thermometers and sphygmomanometers being phased out in clinical environments in favor of alternatives such as alcohol- or galinstan-filled glass thermometers and thermistor- or infrared-based electronic instruments. Mechanical pressure gauges and electronic strain gauge sensors have replaced mercury sphygmomanometers. Mercury remains in use in scientific research applications and in amalgam for dental restoration in some locales.
It is used in fluorescent lighting. Electricity passed through mercury vapor in a fluorescent lamp produces short-wave ultraviolet light, which causes the phosphor in the tube to fluoresce, making visible light. Mercury poisoning can result from exposure to water-soluble forms of mercury, by inhalation of mercury vapor, or by ingesting any form of mercury. Mercury is a silvery-white liquid metal. Compared to other metals, it is a fair conductor of electricity, it has a freezing point of −38.83 °C and a boiling point of 356.73 °C, both the lowest of any stable metal, although preliminary experiments on copernicium and flerovium have indicated that they have lower boiling points. Upon freezing, the volume of mercury decreases by 3.59% and its density changes from 13.69 g/cm3 when liquid to 14.184 g/cm3 when solid. The coefficient of volume expansion is 181.59 × 10−6 at 0 °C, 181.71 × 10−6 at 20 °C and 182.50 × 10−6 at 100 °C. Solid mercury can be cut with a knife. A complete explanation of mercury's extreme volatility delves deep into the realm of quantum physics, but it can be summarized as follows: mercury has a unique electron configuration where electrons fill up all the available 1s, 2s, 2p, 3s, 3p, 3d, 4s, 4p, 4d, 4f, 5s, 5p, 5d, 6s subshells.
Because this configuration resists removal of an electron, mercury behaves to noble gases, which form weak bonds and hence melt at low temperatures. The stability of the 6s shell is due to the presence of a filled 4f shell. An f shell poorly screens the nuclear charge that increases the attractive Coulomb interaction of the 6s shell and the nucleus; the absence of a filled inner f shell is the reason for the somewhat higher melting temperature of cadmium and zinc, although both these metals still melt and, in addition, have unusually low boiling points. Mercury does not react with most acids, such as dilute sulfuric acid, although oxidizing acids such as concentrated sulfuric acid and nitric acid or aqua regia dissolve it to give sulfate and chloride. Like silver, mercury reacts with atmospheric hydrogen sulfide. Mercury reacts with solid sulfur flakes. Mercury dissolves many metals such as silver to form amalgams. Iron is an exception, iron flasks have traditionally been used to trade mercury.
Several other first row transition metals with the exception of manganese and zinc are resistant in forming amalgams. Other elements that do not form amalgams with mercury include platinum. Sodium amalgam is a common reducing agent in organic synthesis, is used in high-pressure sodium lamps. Mercury combines with aluminium to form a mercury-aluminium amalgam when the two pure metals come into contact. Since the amalgam destroys the aluminium oxide layer which protects metallic aluminium from oxidizing in-depth small amounts of mercury can corrode aluminium. For this reason, mercury is not allowed aboard an aircraft under most circumstances because of the risk of it forming an amalgam with exposed aluminium parts in the aircraft. Mercury embrittlement is the most common type of liquid metal embrittlement. There are seven stable isotopes of mercury, with 202Hg being the most abundant; the longest-lived radioisotopes are 194Hg with a half-life of 444 years, 203Hg with a half-life of 46.612 days. Most of the remaining radioisotopes have half-lives.
199Hg and 201Hg are the most studied NMR-active nuclei, having spins of 1⁄2 and 3⁄2 respectively. Hg is the modern chemical symbol for mercury, it comes from hydrargyrum, a Latinized form of the Greek word ὑδράργυρος, a compound word meaning "water-silver" – since it is liquid like water and shiny like silver. The element was named after the Roman god Mercury, known for his mobility, it is associated with the planet Mercury. Mercury is the only metal for which the al
Aether (classical element)
According to ancient and medieval science, aether spelled æther or ether and called quintessence, is the material that fills the region of the universe above the terrestrial sphere. The concept of aether was used in several theories to explain several natural phenomena, such as the traveling of light and gravity. In the late 19th century, physicists postulated that aether permeated all throughout space, providing a medium through which light could travel in a vacuum, but evidence for the presence of such a medium was not found in the Michelson–Morley experiment, this result has been interpreted as meaning that no such luminiferous aether exists; the word αἰθήρ in Homeric Greek means "pure, fresh air" or "clear sky". In Greek mythology, it was thought to be the pure essence that the gods breathed, filling the space where they lived, analogous to the air breathed by mortals, it is personified as a deity, the son of Erebus and Nyx in traditional Greek mythology. Aether is related to αἴθω "to incinerate", intransitive "to burn, to shine".
In Plato's Timaeus speaking about air, Plato mentions that "there is the most translucent kind, called by the name of aether". But otherwise he adopted the classical system of four elements. Aristotle, Plato's student at the Akademia, agreed on this point with his former mentor, emphasizing additionally that fire sometimes has been mistaken for aether. However, in his Book On the Heavens he introduced a new "first" element to the system of the classical elements of Ionian philosophy, he noted that the four terrestrial classical elements were subject to change and moved linearly. The first element however, located in the celestial regions and heavenly bodies, moved circularly and had none of the qualities the terrestrial classical elements had, it was neither neither wet nor dry. With this addition the system of elements was extended to five and commentators started referring to the new first one as the fifth and called it aether, a word that Aristotle had not used. Aether did not follow Aristotelian physics either.
Aether was incapable of motion of quality or motion of quantity. Aether was only capable of local motion. Aether moved in circles, had no contrary, or unnatural, motion. Aristotle noted that crystalline spheres made of aether held the celestial bodies; the idea of crystalline spheres and natural circular motion of aether led to Aristotle's explanation of the observed orbits of stars and planets in circular motion in crystalline aether. Medieval scholastic philosophers granted aether changes of density, in which the bodies of the planets were considered to be more dense than the medium which filled the rest of the universe. Robert Fludd stated that the aether was of the character that it was "subtler than light". Fludd cites the 3rd-century view of Plotinus, concerning the aether as non-material. See Arche. Quintessence is the Latinate name of the fifth element used by medieval alchemists for a medium similar or identical to that thought to make up the heavenly bodies, it was noted that there was little presence of quintessence within the terrestrial sphere.
Due to the low presence of quintessence, earth could be affected by what takes place within the heavenly bodies. This theory was developed in the 14th century text The testament of Lullius, attributed to Ramon Llull; the use of quintessence became popular within medieval alchemy. Quintessence stemmed from the medieval elemental system, which consisted of the four classical elements, aether, or quintessence, in addition to two chemical elements representing metals: sulphur, "the stone which burns", which characterized the principle of combustibility, mercury, which contained the idealized principle of metallic properties; this elemental system spread throughout all of Europe and became popular with alchemists in medicinal alchemy. Medicinal alchemy sought to isolate quintessence and incorporate it within medicine and elixirs. Due to quintessence's pure and heavenly quality, it was thought that through consumption one may rid oneself of any impurities or illnesses. In The book of Quintessence, a 15th-century English translation of a continental text, quintessence was used as a medicine for many of man's illnesses.
A process given for the creation of quintessence is distillation of alcohol seven times. Over the years, the term quintessence has become synonymous with elixirs, medicinal alchemy, the philosopher's stone itself. With the 18th century physics developments, physical models known as "aether theories" made use of a similar concept for the explanation of the propagation of electromagnetic and gravitational forces; as early as the 1670s, Newton used the idea of aether to help match observations to strict mechanical rules of his physics. However, the early modern aether had little in common with the aether of classical elements from which the name was borrowed; these aether theories are considered to be scientifically obsolete, as the development of special relativity showed that Maxwell's equations do not require the aether for the transmission of these forces. However, Einstein himself noted that his own model which replaced these theories could itself be thought of as an aether, as it implied that the empty space between objects had its own physical properties.
Despite the early modern aether models being superseded by general relativity some physicists have attempted to reintroduce the concept of aether in an attempt to address perceived deficiencies in current physical models. One proposed model of dark energy has been named "quintess
Classical elements refer to the concepts—earth, air and aether—which were proposed to explain the nature and complexity of all matter in terms of simpler substances. Ancient cultures in Greece, Japan and India had similar lists, sometimes referring in local languages to "air" as "wind" and the fifth element as "void"; the Chinese Wu Xing system lists Wood, Earth and Water, though these are described more as energies or transitions rather than as types of material. These different cultures and individual philosophers had varying explanations concerning their attributes and how they related to observable phenomena as well as cosmology. Sometimes these theories were personified in deities; some of these interpretations included atomism but other interpretations considered the elements to be divisible into infinitely small pieces without changing their nature. While the classification of the material world in ancient Indian, Hellenistic Egypt, ancient Greece into Air, Earth and Water was more philosophical, during the Islamic Golden Age medieval middle eastern scientists used practical, experimental observation to classify materials.
In Europe, the Ancient Greek system of Aristotle evolved into the medieval system, which for the first time in Europe became subject to experimental verification in the 1600s, during the Scientific Revolution. Modern science does not support the classical elements as the material basis of the physical world. Atomic theory classifies atoms into more than a hundred chemical elements such as oxygen and mercury; these elements form chemical compounds and mixtures, under different temperatures and pressures, these substances can adopt different states of matter. The most observed states of solid, liquid and plasma share many attributes with the classical elements of earth, water and fire but these states are due to similar behavior of different types of atoms at similar energy levels, not due to containing a certain type of atom or a certain type of substance. In classical thought, the four elements earth, water and fire as proposed by Empedocles occur; the concept of the five elements formed a basis of analysis in both Buddhism.
In Hinduism in an esoteric context, the four states-of-matter describe matter, a fifth element describes that, beyond the material world. Similar lists existed in ancient China and Japan. In Buddhism the four great elements, to which two others are sometimes added, are not viewed as substances, but as categories of sensory experience. In Babylonian mythology, the cosmogony called Enûma Eliš, a text written between the 18th and 16th centuries BC, involves four gods that we might see as personified cosmic elements: sea, sky, wind. In other Babylonian texts these phenomena are considered independent of their association with deities, though they are not treated as the component elements of the universe, as in Empedocles; the system of five elements are found in Vedas Ayurveda, the pancha mahabhuta, or "five great elements", of Hinduism are bhūmi, ap or jala, tejas or agni, vayu or pavan and vyom or shunya or akash. They further suggest that all of creation, including the human body, is made up of these five essential elements and that upon death, the human body dissolves into these five elements of nature, thereby balancing the cycle of nature.
The five elements are associated with the five senses, act as the gross medium for the experience of sensations. The basest element, created using all the other elements, can be perceived by all five senses – hearing, sight and smell; the next higher element, has no odor but can be heard, felt and tasted. Next comes fire, which can be heard and seen. Air can be felt. "Akasha" is beyond the senses of smell, taste and touch. In the Pali literature, the mahabhuta or catudhatu are earth, water and air. In early Buddhism, the four elements are a basis for understanding suffering and for liberating oneself from suffering; the earliest Buddhist texts explain that the four primary material elements are the sensory qualities solidity, fluidity and mobility. The Buddha's teaching regarding the four elements is to be understood as the base of all observation of real sensations rather than as a philosophy; the four properties are cohesion, solidity or inertia, expansion or vibration and heat or energy content.
He promulgated a categorization of mind and matter as composed of eight types of "kalapas" of which the four elements are primary and a secondary group of four are color, smell and nutriment which are derivative from the four primaries. Thanissaro Bhikkhu renders an extract of Shakyamuni Buddha's from Pali into English thus: Just as a skilled butcher or his apprentice, having killed a cow, would sit at a crossroads cutting it up into pieces, the monk contemplates this body – however it stands, however it is disposed – in terms of properties:'In this body there is the earth property, the liquid property, the fire pro
Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring and Autumn period and Warring States period, during a period known as the "Hundred Schools of Thought", characterized by significant intellectual and cultural developments. Although much of Chinese philosophy begins in the Warring States period, elements of Chinese philosophy have existed for several thousand years, it was during the Warring States era that what Sima Tan termed the major philosophical schools of China: Confucianism and Taoism, along with philosophies that fell into obscurity, like Agriculturalism, Chinese Naturalism, the Logicians. Early Shang dynasty thought was based upon cycles; this notion stems from what the people of the Shang Dynasty could observe around them: day and night cycled, the seasons progressed again and again, the moon waxed and waned until it waxed again. Thus, this notion, which remained relevant throughout Chinese history, reflects the order of nature. In juxtaposition, it marks a fundamental distinction from western philosophy, in which the dominant view of time is a linear progression.
During the Shang, fate could be manipulated by great deities translated as gods. Ancestor worship was universally recognized. There was human and animal sacrifice; when the Shang were overthrown by the Zhou, a new political and philosophical concept was introduced called the "Mandate of Heaven". This mandate was said to be taken when rulers became unworthy of their position and provided a shrewd justification for Zhou rule. During this period, archaeological evidence points to an increase in literacy and a partial shift away from the faith placed in Shangdi, with ancestor worship becoming commonplace and a more worldly orientation coming to the fore. Confucianism developed during the Spring and Autumn period from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius, who considered himself a retransmitter of Zhou values, his philosophy concerns the fields of ethics and politics, emphasizing personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity. The Analects stress the importance of ritual, but the importance of'ren', which loosely translates as'human-heartedness, along with Legalism, is responsible for creating the world’s first meritocracy, which holds that one's status should be determined by education and character rather than ancestry, wealth, or friendship.
Confucianism was and continues to be a major influence in Chinese culture, the state of China and the surrounding areas of East Asia. Before the Han dynasty the largest rivals to Confucianism were Chinese Legalism, Mohism. Confucianism became the dominant philosophical school of China during the early Han dynasty following the replacement of its contemporary, the more Taoistic Huang-Lao. Legalism as a coherent philosophy disappeared due to its relationship with the unpopular authoritarian rule of Qin Shi Huang, many of its ideas and institutions would continue to influence Chinese philosophy until the end of Imperial rule during the Xinhai Revolution. Mohism, though popular due to its emphasis on brotherly love versus harsh Qin Legalism, fell out of favour during the Han Dynasty due to the efforts of Confucians in establishing their views as political orthodoxy; the Six Dynasties era saw the rise of the Xuanxue philosophical school and the maturation of Chinese Buddhism, which had entered China from India during the Late Han Dynasties.
By the time of the Tang dynasty five-hundred years after Buddhism's arrival into China, it had transformed into a Chinese religious philosophy dominated by the school of Zen Buddhism. Neo-Confucianism became popular during the Song dynasty and Ming Dynasty due in large part to the eventual combination of Confucian and Zen Philosophy. During the 19th and 20th centuries, Chinese philosophy integrated concepts from Western philosophy. Anti-Qing dynasty revolutionaries, involved in the Xinhai Revolution, saw Western philosophy as an alternative to traditional philosophical schools. During this era, Chinese scholars attempted to incorporate Western philosophical ideologies such as democracy, socialism, republicanism and nationalism into Chinese philosophy; the most notable examples are Sun Yat-Sen's Three Principles of the People ideology and Mao Zedong's Maoism, a variant of Marxism–Leninism. In the modern People's Republic of China, the official ideology is Deng Xiaoping's "market economy socialism".
Although the People's Republic of China has been hostile to the philosophy of ancient China, the influences of past are still ingrained in the Chinese culture. In the post-Chinese economic reform era, modern Chinese philosophy has reappeared in forms such as the New Confucianism; as in Japan, philosophy in China has become a melting pot of ideas. It accepts new concepts, while attempting to accord old beliefs their due. Chinese philosophy still carries profound influence amongst the people of East Asia, Southeast Asia. Around 500 BCE, after the Zhou state weakened and China moved into the Spring and Autumn period, the classic period of Chinese philosophy began; this is known as the Hundred Schools of Thought. This period is considered the golden age of Chinese philosophy. Of the many schools founded at this time and during the subsequent Warring States period, the four most
The Four Symbols are four mythological creatures in the Chinese constellations. They are the Azure Dragon of the East, the Vermilion Bird of the South, the White Tiger of the West, the Black Turtle of the North; each one of them represents a direction and a season, each has its own individual characteristics and origins. Symbolically and as part of spiritual and religious belief, they have been culturally important across countries in the East Asian cultural sphere; the Four Symbols were given human names. The Azure Dragon has the name Meng Zhang, the Vermilion Bird was called Ling Guang, the White Tiger Jian Bing, the Black Turtle Zhi Ming. In 1987, a tomb was found at Xishuipo in Henan. There were some clam shells and bones forming the images of the Azure Dragon, the White Tiger, the Big Dipper, it is believed. The Rongcheng Shi manuscript recovered in 1994 gives five directions rather than four and places the animals quite differently: Yu the Great gave banners to his people marking the north with a bird, the south with a snake, the east with the sun, the west with the moon, the center with a bear.
The colours of the animals match the colours of soil in the corresponding areas of China: the bluish-grey water-logged soils of the east, the reddish iron-rich soils of the south, the whitish saline soils of the western deserts, the black organic-rich soils of the north and the yellow soils from the central loess plateau. These mythological creatures have been syncretized into the five principles system; the Azure Dragon of the East represents Wood, the Vermilion Bird of the South represents Fire, the White Tiger of the West represents Metal, the Black Turtle of the North represents Water. In this system, the fifth principle Earth is represented by the Yellow Dragon of the Center; the four beasts each represent a season. The Azure Dragon of the East represents Spring, the Vermilion Bird of the South represents Summer, the White Tiger of the West represents Autumn, the Black Turtle of the North represents Winter. Chinese astrology Chinese constellations Four Holy Beasts, the Vietnamese version Four temperaments Purple Forbidden enclosure 28 Chinese Constellations