Feng Shui Knowledge

Hetu: River Pattern

"He" in Chinese stands for River, more precisely in classical Chinese it not only stands for any river but for the Yellow River. "Tu" means to draw but also picture or pattern. From this we can translate "Hetu" as "River Pattern" or going back to classical chinese as "a pattern from the Yellow River".

The myth of Hetu goes back to Fuxi (the ancient shaman king of China). He is believed to have observed a horse emerging from the Yellow River and on this horse he noticed a special pattern. He recorded this pattern with black and white dots (see image) and from then on the people called this pattern Hetu (River pattern) or Matu (Horse pattern).

Stylized this pattern is now-a-days recognized in the following form:

In this diagram the white dots stand for Yang energy and the black dots for Yin energy. Yang energy stands for odd numbers while the Yin energy stands for even numbers. 

Going from here we can see that the numbers 7 and 2 are at the top, 6 and 1 at the bottom, 8 and 3 on the left and 9 and 4 or on the right. In the middle we have 5 and 10.

Fuxi went on to discover an ancient divination system studying the Hetu: Tiandi Shengcheng Shu (Heaven and Earth creating and Completing Numbers system).

The ancients used numbers originally to put down their knowledge of the universe. Only after characters and writing were invented did words like Yin and Yang develop. Until then a common way of transcribing Yin or Yang were by the numbers 6 (Yin) and 9 (Yang). This is the description you will find in the Yijing (I Ching).

Luoshu: Luo Pattern

"Luo" stands for the Luo River in China. "Shu" can be translated as book, to write, Chinese characters, calligraphy and record. In "Luoshu" a similar translation to "Hetu" makes sense: "Luo Pattern". The original translation would be closer to "a pattern from Luo River".

More than 4.000 years go, Dayu (Great Yu), the founder of the Xia Dynasty (2100-1600 BCE) saw a turtle emerging from the Luo River and discovered the - what today is called - magic square on the turtles back. Today this pattern is still called "Luoshu" or alternatively "Guishu" (turtle pattern).

Dayu with his great knowledge on the universe, studied this pattern and gained a great understanding through it. Amongst others he developed a large system of waterways to prevent further flooding. 

Dayu later became the emporer and divided China into nine provinces by using the Luoshu as his guide.

In the pattern above, the white dots again stand for Yang numbers and the black dots for Yin Numbers. Nowadays, the magic square is more commonly shown as a diagram with numbers as follows:










This Luoshu is most commonly called "Jiugong Shu" which stands for Nine Palaces numbers. In English we usually call it "magic square". No matter if you add three numbers in the vertical, horizontal or diagonal, the sum is always 15.

In Chinese traditions, the number 15 stands for harmony of life and the universe. This pattern embodies the function of the universal way (Tao). You'll find the Luoshu an integral part of Ba Zhai Feng Shui.