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The I-ching can probably go on the shelf marked "Oldest Books on Earth". The Chinese character "Yi" (opposite page) is made up of two characters: sun and moon symbolizing the universal law of constant change from night to day, summer to winter, life to death. Because of this, the I-Ching is also called the Book of Change.
Its composition was an on-going effort spanning many centuries. It was ancient China's protocol to attribute important inventions and authorships to its emperors. In line with this practice, the authorship of the I-Ching was attributed to Fu His, the legendary ruler of China around 3,000 B.C. It was said he was intrigued by the eight trigrams on the shell of a tortoise he found. These eight trigrams form the backbone of the 64 hexagrams which make up the I-Ching.
The 64 hexagrams, being individual combinations of lines and dashes, (solid-male or yang; broken-female or yin) represent situations or 'codes' to the world of commerce, polities, family and social affairs which are inextricably tied up with the elemental forces. King Wan of the State of Chau wrote 64 short paragraphs explaining each of the hexagrams. Since then many distinguished philosophers including Confucius have added commentaries. Eventually, the I-Ching as a collection of wisdom, philosophy, fine poetry, as well as a book of divination, was born.