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Cosmogony, Chinese woodcut, 1599


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Credit: Cosmogony, Chinese woodcut, 1599. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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Illustration from an edition of 1599 (27th year of the Wanli reign period of the Ming dynasty). It shows the process of generation and transformation of the 'Myriad Things' (wanwu) of the universe, from nothingness to being. This process passes through the following stages: taiyi (Great Change), the primal state 'when clear and turbid are not yet differentiated'; taichu (Great Inchoate) when Yin and Yang come into being; taishi (Great Beginning) when Qi and form come into being; taisu (Great Purity) when heaven and earth are formed; and taiji (Great Extreme) when the Dao is formed. From taiji, Yin and Yang are generated; at the extreme degree of Yin, Yang is generated; at the extreme degree of Yang, Yin is generated. Through the unending process of generation and transformation of Yin and Yang, the cosmos and its 'Myriad Things" are formed.

Lettering

PICTURE TITLE: Taixu wunizhu tu (Spotless jewel chart of the Great Void). OTHER LETTERING: Portal of living things; door of dead things; heaven and earth are generated; creatures are generated without ceasing.

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