Diagrams & Laws on Ngoc Lu Bronze Drum - Hồn Trống Việt

Diagrams & Laws on Ngoc Lu Bronze Drum

The diagrams of the Viet Drum Law of Changes (VDC) are encoded on the Ngoc Lu bronze drum by different ways. However, the most optimal method to understand them is looking and drawing because:

  • Nearly anyone can see & draw simple figures such as circles, squares and lines.
  • Fast, clear, accurate.
  • What needed are the Drum’s image which freely available & accessible on the web, the basics, & minimal knowledge of the trigrams such as name, symbol, meaning, Am Duong & energy level.


Deciphering the Drum’s diagrams & laws.

While decoding the Drum, we need to bear in mind the following important points:

Drum is a work of art. For a work of art, the visible is just the tip of what is expressed, evoking something deeper hidden between images.

Drum is also the encoded Viet Drum Law of Changes (VDC). Created as early as 900 BC. At that time, Ha Do, 8 trigrams, 64 hexagrams were known for hundreds or thousands of years. Therefore, on a circular surface of just 79.3 cm in diameter, it would be a waste of space to depict what is known unless it relates to the esoteric knowledge that the drum wants to encrypt.

Moreover, is also unaesthetic and cannot be called encoding if Drum presents even an entire single diagram if it is an important & not yet known.

The VDC Diagrams’ Names

To correctly express the VDC, we’ll call its diagrams by the following names1Later when you see & know the meaning of the diagrams, you’ll understand why we name them as such:

Diagrams of the Drum’s LawsI Ching’s equivalents
1Thai Cuc Viet (TCV) or Viet’s Tai Chi.Tai Chi
2Lac do (LD) or Land DirectionsLac thu (LT)
3Bat Quai Lac do (BQLD): 8 trigrams associate with Lac DoEarly heaven 8 trigrams: 8 trigrams partner with Lac thu
4Hong thu (HT) or Heaven TreatiseHa do (HD)
5Bat Quai Hong Thu (BQHT): 8 Trigrams based on the Hong thuLate heaven 8 trigrams: 8 trigrams associate with Ha do
66 Hexagrams of Bat Quai Hong ThuNone
7Bat Quai Lac Hong (BQLH) or Tai Nhan (BQTN): A unified diagram of BQLD & BQHTNone
8BQLH’s or BQTN’s 64 hexagrams: 64 hexagrams based on BQLH or BQTNLate heaven 64 hexagrams
Table 1: Names of the Drum’s Diagrams

Hong Thu on the Drum

The drum has 16 concentric circles. We’ll place the drum on the position as shown below & will focus mainly on 4 rings: 1, 6, 8 and 10.

Figure 1: The most important rings on the drum.

Hong thư, the equivalent to I Ching’s Ha Do is shown on the ring No. 6.

Fig. 2: I Ching’s Ha Do
Fig. 3: Hong Thu on the Drum’s ring No. 6

For the 4 pairs at the periphery, Drum uses the quantity of the fingers (blue circled) to indicate the small number of the pair & the quantity of people (red circled), the big number2There are different ways to find out Hong Thu. However, the above is the simplest & is discovered by the Author Viên Như in the book Người Việt – Chủ nhân của kinh dịch và chữ vuông (Vietnamese, the creators of the I Ching & Square Alphabets or current Chinese alphabets). Nhà xuất bản: Hồng Đức, 2014.

Figure 4: Pair of numbers 5/10 in the center of Hong Thu

For the 5/10 pair in the center of Hong Thu, the method of expression is opposite: the quantity of people represents the small number and the quantity of fingers, big number. Besides, the place where Drum shows the pair 5/10 is at the top of the drum, where we also found the 2/7 pair.

There are 7 people but only 5 holding swords pointing upwards to the Drum’s center. This image represents number 5. Each of 5 persons has 2 fingers pointing down representing the number 10 = 5*2.

Figure 5: Pair 5-10, Ring No. 1

The above way to find a pair of 5/10 numbers is good to use as its use of the number of people & fingers is consistent with the method to find other pairs. However, there are other ways, such as using the numbers in Ring 1 as shown on the Figure 5.

The pairs of numbers just found on the drum match the current I Ching’s Ha do.

As said, Hong Thu or Ha Do is the fundamental diagram & was well known for hundreds or thousands of years before the Drum’s creation. Therefore, having a complete Hong Thu or Ha Do displaying on the Drum is ideal but not absolute requirement. In fact, if the Drum depicted just 1-6, 2-7 & 8 or 9, that would be enough to deduce the remaining numbers & pairs.

Bat Quai Lac Do

First of all, let’s review the Yin & Yang & Bagua’s Energy level shown on Fig. 6.

Figure 6: Am Duong, Energy level, odd & even number, solid & broken line.

The Drum encoded the BQLD on Ring No. 8 through a simple but magical formula, The Formula 68 or 3344 or 34. To understand this formula, there are 2 points to pay attention to: odd numbers represent the Yin trigrams & even number, Yang trigrams. At the same time, when looking through the center, the numbers also represent the total energy of the 2 trigrams.

Fig. 7: The Formula 68 or 3344 or 34

Above & below of Ring 8 there are 2 groups of chickens or storks moving in the Counterclockwise direction, the upper group has 6 & the lower group has 8 chickens.

Divided in half in each group, there will be numbers 3, 3, 4 & 4, corresponding to 4 trigrams – Yin, Yin, Yang & Yang in the direction of the moving chicken or in the CCW direction, and the numbers 4, 4, 3 & 3 or Yang, Yang & Yin, Yin. The order of those 2 sequences of numbers/trigrams is the instruction for each Yin and Yang part of the BQLD.

Next, draw a line through the center of the Drum to divide the drum into 2 parts. This central axis line simultaneously divides 2 chicken groups into two parts, yin and yang. Moreover, the axis line also indicates the starting position of each trigram in each part & the Law of Symmetry – 2 trigrams across the center are opposite in the Am Duong (Yin Yang) & their total energy level is 7.

Figure 8: Bat Quai Lac Do (BQLD)

Can (Qian, ☰) is the most important & also the Yin trigram, so it will be the first of the Yin section. According to the instructions of the formula 68, the remaining trigrams will be positioned as shown in Figure 8. The found Bagua is called the Bat Quai Lac Do. The BQLD’s trigrams are positioned in the same way as I Ching’s Early heaven eight trigrams.

Finding out BQLD also helps determine the time, direction & season on the Drum based on the Trigram’s energy level & common knowledge. For example, the hottest noon, Summer & South correspond to the highest energy Can (☰) & vice versa, the evening, winter & north direction correspond to the trigram Khon (☷).

Based on the above information, we’ll also be able to find the 4 statues by removing the top line from the trigrams as shown in the Figure 9.

Figure 9: 4 Statues

Space-time Coordinate

Fig. 10: Space-time coordinate

One of the meanings of the BQLD and the Four Statues is a space-time coordinate viewed from the northern hemisphere, and at more detailed level, possibly a map of the ancient Vietnam.

Opposite from the current maps, VDC has always placed the South direction upwards. This expression shows Drum’s creativity, human focus and wisdom. Understanding the philosophy behind this arrangement is enough to affirm that VDC or Viet’s book of changes did not originate from the divination.

The proverb “The head carries the heaven/sky, the foot tramples the earth” or the verse “Carries heaven tramples the earth lives in the world, the surname Tu, name Hai, originally from the Viet Dong …” in The Story of Kieu by the great poet Nguyen Du (1766 – 1820) expresses a person who is talented, strong, steady …, equal to, being the harmonious link between heaven & earth, spirit & matter, time & space, Am & Duong, infinite & limited etc. That image is of the human’s great Self, a Human part or interaction of the “Tam Tai” concept – Thien Dia Nhan or Heaven Earth Human that occupies the center in the Fig. 10.

Fig. 11: Heaven Earth Human

Placing the sun/sky on top also reflects the real experience of people, who always see the vast sky above, the sun on the top at noon & its disappearance in the evening. In terms of science, VDC already knew that the earth revolves around the sun, but here it places human in the center to express a lofty philosophy in a way that everyone can understand. Hiding the wisdom in the daily life indeed is the pinnacle of the Philosophy.

In addition, the metaphysical Sun or Càn, a symbol of the Spirit, which is high, light, and soaring that rightly occupies the highest & up position. By using the BQLD to express a person (discussed in other articles) shows a figure with a Spirit on the Top, Mind-Heart in the middle and Body or Matter at the bottom.

Am Duong Formula, Law of Symmetry & S shaped motion.

Besides formula 34 & the law of Symmetry mentioned above, connecting 8 trigrams from high to low energy level or vise versa, we’ll discover another important law – The Law of the S-shaped or spiral movement.

When it comes to Formulas, people will relate to Math & Sciences. Yet, VDC, a book on the Philosophy of Changes, spirituality & Yin Yang Five Interactions (ADNH) contains formulas. Especially, they are not merely simple additions, subtractions, multiplications, divisions, but represent the great fundamental laws of the Universe, Society & Man. Specifically, the following laws have been found through Formula 34:

VDC’s 2 fundamental laws:

  • The Law of Spiral motion: Energy moves spirally or with the S shape.
  • The Law of Symmetry: 2 trigrams across the center are opposite in the Am Duong (Yin Yang) & their total energy level is 7.
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