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

Diagrams & Laws on Ngoc Lu Bronze Drum

To get better understanding of the Drum’s diagrams & laws, we should remember the most important ones of the “I Ching”, namely Tai chi, Ha do, Lac thu, Early & Late heaven 8 trigrams.

With regards to the diagrams, the most optimal method is looking and drawing because:


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 book of the law of changes. Created as early as 900 BC. At that time, Ha Do, 8 trigrams, 64 hexagrams were known for 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.

Ha do 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.

However, for Ha Do, we’ll just need the ring No. 6.

Fig. 2: Current Ha Do
Fig. 3: Ha Do 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 number1According the author Viên Như: Người Việt – Chủ nhân của kinh dịch và chữ vuông. Nhà xuất bản: Hồng Đức, 2014.

Figure 4: Pair of numbers 5/10 in the center of Ha Do

For the 5/10 pair in the center of Ha Do, 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.

The pairs of numbers just found on the drum match the current I Ching’s Ha do2Ha Do is the most important & fundamental diagram & was well known for thousands of years before the Drum’s creation. Therefore, having a complete Ha Do is ideal but not absolute requirement. In fact, if the Drum depicted just 2 pairs such as 1-6 & 3-8, or even only 1-6 & 8, we’ll be able to deduce the remaining pairs.

Figure 5: Ha Do on Ngoc Lu bronze drum’s ring No. 6.

Statues & Trigrams

Figure 6: Thieu Am, Thieu Duong (Young yin, young yang)

On the ring 6, Drum also displays statues & trigrams but using different method: odd number, representing a solid line (-), even numbers, broken line (- -) & other images.

At the left side (Fig 6), On the roof of the stilt house, there is one bird, odd number, and in the house, 2 people, an even number. Combined, and viewed from the drum’s center, it is which is Thieu Am (young Yin).

At the right side, similarly, there are 2 birds, even numbers on the stilt house, & in the house, 3 people, odd numbers. Putting them together gives us , the image of Thieu Duong (young yang).

There are 2 praying houses with the round roof to the left and right side of the ring 6. Stacking them, we’ll have a figure like Tai Chi consisting of Can & Khon Trigrams.

In the house on the left (but on top at fig. 7), there is a person with 1 hand raised, odd number, solid line representing Can trigram ☰, and in the right house, a person with 2 hands raised, even number, broken line representing Khon trigram ☷.

Figure 8: 4 Statues & 4 Trigrams

By displaying the trigram Can next to the statue Thieu Am (both are on the drum’s left side), the drum indicates that adding a solid line to the statue will give a corresponding trigram.

Doing so will give us 2 trigrams, Doai (Lake) & Ly (Fire) as shown on Figure 22. Which is the right one? Ly should be the correct because it follows the drum’s image of concentric circles that shows the expansion from inside out. So, adding a solid line on top of Thieu am (Young yin) gives us Ly ☲ (Hoa, Fire) trigram. Similarly, adding 1 broken line above Thieu duong (Young yang) gives us Kham ☵ (Thuy, Water) trigram.

With same reasoning, subtracting 1 line from Can & Khon trigrams, we’ll get the remaining 2 statues Thai Duong and Thai Am (old yang and yin).

The law of the Symmetry & the law of S shaped motion

Figure 9: 4 Trigrams: Can Khon, Ly, Kham and the Laws.

We have found 4 statues & 4 trigrams on the ring No. 6 as discussed above. Connecting either 4 trigrams or 4 statues from high to low energy level or vise versa, and combined with the energy levels of the trigrams we’ll discover 2 important laws:

  • The Law of the S-shaped or spiral movement: Energy moves spirally or with the S shape3Replacing Ly & Kham with Doai (Lake) & Cấn (Mountain) will give us the same conclusion.
  • The Law of symmetry: 2 trigrams across the center are opposite in the Am Duong (Yin Yang) & their total energy level is 7.

Following these 2 laws & the energy level, we’ll be able to determine the positions of the remaining trigrams, their associated directions & seasons.

For directions & seasons, it requires just a common knowledge. For example, the summer/south is the hottest & must corresponds with the highest energy level trigram which is Can.

The newly found diagram looks similar to the I Ching’s Early heaven 8 trigrams. But additional information & analysis is required to confirm it & to find out its relationship with other diagrams.

Figure 10: Positions, Energy levels, Directions & Seasons of Possible Early Heaven 8 Trigrams.

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