cover image

Wuxing (Chinese philosophy)

Chinese five elements / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dear Wikiwand AI, let's keep it short by simply answering these key questions:

Can you list the top facts and stats about Wuxing (Chinese philosophy)?

Summarize this article for a 10 years old


Wuxing (Chinese: 五行; pinyin: wǔxíng; Japanese: gogyō (五行);[1] Korean: ohaeng (오행); Vietnamese: ngũ hành (五行)), usually translated as Five Phases or Five Agents,[2] is a fivefold conceptual scheme that many traditional Chinese fields used to explain a wide array of phenomena, from cosmic cycles to the interaction between internal organs, and from the succession of political regimes to the properties of medicinal drugs. The "Five Phases" are Fire (; huǒ), Water (; shuǐ), Wood (; ), Metal or Gold (; jīn), and Earth or Soil (; ). This order of presentation is known as the "Days of the Week" sequence. In the order of "mutual generation" (相生; xiāngshēng), they are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. In the order of "mutual overcoming" (相克; xiāngkè), they are Wood, Earth, Water, Fire, and Metal.[3][4][5]

Diagram of the interactions between the wuxing. The "generative" cycle is illustrated by grey arrows running clockwise on the outside of the circle, while the "destructive" or "conquering" cycle is represented by red arrows inside the circle.
Quick facts: Wuxing, Chinese, Transcriptions, Standard Man...
Tablet in the Temple of Heaven of Beijing, written in Chinese and Manchu, dedicated to the gods of the Five Movements. The Manchu word usiha, meaning "star", explains that this tablet is dedicated to the five planets: Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Venus and Mercury and the movements which they govern.

The system of five phases was used for describing interactions and relationships between phenomena. After it came to maturity in the second or first century BCE during the Han dynasty, this device was employed in many fields of early Chinese thought, including seemingly disparate fields such as Yi jing divination, alchemy, feng shui, astrology, traditional Chinese medicine, music, military strategy, and martial arts. Although often translated as the Five Elements in comparison to Classical elements of the ancient Mediterranean world, the Wǔxíng were conceived primarily as cosmic agents of change rather than a means to describe natural substances.