Cloud Hands
The Gentle Mind-Body Arts of Tai Chi Chuan and Chi Kung

Tai Chi Symbol
Yin-Yang Emblem
Taiji Tun


Michael P. Garofalo

January 28, 2004


Bibliography      Graphics      Links      Notes      Quotations   


(Note: This webpage will be completed by September, 2004.)




Cloud Hands - Yun Shou

Cloud Hands - Yun Shou








Explanation and Notes


"The Way gave birth to unity,
Unity gave birth to duality,
Duality gave birth to trinity,
Trinity gave birth to the myriad creatures.

The ten thousand things carry yin and embrace yang.
They achieve harmony by combining these forces."
-  Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu, # 42, c 500 BC
   Translations by Victor Mair, Gia-Fu Feng, and Jane English


Return to the Top of This Page





Characters for:   T'ai Chi   or  Taiji




Bibliography and Links


Chinese Philosophy and Tai Chi Chuan - Chinese Cosmology.   By Dan Docherty.  21Kb.  

Coming Full Circle Tai Chi   

Dao House: Of Discourses and Dreams   "A compendium of links to 
great online Daoist (Taoist) resources."  An excellent selection of fine
links with informative and fair annotations; all presented in an attractive
and easy to read format.  The in-depth and creative collection of links are 
arranged by 18 topics.  

Diagram of the Supreme Ultimate   39Kb.  Chou Tun-yi (1017-1073) prepared a Diagram 
of the Supreme Ultimate, and an Explanation of the Diagram of the Supreme Ultimate.

The Dao of Yin and Yang in Taijiquan    By Dr. John Painter.   15Kb

Mathematics and Informatics in Old Symbols
: Tai Chi Symbol and Hexagrams
from the I Ching.  By Klaus-D. Graf.   

Qi, Chi or Ki

Modern Chinese character for 'qi' or 'chi'

Qi, Chi or Ki

Song Dynasty Chinese character for 'qi' or 'chi'


The Shambhala Guide to Taoism.   By Eva Wong.   Boston, Shambhala, 1997.  Index,
appendices, 268 pages.  ISBN: 1570621691.  

Silk Reeling Energy - The Soul of T'ai Chi.   By Zhang Fuxing.  Tai Chi, Vol. 24,
No. 6, December, 2000, pp. 42-45.  

T'ai Chi According to the I Ching:  Emobodying the Principles of the Book of Changes.
By Stuart Alve Oson.   Inner Traditions, 2000.  240 pages.  ISBN: 0892819448.

Taiji Diagram and Yang Style.   By Mei Ying Sheng.  Translated by Ted W. Knecht.  18Kb.

Tai Chi Symbol.   By Vincent Chu.  20Kb.  

T'ai Chi Symbol and Sword Postures.   By Xiao J. Li.  Tai Chi
Vol. 24, No. 5, October 2000, pp. 33-37.  An excellent informative article.

The Tai Ji Symbol and the Oviphile Swastika
.   By Ming Zhen Shakya.  
Useful instructions for drawing the Tai Chi symbol.   34Kb.  

Tai Chi Tu
(Supreme Ulitmate Symbol)  

Taoism and the Philosophy of Tai Chi Chuan.   An excellent content rich website!
By Christopher Majka and Empty Mirrors Press

Taoism: The Way of the Mystic.   By J. C. Cooper.  New York, Samuel Weiser, Inc., 
1972.  128 pages.  ISBN: 0877281726.  

Thank you to the following persons for sending me useful information and
good ideas:  Gary Brewer.  

Traditional Chinese Diagnosis   Five Elements Chart.  23Kb.  

Two Versions of a Chinese Cosmological Diagram  5Kb   NeoConfucian Diagram

Vitality, Energy, Spirit:  A Taoist Sourcebook.   Translated and edited by Thomas Cleary.  Boston,
Shambhala, 1991.  281 pages.  ISBN: 0877735190.   

Which Way Up Should the T'ai Chi Go?  By Mark Shackelford.   

Wu-Chi and Lao Tsu

Wu-Chi to Tai-Chi   12Kb

Yin and Yang


Return to the Top of This Page













"The term "Tai Chi" first appeared in the "Book of Change" better known as "I Ching", in 
which it is said "Out of Tai Chi is born two elements; out of two elements are born the four 
phenomenas; out of the four phenomenas are form the eight trigrams." The term Tai Chi 
here refers to the originator of everything.  Later in the Northern Song Dynasty, a 
neo-Confucian philosopher by the name of Chow Ton Yee expanded this notion with the 
contribution from Taoism.   He used the Tai Chi symbol to demonstrated the common elements 
in everything.  What he did was make a circle to represent Wu Chi stage. Inside this Wu Chi 
circle, he drew a wave line in the middle separating two equal black and white components 
to represent yin and yang.  The black component represented yin and the white component 
represented yang.  Inside the white component was a black dot to show that yin existed in yang 
and inside the black component was a white dot to show that yang existed in yin.  With this he 
established a duality principle to explain that yin and yang are the most basic of all things.  
When these two components intercourse, everything mutlipied.  Later, when this duality principle 
became popular, people used the term "Tai Chi" as Tai Chi symbol to represent the universe.  
Now, we can see that the term "Tai Chi" in the Book of Change does not have the same meaning 
as the term "Tai Chi" in the "Tai Chi"symbol.  The first one refers to the originator of all things 
and the second one refers to the duality principle."
Gin Soon Tai Chi Chuan Federation





"In the picture above, the white area represents ch'i, or heaven; the dark area is the
image, or earth; the dividing line is the Law, or principle.  In the quote from the I Ching,
"sage" referes to Fu Hsi who created the eight trigrams, the t'ai chi symbol.  The
above symbol is a curved prepresentation of the sages's Yellow River Map and the Lo
River Writing.  It was molded into cyclic fashion from its originally linear representation
because the the straight line is blocked at both extremes.  This circling enables
the peak of yin to produce yand and vice versa.  The two principles of yin and yang 
never separate from each other, but rather each follows the other - smoothly and
endlessly.  There are no other world factors than the ch'i, law, and image.  Neither
man nor the myraid creatures deviate from these three principles."
-  Cheng Man-ch'ing, Cheng Man-ch'ing: Master of Five Excellences, 1995, p. 158.



"In time the common people of China and the Daoists adopted this second version of the 
symbol for taiji, which also was said to have been created by master Chou Tun-I. It is the 
“double fish diagram” and is often mistakenly called the yin and yang. This icon is actually 
called taiji tu or grand ultimate terminus principle.  The black and white curved circles fitting 
into each other express the Dao of eternal wholeness. The unbroken line surrounding the 
two symbolizes wuji. The reversed “S”-shaped curved line in the center simply divides the 
two. The two dots mean that nothing is ever absolutely one thing. Each thing contains just 
a little of the essence of the other.  Taiji tu also represents continuous interaction or movement. 
The meaning of the taiji symbol’s white and black hemispheres evolved over time. They 
became symbolic of everything physical, spiritual and emotional in the universe—male 
(yang), female (yin); sun (yang), moon (yin). For everything up there is a down. For every 
back there is a front.  There is no separate yin without yang or yang without yin. The two are 
part of one whole—the taiji—and the taiji is the creative principle of Dao. You can apply 
this idea to almost any situation and gain a deeper understanding of nature at work."
-   John Painter, The Dao of Yin and Yang in Taijiquan



"Tai Chi is commonly translated as "Supreme Ultimate" (hence we get the prideful
and totally non-Taoist "Supreme Ultimate Boxing."  A better translation is 
"Great Polarity," as in yin-yang, male-female, positive-negative, the abiding 
principle of the universe.  "Chaun" is literally "fist," or "system of self-defense."
So: Tai Chi Chuan is the system of self-defense based upon the principle of the
great polarity."
-  Wolfe Lowenthal, There are No Secrets, p. 72





Change: Two of Disks
Aleister Crowley, Thoth Tarot Deck,1969
Ordo Templi Orientis
Painted by Lady Frieda Harris
U.S. Games Systems, Inc.




Return to the Top of This Page







Graphic Arts


Garden Snake   Colorado Herpetological Society Logo

Revolving Tai Chi graphics created by Michael P. Garofalo, 
for his Cloud Hands website and for his Concrete Poetry Show IV:


Tai Chi Symbol
  Instructions for making an origami Tai Chi symbol .  20K, PDF.  

    By Carl Attenisese Jr.  Image



Return to the Top of This Page










Cloud Hands - Yun Shou

Cloud Hands - Yun Shou






Michael P. Garofalo's E-mail

Red Bluff, Tehama County, North Sacramento Valley, Northern California, U.S.A.
Close to the Cities of Chico, Orland, Corning, Los Molinos, Cottonwood, Anderson, and Redding CA

Valley Spirit Taijiquan Journal


© Michael P. Garofalo, 2004, All Rights Reserved





Zen Poetry

Cuttings: Haiku and Short Poems

Master Chang San-Feng

Cold Mountain Sages

The Spirit of Gardening

Walking and Tai Chi Chuan



Cloud Hands: Tai Chi Chuan and Chi Kung Website







Tai Chi Chuan, Taijiquan, T'ai Chi Ch'uan, Tai Chi, Tai Ji Quan, Taiji, Tai Ji Chuan, Tie Jee Chewan

Chi Kung, Qi Gong, Qigong, Chee Gung, Qi, Chi, Tu Na, Dao Yin, Yi, Neigong, GongFu





Research Notes



The explicit concept of Wu Chi (other than it's appearance in the Tao Te Ching) appeared on a Taoist diagram ("Diagram of the Ultimateness - Wu Chi T'u") in the early 10th century A.D., which is credited to the Taoist priest Ch'en T'uan. The concept of T'ai Chi did not originate until the 11th century, where the neo-Confucist Chou Tun-yi (1017-1073) created a diagram that changed the name of Wu Chi to T'ai Chi as well as changing the interpretation ("Diagram of the Supreme Ultimate - The T'ai Chi T'u"). (see:

Wei,H.,(1982)"The Guiding Light of Lao Tsu" Wheaton: Theosophical Publishing House.


Some contend that the concept of "Tai Chi" can be traced back to Fu-hsi (2852-2738 B.C.), the first recorded 
Chinese ruler.    


Quote from I Ching

Tai Chi may have been a later concept as the first known reference to Tai Chi in Chinese literature is in Appendix III of the Book of Changes (I Ching) which dates from around the 2nd century BC It states:-

"The I (Book of Changes) has Tai Chi (the Great Ultimate),

It gives birth to the Two Forms (i.e. Yin and Yang).

The Two Forms give birth to the Four Emblems;

The Four Emblems give birth to the Eight Trigrams."


Quote for Tao Te Ching


"Lu Tung-pin transmitted his teachings to several students who in turn became founders of their own schools of the arts of longevity. One of them was Chen Hsi-yi, who was most famous for his innovative techniques of ch'i-kung. Chen Hsi-yi's form of internal alchemy integrated the cosmology of the I-ching, the Confucian ideas of cultivating virtue, and physical techniques of circulating energy.  Sung dynasty (960-1279 CE)

In the internal alchemy of Chang Po-tuan, lead and mercury are the essence for yin and yang energies in the body, the furnace is the heat generated in the lower tant'ien, the cauldron is where the internal energy is refinded, pumping the bellows refers to regulating the breath and controlling the heat of the lower tan-t'ien, the immortal fetus is the bundle of refined energy that is the seed of longevity and immortality, and the tenmonth incubation of the fetus in the womb refers to the length of time required for the internal pill to mature." 
Chang Po-tuan (987-1082 CE)

Traditions of Inner Alchemy.  By Eric Wynants.  65KB.