What is Bagua?

What is Bagua ?

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The Bagua symbol is probably one of the best known Feng Shui terms in the West and certainly the one with the most amazing ideas ! It represents a static (front sky) or dynamic (back sky) energetic state.

Let's discover in this article everything you need to know about Bagua...

1) Bagua Origin

🇨🇳 Bagua or Pa Kua (八卦 for Chinese characters) is a fundamental philosophical concept of ancient China used in Taoist Cosmology to express the fundamentals principles of reality that are found in the Tao te ching and in the I-Ching (Book of Changes), but also in other areas of Chinese culture, such as Feng Shui, martial arts or navigation.

Bagua symbol

🧐 There are two possible origins of Bagua:

The first would be the traditional philosophy of Yin Yang. The relationship between these two Chinese philosophies has been described by Fuxi.

A possible source would be King Wen of the Zhou Dynasty ( 周朝):

"When the world began, there was Heaven and Earth. Together, they gave birth to everything that exists on earth. Heaven is Qian-gua, and Earth is Kun-gua. The other six gua are their children."

bagua necklace

2) Meaning of the Bagua Symbol

The octagonal shape and trigrams are mainly used for the Bagua symbol.

The symbol has eight zones (ba) (guas), connecting two adjacent corners towards the center to form a gua. The center contains the symbol of Yin and Yang, or Taijitu according to Taoist philosophy.

Each of the "guas" has three yao symbols, which extend in three rows from the center outward.

Each line is either Yin, which represents the receptive (feminine) force of nature, or Yang, which represents the creative (masculine) force of nature.

Yin Yang Symbol Definition

☯ The two characters used for Yin and Yang are similar in their structure: a hillside illuminated by the moon or the sun.

 So a dark side and a bright side.

This descriptive representation is of an elegant simplicity: it describes a phenomenon that can be easily observed every day wherever you are.

It is the alternation of day and night, of morning light and afternoon shadow, the north face and south face of a mountain, the heat and intense light of summer versus the damp cold and prevailing darkness of winter.

yin yang symbol

These two aspects are both natural and inseparable: there is nothing living that does not evolve or never evolve.

And what is true in the natural or manifest world is also true in other ways. 

It is because we consider one thing that we bring it to light. We leave aside the rest, what we do not consider. The Yang is put forward and pre-empted, where the Yin is ignored, left aside.

⚖️ The Yin Yang is the symbol of harmony and balance and this alternation of movement and immobility gives birth to the Bagua.

3) The Eight Trigrams

At the heart of Taoism lies an essential concept: the perpetual change of life, alternation of Yin (broken line) and Yang (full line).

This vision is the fruit of a long observation by the sages of antiquity, which allowed them to discover 8 archetypes at work in nature.

Each trigram is composed of 3 lines (full or broken) which correspond to the 3 layers of the universe: the 3 Treasures. The I-Ching or Books of Transformations, a work more than 5000 years old, describes all the possible changes in the manifested world, that is to say 64 forces or Hexagrams like the DNA of the human body 🧬.

The 8 trigrams that support the mutations of nature are manifested by the following elements:

  • 乾 Qian / Heaven 天
  • 兌 Dui / Lake 澤
  • 離 Li / Fire 火
  • 震 Zhen / Thunder 雷
  • 巽 Xun / Wind 風
  • 坎 Kan / Water 水
  • 艮 Gen / Mountain 山
  • 坤 Gun / Earth 地


  • Each trigram consists of three lines.
  • Each line is either Yin or Yang.
  • The trigrams are drawn and read from bottom to top.


This masculine Yang energy is directed upward and outward. In the image of the sky its action seems infinite and light ♾. It is energy in its pure state.



🌬️ The wind expresses the constant changes: from formless to solid, from solid to formless. You can't grasp it but it can envelop you on all sides.

 wind trigram


🔥 The fire evokes the spiral loops of the movement of the flames. Hard and Yang on the outside but soft and Yin in the center. It is the energy of the flame that wraps itself around the object to which it is attached.



⛰️ The mountain evokes rest and rest, but this structure, which is very concentrated in its center, has the potential to radiate in all directions.



♀️ Feminine energy, Yin is directed downwards, soft and heavy with an inward movement. This is a receptive energy that supports the energy of Heaven.



⚡ It is the energy of a shock wave; a Yang explosion followed by a series of reverberations. This trigram represents a sudden shock that seems to come from nowhere.



💦 Like a wave its crest is light and foamy but its center is dense and solid. The water is fresh and Yin on the outside but the center is Yang. It symbolizes what is hidden. It is the dark side of the water.



The old ideogram literally means: "a cavity in the earth, which holds water and makes people happy" ☺️. The image is of a swamp rich in life. This is the positive aspect of Water.


4) Bagua Diagrams

There are two orders of presentation of the eight trigrams, that of Fúxī (伏羲), called "Early Heaven Sequence", and that of King Wen (文王), called " Later Heaven Sequence ".

In these arrangements, the South is always placed at the top 🧭.

Early Heaven Sequence

When we talk about the Early Heaven arrangement, we mean what was before: the cause of phenomena. Why are things like this now ?  Because something happened before. And that something is the cause.

The Bagua of the Early Heaven Sequence describes a universe that is perfect: The trigrams facing each other have as many Yin features as Yang feature, each Yin feature is answered by a Yang feature and vice versa 👌🏻.

Early Heaven Sequence Diagram

It is a perfect balance on each axis, but this perfection of symmetry is static because it is the imbalance that creates thermodynamics.

The Early Heaven Bagua therefore does not describe the phenomena that exist in the material world, the manifested world.

Later Heaven Sequence

The Later Heaven Sequence what happens afterwards, so it is the consequences of a given cause. This Bagua thus describes what happens in the material world, the world of effects.

As you can see, in the Later Heaven Bagua the trigrams are placed differently than in the Early Heaven Bagua.

later heaven bagua diagram

The static balance of the axes has disappeared. For each pair of trigrams in opposition on an axis, the Yin and Yang lines no longer answer each other symmetrically.

This imbalance represents the conditions of the dynamics that are proper to the phenomena of the manifested world.

5) Bagua in Martial Arts

🥋 Baguazhang was created in the 19th century by Dong Haichuan, who learned from Daoist masters in the mountains of rural China.

It is the most recent of the three ancient Chinese internal martial arts (Neijia), the other two are Taijiquan and Xing Yi Quan.

baguazhang yin yang

Dong Haichuan has combined his knowledge of martial arts with a Taoist form of meditative circle walking to create his new martial art.

Baguazhang literally means the "Eight Tri-Gram Palms" and refers to the symbolic trigrams of I-Ching.

6) Bagua in Feng Shui

The Bagua Energy Map is one of the main tools used in Feng Shui to analyze the energy of a place like home, office or garden 🏡.

This Energy Map will tell you which areas of your home or office are related to specific areas of your life.

Feng Shui Energy Map

Translated from Chinese, Bagua literally means "8 zones". These zones correspond to the most important areas of a person's life, the areas that matter most to their health and happiness.

The eight trigrams are associated with the eight cardinal points as;

  • North
  • South
  • East
  • West
  • Northeast
  • Northwest
  • Southeast
  • Southwest

In addition, each of the trigrams also represents one of the eight aspirations in the field of life:

  • Wealth and Prosperity
  • Recognition and Awareness
  • Marriage and Love
  • Children
  • Mentors and Communication
  • Career
  • Education and Knowledge
  • Family and Health

Once the Feng Shui Bagua is placed on your house plan, each area of the Bagua can be activated by a different Element.

👉🏻 Discover this beautiful Yin Yang Bagua Ring made of premium stainless steel ornate with the 8 Trigrams from the I-Ching.

Bagua ring steel

Read next: Yin Yang and the 5 Elements. Starting from medicine to music, the 5 Elements have a significant impact on Chinese culture. Even fields such as acupuncture, feng shui, martial arts, astronomy, and tea ceremony adopted this philosophy... 

yin yang five elements


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