50 Ding3

The lower: Xun (to enter, the wind). The upper: Li (clinging, fire).

Ding: a cauldron; to recruit and nourish virtuous and able people, or to innovate (like establishing a new regime and casting a new Ding after a revolution).






To reform (Ge), there is nothing better than Ding; therefore Ding is granted. Ding is an ancient three-legged cauldron used to cook meat. Raw, blended ingredients are placed in the cauldron and cooked, becoming delicious food for people. In addition to innovation, its extended significance in the I Ching is to recruit and nourish virtuous and able people (i.e. to have them serve the country). Some of the metallic Dings were embossed with clan emblems and used as ritual utensils at sacrificial ceremonies. Therefore Ding can be regarded as a regime symbol. Ding is the reverse hexagram of Ge, to get rid of the old, while hexagram Ding signifies to take in the new.

Hexagram Ding possesses the image of a cauldron; feminine line 1 represents the legs, while the inner lower trigram Qian2 made of masculine solidity is the body; feminine line 5 represents the ears, i.e. the lifting holes, and masculine line 6 is the lifting bar.




The lower trigram Xun denotes wood, while the upper trigram Li is fire; wood entering fire. The living creatures (from the marsh) heated in a metal cauldron, as signified below, depicts cooking.


Ding follows hexagram Ge (49), revolution or reform, signifying that Ding is cast after a new regime is established; it is a time when innovation must keep pace with reform. Reform and innovation are two aspects of the same circumstance, as Ding and Ge are mutually reversed.

The inner hexagram of Ding is Guai (43), (Yang) to get rid of (Yin), reaffirming that the essence of innovation or recruitment is to replace evil with good. Its changing hexagram is Zhun (3), difficult to initiate, signifying that its effect is very difficult to establish; it still needs to gain momentum. Conversely, a new Ding will be cast and a new regime established after Zhun succeeds and has a breakthrough.


Text: 元吉

Ding (to recruit and nourish virtuous and able people, or to innovate): It requires great auspiciousness, and then it will attain smooth progress.

Commentary on the text: Ding: It is the image of a cauldron.  Hexagram Ding is shown in a way that Xun with wood (as the wood of the lower trigram Xun combined with wind enters) into the fire of the upper trigram Li, which performs cooking.  The sage cooks food to worship Heaven, and cooks ample food to nourish virtuous and talented people.  Xun of the lower trigram deeply involves itself in a modest manner and then the ears and eyes become clever.  The one of tenderness advances and moves upward, attaining the axle centre and correlating with the one of rigidity, whereby it will attain greatly smooth progress.

 Text explanation:

The text is composed of great auspiciousness and smooth progress. However in the commentary only greatly smooth progress is quoted. This is because the recruiting agent is a saint, so the recruitment of virtuous and able people will progress very smoothly without requiring auspiciousness. Otherwise, it must attain great auspiciousness to progress smoothly.

Ding is the cauldron with which the sage worships Heaven. It is also the implement that he uses to provide virtuous and talented people with ample food, as he pays them high respect. The lower trigram Xun is signified as penetration, in the manner of wind, and presents a feminine line prostrated beneath two masculine lines in demonstrating devoutness and modesty. The upper trigram Li is brightness and denotes the eyes, while line 5, the representative line of hexagram Ding, represents the ears of the cauldron as well. As a result, a deep penetration combined with modesty enables hexagram Ding to see and hear clearly in recruiting virtuous and able people.


From the commentary, it can also be understood that hexagram Ding evolves from hexagram Xun (57), to penetrate like the wind in a modest manner for internal reform. Line 5 comes from position 4 of hexagram Xun (establishing its own regime by making use of the adversary’s resources) becoming the host line of hexagram Din, the recruiter. In hexagram Ding it must maintain modesty and deeply involve itself with clear eyes and ears (like the wind penetrating every crevice). It must also acts according to the principle of moderation. By virtue of correlation with masculine line 2, i.e. a talented and reliable person (as the masculine is solid and rigid), it recruits talented people.



Commentary on the image: On top of wood there is fire: Ding.  A gentleman, in accordance with this, rights his position and solidifies his mandate.

The light and heat of fire needs wood, so does a gentleman attain an appropriate position to realise his aspirations.


A new regime is established; it needs a great number of people to work for it. To recruit virtuous and able people requires great auspiciousness; recruitment will progress smoothly after great auspiciousness is attained.

Ding is a cooking cauldron as well as the symbol of a regime. It is used here by the sage to worship Heaven and entertain virtuous and able people. The one in charge of recruitment must be modest and act impartially; he must perform his duties with clear eyes and ears, as well as respect and generosity toward his recruits.

Hexagram Ding is also signified as innovation. It possesses nothing but the virtues of origination and smooth progress (expressed in the form of great and smooth progress), signifying that innovation in this case pursues what is appropriate and changes with each passing day.

The changing hexagram is Zhun (3), difficult to initiate, which suggests delaying what is intended in favour of enhancing oneself first. The signifies that one should establish solid ground after gaining power and recruits, as the next hexagram Zhen (51) will undergo a series of strives to protect legitimacy.

Its commentary on the image suggests attaining a right position to realise aspirations.

The weight of Ding is signified as being able to shoulder a heavy responsibility. The cooking vessel indicates that a meal will be served. Fire and wood combined with wind signify a burst of enthusiasm. Innovation is also referred to as recovery from sickness; however the ritual vessel in the shrine is an ominous sign if the elder is concerned, as he can’t afford a complete new start in life.






Ding (the cauldron) is used to nourish virtuous and able people, thereby recruiting them to serve the country. Hexagram Ding also suggests innovation as the old food must be emptied out for the cauldron to be filled with fresh ingredients that will be cooked into delicious food.

The upper trigram is the Court and higher echelons, while the lower trigram represents the commoners and those below. Line 5 at the king's position is both the founding and the host line. It represents the ears of the cauldron, i.e. the lifting holes, through which virtuous and able people are recruited, and through which proposals for innovation are approved. Line 6 at the position of the shrine (the symbol of a regime, i.e. a government) is the lifting bar which allows the cauldron to be brought to the diners, i.e. to have virtuous and able people contribute to the country and bring innovation into a full play to benefit the people. 

Lines 2, 3 and 4 are those of masculine solidity and represent the cauldron body, or food inside the body, or talented and able people, or innovation. Line 4 inappropriately occupies the courtier's position acting as a barrier to innovation and recruitment. Line 1 represents the legs of the cauldron, the level at which wood burns to heat it; it comes from hexagram Ge (49) and initiates innovation after revolution. Except for line 3, lines 1, 2 and 4 are not in their right places; therefore innovation is to seek what is righteous, and recruitment is to place talented people at their right positions to act in a virtuous way.


The 1st line

Text:: 鼎顛(the top, to place upside down)(toe)(be instrumental in)(exist, get out)(stagnation, bad)(obtain)(concubine)(for the sake of)(the possessive of a third person, i.e. the concubine)(son)(no)

The toes () of Ding (the caldron) are upturned; it is instrumental in removing stagnating stuff.  To acquire a concubine is for begetting a son, which is of no fault (or calamity).

Text explanation:

To carry out innovation, old, ineffective practices must first be removed. Turning the cauldron upside down empties out the old food. Marrying a concubine is for begetting a son, a new and better successor, to continue the family name and keep it prosperous. These are the necessary measures for innovation and do not defy rationality; therefore there is no fault (or calamity). zhi3 (toes) refers to those of the animal-like feet of the caldron. In the Shang and early Zhou dynasties, most of the bronze vessels were casted with decoration of animal faces, horns, feet, etc.

Line 1 represents the toes of the cauldron. It correlates with line 4; if it goes to position 4, like turning the cauldron upside down, the old food, i.e. line 4, will be removed.

The inner upper trigram Dui is a concubine. Once line 1 moves to position 4, the inner upper trigram becomes Zhen (to move, thunder) and the upper trigram, Gen (keeping still, the mountain). Zhen is the eldest son while Gen is the youngest son. To marry a concubine for the sake of a son signifies that either the family has no new generation, or the existing sons are not good enough to carry out family undertakings.




Commentary on the image: The toes of Ding (the caldron) are upturned, which doesn’t defy rationality; it is instrumental in removing stagnating stuff, by virtue of which it is able to follow nobility.

Turning the cauldron upside down in order to remove the old food and make room for fresh ingredients doesn't defy rationality as it is an act of renewal. From the viewpoint of the line status, line 1 moving to position 4 is an act of following nobility, the king at position 5, i.e. enhancing and upgrading itself.

Enlightenment through six one: to do away with the old and put in place the new and enhanced. Turning the cauldron upside down in order to empty out the old food, and marrying a concubine to obtain a new or better generation to carry out the family's undertakings do not defy rationality as both are seeking something better; hence, there is no fault or calamity. After this line is activated changing to masculine and then acts righteously, the hexagram becomes Da You (14), abundant possessions, where all resources converge.


The 2nd line

Text: 鼎有(have)(solidity, i.e. be fully stuffed, reality)(my)(enmity)(have)(illness)(not)(me)(be able to)(come near to)

Ding (the caldron) is filled fully with stuffs (i.e. talent and ability).  My unfriendly counterpart is ill, but which is not able to affect me; this is of auspiciousness.

Text explanation:

A person has talent but encounters difficulty to win the recruiter's recognition; similarly an innovation has promise but is ignored. Nevertheless one shouldn’t be affected but still carry on what is planned; this is auspicious.

Line 2 is masculine solidity inside the cauldron, signifying the cauldron contains something of value, like a person possessing talent and ability. It correlates with line 5 which is at the king's position and is the ears of the caldron, i.e. the one who recruits virtuous and able people. However there exists line 4 friendly next to line 5 adversely affecting it; the illness of line 5 makes lines 2 and 5 estranged. If line 2 can disregard line 4’s influence and respond to the recruitment of line 5 by moving to position 5, it will occupy its right position and act righteously (i.e. virtuously) in illuminating the route for those below, i.e. virtuous and able people, to join in and realise their aspirations together like that line 5 of hexagram Dun (33) performs; this is auspicious.




Commentary on the image: Ding (the caldron) is filled fully with stuffs (i.e. talent and ability), signifying it must be prudent in selecting where to go.  My unfriendly counterpart is ill, but I will feel no discontent in the end.

The cauldron is cleaned out and filled with new ingredients at position 1. Line 2 is a refreshing and able person ready to serve the king. It encounters interference from masculine line 4, which impedes its correlation with line 5. On the other hand, line 1 is friendly next to it. Therefore line 2 must be prudent in selecting which way to go. It is obvious that there will be no correlation with line 5 any longer if line 2 exchanges position with line 1. Hence line 2 should disregard both line 4's interference and line 1’s offer, and keep moving upward along the timeline. In the end, it will feel no discontent as line 5 is one that can see and hear clearly.

Enlightenment through nine two: to disregard the negative influence and be prudent in selecting the right partner, or the right path. A person has talent and ability, but can't win the recruiter’s favour because of his adversary’s interference. He shouldn’t be affected by this but be prudent in selecting the right way to go; this is auspicious. If this line changed to feminine and lost correlation with line 5 (as the king looks for talent), the hexagram would become Lu (56), to journey (in adversity), signifying it starts wondering and seeking a place where it can realise its aspirations.


The 3rd line

Text: 鼎耳(ear)(the possessive of third person, i.e. line 3)(act, walk)(block)(pheasant)(broth)(not)(eat, drink)(just)(rain)(lose)(end)

The ears of Ding (the caldron) alter, so one's act is impeded.  The pheasant broth cannot be eaten.  It just starts to rain and regret will be lessened; this will end with auspiciousness.

Text explanation:

The cauldron misses alignment with its ears, so it can't be lifted, signifying that focus changes and access disappears, so virtuous and able people can't be recruited, neither can innovation be implemented. However, once the person in charge of recruitment changes, or the innovation reaches its user, regret will be gone and it will become auspicious in the end.

Line 3 has no access to line 5, i.e. the ears of the cauldron, because line 4 remains in the way. Like a cauldron with no lifting ears (holes), virtuous and able people can be recruited. Line 3 is masculine which tends to move and is at the position for marching upward, but its act is impeded.

The upper trigram Li denotes a pheasant, while the inner upper trigram Dui (joy, the marsh) resembles a mouth. Line 3 can’t reach 5 (the representative line of both trigrams Li and Dui), signifying that the recruiter is drinking the chicken broth but line 3 isn't in it.



Line 6 at the shrine's position worshiping Heaven and entertaining virtuous and talented people like a saint is the lifting bar. It is well regulated masculine rigidity and feminine tenderness (see line 6), signifying that it is not only rigid enough to lift the cauldron (i.e. to make use of virtuous and able people), but it also tenderly (i.e. humbly) treats them in order to recruit them; so line 3 will gain access. The masculine and feminine mate creating the rain. The regret (of not being recruited) will fade and it will end with auspiciousness.



Commentary on the image: The ears of Ding (the caldron) alter; it loses its significance.

The lifting holes lose their significance if the cauldron can't be lifted, like a recruiter failing to perform his job if he can't recruit virtuous and able people.

Virtuous and able people not being recruited is a great loss to the country. Therefore, the hexagram text states that recruitment will progress smoothly after great auspiciousness is secured, i.e. a saint appears taking charge of recruitment. The saint at the shrine’s position acts as a government that uses and feeds virtuous and able people.

Enlightenment through nine three: to act as what one is and wait for recognition. Focus changes and access disappears; virtuous and able people can't reach the recruiter, and the innovation has no way to reach the decision maker. One’s act in seeking recruitment is impeded, and the innovation can't be recognised. However, as long as one can maintain one's virtue and talent, as well as the intention to be recruited, regret will be gone and it will end with auspiciousness. Likewise, as long as the innovation provides value and is met with those who use it, regret will be gone and it will end with auspiciousness. Therefore, if this line changes to feminine (both its talent and virtue disappear), the recruitment of line 6 won’t function, and the hexagram will become Wei Ji (64), not completed yet, i.e. failure. This signifies that people must maintain their value and wait for those who cherish it.


The 4th line

Text: 鼎折(bend)(leg)(overturn)(the highest-rank official in Zhou)(food in the caldron, delicious food)(the possessive of a third person, i.e. the caldron and the courtier)(shape, appearance)(wet)

The legs of Ding are bent, which overturns the courtier’s delicious food, and the body of the caldron (i.e. the courtier) is dampened; this is of an ominous omen.

Text explanation:

An incompetent person occupies an important post; he can’t bear the heavy load and performs his duties poorly. Thus the full cauldron of delicious food is overturned, spilling on him and soiling his clothes, signifying he is humiliated; this is ominous.

Confucius’s remarks in Xi Ci Zhaun (the commentary on text tagging): (A person) occupies an honoured position with little virtue, plans a big project with limited knowledge, and carries a heavy responsibility with less ability; it is obvious that (the person) is incompetent at his job.

Masculine reaches the top of the cauldron body like the delicious food reaching the brim of the cauldron. It is masculine but wrongly placed at a position for feminine. It refuses to resign and blocks other virtuous and able people’s way. It correlates with line 1, the legs of the cauldron which are upturned (for emptying the old food). Therefore the cauldron is overturned; food inside is spilled out and dampens the cauldron’s body.

When innovation is referred to, this signifies that the innovation is of too much ambition and doesn’t suit to the reality; this will spoil the innovation.
Commentary on the image: Line 4 is in the position to overturn the courtier’s delicious food.  How can it be trusted?

Enlightenment through nine four: to step down and let competent people do the job. A person who is not suited to the job but takes charge will fail and humiliate himself; this is ominous. If this line is activated, the hexagram will change to Gu (18), to remove that which causes people disable.


The 5th line

Text: 鼎黃(yellow)(gold)(lifting bar)利貞

The subject acts as the yellow ears of Ding (the cauldron), with a gold lifting bar; it is advantageous (or appropriate) to persist.

Text explanation:

The ears of Ding (i.e. the lifting holes of the cauldron) are equipped with a lifting bar. With the lifting holes and bar, food inside the cauldron can serve virtuous and able people, and virtuous and able people can be recruited and provide their service, as well as innovation can be implemented.

Line 5 is are the ears of Ding and yellow is the colour of the axle centre where the principle of moderation is available. Line 5 correlates with line 2, i.e. the body of the cauldron, while masculine line 6, the lifting bar, remains above and occupies line 5. Hence through the lifting holes of line 5, the cauldron can perform its functions. It is advantageous or appropriate to persist in performing its job according to the principle of moderation.



Commentary on the image: Line 5 acts as the yellow ears of Ding, by virtue of moderation it can serve solidity.

The lifting bar must be solid, while the lifting ears must be moderate. Solidity means that the cauldron can be firmly lifted, while the principle of moderation signifies that it can impartially recruit virtuous and able people. Even though line 5, at the king’s position, is not the lifting bar and unable to use virtuous and able people in person, it must impartially recruit them and do this for the country, i.e. masculine line 6 which is solid.

Enlightenment through six five: to impartially recruit talented people who have integrity, or adopt ideas which lead to innovation. The yellow ears of the cauldron are equipped with a lifting bar, signifying that the cauldron can be used according to its function. The recruiter is impartial in the assigning post, so virtuous and able people have opportunities to provide service. This also signifies that innovation is approved by the decision maker who is tender (i.e. not suborn) and moderate. It is advantageous or appropriate to persist. Should this line change to masculine and not abide by its mandate, the hexagram would become Gou (44), to meet (unexpectedly), where a crisis emerges as its masculine encounters a powerful feminine.


The 6th line

Text: 鼎玉(jade)(large, great)(nothing)(not)(advantage)

The subject acts as the jade lifting bar of Ding (the cauldron); this is of big auspiciousness, and nothing is unfavourable.

Text explanation:

The lifting bar is the tool for using the cauldron, and allows the cauldron to feed virtuous and able people. Further it allows virtuous and able people to provide service to the country. It also carries out innovation, benefiting the country accordingly. It is auspicious and favourable for all undertakings.

Line 6 representing the government and occupying line 5 (the ears of the cauldron) is the lifting bar. It is rigid masculine at the position for tender feminine, reliable but flexible (as the hard but softly lustrous jade is); therefore all kinds of valuable cauldrons can be lifted evenly and steadily.

Commentary on the image: Line 6 acts as the jade lifting bar on top; rigidity and tenderness must be properly regulated.

To lift the heavy cauldron (i.e. to use virtuous and able people), the bar must be rigid; however to recruit and treat virtuous and able people, line 6 must be tender (i.e. flexible and humble) as its feminine position so that line 3 can be in correlation with it. This creates rain, signifying that line 3 is recruited and provides its service (also see line 3).

Enlightenment through nine six: to make use of virtuous and able people rigorously but with receptivity and generosity. The cauldron is equipped with a reliable but flexible lifting bar, allowing the cauldron its full function; this is greatly auspicious with nothing unfavourable. After this line is activated accordingly, the hexagram becomes Heng (32), to endure and be longlasting, which is referred to as an everlasting relationship like marriage. Hereafter virtuous and able people are nourished so they will make contributions to the country in return; or innovation is carried out and its benefit lasts a long time.