It occurred to me that it might not be obvious to all why I chose the images of the game of chess to use as a basis for the symbols of The Army. I will share some of my inspirations and meditations about Hexagram Seven.
It is next to impossible for me to think of myself from the point of view of a military army. I think of Shih, The Army, as the fight I have to commit to within myself when I need to apply discipline for accomplishing a difficult task. Dieting is one example that comes to mind as something where I need my inner army in order to attain that goal. There are many others examples – any task one can think of that requires discipline and a centered focus needs the energy of The Army to achieve the goal.
Chess is a competitive game between two players. What is generally referred to as the game of chess today is called Western Chess or International Chess. This game evolved in Southern Europe during the 15th century. Previous versions of the game evolved in India and Persia. Chess is played by millions of people worldwide.
The game of chess is a mental battle taking place in a field of sixty-four squares, with the King, Queen, Bishops, Knights, Rooks and pawns, all fighting together to win a symbolic battle against an equally strong opponent with a matched fighting cohesive force. Chess is a game of war, the goal being to win the game by capturing one’s opponent’s king.
Since chess is played on a square chessboard with sixty-four squares arranged in an eight-by-eight square there are echoes of I Ching built into the game. I Ching is also structured as an eight-by-eight matrix of sixty-four hexagrams representing the states and the dynamic relationships of the eight elements, each represented by a trigram.
I decided to look at a book that I bought a few years ago because the content contained chess pieces as works of art. I was surprised and delighted to discover this added bit of information about the game of chess. If you have no knowledge of the game of chess this will either be of no interest to you or may inspire you to learn the game. And learning to play chess well is no small task and in my experience, a jillion times more difficult than consulting the I Ching or even trying to understand her. Here is what I found:
“Ancient reinterpretation of ancient Chinese texts has encouraged some scholars to suggest that chess may have originated as a Chinese game of divination—interpretations of signs to foretell the future—during the reign of Wu I (560-578), an emperor of the short-lived Northern Chou (now spelled Zhou) dynasty in western China. One Chinese text, T’ ai ping you lan, revised in 984, suggests that that emperor discovered hsiang ch’i (now xiang gi) the Chinese term for chess, and describes the pieces and their moves as having been designed after the sun, moon, planets, and “star-houses” (constellations). Later it was recorded that T’ ai Tsung (reigned 626-649), the second emperor of the Tang (Tang) dynasty also played a game called chess, perhaps derived from Wu Ti’s divination game. The nagging conundrum is that the Chinese term for chess may actually refer to no less than three types of games played during the reign of T’ai Tsung. If the divinatory game of Wu Ti is indeed a prototype, then it may be the ancestor of both Chinese chess played throughout Asia today, and the Western game which subsequently developed India.”
From the book, The Art of Chess By Colleen Schafroth Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 2002
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