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Tantrix and the Yi Jing:

A Correlation of Binary Systems in Color


by Jay Dunbar, Ph.D.






Two binary systems: one of the oldest books in the world, dating back in written form some three thousand years, and a popular tabletop and on-line tile-laying game invented in the 1980’s.  As it happens, there is a compelling relationship between the two, and a one-to-one correspondence can be deduced between the tiles of the game and the patterns that form the symbolic matrix of the book.  In this article I chart the connections as I see them using a third binary system: the electromagnetic waves of the visible light spectrum.  I also propose a new method of consulting the ancient classic.  I hope that fans of the game will find this fascinating, and perhaps delve more deeply into the book; and that scholars and devotees of the book might appreciate the insights that spring from fresh imagery—they may even enjoy the game!


With respect and appreciation for both,

let us begin an exploration…


End of Excerpt:

see pdf version at top of this page for the full text.


I welcome your comments!  Send to: drjay@magictortoise.com  I will not add you to any list or share your address.  If you do not want me to post excerpts, please indicate that you’d prefer your remarks kept private.






Achilles, Constance.  “Color and the Trigrams: The Masculine and Feminine Colors.”  in Fulcrum: The Science Journal of the University of Science and Philosophy, v.2, n. 3, Feb 1994, pp. 13-29.
[Nicely worked out, but arrives at different color assignments as she focuses on the trigrams and uses more colors.  Also available on-line at: http://www.anton-heyboer.org/i_ching/trigrams/bigpattern-connie.htm]


Anthony, Carol K.  A Guide to the I Ching.  Stow MA: Anthony Publishing Co., 1988.


Dhiegh, Khigh Alx.  The Eleventh Wing: An Exposition of the Dynamics of I Ching for Now.  Dell Publishing Co., 1973.


Dyer, Dave.  Website: http://www.andromeda.com/people/ddyer/tantrix/TantrixTips.html


Graham, Helen.  Discover Color Therapy.  Ullysses Press, 1998.


Harbaugh, Rick.  Chinese Characters: A Genealogy and Dictionary.  Zhongwen.com, 1998.


Jones, Chris Brierley.  Website: http://www.users.bigpond.net.au/Chris.Jones/Tantrix/tantrix.htm


Jou, Tsung Hwa.  The Tao of I Ching: Way to Divination.  Tai Chi Foundation, 1984.


Mitchell, Stephen.  The Tao Te Ching.  Harper and Row, 1988.


Panzer, Karsten K.  Website: http://www.perzan.de
[See especially “The Colors of Genes” Lecture at the World Conference on Arabidopsis Research by K. Panzer Perzan; and “PerZan: I-Ging & Genetic Code.”  Integration of art and science, interesting to me in that, though this application uses white for Qian and black for Kun, we agree on the placement of dark blue at Gen, yellow on the left and green on the right of the Fuxi diagram.]


Scherphuis, Jaap.  “Jaap’s Puzzle Page:” http://www.geocities.com/jaapsch/puzzles/tantrix.htm


Schoenholtz, Larry.  New Directions in the I Ching: The Yellow River Legacy.  Secaucus NJ: University Books, 1975.


Schonberger, Martin.  The I Ching and the Genetic Code: The Hidden Key to Life.  D.Q. Stephenson, trans.  NY: ASI Publishers Inc., 1979.


Secter, Mondo.  I Ching Clarified: A Practical Guide.  Charles E. Tuttle, 1993.


Tantrix.  Website: http://www.tantrix.com
the official site and on-line game]


Wieger, L.  Chinese Characters.  L. Davrout, trans.  New York: Dover Publications Inc., 1965.


Wilhelm, Richard, and Cary F. Baynes, trs.  The I Ching or Book of Changes.  Third Edition. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1967.
[Cited throughout this study.  First published in 1950, it has been the standard in the West since then.]


Yan, Johnson F.  DNA and the I Ching: The Tao of Life.  North Atlantic Books, 1991.


Websites on the visible light spectrum:




The Magic Tortoise Taijiquan School
c/o Dr. Jay Dunbar, Director
15 Timberlyne Road
Chapel Hill, NC 27514-1522