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Yin and Yang

Updated on November 30, 2016

In Chinese and Japanese thought the yin and yang are the two opposing basic principles that together make up the universe. The Chinese began to develop the idea of yin and yang by about 1000 B.C.

They conceived of yin as the dark, cold, wet, slow, and negative female fertile energy associated with earth.

Yang was envisioned as the bright, warm, dry, quick, and positive male creative energy associated with Heaven.

Yin and yang were believed to combine in various proportions to produce all the different objects in the universe. After the 5th century B.C., Confucian and Taoist philosophers stressed the importance of a harmonious relationship of yin and yang. Rebellion, floods, and disease were said to be caused by disruptions of this harmony.

Fortune-tellers and doctors in China and later in Japan advised governments and individuals on ways to restore harmony.

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