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I Ching Translations

The Confucian addition about 500 years later added a moral tone, particularly in the Image Statements. In addition, the concept of Yin-Yang and Daoist concepts were included at the same time.

     * * beside the title indicates scholar who I have seen cited often in the literature.

    * scholar who I have seen publish other work related to the I Ching.

Translations of the I Ching,  include Confucian Image Statement and Commentary

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Wilhelm/Baynes, The I Ching, (German 1923); English Translation, Baynes, 1950.**

Many people find the an good place to start. It has the complete commentary which many people do not delve into right away. Most begin with Book 1. 


The Wilhelm I Ching was the first to put the parts of the Ten Wings together in a single Hexagram reading. “Book I” has the Judgment, Line Statements, and Image Statement organized by Hexagram number. Book II is the Great Treatise and other commentaries explaining the underlying principles of the I Ching Wilhelm. In Book III, the Judgment, Image Statement, and Lines are repeated, but now adding the other commentaries, including interior hexagrams, hexagram sequence.


Wilhelm added his own commentary — with the advice of a Neo-Confucian Chinese Scholar, Lao Naixaun (Nai-hsuan) and his friend Carl Jung. Wilhelm was an admirer of Chinese culture, with the goal of making the I Ching accessible to the western reader.


Legge, I Ching, 1964 and Legge, The YÎ KING  or Book of Changes, 1882.** Vol. 16 of Sacred Books of the East, The Sacred Books of China, The Texts of Confucianism, Part II, Project founder and editor, F. Max Müller.

This translation from 1964 has a commentary from both Legge, and Ch'u Chai and Winberg Chai. Includes reader's guide. It presents the Ten Wings seperately, so there is plenty of page turning if you cast a hexagram.


The Legge translation can be also found republished, in ebooks, and online on Internet Archives and the Sacred Texts, as part of the sacred book series. These combine the commentary from the Ten Wings similar to Wilhelm. Since the Legge translation is out of copyright, it is republished in several print and ebooks. 


This was the first accurate translation to English of the I Ching. Legge developed his own Romanization system,, accounting for the Yi King title. The versions you will see substitute the more familiar Wade-Gilles system or Pinyin. For example, the Yellowbridge website uses Legge’s translation along with Pinyin as does the website for the Chinese Text Project.


Legge, a missionary, approached the I Ching, as well as several other Chinese classics such as the Daodejing, as a project for missionary work: ministers needed to understand the Chinese philosophy so they could convert them to Christianity. His work was part of a 50 Volume project organized by Max Muller in the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries — a project which made eastern religious texts available to the West for the first time.


Lynn, The Classic of Changes,1994.**

This book is a translation of the I Ching and Wang Bi (226—249 AD) commentary and other Chinese scholars. During a time when the Celestial Masters mystical Daoism was becoming popular among Chinese scholars, Wang Bi sought to synergize Daodejing and Zhuangzi with the Confucian commentary. Wang Bi brings the concept of the Dao not only being nothing, but pure being. The book is excellent scholarship and laid out for personal use. 


At least one reviewer was set back by Wang Bi’s remark which may appear unnecessarily misogynous on Line 5 of the Hexagram 23 dismissing the court ladies as inherently petty. However, Wang Bi is considered a leading scholar who launched a new way of thinking about the I Ching, so his commentary is worth reading for a long-time I Ching user.


Blofeld, I Ching, The of Change,1968.*

The direct Chinese-to-English translation that followed 18 years after the Chinese-German-English translation of the Wilhelm's work. Very concise and accessable translation that includes the Confucian Image and some commentary. This book provides good, concise, advice on how to approach a reading of the I Ching.


Hinton, I Ching, The Book of Change, 2015.*

Concise, accessable, translation into elegant but accurate English. It sometimes departs a bit from other translations





Bertschinger, Yi Jing, The Shamanic Oracle of China, 2012.*

The translation is accomanied by commentary and peotry. Its premise is that the Yi "reflects the connecting and equiring structure of the mind." 




Riseman, Understanding the I Ching, 1990.*

Translated for meaning.








Liu, I Ching Coin Prediction, 1975.

Writen by the President of the T'ai Chi Society of New York, Liu's translation is accompanied with his interpretations base on his experience with Chinese fortune-telling methods, the nature of the trigrams, and the five-elements.





Ming-Dao, The Living I Ching, 2006. 

The author has written several books on Daoism. The book include a narrative on each of the eight trigrams in addition to the Hexagrams. Each Hexagram has a poem and narrative in addition to the translation. The introduction says that this book is meant to be read sequentually.


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Pearson, The Original I Ching, 2011.**

The first English translation by a female scholar. In her introduction Pearson reminds the that the Chinese language pronouns and nouns (with a few exceptions) are gender neutral — and the attachment of Yin and Yang to the lines was a much later invention, stating that “Female as Yin” and “Male as Yang” were not intended by the text. 


Wilhelm and Legge were products of Western languages and customs that forced a choice a gender pronoun using the rule: Male, choose he; Female choose she; could be either gender, pick he.

The debate about how to make English gender-neutral when it should be neutral began as early as the 1960s and continues to this day. Many modern books continue this tradition even though the Chinese pronoun or noun does not specify gender. Some, such as Lynn, point out the male dominate society in which the I Ching existed in Wang Bi’s time, but this is not uniform in the history of China.​

Huang, The Complete I Ching: The Definitive Translation by the Taoist Master Alfred Huang, 2003.*      

The translation is somewhat similar to Wilhelm's and includes a complete Confucian commentary. The distinguished feature author’s commentary is based on an oral tradition passed down to him, interpreitng the meaning and images, but not with mystical Daoism — However, he wrote the book, The Numerology of the I Ching, 2000.

Minford, I Ching, 2014.*

Minford's translation sometimes has an occasional surprising twist compared to other translations, such as the name of Hexagram 3 as “difficult birth.” He includes commentary from Chinese sources as well as poetry apparently of his own.​

Cleary, The I Ching, the book of change, 1992.*

Includes the Image Statement translation. The commentary titled "image" after each line statement appears to be the author's own commentary.


Cleary, The Buddhist I Ching, 1987.*

The book includes a commentary from the Buddhist scholar Chih-hsu Ou-I (1599—1655 AD) — a Buddhist scholar.

Cleary, I Ching, The Book of Change, 2006.*

The Judgment/Decision in this translation is untitled and is the text right under the name. The supplemental commentary on the judgment is under the title “Overall Judgment.”​


Ritesma and Sabbadini, The Original I Ching Oracle, 2007.*

This book uses “fields of meaning” English phrases. The book includes a good deal of commentary on the imagery as well as key words.The subtitled "Patterns of Wisdom" is a loose translation of the Confucian Image Statement. The authors state it is intended as a psychological tool. It has an extensive Concordance/ Glossary with explainations and where they are found on the I Ching (using Wade-Giles).

Wu, The Essentials of the Yi Jing, 2003.*

Each reading begins with the Upper and Lower and Interior Trigrams and complementary and derived hexagrams. The author's commentary is rooted in imagery and corralative cosmology interpretations. This includes the Great Treatise under the title "Appended Word," adding explanitory commentary so that, here, it is diffucult to distinguish from the translated text. 

KarcherI Ching, Plain and Simple, 1994.*

Karcher begins with a discussion that goes straight to connecting to the spiritual wolrd through divination. The approach recommended by Karcher for reading a hexagram involve developing a field of hexagrams derived from the hexgram cast and changing lines. 

The translation aimed to a modern outlook. What is a labled as "Image" is the Judgment/Decision in other translations. The section called "symbol" is the "Image" in other translations.


Karcher's books strive for the mystical and poetic. A standalone translation of the Great Treatise (Ta Chuan) is beautiful to read, taking the staid translations of most sources and puting it to near-poetry while staying reasonably close to the original.

Karcher, Total I Ching, 2003.*

The book begins with themes similar to his 1994 book. However, the translation differs with an innovation, the Scholar and the Shaman speaking in each reading. What is called "The Response" in this book is the Judgment/Decision in other translations. What is called "The Shaman Speaks" is the Image in other translations.

Karcher, I Ching, The Symoblic Life, 2009*

This book emphasises an interaction that is "a spiritual practice or discipline." "...more of a dance than an analytical process." Karcher uses color coding and terminology to identify different theme in each reading, for instance "spirit helpers" and "heart theme."

Chang, The I Ching, Unveiling the Mystery, 2016.

Each reading has a preface which describes the trigrams and Chinese character for the name. Word for word translation with parenthetical explainations followed by extentsive commentary including line relationships.

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