The Kinship of the Three

The Kinship of the Three

p=Cāntóng qì
j=Caam1 tung4 kai3
w=Ts'an1 T'ung2 Ch'i4
altname=The Accordance of the Book of Changes with the Phenomena of Composite Things
p2=Zhōuyì cāntóng qì
w2=Chou1 Yi4 Ts'an1 T'ung2 Ch'i4

"The Kinship of the Three", also referred to as "The Book of the Kinship of Three", is the earliest book on theoretical alchemy in China. The text was written by the alchemist Wei Boyang in the year 142 AD.


Much of the text is about Yin, Yang as well as Wuxing in relation to the process of alchemy. I Ching was used to explain natural phenomena.cite book|last=Hacker|first=Edward A|coauthors=Moore, Steve; Patsco, Lorraine|date=2002|title=I Ching: An Annotated bibliography|publisher=Routledge Publishing|id=ISBN 0415939690]

Wei Boyang seemed to have used mercury and lead, if not sulphur, as the main ingredients for his elixir. A hexagram was used to assign certain times of the day, and he selected a series of hexagrams to represent the increase in heat. The book uses five elements: wood, fire, earth, metal and water, as opposed to the four elements used in the west: fire, earth, air, water. [cite book|last=Linden|first=Stanton J.|date=2003|title=The Alchemy Reader: From Hermes Trismegistus to Isaac Newton|publisher=Cambridge University Press|id=ISBN 0521796628]

The name of the author is concealed in a cryptogram in the last paragraph of the epilogue.


The book has been regarded indirectly as one of the earliest possible source to have mentioned the compositions necessary to create gunpowder.cite book|last=Peng|first=Yoke Ho|date=2000|title=Li, Qi and Shu: An Introduction to Science and Civilization in China|publisher=Courier Dover Publications|id=ISBN 0486414450] cite book|last=Needham|first=Joseph|coauthors=Cullen, C.|date=1976|title=Science and Civilisation in China|publisher=Cambridge University Press|id=ISBN 0521210283] The writing style has always been considered metaphoric with hidden names, and scores of text carrying multiple meanings. Scholars have criticized the multiple meanings and the difficulty of interpreting what Wei Boyang may have really meant. The more official book with a definite recipe to gunpowder is accepted as Wujing Zongyao.

It should be noted that Joseph Needham in 1986 claimed directly that gunpowder came much later:

ee also

* Taoism
* The Art of War
* Wujing Zongyao

External links

* [ Western Language Studies on Chinese Alchemy]


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