VIII. The Element Earth and its Season.
When the Five Elements were joined to the Four
Seasons, there was one element too much which could not be combined with a
season. This element was earth. Why was just this one left out? Perhaps simply
because in the two oldest series a) and c) of the Shuking earth came last. The Chinese give other reasons.
Both Tung Chung Shu X, 10 r. and Pan
Ku II, 1 r. urge that earth is the noblest of the elements. Earth (the
element) ###, says the latter, is but another name of the Earth ###. As such it
governs the other elements and cannot be classed with them. This is true in so
far as Heaven and Earth are held to have produced the elements. Besides we saw
that wood and metal are believed to be products of earth, so that this element
must be ranked as a sort of primary element. Though it did not produce water
and fire, it supports them as it does wood and metal.
But although there was no season left for earth,
the Chinese did not like to drop this element altogether in their calendars.
Since locally it was placed in the centre, they also inserted it into the
middle of the Four Seasons, between summer and autumn, without attributing a
special season to it. This was done in the Liki.1 Subsequently earth was
conceived as the element of "late summer" ###. The next step was to make Five
Seasons instead of Four, each of 72 days, and to assign the third, "late
summer," to earth. This step was taken by Kuan Tse (see above p. 450) by Huai Nan Tse
III, 9 v. and by Tung Chung Shu, Ch`un-ch`iu fan-lu,
XIII, 9 v.
1. Cf. Legge's
translation p. 280 and 281, Note 1.