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The Five Elements

Updated: 2013-01-08 09:37

THE Chinese concept of the Five Elements – metal, wood, water, fire and earth – came into existence millennia ago. Similar to the theory of yin and yang, as elaborated in the Book of Changes, it is used to interpret constant changes in the universe and the interconnectedness of different beings.

The order of the five elements relates to the theory of mutual promotion and restraint among them when they form a circle. A constant point of reference in Chinese philosophy and Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Five Elements concept is apparent in countless aspects of traditional Chinese culture. This article focuses on the everyday linguistic significance of each.

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