9 Xiao3 Chu4 (or Xu4) 小畜



The lower: Qian (perseverance, heaven). The upper: Xun (to enter, the wind).

Xiao Chu: little storage, feeding or restraint; the small serves (and plays games with) the large; the small and the large learn how to get along with each other.






Intimacy (Bi3) will definitely lead to amassing; therefore Xiao Chu is granted as the next hexagram. Rain drops fall and combine on low-lying land, like dukes submitting to the call of the king, depicting Bi of hexagram 8. Rain drops gather to form streams which converge toward a dam, signifying Xu4 (also pronounced Chu4 as a noun). Chu4 originally meant livestock; Xu4 is its verb and means to feed, restrain and store, like herding and raising livestock, and like damming water to create a reservoir. Xiao signifies smallness. Hence Xiao Chu is signified as little feeding (or the small feeding the large), restraint (or the restraint of the small), and storage.

The wind of the upper trigram Xun is blowing over heaven represented by the lower trigram Qian. The clouds come and go with the wind, i.e. it is difficult to contain them, which signifies little storage. The upper trigram Xun is feminine, while the lower trigram Qian is masculine. The rigid and large Qian is restrained by the tender and small Xun; hence little restraint, or the restraint by the small. Hexagram Xiao Chu is constituted by one feminine line at the courtier's position among five masculine lines. This signifies that the small feminine is serving or feeding the large masculine. This differs from feminine line 5 of hexagram Da You (14) which is located at the king's position and thus possesses all the masculine lines.

The text of Xiao Chu reflects the anxiety of waiting. It suggests that a person prone to aggression, in an inferior position or with limited capabilities, restrains and enhances himself in preparation for the day of action. The line text discusses whether the small one can be counted on, and how to rely on it.

The inner hexagram of Xiao Chu is Kui (38), alienation, signifying that the small serves the large, seemingly in harmony but actually at variance. Its changing hexagram is Yu (16), to be pleasant due to harmony (where the feminine Kun devotedly follows the leading movement of the masculine Zhen). It also suggests taking precautions against calamity (when the small plays games with the large).


Text: Xiao Chu (little feeding), (which can obtain) smooth progress.  Dense clouds (are gathering) but it doesn’t rain; (they are) coming from my border in the west.

Commentary on the text: Xiao Chu (little feeding); (the one of) tenderness (i.e. line 4) attains its right position, with those above and below responding to it, which is Xiao Chu.  (Xiao Chu exhibits its norm in the form of) perseverance (like the internal trigram Qian) and Xun (prostrating and exhibiting submissiveness).  (Masculine lines 2 and 5, the ones of) rigidity (occupy) the core position (so) aspiration can be realised; thus it will progress smoothly.  Dense clouds (are gathering) but it doesn’t rain, (signifying that) what it is yearning for is to move forward.  Coming from my border in the west, (signifying that) what is planned has not yet been carried through.

Text explanation:

From the viewpoint of the structure of a hexagram, Xiao Chu presents one feminine line serving five masculine lines. Feminine line 4 at its right position interacts with the masculine lines above and below. This signifies that femininity is influencing masculinity but not widely or strongly enough. It can proceed smoothly; however it is not the time to take full action, i.e. it still needs to make an effort and wait for the right time to carry out what is intended.

The west is the home of Yin (symbolised by the feminine line) where dense clouds originate; the clouds are gathering but not producing rain. When the small feminine serves the big masculine, it requires time to earn trust from the masculine. Once the feminine and the masculine mate, the clouds will produce rain.

From the perspective of viewing the phenomena of Xiao Chu, the internal trigram Qian is persevering while the external trigram Xun is modest and obedient. Thus persevering is internal while submissiveness is expressed externally. Additionally, both lines 2 and 5, which occupy the core positions of the lower and the upper trigrams, are masculine. This signifies that the hexagram is driven by masculine. Thus, hexagram Xiao Chu can move forward with its aspirations and progress smoothly by means of the norm noted above.

Line 4 is the representative line of both Xiao Chu and the inner lower trigram Dui (the marsh). The water of the marsh above heaven, the lower trigram Qian, is a cloud and the west is where trigram Dui is positioned. However, according to Chinese geography, the east is the sea, while the west is inland. Clouds from the west usually don't bring much rain, so the dry land relies on moisture from the east. Trigram Zhen (to move, the thunder) is masculine located in the east; it will appear only after the hexagram changes to Yu (16). In Yu it is instrumental to establish a ducal state and dispatch troops.




The west is also where the dukedom Zhou was located. When Duke Ji Chang (姬昌known posthumously as King Wen of Zhou) was imprisoned by King Zhou of Shang (紂王) at You Li (羑里), he knew death could come at any minute. He always looked toward the west anticipating rescue by his people. The phrase 'dense clouds come from my border in the west but it doesn’t rain' expresses the anxiety felt while awaiting action on one's behalf.

Commentary on the image: Wind blowing in the sky; Xiao Chu.  A gentleman in accordance with this enhances his virtue through culture.

The wind gathers the clouds in the sky but the rain doesn’t fall. A gentleman realises his status through observation; instead of carrying out his aspiration, he immerses himself in culture. The virtue of culture can refer to things which enhance one’s disposition and appearance, as well as words and deeds.


The feminine feeds and restrains the masculine. It must persevere internally, submit externally and be firm with moderation; then it can progress smoothly. However, because what it counts on is small, it is uncertain if what has been planned can be achieved; or it is not the right time to realise what is intended. It still needs to enhance itself and act in an opportune way.

Also, as Xiao Chu possesses only the virtue of smooth progress, i.e. not origination, advantage or persistence (i.e. creativity, benefit and preservation), it leads to no great achievement.

Dense clouds but it doesn’t rain’ can also be understood as the uncertainty and anxiety associated with a small one playing games with the large; this suggests a battle of wits. Its changing hexagram Yu (16) is instrumental in establishing the ducal state and dispatching troops, i.e. it exhibits a contest of force.

The feminine feeds and restrains the masculine. The masculine can't live without the feminine. However, masculine is large while feminine is small, thus the masculine can't count on the feminine for great achievement. It is not recommended to count on the feminine too much, as the masculine may turn out to be restrained by it. 






Xiao Chu, the feminine serves the masculine. On the one hand it shows the small one feeding the large; on the other hand the masculine will be restrained by the feminine if the masculine counts on it too much. Thus, from the standpoint of the masculine, the feminine is not dependable. It starts with the self-reliance of masculinity as with lines 1 and 2 where both end up with good fortune. If lines 1 and 2 are activated and change together, the hexagram will become Jian4 (53), to progress gradually and sequentially, which demonstrates team action like the migration of wild geese. Line 3 is restricted but still seeks feminine aid, which results in quarrel. Lines 4 and 5 are bound together by sincerity and trust; therefore they derive mutual benefit. If both of them are activated, the hexagram will become Da You (14), abundant possessions, signifying a great achievement as all will eventually benefit. Lastly, masculine line 6 is overpowered by the feminine when its influence prevails.


The 1st line

Text: (The subject is in a state of) returning to one’s own norm (or course); what blame (or fault, or calamity) is there?  (This will end up with) auspiciousness.

Text explanation:

Masculine line 1 correlates with line 4 and masculine tends to move (forward). However line 4, the feminine, is small and not very reliable. Additionally in the beginning phase, line 1 is less energetic and still weak, so there is a real possibility of being restrained by feminine. Independent from the aid of line 4, line 1 returns to its own place and relies on its own masculinity. Self-reliance is for seeking enhancement of masculinity and freedom from the restriction by femi-nine; there is nothing to blame.

Commentary on the image: (Line 1 is in a state of) returning to one’s own norm (or course), that which signifies is auspicious.

The masculine and feminine engage in a way that involves both cooperation and confrontation. The feminine can be relied on only after the masculine is strong. If lines 1 and 4 exchange positions, the hexagram will become hexagram Guo (44), where a vigorous feminine emerges.

In addition to that the feminine is undependable at this moment, line 4 sustains line 5 and is occupied by line 5, the king; thus line 1 counting on itself is also the path to no fault, which is auspicious.

Enlightenment through nine one: 1) do not anticipate what is undesired, or 2) do not count on what is undependable but only on oneself. The masculine is still weak and will be restrained by the feminine if it relies on it. In any case, feminine aid is limited and line 4 is occupied. There is no blame or fault in relying on oneself. In fact, it is a correct action and will leads to auspiciousness. If this line were feminine, the hexagram would be Xun (57), where its wind (represented by feminine lines 1 and 4) penetrates every rift trying to seize dominant power from masculine line 5. This shows how the feminine power works.


The 2nd line

Text: (The subject is in a state of) dragged return (牽復), (which is of) auspiciousness.

Text explanation:

Masculine line 2 tends to move (forward) and it is nearing line 4; however there is no access to it as masculine line 3 is in between. It is prevented from getting aid from line 4 and therefore returns (as if guided) to its place and counts on itself. qian1 of 牽復fu4 (return) depicts an ox (niu2) which is dragged and pulled along by its nose rope.

Commentary on the image: (Line 2 is in a state of) dragged return in the middle (of the lower trigram where the principle of moderation is available); neither will it lose self.

When masculinity of line 2 grows stronger, its desire for feminine aid becomes stronger as well. However, it follows the principle of moderation back to its position when line 4 is not accessible. Reconciling oneself to one's situation is auspicious.

Enlightenment through nine two: God helps those who help themselves. Although there is no feminine aid to count on, it won’t get lost as it is moderate, i.e. it can do well with or without feminine aid. This is auspicious. Therefore when feminine appears here, the hexagram becomes Jia Ren (37), the household, where all its male and female members acts righteously according to their positions, and the father builds a wealthy and prestigious family with the assistance of the mother and the elder daughter.


The 3rd line

Text: A cart is disconnected from the spokes; the couple watch each other with hostility (i.e. they quarrel and become enemies).

Text explanation:

A cart without wheels can't move. Line 3 is ridden over by feminine line 4 depicting that the masculine is oppressed by the feminine, and signifying that line 3 is restricted by the feminine. Trigram Kun (submissiveness, earth) denotes a cart which appears to have four wheels. Here however we have the inner upper trigram Li (clinging, fire) which looks like a cart with four wheels missing.

If line 3 intends to occupy, i.e. count on, line 4 by exchanging positions with it, trigram Li will appears in the form of the inner lower trigram after the inner upper trigram Li is gone. Trigram Li also denotes the eyes; however now none of its lines stay in their right places. The eyes are not correctly positioned, signifying that the couple do not watch each other directly. The couple lose harmony, as the feminine can’t bear the load of the masculine and the masculine isn't satisfied with the feminine support.




Commentary on the image: The couple watch each other with hostility (i.e. they quarrel and become enemies); (the feminine) can't be (married as) a wife.

A wife supposedly should stick to her husband through thick and thin. Feminine line 4 must learn to respect and support the masculine before becoming its partner.

Feminine aid is limited but the feminine can restrict the masculine. Line 3 is seen as a lesson before the masculine starts to make use of feminine aid.

Enlightenment through nine three: to treat one’s partner with a true heart and seek hand-in-hand cooperation. The masculine can't move as it is restricted by the feminine. If it still intends to make use of the feminine aid, the couple will quarrel. However if it can change to feminine to understand its partner, the hexagram will become Zhong Fu (61), sincerity and trust radiate from the heart, where it possesses sincerity and trust but needs to do them right (i.e. do them in a heartfelt manner).


The 4th line

Text: Sincerity and trust, (which are the way) to get rid of the blood, and to get out of fear and worry, (and which causes) no fault (or calamity).

Text explanation:

Line 4 is the representative line of hexagram Xiao Chu and exhibits the significance of the feminine feeding the masculine, the small one serving the large. Line 5 is at the king’s position and line 4 is at the courtier’s position; feminine line 4 sustains masculine line 5, like a courtier serving the king. Line 4 is fearful as it accompanies the king like accompanying a tiger; thus it must serve the king with sincerity and trust, which is the best way to avoid getting hurt, i.e. bleeding, and to be free from fear and worry.

The inner upper trigram Li (clinging, fire) is the condensed form of hexagram Zhong Fu (61), sincerity and trust radiating from the heart, which line 4 represents.

Commentary on the image: Sincerity and trust (and) to get out of fear and worry, (signifying) to satisfy the aspiration of the one above.

Instead of correlating with line 1 and feeding it, line 4 sustains line 5 (with its limited ability or resources); therefore it can act according to the wishes of line 5 and perform its designated role.

Enlightenment through six four: Sincerity and trust are the best policy. The small serves the large like a courtier serving the king; the small one might get hurt and is always in a state of fear and worry. The best way is to act with sincerity and trust, and to satisfy the aspiration of the large one; then it can remain clear of all misery and be free from fault or calamity. If this line acts accordingly, the hexagram will become Qian (1), heaven, when it appears as masculine. Here it advances and retreats flexibly in a and safety manner toward its goal. 


The 5th line

Text: As if sincerity and trust tie (masculine and feminine) together; (the subject ought) to extend wealth to its neighbours.

Text explanation:

Line 5 is the masculine, staying above and sustained by feminine line 4; thus it can accept aid from it. Line 4, the representative line of the inner upper trigram Li, possesses sincerity and trust. It sustains line 5 with sincerity and trust and line 5 occupies it (according to what it learned at position 3); therefore they are bound by sincerity and trust. The masculine solidity denotes wealth and the feminine here is taken for one without wealth; hence it shares its wealth with line 4 in return for its aid. Line 5 at the king’s position should act like a king who receives tributes from those below; in return, he shares his wealth with those below.

The upper lower trigram Xun is a cord, by which line 5 is bound with sincerity and trust.



Commentary on the image: As if sincerity and trust tie (the masculine and feminine) together, (signifying) not to be wealthy alone.

Enlightenment through nine five: to sincerely and trustworthily work with those below and share merit together. Association with those who are inferior must be based on sincerity and trust, and benefit should be shared with those who provide aid. If this line acts accordingly, the hexagram will become Da Chu (26), large storage and great restraint, where it is advised to recruit and manage virtuous people by means of sharing food (or what one possesses) with them; this is instrumental in overcoming difficulties to undertake a great mission.


The 6th line

Text: It rained and stopped, (but) the advocated virtue (i.e. the feminine feeding the masculine) is (still) carrying (line 6); a female to persist is stern and cruel; the moon is almost full; it is ominous for a gentleman to undertake a venture.

Text explanation:

It gets to the end of hexagram Xiao Chu; supposedly the feminine feeding the masculine is about to end. The masculine should not be fed any longer; otherwise the feeding will become extreme and will be the feminine starting to overpower the masculine instead of serving it. 

It rained and stopped; 'it rained' means that the feminine and the masculine mated; 'it stopped' means the masculine is restrained. It is dangerous if the feminine, i.e. a female, still keeps on growing strong as the masculine will be overpowered. The moon is almost full; it is ominous for a gentleman to act aggressively while the feminine prevails. The feminine is tender and in the shade like the moon, while the masculine is rigid and bright like the sun.

Commentary on the image: It rained and stopped, (but) the advocated virtue (i.e. the feminine feeding the masculine) is still accruing and carrying (line 6). It is ominous for a gentleman to undertake a venture, (as he) will be suspected.

It is ominous for the masculine to undertake a venture when it starts to be overpowered by the feminine. In addition, it will be mistaken for the feminine. Should it be subdued by the feminine and change to feminine, the upper trigram would become Kan (the abysmal, water), peril, which is ominous.



Enlightenment through nine six: to stop before going too far. When this line is triggered to move (toward femininity transforming along the way), it signifies that the masculine has been fed by the feminine for a long time and it continues to be fed without temperance. Therefore, the masculine is restrained and will be superseded by the feminine. It is ominous for a gentleman to take aggressive action at the moment as it will be suspected that he is a feminine Yin, i.e. a villain. When this line is activated and changed to feminine, the hexagram appears in the form of Xu (5), to halt and wait as peril lies in front.