The lo-shu square (洛書) is a 3×3 grid of numbers, usually written as dots:

lo-shu square

Legend traces its origin to the legendary Yu the Great (大禹) or Fu-hi (伏羲) ~3000 years ago, but I'm interested in historically verifiable sources.

There is apparently a reference to the square in Dai Sheng's Book of Rites (小戴禮記) c. AD 60. Was this the first or are there older mentions?

  • 1
    You got the wrong Dai there. Also, the earliest mention is in the Book of Documents, which based on the discovery of the Tsinghua slips dates to at least 2400 years ago
    – Semaphore
    Sep 3, 2015 at 21:38
  • @Semaphore I believe you confused lo-shu with ho-tu; the Book of Documents did mention ho-tu (Testamentary Charge, 4; ctext.org/shang-shu/testamentary-charge#n21460), but there was no explicit reference to lo-shu. May 31, 2019 at 16:50
  • @Semaphore The Dai I mean to refer to is 戴德, who is traditionally credited as author of the 'reduced' Book of Rites. If there's a better way to refer to this work and/or its author, please let me know -- I am ignorant in this area.
    – Charles
    Jun 11, 2019 at 1:34
  • @Charles Dai De 戴德 produced the 戴禮記 (Dai Senior's Book of Rites); the 戴禮記 (Dai Junior's Book of Rites) you mentioned in the question is by his nephew, Dai Sheng 戴聖
    – Semaphore
    Jun 17, 2019 at 10:57
  • @mooncatcher The earliest the term "lo shu" can be authenticated to have appeared is during the Han dynasty. However, Han scholars believed that the so-called "lo-shu" was recorded into the Book of Documents by Yu the Great as the as the Great Plan chapter. You're correct that the Book itself indeed does not actually contain the name "lo shu". 《論衡‧正說》夫聖王起,河出《圖》,洛出《書》。 . . . 禹之時,得《洛書》,《書》從洛水中出,《洪範》九章是也。
    – Semaphore
    Jun 24, 2019 at 13:56


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