Air Temple Island
The mosaic we see on the left hand side is laid out in the shape of a bagua.
The bagua 八卦 literally “eight symbols”) are eight diagrams used in Taoist cosmology to represent the fundamental principles of reality, seen as a range of eight interrelated concepts. Each consists of three lines, each line either “broken” or “unbroken,” representing yin or yang, respectively. Due to their tripartite structure, they are often referred to as “trigrams” in English.They are related to taiji philosophy and the wu xing, or “five elements”.The relationships between the trigrams are represented in two arrangements, the Primordial (先天八卦), “Earlier Heaven” or “Fuxi” bagua (伏羲八卦), and the Manifested (後天八卦), “Later Heaven,” or “King Wen” bagua.
The ancient Chinese classic I Ching consists of the 64 possible pairs of trigrams (called “hexagrams”) and commentary on them.
The gate to the island is a paifang.
牌坊 Paifang originally was a collective term used to describe the top two levels of administrative division and subdivisions of ancient Chinese city. The largest division within a city in ancient China was a Fang (坊), equivalent to current day precinct. Each fang was enclosed by walls or fences, and the gates of these enclosure were shut and guarded every night. Each fang was further divided into several Pai (牌; literally “placard”), which is equivalent to current day (unincorporated) community. Each pai in turn, contained an area including several hutongs (alleyways). This system of urban administrative division and subdivision reached an elaborate level during Tang Dynasty, and was remained in the following dynasties. For example, during Ming Dynasty, Beijing was divided into a total of 36 fangs. Originally, the word paifang was used as a term to describe the gate of a fang and the marker for an entrance of a building complex or a town; but by the Song Dynasty, a paifang had evolved into a purely decorative monument.