The Lou Shu turtle writing was found by the great ruler Yu on the back of a divine tortoise that came out of the Lou River. The turtle is three-dimensional and has the magic square on its shell, which consists of 3 rows of 3 squares. Any combination of 3 in a row will add up to 15 and any 3 numbers in a line of the magic square will total 15.
The dome of the shell depicts heaven; the body is humanity and the plastron is earth. The number sequence through the turtle is 9-5-1 (Li, no. 9) Fire, (Kun no. 5) earth and (Kan no. 1) water. The water element is where we all originate from and an imaginary womb or navel is found here (Tuvla, S. 2012).
As early as the 6th century there are references found in the ‘Classic of nine halls (palaces) calculation of the Yellow Emperor’. Chen Luan, an influential Taoist of the time, discussed how the turtle Lou Shu number chart represents the human body:
- 2 and 4 make shoulders
- 6 and 8 make feet
- 3 is at the left, 7 is at the right
- 9 is worn in the head
- 1 is underfoot
- 5 dwells in the centre
Professor Zhiyun Bo further developed the concept of the turtle as a blueprint by adding his own new abdominal points. He completed the picture with Ab 1 and 2 representing the elbow and wrist in the same shape of a turtle’s front fins, i.e. an inverted V shape. Ab 4 represents the knee and Ab 6 is the ankle. These are in a diagonal line like a backslash as are the turtle’s back fins.