The 8 Brocades (Chinese: 八段錦, pinyin: Ba duan jin, pronunciation) are also called 8 Treasures or Eight pieces of Brocade.
The 8 Brocades are one of the most popular Qigong sets. They form part of the Chinese cultural heritage. The Baduanjin routine consist of 8 exercises, which coordinate body (movement), mind (imagination and focus) and breath.
The 8 treasures are promoted as having positive effects on health and general well-being as well as regulating and influencing specific body functions.
Due to a long historical development process, there is not one distinct set of 8 Brocades. The various versions existing today differ according to the specific tradition they form part of. Although there are also seated Brocades, the most known routine is the standing practice. (For seated exercises see our article 8 Brocades Video: seated Brocades.)
Ba Duan Jin – Characters and meaning
Ba 八 means eight. Apart from counting, the number 8 here also carries a symbolic meaning, as 8 angular segments form an octagon, which in the theory of the 8 trigrams as developed in the Yi Jing (Book of Changes) stands for a completed circle, the symbol pf perfection. For a similar symbolicism related to martial arts, see also: Baguazhang
Duan 段 is a classifyer for sections, segments, parts (of).
jin 錦 is made up of the compounds 金 (gold) and 帛 (silk) – together precious/bright silk, i.e. brocade.
Thus, the combination baduanjin means 8 (pieces of) brocade, in short “8 brocades” or more abstract 8 bright „bright and precious“ things, hence 8 treasures. Concerning the meaning behind the signs, the 8 exercises are called “treasures” because of the positive health effects their regular practice is said to have.
Video “Calligraphy Ba Duan Jin”
Audio file “pronunciation Ba Duan Jin”
Recommended reading on Ba Duan Jin
Images: Taiji-Forum and Wang Ning