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Where Did The Yin-Yang Symbol Come From

Where Did The Yin-Yang Symbol Come From

Where Did The Yin-Yang Symbol Come From

Yin-yang is based on the principle that two opposite forces make a complete life. Yin is the earth symbol, which represents female, darkness, absorption and passivity, and it is also associated with even numbers, water, the color orange and the tiger. Yang is the heaven symbol and represents male, lightness, and activity, and it is also associated with odd numbers, mountains, the color azure blue and the dragon. Together, Yin and Yang create harmony.

Other definitions have explained Yin and Yang by suggesting the peasant community had to stop work to rest when the sun went down and they became known as the yin community. When the sun was hot, this represented fire and became known as yang.

Published Chinese poetry from the 11th and 7th centuries BC suggests yang is the sunny side of the hill and yin is the shady side.

The History

Yin-yang originated in China in the 3rd century BC and formed the basis of a school of cosmology known as the Yin-Yang school, which was represented by the Chinese philosopher Zou Yan. Over the centuries, the importance of Yin-Yang has impacted every aspect of Chinese life, including astrology, medicine, art and government. Through the school, the symbol became recognizable and Zou Yan taught his students that life was a continuous and constantly changing journey that passed through five key phases: fire, water, metal, wood and earth.

The Meaning

The Meaning of Yin and Yang

The Yin-Yang symbol represents the two sides coming together. You can’t have darkness without light, winter without summer, and male without female. It has been described as a constantly moving shape, two sides of a coin, birth and death, friends and enemies, fire and water, positive and negative - and all are needed in order for each to exist.

The Symbol

The symbol itself is black and white and is recognized throughout the world. Set in a circle with two teardrop symbols, one is white, representing male, and the other is black, representing female. The two shapes fit perfectly together and both have a smaller circle in the opposite color.

Yin-Yang T-shirt

The symbol is popular among consumers and can be found on items for the home, clothing and jewelry. The orange ring-spun cotton Yin-Yang T-shirt is available in a variety of colors and sizes and can be worn to show an affinity and belief in the philosophy behind the symbol. Many followers also have the symbol, or a version of the symbol, tattooed on their body, including celebrities. Popular UK singer Anne-Marie has a tiny Yin-Yang symbol tattooed on her inner left elbow. Jahan Yousaf and her sister Yasmine both have matching neck tattoos of the Yin-Yang symbol.


According to legend, Yin and Yang were born into what would become the universe, and together they formed the center of the earth. They co-existed together in harmony and perfect balance and permitted the birth of the first human, named Pangu, and also the first Gods. It is believed by many that Yin and Yang still exist today in harmony at the earth’s center.


The earliest evidence of the Yin Yang symbol was found on animal skeletons and remains used in China by miracle workers.


During the Han Dynasty from 260 BCE to 220CE, Yin-Yang was used to demonstrate energy by Chinese philosophers. The Confucians who followed the teachings of Kong Qiu preferred Yang and all its power, while those who followed the Taoism religion preferred the calmer Yin.


There is much to learn from Chinese philosophy and the importance of balance and harmony in relationships. Philosophers believe the only guarantee in life is change, and change can bring both negativity and positivity, but if either one outweighs the other, that can cause relationships to become unbalanced. People who are negative can live in darkness and suffer from depression. However, over-positivity can be unrealistic and does not address the negatives that may be causing others to suffer. By allowing change and movement as well as positive and negatives forces, Chinese philosophy believes perfect harmony can be achieved.

Yin Yang Relationships

The Yin Yang theory encourages flaws to unify and become one. For individuals to achieve balance, they must put the needs of those they love before their own, ultimately believing that a whole unit is always superior.

Modern Day

Many people across the world subscribe to the Yin-Yang meaning and try to live their life by its messages. It is regularly discussed by Buddhists, students, Taoists and Yogis, and good balance and moderation are constantly being strived for.