The Chinese word Wu Xing (五行) refers to the concept of the five elemental energies – wood, fire, earth, metal and water. The different elements are generated by the effects of Yin and Yang, and represent five kinds of Qi. Whilst each of the five elements represents an energy with specific attributes, they are also integrated in all aspects of life. According to the theory of the five elements, everything in the world can be organised in fives, such as five colours, five directions, five flavours, and so on.
This theory was first systematised by Chinese philosopher Zou Yan, in the East Zhou Dynasty (700-256 BCE). The theory was very popular during the Han period (206 BCE-220 CE) and has continued to play a vital role in traditional Chinese thinking.[1]


Hurstville Museum & Gallery’s new Lunar New Year exhibition explores the concept of the five elements in Chinese medicine, cuisine, Feng Shui and Lunar New Year festivities.

Join us for the exhibition opening on Saturday 28 January 2017, 2.00pm.
RSVP online from the ‘what’s on’ page.
The exhibition Wu Xing the five elements is on show at Hurstville Museum & Gallery from 21 January – 26 February.

Did you know?

Rice, onion, garlic, lotus seeds, milk, tofu, Asian pear, and banana could benefit your lungs.
According to Wu Xing, balancing the five elements of food helps ensure that you receive enough nutrients from what you eat and enriches the corresponding organs.[2]


[1] Helaine Selin, Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures, New York: Springer Science & Business Media, 2008, 939-940; Bo Mou, Chinese Philosophy A-Z, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009.
[2] (accessed 16.01.2017).


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