lǐ (裏)

like biǎo (表), lǐ (裏) includes the radical 衣 (yī), which means ‘clothing’ on the bottom; the top portion of lǐ (裏) is a variant of 裡 or 里 (lǐ), meaning inside; so, the pictogram lǐ (裏) refers to the inner lining of cloths, and by extension what is in the interior and thus unseen; in Chinese medicine, lǐ (裏) is frequently paired with biǎo (表), and they are frequently translated as ‘interior’ and ‘exterior,’ respectively, as two of the ‘eight principles’ of differential diagnosis; this translation then leads many practitioners to inaccurately use this pair of characters to differentiate between internal or external pathogenic factors or other lifestyle causes of a patient’s condition; however, these characters actually refer to the manifest or outward expression (biǎo (表)) of an individual’s condition and the internal or hidden dynamics (lǐ (裏)) that create it.

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