Henan Museum
Oracle Bone with Inscriptions of Divination and Sacrifice
Edit: Acf
Time: 2023-09-18 16:35:44
Period: Late Shang dynasty (1300-1046 B.C.)
Provenance: Yinxu of Anyang in 1973
Measurements: L.26.5 cm, W. 19 cm

Made of an ox scapulae, it was damaged, the bone socket part was missing. In total, 35 characters in 4 lines were vertically inscribed on the front side. The inscription described the sacrificial ceremony to the virtuous courtier of Shang dynasty, Zu Yi, it covered the time, reason, and quantity of the sacrificial implements deployed for the sacrifice and divination. The inscription features the large, vigorous texts, visible angular strokes at the corner of the script. The back side of the scapulae remains plain, except for a row of dents (six survived) and cracks caused by heat, no drilling marks were found.

Divination with animal bones by the Shang people dated back to long time ago, later, followed evolvement, the Shang people combined divination with texts, which resulted in the inscribed turtle shells or animal bones with the process and results of divination, thus the unique oracle bone culture of Shang dynasty came into being.

The present oracle bone was discovered from the H24 burial pit of Xiaotun village at Yinxu of Anyang. In total, 1,395 pieces of oracle bones were found from the burial pit, which was the most in number in 1973. The carved inscriptions mentioned the diverse aspects of the Shang dynasty, such as politics, military, agriculture, etc. Being the precious early historic and civilizational data, they are of great importance for the study on the history of Shang dynasty, inheritance as well as the development of Chinese culture.