Tortoise plastron oracle bone - ROM2005_3277_1


Tortoise plastron oracle bone

Medium:Inscribed tortoise plastron
Geography: China
Date: 13th-1st half of 11th century AD
Period: Shang Dynasty
13.9 x 9.3 cm, 0.3 cm
Object number: 920.77.3
Credit Line: The George Crofts Collection
Not on view
DescriptionTortoise shells such as this were used for divination. (Divination: a means of gaining insight into the future). Four inscriptions are incised near the lower four crack marks, ordered from right to left, beginning at the bottom (a practice that began in the later part of the First Period at Anyang, c. 1240-1180 BC). The first inscription (bottom right) reads, "It was divined: 'We should offer a purification ritual to Qiang-Jia, and sacrifice a registered animal?'" The second inscription (bottom left) gives the negative form of the charge, and adds the name of the diviner and the date of the divination: "Crack-making on renxu day, Zheng divined: 'We should not offer a purification ritual?'" The third inscription (middle right) reads, "It was divined: 'We should make an ablution?'" The fourth inscription (middle left) is broken off, but would have been the negative form of the charge in the third inscription.
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