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Ancient Chinese Artifacts
Transcript of Ancient Chinese Artifacts
A group of inscribed animal bones an shells discovered in China and used originally in divination by the ancient Chinese, especially during the Shang dynasty'.
The oracle bones were used for a form of divination called Pyro-osteomancy which involved reading the cracks in an animal shell or bone to find hidden meaning. How was it made? As stated before, the oracle bone would have been made by a diviner. Sources differ on exactly how the cracks in the bone were made. Some say that the cracks may have just been read from what was already there. Most however, say that the cracks were created by burning the bone in one way or another. Some sources suggest that holes may have been drilled into the bone, then the bone was burnt, others suggest that perhaps a hot appliance was just placed straight onto the bone or shell. From there the diviner would proceed to 'read' the marks made in the shell and record the results. The Inscriptions The inscriptions are believed to be a step on the way to the Chinese characters we see now. There are over 4,600 characters now discovered printed on Oracle bones. We are able to decipher around 1000. There are a few ways the characters worked. One way was onomatopoeic, meaning that the character directly correlated to a thing or action. Another was pictophonetic, meaning that one part of the character conveyed meaning, and another sound. The last way was phonetic loan, meaning that the same character was used for a similar sounding word and it made more sense in context. On the next frames are a few examples of characters. Turtle Eye Tiger What does this tell us about Ancient Chinese Culture? Well, again this tells us how ahead of the times the Chinese were. More than a thousand years before Christ they had already made a good recording system. The Chinese were very god-fearing people. They believed that everything on Earth was a consequence of something happening in the heavens and that if you did something wrong the Gods would show their wrath to you. We can also again see how superstitious the Chinese were; they believed that cracks in a shell could tell you what the Gods had to say to you.
I can see the diviners having a lot of power, like a prophet. People would have been scared of them as they might hold bad news for you from the Gods. Pendulum Levers Dragons Toads Cracks that would have been interpreted for message Scripts that record the result of the test Either bone or turtle shell, which would have been burned to achieve the cracks As we can see, the script relates not only in interesting ways to the modern Chinese characters, we can also see the pictographic nature as some of the characters are easily recognizable. One source suggests the form for recording the inscriptions. This source suggests that the diviner would first right his name and the date on the bone, then write a test with two possible outcomes. For example:
Tomorrow it will rain
Tomorrow it will not rain
Then the diviner would crack the bone and interpret the cracks to answer his question. Then he would record the answer on the bone too. When were they rediscovered? More about inscriptions ... 'Fixing the Future' Some sources suggest that the Chinese tried to have some control over their future. One source suggests that if they drilled the bone before burning it, they could have drilled it in strategic places. Likewise, they may have burned it in strategic places so it would crack in the right spots. Another source suggests that they chose bits of bones and shells that would have the desired outcome when cracked. In 1899, a man named Wang Jung, of the Qing dynasty found a turtle shell with strange script on it in his medicine. It was claimed to be dragon bones. Wang Jung told his men to find all the dragon bones they could and thus the oracle bones were rediscovered. Now, 113 years later, we have found over 10,000 oracle bones. Zhang Heng, credited as the inventor of the seismograph The Toad and Dragon are typically associated with the Yin and the Yang = Wang Jung found oracle bones in his medicine. The seller claimed them to be dragon bones. ?