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Details about  Ancient Chinese Oracle Bone or "Dragon Bone" Shang Dynasty (1700 BC--1027 BC)

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Ancient Chinese Oracle Bone or "Dragon Bone" Shang Dynasty (1700 BC--1027 BC)
Ancient-Chinese-Oracle-Bone-or-Dragon-Bone-Shang-Dynasty-1700-BC-1027-BC
Item Ended
Item condition:
--not specified
Ended:
Mar 31, 2013
Price:
US $1,498.00
Shipping:
FREE Expedited Shipping | See details
Item location:
Sequim, Washington, United States

Description

eBay item number:
251237770207
Seller assumes all responsibility for this listing.

Item specifics

Type: Oracle Bone Region of Origin: China
Primary Material: Bone Original/Reproduction: Original
Age: Pre-1800
22

ANCIENT CIVILIZATIONS

Ancient Art, Antiques, & Fine Collectables

 

Ancient Chinese "Oracle Bone" 

 

also called a "Dragon Bone"

 

with

 

Three Imperial Questions

and Divine Answers

 

 

 

 

Shang Dynasty’s Yinxu Ruins or Xiaoton

Ancient City of Anyang, Henan Province

c. Late Shang Dynasty (1200 BC-1045 BC)

 

 

eBay Note:

First, let me state for the eBay moderators that is ancient Oracle Bone is made from the scapula or shoulder blades of oxen.

These cattle are like large cows (moo--moo) that have never been on the endangered species list.

 

Looking for the RARE and unusual Ancient Chinese Artifacts to add to your collection?  Well look no further!

 

This extremely rare, Chinese ritual artifact is called an Oracle Bone or “Dragon Bone, in Simplified Modern Chinese 甲骨 

Starting in about 1,500 BC, it was how the ancient Chinese Emperors would record the answers to ritual questions they asked of the Devine Gods. 

 

Scapulomancy is the practice of divination by writing a question on either a bone (usually the scapula of an ox) or the carapace or plastron of a turtle, putting it into a fire, and divining the answer by interpreting the cracks that appear in the medium. The oracle bones and oracle script of ancient China were used for scapulomancy.

 

History:  This ox bone scapula (shoulder blade) contains some of the earliest Chinese written language, called “jiaguwen,” or simply “Oracle Bone Script," that was used during the Shang Dynasty 3,000 years ago.  The Shang people were very superstitious and believed that their Kings were the Son and Heaven and that by using divination they could predict what actions would favor the Gods and thus, they could foretell the future.  Carved into the ox bone are 3 questions and 3 answers in this ancient, royal, Chinese script. 

 

Chinese experts like Dr. David Keightley state that divinations were typically carried out for Shang Kings by royal Diviners.  As the Shang King was thought to be the Son of Heaven, only in his presence could a question be asked and then answered by the Ancestors or Gods.  Listed below is how modern archeologists think the ancient Chinese divination process on the Oracle Bones was carried out:

1.   Preparation:  First, the scapulae bone of an ox would be prepared for use by removing any soft tissue, likely by boiling the bone in water.  The ox would have likely come from the King’s own livestock and be sacrificed to the ancestors and Heavens.  Although some inscriptions on the bone indicate that the ox was a form of tribute to the King.  In either case, the ox shoulder blade would be prepared for the Divination polishing the front side, drilling holes in the back of it, and anointing it with blood.  The Shang Dynasty king would prepare a series of questions to ask the supreme God “Di” or a divine ancestor for him/her to answer.

2.   Preface:  The date was recorded using the ancient calendar called the “Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches” and the Diviner’s name was listed.

3.   Charge:  Next, a question or Charge was posed by the King or Diviner to the Heavens for the revered ancestors or the Heavens to answer.  Such topics would range from the mundane to the epic.  Will it rain tomorrow?  Will the Queen give birth to a boy or girl?  Is it a good day to attack our enemies to the West?  Any topic that would interest the King could be asked.  Is in not a good day for the King to go on a trip?

4.   Heating the bone:  Before heating the Oracle Bone, a bronze nail like tool would be poked into the back side of the bone.  After the Charge or questions was asked, the Oracle Bone would be placed over a red-hot pit of fire.   The heat would cause the Oracle Bone to crack on the other side—the front smooth side—with a loud “plunk” or “pop” sound.  A number of cracks would be made in one session, either on the same bone or other bones.  Questions were often changed slightly by modifying the date of the occurrence or perhaps by asking the same question only in the negative.  In the example shown here in the author’s collection, it appears that four questions were asked by the King for the Gods to answer.

5.   Prognostication or Interpretation of the Cracks:  It is not known how the King or Diviner actually interpreted the cracks in the Oracle Bone.  Some Kings allowed the Diviner to interpret the cracks, while other Kings ruled that only they could divine the true meaning of the Gods will.  The divine answer was sometimes labeled as “auspicious” or inauspicious.”  The King would make his prediction and answer to the question based upon the cracks and upon

6.   Recording:  After the Oracle Bone had cooled, the Diviner or a Scribe would write or more correctly scratch the Preface, Charge, and Answer to the royal divination.  The Diviner would use a sharply pointed bronze awl to scratch the ancient Chinese characters into the Oracle Bone.  This is the first use of a written Chinese record and it is called “jiaguwen” or simply “Oracle Bone Script.” 

7.   Verification:  In some cases, the outcome of the Prediction was also recorded on the Oracle Bone, usually after 10 days.  Some ancient “political correctness” was involved here to insure the predictions of the King did not reflect negatively on the King himself.  If some of the King’s predictions did not come true, it was perhaps blamed on the question not being clearly enough stated.

 

This Oracle Bone is a museum quality example of the earliest Chinese writing ever recorded and a priceless piece of ancient Chinese history and culture.

 

Most museums don't even have one of these little beauties!

 

This Oracle Bone measures approximately 11.0" long x 6.5"wide (281 mm x  167 mm). 

It weighs approximately 5.9 ozs. or 166 grams.

This authentic Oracle Bone is over 3,000 years old and dates to the Shang Culture (1700 BC--1027 BC) in ancient China.  

 

 

DETAILS:

This extremely rare, Chinese ritual artifact is called an Oracle Bone or “Dragon Bone, in Simplified Modern Chinese 甲骨.  

Starting in about 1,500 BC, it was how the ancient Chinese Emperors would record the answers to ritual questions they asked of the Gods. 

 

During the Shang Dynasty, there were 31 Kings and they worshiped many different Gods, including Weather Gods, Water Gods, Harvest Gods, and a Supreme God they called “Shangdi” who ruled over all the gods in Heaven.  In addition, these Chinese people also believed that their ancestors became like gods when they died and could affect the lives of those still living just like Gods did.  Therefore, each family would worship his or her ancestors just as they would the more “generic Gods” that all mankind would worship.

 

Carved on these ox bone scapula or shoulder blades, were the answers in an ancient, royal, Chinese writing called “jiaguwen.”  This almost pictographic script has 6,051 known characters!  By the time of the later Zhou Dynasty that began about 1100 BC, the Chinese were also worship a natural force called “Tian” that is usually translated as Heaven.  Like the earlier Supreme God Shangdi, Heaven ruled over all other Gods, and would decide who would rule China under a code called “The Mandate of Heaven.”  The King could rule as long as he had this Mandate from Heaven.  The Records of the Grand Historian states that during the over 500 years of the Shang Dynasty, the capital city was relocated five times.  The last and most significant move occurred in 1350 BC to the ancient city of Yin and this started what many historians consider as the Shang Dynasty’s Golden Age.

 

This Oracle Bone measures approximately 11.0” x 6.5” and weighs about 166 grams.  It is complete and contains an opening "Preface" at the top of the piece, followed by 3 questions and then the answer to each question.  The reverse side of the Oracle Bone shows signs of weathering and deterioration, which is to be expected on a object over 3,000 years-old.  It is a museum quality example of the earliest Chinese writing ever recorded and a priceless piece of ancient Chinese history and culture.

 

This language was lost for 3,000 years until 1899, when an official in the last Chinese Dynasty, the Qing Dynasty (1633-1911), became ill and one of the medicines prescribed by his physician was an elixir made from what the Chinese called “Dragon Bones” or “longgu” in Chinese.  The official, Wang Yirong, noticed that some of the fragments of Dragon Bones had what appeared to be pictographic script on them, so he showed them to a scholar who identified it as an ancient form of early Chinese writing.  Many years later, experts have identified 6,051 known characters in this ancient written language. 

The inscriptions were records of the divinations performed for or by the royal Shāng household.  This early pictograph writing emerged during the Shang Dynasty (1600 BC-1000 BC) and is considered the oldest written language in China—over 3,500 years old.  The Shang Dynasty used over 2,500 pictographs or jiaguwen that are classified by experts as “greater seal character scripts.”

 

These treasured artifacts were buried for over a thousand years until the first ones were unearthed in China during the Han Dynasty (202 BC-220 AD). The people who dug them up were, at the time were unaware of the original purpose or cultural history of the oracle bones.  In fact, they were typically sold as “dragon bones” and until the 20th Century, Chinese thought these ancient bones were fossils that came from long deceased dragons that possessed medicinal value.  Ancient medicine men ground hundreds of thousands of these ancient treasures into powder that was thought to be a “cure” for victims of malaria or to treat knife wounds.  It was not until the late Ming Dynasty in 1899 that one of the Chinese mandarins realized that these so called “Dragon Bones” were really the bones of ox and turtle shells that had been written on by ancient Chinese ancestors over 3,500 years ago during the Shang Dynasty.

 

 TRANSLATION

This ox bone scapula (shoulder blade) contains some of the earliest Chinese written language, called “jiaguwen,” or simply “Oracle Bone Script, that was used during the Shang Dynasty 3,000 years ago.  The Shang people were very superstitious and believed that their Kings were the Son and Heaven and that by using divination they could predict what actions would favor the Gods and thus, they could foretell the future.  Carved into the ox bone are 3 questions and 3 answers in this ancient, royal, Chinese script. 

 

 I am currently working on a good translation of the ancient Chinese characters. 

This particular Oracle Bone has been very difficult for me to translate.

If anyone can help me translate the Oracle Bone Script into English I would be most appreciative.

Please stop by in a few days for the results of my research.  Thank You!

 

 

Here is an example of how a Oracle Bone is normally set forth:

“The Emperor on this day asks the Heavens to divine the answers to the following four questions and to divine with true words what actions should be taken.”

 

Question 1: “The First spoken question on this day is should the Emperor dismiss a mandarin who is a military officer for being untruthful to his master?

                                   

Answer:  “The Oracle answered:  Yes, officers must be truthful to their master.”

 

 

 

I have carefully examined and authenticated this Oracle Bone as 100% authentic and original!

It will appraise as such by any knowledgeable Chinese jade expert or museum.

I GUARANTEE it to be 100% authentic or your money back!

 

For additional information, may I refer you to Professor David Keightley's book: "THE ANCESTRAL LANDSCAPE:  Time, Space, and Community in Late Shang China (ca. 1200-1045 B.C.), Institute of East Asian Studies, Univ. of Calif., Berkeley, 2000.  Dr. Keightley is one of the leading experts in the world on Oracle Bones and his books can be found on e-Bay. 

 

 

 

 Please look carefully at the photos, taken with 4x macro lens, since they are part of the description. 

It would make a wonderful addition to your collection or a Super gift!

 

 

The stand is not part of the auction, just there to give you a perspective and a good view of the Oracle Bone.

And please ask any questions before you buy. 

Again, I GUARANTEE this Oracle Bone to be original and authentic or your money back!  Thanks!

 

 

Bidding is at least 80% off what this amazing historical artifact would be priced at in a fine Gallery or a major world auction house!!

 

 

 

Note:  Please ask any questions you may have before you bid!  Thanks for Looking!

 

 

Per e-Bay's rules, PayPal only please! 

 

 

FREE SHIPPING  & Insurance for all the 50 United States. 

I will be happy to combine shipping on other items purchased at the same time to save you money.

 

 

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