Definition of oracle bone
: a bone used in early China especially during the Shang dynasty 1765–1123 b.c. in divination by writing a question upon it, heating it, and divining the answer from the resultant cracks.
Oracle bones were used for divination over three thousand years ago in ancient China and they are among the oldest items held in the British Library. Questions about crops, the weather, battles, and the ruling family were engraved on the bone and heat was then applied with metal sticks.
Session Information. The oracle bones found in the “ruins of Yin” (Yinxu) represent the earliest surviving records of the Chinese script and have yielded unique insights into customs during the reign of the kings of the once-legendary Shang dynasty.
These questions were carved onto the bone or shell in oracle bone script using a sharp tool. Intense heat was then applied with a metal rod until the bone or shell cracked due to thermal expansion.
|Shang (Yin) 商 (殷)|
|Historical era||Bronze Age|
|• Established||c. 1600 BC|
|• Zhou conquest||c. 1046 BC|
In the 19th century, traditional Chinese medicine included the use of ‘dragon bones’ which were ground up and used in tonics and creams to treat illnesses and soothe wounds.
Oracle bones were used by fortune-tellers, most prominently during the Shang dynasty. Fortune-tellers would keep many oracle bones in their shop. A client asks a question, and the fortune-teller writes representative symbols onto the oracle bone. Then they apply heat to it until it cracks.
The term “oracle bone” refers to ox scapulae (or shoulder blade bones) and tortoiseshells used by Shang rulers for divination. Oracle bones were said to offer a conduit to the spirits of royal ancestors, legendary figures from the past, nature deities, and other powerful spirits.
The event that was a turning point in history was the creation of the Mandate of Heaven with the Zhao dynasty. They created a new way to become the ruling family that made the peasants of China follow them.
The ‘Mandate of Heaven’ established the idea that a ruler must be just to keep the approval of the gods. It was believed that natural disasters, famines, and astrological signs were signals that the emperor and the dynasty were losing the Mandate of Heaven.
The Shang ruled in the Yellow River valley, which is commonly held to be the cradle of Chinese civilization. … In 221 BC, Qin Shi Huang conquered the various warring states and created for himself the title of Huangdi or “emperor” of the Qin, marking the beginning of imperial China.
|Religion||Chinese folk religion, Ancestor worship, Heaven worship|
|• c. 1046–1043 BC||King Wu|
Xia dynasty, Wade-Giles romanization Hsia, (c. 2070–c. 1600 bce), early Chinese dynasty mentioned in legends. According to legend, the founder was Yu, who was credited with having engineered the draining of the waters of a great flood (and who was later identified as a deified lord of the harvest).
2 answer, augury, divination, divine utterance, prediction, prognostication, prophecy, revelation, vision.
It has become conventional-almost expected-that we should play the role of seer, cast the oracle bones, and examine the entrails of animals. The main principles for composing Chinese characters had already been established in inscriptions on oracle bones and shells.
The pronunciation changes the character stays the same. If you can communicate (spoken or written) with someone you definitely have something in common which can lead to unity. On a personal note, being able to speak Chinese I have often been welcomed into groups where I might not otherwise have been invited.
Yu the Great is an ancient hero in prehistoric times, whose most remarkable accomplishment was taming the water. He was also an excellent political leader and established the Xia Dynasty (21st – 17th century BC), the first dynasty in Chinese history that followed the hereditary system.
Oracle bones were a method of divination practiced during the late Shang dynasty (1200 – 1045 BCE). A question would be inscribed onto a piece of turtle shell or ox bone; common questions include asking about future weather patterns, the health of family members, or the results of military campaigns.
Typically, dragon bone is used as a sedative to reduce stress and calm the mind, and to help treat cases of insomnia and manic behavior. Dragon bone also has astringent properties, and is often employed to help treat conditions such as excessive perspiration, night sweats and chronic diarrhea.
It is made from the fossilized bones of prehistoric animals such as mastodon, hairy rhinoceros, hipparion, deer and oxen. The bones are cooked and ground into a powder, which are then combined with complimentary herbs such as bupleurum, eucommia bark and licorice root to create a supplement.
It was used during the time of the Shang Dynasty in Ancient China by kings to predict events or seek advice. Why was it created and how was it used?: Oracle bones were created to tell if statements about the harvest or other important events were true or false.
The Shang believed that the ancestors could also confer good fortune; the Shang would consult ancestors through oracle bones in order to seek approval for any major decision, and to learn about future success in harvesting, hunting, or battle. It appears that there was belief in the afterlife during the Shang dynasty.
Despite its long history, the Great Wall of China as it is exists today was constructed mainly during the mighty Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Like the Mongols, the early Ming rulers had little interest in building border fortifications, and wall building was limited before the late 15th century.Aug 24, 2010
The Mandate of Heaven
If a king ruled unfairly he could lose this approval, which would result in his downfall. Overthrow, natural disasters, and famine were taken as a sign that the ruler had lost the Mandate of Heaven.
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