Research Project


Continuity and Change in the Prognostic Techniques from the Shang to the Warring States Period

Lai Guolong

This project is a comparative study of the prognostic techniques of the Shang and Zhou and the Warring States period based on the Shang and Zhou oracle bones and the divination and sacrificial records excavated from Chu tombs. By prognostic techniques I mean not only the different types of divination methods according to the transmitted texts and archaeological materials, but also the technical procedure of how the divination (such as turtle or milfoil) was conducted and what were their technical, social and religious implications. The continuity and change in the prognostic techniques between the Shang and the Warring States period is of a prime importance for our understanding of the changes occurred in the recording habits of the Shang and Zhou, and the Chu diviners and scribes on the one hand, and in the religious functions of turtle and milfoil divination in both cultures on the other. A comparative examination will reveal insights into not only the differences and the similarities in the divination techniques between the Shang and the Warring States Chu cultures, but also the social and religious significance of divination in both cultures.

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