ORACLE BONE

MS 2103/2
MS Short Title ORACLE BONE
Text ORACLE BONE: CRACKING MADE ON THE XINHAI (DAY 48); NO QUICK VICTORY ON THE YIN (DAY 51?). APPROVED. IT WILL RAIN ON JIAHAI (?)
Description MS in Chinese on oxen scapula bone, Xiaotun, China, 14th-12th c. BC, 1 bone, 13x7 cm, (11x4 cm), 4+2 lines in Chinese script, prepared and cracked with burned marks on reverse.
Binding Barking, Essex, 1996, green cloth gilt folding case, by Aquarius. Context: Around 100,000 oracle bones are known, widely scattered in museums and collections around the world. 7 of these are in The Schøyen Collection.
Provenance 1. Royal archive of oracular records, Late Shang Dynasty of Anyang (14th-12th c. BC -); 2. Excavated in Xiaotun (ca. 1945); 3. Philosophical Research Society library, Los Angeles, 5/858 (-1995); 4. Sam Fogg Rare Books Ltd., London.
Commentary Nearly all known Chinese oracle bones derive from Xiaotun near the ancient capital of the Late Shang Dynasty of Anyang. The oracular use of the bones involved the interpretation of pattern of cracks which appeared on the bones after subjection to heat by the application of a heated metal rod. The text records the interpretation of the oracle and the date of its production. The oracle bones are so far the first preserved evidence of Chinese script in complete meaningful sentences.
Place of origin Xiaotum
Dates 14th-12th c. BC

Location