Colored-in tortoise plastron with oracular inscription

Accession No. R044852
Period Shang Dynasty
Material Bones
Findspot Pit No.127 Hsiao-t'un, Yin-xu Site
Geographic Location Hsiao-t'un village, Anyang, Honan province, China
Dimension H. 20.3 cm; W. 11.7 cm


This artifact dates to the late Shang period 1; it is a divination inscription of Wu Ding. Cinnabar ink was painted upon part of the scripts. The inscribed texts record how on the day of binzi, the diviner, Wei, asked two questions in a positive-and-negative pair: "a bountiful year for me" or "a poor year for me," to prophesize whether there would be a good harvest that year. Generally, oracular inscriptions are carved beside the divination cracks to avoid them, which is called bi zhao. Interestingly, on this artifact, there is text inscribed upon the divination cracks, which is called fan zhao.