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Diviners And Astrologers Under The Eastern Zhou: Transmitted Texts And Recent Archaeological Discoveries

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Chapter Summary

By their number and diversity, the accounts of divination in the Commentary describe a quite significant range of divinatory practices in the royal and princely courts of the pre-imperial period. Almost all cases of pyromantic consultation mentioned for the Spring and Autumn period in the Records of the historian (Shiji) of Sima Qian are identical to those found in the Commentary. This chapter examines these documents quite extensively and provides a complete view of the way in which their authors portrayed the divinatory conceptions and practices of ancient China. It then turns to the archaeological materials, which show considerable activity on the part of the diviners at the time the Commentary was being written. While being quite clear about the distance which separates these two types of sources, the chapter finally shows how they help identify the place occupied by divination in the society and culture of the Warring States.

Keywords: ancient China; archaeological materials; Commentary; divinatory practices; Shiji; Sima Qian; Warring States



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