A SAGE Journal


The transmission of ritual related characters from the Shang to the Zhou: Taking Liao and Di as examples

Shinya Sato

发布时间:2022-08-24    点击次数:


Numerous characters that are presumably the names of rituals in the Shang dynasty’s oracle-bone inscriptions were also discovered in the bronze inscriptions of Western Zhou. It is likely that the names of the rituals and their script, along with their method of practice, had been passed from the Shang to the Zhou. However, despite sharing the same name, there are differences between the Shang and the Zhou’s rituals. For example, in the Shang period, Liao (燎) is conducted as part of a ritual praying for crops or rain, or for before or after hunting expeditions and patrols. In the Western Zhou period, however, they developed the latter method into a ritual to be performed before and after a conquest. Similarly, Di (禘) is a ritual concerning ancestral spirits and other various divine spirits, which was written as 帝 during the Shang period; during the Western Zhou period, the ritual was written as 啻 and transformed into a ritual concerning descendants of a direct bloodline. This study will discuss the script related to the rituals, Liao (燎) and Di (禘), that were passed down from the Shang to the Zhou and elucidates on the aspects of culture and systems inherited by the Zhou along with what these characters represent.

【关键词】bronze inscriptions, Di(禘), Liao(燎), Oracle-bone inscriptions

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