Oracle Script

Oracle Scripts
Oracle Scripts in Shang Dynasty
Oracle Script is renowned as the oldest Chinese character, having an integrated system. It was created in the Shang Dynasty (17th - 11th century BC) and has over 3,600 years of history. The characters were usually carved on tortoise shells or animal bones recording the divination for the future in the later period of Shang Dynasty (14th - 11th century BC).

The rulers during the Shang Dynasty believed in the god and ghost. Whenever they took up a task, they felt the need to predict their fortune by seeing the shape of the cracks on burned tortoise shells or bones. The prediction dates, person's names, affairs predicted and even the results were all carved on the tortoise shells or animal bones.

The Oracle Stone Inscriptions were first found in 1899 of the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911) by a merchant called Wang Xirong. Due to a flood at the time, many stones and tortoise shells were dashed out from a village in Anyang, Henan Province (the place where Yin - the capital city of Shang - is situated). People at that time mistook them as some dragon bones used as medicinal materials. However, Wang Xinrong found strange patterns carved on them and collected. After much research, numerous characters were found.

In Yin Ruins(now Anyang in Henan Province), over 150,000 pieces of tortoise shells or animal bones bearing Oracle Script engravings have been excavated. There are 4,500 words in all with about 2,000 words can be understood. As for their basic vocabulary, grammar, and the structure of the words, they are consistent with the latter Chinese characters.

Many important events of the Shang Dynasty concerning the society, economy and culture were recorded in Oracle Script, giving us a fascinating insight into how these people lived. These days, Oracle Script is regarded as the earliest and most expensive cultural relic in China.