UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Problems in the studies of Zhou oracle-bone scripts Lin, Sen-Shou


This thesis focuses on three areas of problems in the studies of Zhouyuan oracle-bone inscriptions: the interpretations of inscriptions, identities of kings and the origins of four pieces of Zhouyuan oracle bones. Why these three are chosen is that in order to read the inscriptions correctly, we first have to understand the meanings of words. If the word "king" appears in the inscriptions, it is ideal that we know the time period to which these oracle bones belong, so the information from the inscriptions can be used correctly from historical perspective. The origins of four Zhouyuan oracle bones are discussed because the identities of the kings mentioned are important; if they were Shang kings, they were from the Shang; otherwise, from the Zhou, though other possibilities are not excluded. In Chapter One I give a general introduction to the features of the Zhou oracle bones and inscriptions, so the readers will have background information for the remainder of the thesis. The readers will see some of the problems facing the scholars of the oracle-bone studies. In Chapter Two I attempt to determine who the kings were on fourteen pieces of Zhou oracle bone, so that these oracle bones, as historical artifacts, can be periodized properly; also in Chapter Two, I provide interpretations on the functions and meanings of the words that some of the characters represent on these fourteen pieces, in order that the inscriptions can be fully understood. In Chapter Three, I seek to ascertain the origins of four pieces of Zhou oracle bones which have caused controversy: by identifying who the kings were on these four pieces, we will thus be able see whether they belonged to the Shang or the Zhou. Chapter Four is the conclusion of this thesis. Appendix One details the discoveries of Zhou oracle bones in various locations in China through the years. Appendix Two is my response to K. Takashima's recent article on the modal and aspectual particle qi ^ and whether it is applicable to the use of qi in the Zhou oracle-bone inscriptions. I conclude that his theory is generally applicable: qi functions as a modal and an aspectual particle; it also indicates that the diviners wanted, for the most part, the contemplated charges to be acceptable to the spirits.

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