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The Divination Dance Totem: Revealing the Mystical Artistry of Ancient Diviners
In ancient times, there was a secretive group known as the "Diviners' Circle" who focused on divination and special rituals.
Back then, people believed that carefully designed ceremonies could bring them blessings from the heavens. They thought that by performing these rituals, they could ensure good things like good weather, successful farming, healthy livestock, long life, and victory in war. These rituals were their way of showing respect to gods, nature, and their ancestors.
During the Shang Dynasty, divination was at its peak. They used something called "oracle bone script" extensively, and surprisingly, most of it was about divination, rituals, and worship. This ancient script was discovered in 1899 and revealed a lot about the divination culture of the Shang Dynasty.
According to the "Book of Rites," the people of the Shang Dynasty greatly respected gods and made offerings to them. Before making important decisions, their rulers always sought divination to clear any doubts. They believed that heavenly beings could guide them in the right direction.
The core of divination was managed by members of the Diviners' Circle, who were experts in the complex art of oracle bone script divination. They performed a ritual called "burning turtle shells to get omens." This involved drilling and burning marks on turtle shells and animal bones, creating crack patterns. These cracks and lines were seen as sources of mystical information. The diviners interpreted these patterns, wrote questions and answers on the bones, and created records of communication with the divine.
The character "貞" (zhēn) in oracle bone script was essential, representing divination inscribed on bronze cauldrons. This character appeared frequently in oracle bone inscriptions and the hexagrams of the Yi Jing (I Ching).
The iconic "Dance Totem of Divination" of the Diviners' Circle became a symbol deeply ingrained in the Shang Dynasty's bronze culture.
As time passed and dynasties changed, divination slowly faded away. With the Shang Dynasty's decline in history, the art of divination and the complex oracle bone script disappeared, understood only by those dedicated to exploring the past.