Item ID: 9653 Jia gu xue wen zi xue bian 甲骨學文字學編 [Oracle Bone Studies: Paleography]. Fangpu 朱芳圃 ZHU.

Two Studies on the Oracle Bones

Jia gu xue wen zi xue bian 甲骨學文字學編 [Oracle Bone Studies: Paleography].

Two vols. 8vo, orig. printed wrappers (wrappers of of Vol. I a little defective), orig. stitching. Shanghai: Shangwu yinshuguan, 1933.


Jia gu xue Shang shi bian 甲骨學商史編 [Oracle Bone Studies: Shang History]. 8vo, orig. printed wrappers, orig. stitching. Two vols. Shanghai: Zhonghua shuju, 1935.

First editions of two uncommon books on the so-called Chinese oracle bone inscriptions, referring to ancient divinatory inscriptions on animal scapulae and turtle plastrons.

“Scapulimancy began to emerge in China during the late Yangshao 仰韶 period (the earliest traces to be discovered so far date from about 4000 BCE)…Then, at sites in Henan and Shandong dating from the early second millennium BCE, turtle plastrons used for hot brand divination begin to be found along with animal bones employed for scapulimancy. The application of northern scapulimancy to the divine turtle shell of the south and east reached its highest point several centuries later during the golden age of oracle-bone divination at Anyang, a period of roughly two centuries that starts in the reign of Wu Ding (ca. 1250-1192 BCE) and continues through the reigns of his eight successors until the fall of the Shang (1046 BCE).”

“The modern discovery of the bones was made by peasants digging in the fields around Anyang,” and Wang Yirong 王懿榮 (1845-1900) acquired them in 1899. “Wang was the first to realize that the writing on the oracle bones was similar to that on ancient bronze inscriptions, of which he was an expert collector. He asked his house guest Liu E 劉鶚 [1857-1909] to help him identify the inscriptions on the bones as Shang script.” Liu then published a collection of rubbings in 1903 (Wilkinson, Chinese History, 681-82). The next generation of scholars of the oracle bones included Wang Guowei 王國維 (1877-1927), a leading philologist of the Republican era.

The author of our books, Zhu Fangpu (1895-1973), studied under Wang Guowei at Tsinghua University. Upon graduation, Zhu was hired by Henan University, located in the province where the oracle bones were found. In 1933 and 1935, he published these two works, which “cemented his position within the scholarly community.” His pioneering use of the term jiagu xue, (“oracle bone studies”) “was accepted in academia both domestically and abroad; and ‘oracle bone studies’ grew into a new field of study” (Zhang, “Jiagu xue Yin-Shang shi dajia Zhu Fangbu”).

Fine copies. First volume of the second work lightly dampstained throughout.


Wilkinson, Endymion. Chinese History: A New Manual. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Asia Center, 2013.

Zhang Xinjun 张新俊. “Jiagu xue Yin-Shang shi dajia Zhu Fangbu” 甲骨学殷商史大家朱芳圃. Originally published in Henan ribao 河南日报, 20 April 2012. Accessible at

Price: $950.00

Item ID: 9653

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