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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 September 2023

Gilles Boileau*
Gilles Boileau, 徐鵬飛, Tamkang University; email:


Analysis of the oracular data newly discovered in the Shang era Huayuanzhuang site opens a fascinating window in the political and ritual activities of a prince previously unknown. He is identified as the prince Zai, the future king Zu Jia. These new data shed light of the pre-royal career of Zu Jia, and the nature and the mode of his relationship with the king Wu Ding, his father, and Lady Hao, his mother. This article also examines the difficult accession to royal power of Zu Jia in a context of political crisis. It studies and clarifies some of the steps leading to the selection of royal princes as heirs to royal power. Finally, this article examines the importance of the relationship between those princes and their mothers in the specific context of royal polygamy.



對於商代殷墟花園莊遺址的新發現所做的資料分析,開啟了一扇迷人的窗,讓人們認識到一位過往鮮為人知的王子的政治和儀式活動。 他就是太子載,也是未來的國王祖甲。這些新的資料揭示了祖甲的王室生涯,以及他與其父親武丁王及其母親婦好之間的關係和其性質與方式。本文檢視了在其政治危機的背景下,祖嘉繼承皇權的困難之處,亦研究並闡明了皇室王子成為王室繼承人的步驟。本文最後考察了在王室一夫多妻的特定背景下,這些王子與其母親之間的關係的重要性。

Research Article
Copyright © The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Society for the Study of Early China

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This research would have been more imperfect without the remarks of the Professors Chao Lin, E. Shaughnessy, R. Campbell, M. Khayutina, A. Thote, O. Venture, D. Elisseeff, the CNRS researcher Pauline Sebillaud and the anonymous referees of Early China. Any remaining errors are mine.


1 The title has been translated by David S. Nivison as “junior king” and “expectant king”; see Nivison, David S.The Key to the Chronology of the Three DynastiesSino-Platonic Papers 93 (1999), 18Google Scholar.

2 There are other types but they are not relevant for my study. For the Zhouji data, I will refer to Chang Yuzhi 常玉芝, Shangdai zhouji zhidu 商代周祭制度 (Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue, 1987). The Shangdai zhouji zhidu, still considered authoritative, will be one of my main references. Smith, Adam D.’s “The Chinese Sexagenary Cycle and the Ritual Origin of the Calendar,” in Calendars and Years II: Astronomy and Time in the Ancient and Medieval World, ed. Seele, John M. (Oxford: Oxbow books, 2011), 1824Google Scholar, is, to my knowledge, the best presentation to date in Western languages of the sexagerary comput and the cyclical sacrifices.

3 Each inscription translated in this article has been checked with the available rubbings or photographs. They are presented in the following way: the number of the inscription in Jiaguwen heji 甲骨文合集 (abbreviated in Heji), ed. Guo Moruo 郭沫若, Zhongguo shehui kexueyuan, Lishi yanjiusuo 中國社會科學院歷史研究所 13 vols. (Beijing: Zhonghua, 1982), followed by the reference to one of the five periods according to the Dong Zuobin 董作賓 classification, and finally the group to which the inscription belongs. The Dong Zuobin system divides inscriptions in five time periods: I. reign of Wu Ding 武丁, II. reigns of Zu Geng 祖庚 and Zu Jia 祖甲, III. reigns of Lin Xin 廩辛 and Kang Ding 康丁, IV. reigns of Wu Yi 武乙 and Wen Ding 文丁, V. reigns of Di Yi 帝乙 and Di Xin 帝辛, the last monarch of the Shang dynasty. It is still widely referred to; but more precise analysis, leading to the constitution of groups, has been added to it. On the topic of oracular classification, see Fa, Li, “Primordial Unfolding: 120 Years of Periodization and Classification of the Oracle Bone Inscriptions,” Chinese Studies in History 53.4 (2020), 311–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar. I have consulted Yang Yuyan 楊郁彥, Jiaguwen heji fenzu fenlei zongbiao 甲骨文合集分組分類總表 (Taipei: Yiwen, 2005). This book classifies the inscriptions in the Heji according to the group to which they belong. I have also consulted Takashi Sakikawa 崎川隆 Binzu jiaguwen fenlei yanjiu 賓組甲骨文分類硏究 (Shanghai: Shanghai renmin 2011), who has classified the inscriptions in the Heji belonging to the bin 賓 group, see 201–769. Each inscription will be presented with its number in the Heji or other collections of inscriptions, the period to which it belongs (according to the five periods classification), and the group to which it belongs. Additional information, if needed, will be provided in footnotes.

4 For Chao Lin 趙林, Zi 子 was first a kinship term, it designated a child, indifferently male or female, without mention of seniority. It was also a title. See Chao Lin, Yinqi shiqing: lun Shangdai de qinshu chengwei ji qinshu zuzhi zhidu 殷契釋親: 論商代的親屬稱謂及親屬組織制度 (Shanghai: Shanghai guji, 2011), 26–28. See also Wang Ningxin 王寧信, Xu Yihua 徐義華, Shangdai shi 商代史, vol. 4, Shangdai guojia yu shehui 商代國家與社會, ed. Song Zhenhao 宋鎮豪 (Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue, 2011), 153 ff. Hereafter Shang shehui.

5 Huang Tianshu 黃天樹, “Tan Yinxu jiaguwen zhong de ‘zi’ zi” 談殷墟甲骨文中的“子”字, in Huang Tianshu jiagu jinwen lunji 黃天樹甲骨金文論集 (Beijing: Xuefan, 2014), 161–66.

6 See Shang Zhou jiazu xingtai yanjiu 商周家族形態硏究 revised edition (Tianjin: Tianjin guji, 2004), 56–57, 59. Hereafter abridged below as Xingtai.

7 See Chao Lin, Yinqi shiqing, 28–31.

8 According to Huang Tianshu 黃天樹, Yinxu wangbuci de fenlei yu duandai 殷墟王卜辭的分類與斷代 (Beijing: Kexue 2007), 156, 167 (hereafter Fenlei), this group comprises inscriptions from the beginning to the end of Wu Ding’s reign. The Shang character corresponds to the character dui but is taken as an antecedent of the character shi 師. I will use the romanization shi for this group. See Fenlei, 11n1.

9 According to Fenlei, 125, this group belongs to the middle reign of Wu Ding.

10 See Jiaguwen jianming cidian 甲骨文簡明詞典, ed. Zhao Cheng 趙誠 (Beijing: Zhonghua, 1988), 311–12.

11 A similar inscription is the Heji 20024, period 1, group shi small characters: 戊午卜王勿禦子辟 (The day wuwu, cracks, [the proposition is tested], the king does not offer a sacrifice of protection for the prince Pi). For our translation of the character yu 禦 as a sacrifice of protection, see Jiaguwen jianming cidian, 231–32. This character has numerous meanings; according to Xu Zhongshu 徐中舒, it means a sacrifice, sometimes receiving the da 大 (great) qualifier; see Xu Zhongshu Jiaguwen zidian 甲骨文字典 (Chengdu: Sichuan cishu, 1988), 167. It can also be a type of exorcism, such as in Heji 1580 b, period 1, group bin 賓1: 貞 于祖乙禦王齒 (Test, offering to the ancestor Zu Yi the sacrifice yu [to request his help for] exorcising the king’s teeth). It is also employed in context of military aggression such as in Heji 6616 正, period 1–2, group bin 賓 standard: 丙辰卜,㱿貞禦羌于河 (The day bingchen cracks, Que tested [requesting protection against] the Qiang to He—the deity of the river). In all those cases, based on the inscriptions mentioning a specific goal (toothache or aggressor group), help is asked from an ancestor or a deity against a threat which is to be removed or exorcized. When there is no such goal mentioned, I surmise that the general idea expressed by the character yu is a sacrifice requesting some form of protection from (generally) an ancestor. In no case could it be interpreted as an act of exorcism performed against an ancestor, since an exorcism aims at getting rid of a threat. I therefore follow the interpretation given by Jiaguwen jianming cidian.

12 See for example Valette-Cagnac, E., “Etre Enfant à Rome,” Terrain 40 (2003), 3Google Scholar.

13 See Boileau, Gilles, “The Sage Unbound: Ritual Metaphors in the Daodejing,” Daoism: Religion, History and Society 5 (2013), 5153Google Scholar, for the description of the ceremony and the references.

14 While this group does not belong to the royal inscriptions, the process itself is probably representative of a practice also present in royal lineages.

15 I borrow this concept of domestication from Puett, Michael, To Become a God: Cosmology, Sacrifice, and Self-Divinization in Early China (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), 5254Google Scholar, especially 54, where Puett interprets the Shang sacrificial system as a way to “domesticate the spirits.” He has developed this idea in a more recent work based on later received texts, “Ritualization as Domestication: Ritual Theory from Classical China,” in Ritual Dynamics and the Science of Ritual, Vol. 1, ed. Axel Michaels, Anand Mishra, Lucia Dolce, Gil Raz, and Katja Triplett (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2010), 365–76. The state of available documentation being limited, it is not clear whether the selection at birth of a child was present in all strata of the Shang culture.

16 This choice led in later periods to the institution of a favored line of direct succession father-to-son, an always delicate proposition in the context of polygamy. For Li Xueqin 李學勤, “Lun Yindai qinzu zhidu” 論殷代親族制度, Wen shi zhe 文史哲 11 (1957), 31–36, the “normal” rule of Shang royal succession would be “father to son,” other types of transmission being the result of political expediency or disorder. Hwang Ming-chorng 黃銘崇, “Shang Zhou qinshu chengwei zhidu de bijiao yanjiu” 商周親屬稱謂制度的比較研究, Jiaguwen yu Yin Shang shi 甲骨文與殷商史 6 (2016), 209, noticed that Li Xueqin based his reconstruction of Shang kin structure on later sources.

17 Han Jiangsu 韓江蘇 and Jiang Linchang 江林昌 transcribe the name as Hua 畫 in Shangdai shi 商代史, vol. 2: ‘Yin benji’ dingbu yu Shangshi renwu zheng 《殷本紀》訂補與商史人物徵, ed. Song Zhenhao 宋鎮豪 (Peking: Zhongguo shehuikexue, 2010), 342–43. Given below as Shang renwu.

18 According to Huang Tianshu, Fenlei, 45–47, most inscriptions in this group date from end of the reign of Wu Ding, with some belonging to the beginning of Zu Geng.

19 See Wangdao ou la voie royale: Recherches sur l’esprit des institutions de la Chine archaïque. Vol. 2: Structures politiques, les rites, vol. 2 (Paris: EFEO, 1980), 28. Those princes seem to be at the same time subservient and possessing a certain degree of autonomy. According to Wang Ningxin and Xu Yihua, Shang shehui, 153 ff., most zi’s names are present in Wu Ding’s period inscriptions, with a paucity of mentions—at least under the form X-zi- after this reign. Song Zhenhao gives the number of zi whose names are also the name of a territory, either in the form of 子某 “zi so-and-so”—156 occurrences or 某子—90 occurrences; see Song Zhenhao, Xia Shang shehui shenghuo shi 夏商社會生活史 (Beijing: Shehui kexue wenxian, 1994), 264–66, quoted in Chao Lin, Yinqi shiqing, 37, 333. After consultation of the Heji, those numbers seem inflated. The Shang renwu, 338, gives the number of 124 individuals whose name is mostly on the model 子某. The degree of connection of the zi in the oracular inscriptions with the royal house or the king is not easy to ascertain and must be studied on a case by case basis. For Lin Yun 林澐 the case of the princes all being members of the higher-order lineage Zi, while plausible, is not entirely proven yet; Lin Yun, “Zailun Yinxu buci zhong de ‘duozi’ yu ‘duosheng’” 再論殷墟卜辭中的「多子」與「多生」 Guwenzi yu Yin Shang shi 古文字與殷商史 3 (2012), 108–18, 124. Some of those princes might have been the heads of non-Zi lineages. As the author says, new inscriptions are necessary to settle the question.

20 There are numerous inscriptions in the Heji concerning this prince, more than for most of the other princes active during the reign of Wu Ding. One example is the Heji 130 正, period 1, group bin standard: 貞翌乙未乎(呼)子漁㞢于父乙 (test: the next day yiwei, ordering Zi Yu to offer by a sacrifice type you to Father Yi a penned sheep). Dong Zuobin 董作賓 identifies this prince Yu (Zi Yu 子漁) with Zu Ji simply because one inscription records an episode of malady for this prince; see “Jiagu duandai yanjiu li” 甲骨斷代研究例, article published in 1933, republished in Dong Zuobin xiansheng quanji 董作賓先生全集, vol. 1 (Taipei: Yiwen 1977), 420–21, 426–27. This is of course linked to the Zhushu jinian report I will examine below on the demise of Zu Ji/ Xiao Ji during the reign of Wu Ding. To my knowledge, this prince Yu, while having an important status, remains otherwise non-identified to any person named in the received texts. Shang renwu, 159–60, reject also this interpretation.

21 The group wu 午 of the Anyang oracular inscriptions (dating essentially from the Wu Ding’s reign) contains material recorded by the princes themselves but the information is quite limited.

22 The Huayuanzhuang inscriptions were published in six volumes in 2003: Yinxu Huayuanzhuang dongdi jiagu 殷墟花園莊東地甲骨, ed. Liu Yiman 劉一曼, Cao Dingyun 曹定雲, Zhongguo shehui kexueyuan kaogu yanjiusuo 中國社會科學院考古研究所 (Kunming: Yunnan renmin, 2003), 6 vols, hereafter Huadong. See vol. 1, 1–11 for the archaeological report, and p. 2 for the localization map of H3. See Adam Craig Schwartz, “Huayuanzhuang East 1: A Study and Annotated Translation of the Oracle Bones Inscriptions” (Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 2013), 2–5, for the archaeology situation and map, and p. 3 for the geography situation. Schwartz published his dissertation in 2019 as The Oracle Bones Inscriptions from Huayuanzhuang East—Translated with an Introduction and Commentary (Boston: Mouton de Gruyter). I have also consulted Zhu Qixiang 朱歧祥 Yinxu Huayuanzhuang dongdi jiagu jiaoshi 殷墟花園莊東地甲骨校釋 (Taizhong: Donghai daxue zhongwen xi yuyan wen zi yanjiushi, 2006), and for an analysis of some characteristics of Huayuanzhuang inscriptions and Sun Yabing 孫亞冰, Yinxu Huayuanzhuang dongdi jiaguwenli yanjiu 殷墟花園莊東地甲骨文例研究 (Shanghai: Shanghai guji, 2014), 281–88.

23 Zhu Fenghan dates Huayuanzhuang inscriptions from the beginning to the early middle reign of Wu Ding, based on archaeology (ceramic classification and stratigraphy); see Xingtai, 598. Sun Yabing 孫亞冰 has observed that the dating of Huayuanzhuang is either based on archaeological data (stratigraphy and type of ceramics) or a comparison with other inscriptions; see Yinxu Huayuanzhuang dongdi jiaguwenli yanjiu 殷墟花園莊東地甲骨文例研究 (Shanghai: Shanghai guji, 2014), 21–23. The former gives generally an earlier date, the later a late one. See also Adam Daniel Smith, “Writing at Anyang. The Role of the Divination Record in the Emergence of Chinese Literacy” (Ph.D. diss., University of California, 2008), 182–84, which retains a loose date for the inscriptions, corresponding to the reign of Wu Ding. Chen Jian 陳劍, “Shuo Huayuanzhuang dongdi jiagu buci de ‘ding’” 說花園莊東地甲骨卜辭的 ‘丁’” Gugong bowuyuan yuankan 故宮博物院院刊 4 (2004), 51–63, dates the Huayuanzhuang inscriptions at the earliest from Wu Ding middle period; Wei Cide 魏慈德, “Lun tongjian yu Huadong buci yu wangbucizhong de renwu” 論同見於花東卜辭與王卜辭中的人物, Gugong bowuyan yuankan 故宮博物院院刊 6 (2005), 39–41, has observed similarities between characters in Huadong inscriptions and those from the group li 歷組, and since this group (Fenlei, 171n1) dates from the end of Wu Ding period to the beginning of Zu Geng period, the inscriptions of Huayuanzhuang would also be dated from the end of Wu Ding’ reign. Schwartz, “Huayuanzhuang East,” 18–19, concurs with Chen Jian and therefore Wei Cide. Huang Tianshu 黃天樹 “Jianlun ‘Huadong zilei’ buci de shidai” 簡論‘花東子類’卜辭的時代” Guwenzi yanjiu 古文字硏究 36 (2006), 23–29, following Wei Cide, dates the H3 inscriptions from Wu Ding’s last period; see also Huang Tianshu guwen lunji 黃天樹古文字論集 (Beijing: Xuefan, 2006), 149–57: “Jianlun ‘Huadong zilei’ buci de shidai” 簡論‘花東子類’卜辭的時代.

24 See Zhu Qixiang 朱歧祥, “Yinxu Huadong jiaguwen guaxiao kao” 殷墟花東甲骨文刮削考, in Huayuanzhuang dongdi jiagu luncong 花園莊東地甲骨論叢, ed. Wang Jiansheng 王建生 and Zhu Qixiang 朱歧祥 (Banqiao: Shenghuan, 2006), 53–54 ff. Numerous cases leave only the preface (the day and the character bu 卜, “cracks”); some erased inscriptions leave only the first character, the celestial stem character; others leave only the numerals marking the sequence of the divinations. Other erasures have left very selectively names, types of sacrifices, or other verbs, adjectives. Sometimes, names are left, such as the prince 子, ding 丁 “his majesty,” or Bi Geng 妣庚, very important names in the context of Huayuanzhuang as we will see. Smith, “Writing at Anyang,” 283, signals two cases where the character yong 用 “offered” (ceremony performed) has been added after the erasure has been made. Smith does not expatiate on this question, but we can surmise that this addition made sure that the erasure was in some ways “negated.”

25 See Chen Guangyu 陳光宇, “Er shi jiapu keci zhi ‘zi’ yu Huadong buci zhi ‘zi’” 兒氏家譜刻辭之 ‘子’ 與花東卜辭之 ‘子,’ in Jinian Wang Yirong faxian jiaguwen 110 zhounian guoji xueshu yantaohui lunwenji 紀念王懿榮發現甲骨文110 週年國際學術研討會論文集, ed. Wang Yuxin 王宇信, Song Zhenhao 宋鎮豪, Xu Yihua 徐義華 (Beijing: Shehui kexue wenxian, 2009), 171. This comparison, while interesting, does not take in account that the Egyptian cases were substitutive: the name of a sovereign was replaced by the name of another pharaoh.

26 Schwartz, “Huayuanzhuang East,” 10–11 and n. 20.

27 This status is marked also by the way oracles were written; Zhu Qixiang 朱歧祥 has noticed the great similarities between the oracular formal procedures in Anyang royal inscriptions and in those of Huayuanzhuang; see Yinxu Huayuanzhuang dongdi jiagu lungao 殷墟花園莊東地甲骨論稿 (Taipei: Liren, 2008), 67–72, particularly 71.

28 Wei Cide 魏慈德 disagrees with this interpretation: based on examination of several instances of the character gui 歸 (written as 帚 in oracular inscriptions of all sites) in the Huadong inscriptions, one of those (412, H3: 1295) presenting the same form as in this character fu, he concludes that this is only a stylistic characteristic, a “quirk” of the scribe; see Wei Cide, Yinxu Huayuanzhuang dongdi jiagu buci yanjiu 殷墟花園莊東地甲骨卜辭研究 (Taipei: Taiwan guji, 2006), 130–31.

29 This character with rounded angles is usually transcribed as ding 丁. Its interpretation as a royal title has been made prior to the discovery of the Huayuanzhuang inscriptions. See Hwang Ming-chorng “Shangren rigan wei shengcheng yiji tonggan bu hun de yiyi” 商人日干為生稱以及同干不婚的意義, Zhongyang yanjiuyuan lishi yuyuan yanjiusuo jikan 中央研究院歷史語言研究所集刊》78.4 (2007), 714–15nn32, 36, 37 for references. See also Schwartz, “Huayuanzhuang East,” 48–50, 631, quoting an inscription (花東480–3 [H3: 1472], Huadong, vol. 3, 948–949, Huadong, vol. 6, 1744) where the characters ding 丁 and wang 王 (king) appear in the same oracular sequence. The author translates it as “your Highness.” Smith, “Writing at Anyang,” 202–12, has reviewed extensively the literature concerning this character and its identification as a designation for the living, reigning king.

30 Bai Xue 柏雪 and Yang Huaiyuan 楊懷源 reviewed Chinese researchers’ opinions on the identity of the prince of Huayuanzhuang in “Jin shinianlai Yinxu Huayuanzhuang dongdi jiaguwen yanjiu zongshu” 近十年來殷墟花園莊東地甲骨文研究綜述, Chengdu shifan xueyuan xuebao 成都師範學院學報 31–6 (2015), 35–44 at 37. The list given is incomplete but it offers a good panorama of the current research.

31 While not the focus of this article, it must be noted that the inscriptions reveal quite clearly the scope not only of the activities of this prince but also the importance of his own house. Lin Yun 林澐 has written a useful study on this question; see “Huadong Zi buci suojian renwu yanjiu” 花東子卜辭所見人物研究, in Guwenzi yu gudai shi 古文字與古代史, ed. Chen Zhaorong 陳昭容 1 (2007), 13–34.

32 Huang Tianshu 黃天樹, “Chonglun guanyu feiwang buci de yixie wenti” 重論關於非王卜辭的一些問題, in Huayuanzhuang dongdi jiagu luncong, 99–113, notes that the inscriptions of Huayuanzhuang, particularly those recording interaction between the king and the prince forced him to revisit his 1995 study of Anyang non-royal inscriptions (“Guanyu feiwang buci de yi xie wenti”, first published in 1995, reproduced in Huang Tianshu guwenzi lunji 黃天樹古文字論集 [Beijing: Xuefan, 2006], 102). Since in the 1500 fragments classified as non-royal inscriptions of Anyang, before the discovery of Huayuanzhuang corpus, the mention of the king, or king’s activities is extremely rare, he opines that his 1995 study of the characteristics of those inscriptions (very limited mention of the king) should be amended. To the contrary, it seems to me that such a discrepancy underlines the importance of the king vis-à-vis the prince of Huayuanzhuang, compared to the situation observed in the inscriptions belonging to the other princes or high nobles of Anyang where this importance is much less marked.

33 The original character is written in the Huayuanzhuang inscriptions (H. 37, 198, 475, 490), in H. 180.

34 An analogous character written is interpreted by the Yu Xingwu 于省吾 ed., Jiaguwenzi gulin 甲骨文字詁林 vol. 1–4 (Beijing: Zhonghua 1999), vol. 4, nn. 3210, 3230) as the name of a place; there is another character, very close (Yu, Jiaguwenzi gulin, vol. 4, nn. 3208/3209, 3727–3729) which is interpreted as the prototype for the character su with reference to the Shuowen jiezi, 112 下, designating an offering of nonmeat sacrificial items (food, vegetables?). Schwartz, “Huayuanzhuang East,” 253n159, interprets it as a compound pictogram, meaning a pouring of wine. The context does not allow for a choice between those two interpretations.

35 H3: 123+373, rubbings and drawing Huadong, vol. 1, 138–39, transcription and commentaries, Huadong, vol. 6, 1573–75. The editors (pp. 1574–75) give the character interpreted as qi 啓 the general meaning of fengxian 奉獻, “to give.” Schwartz, “Huayuanzhuang East,” 253, translates it as “to dispense.”

36 H. 180 (H3: 550, rubbings and drawing Huadong, vol. 2, 404–5, transcription and commentaries Huadong, vol. 6, 1629), the prince gives to Ding (= Wu Ding) a disk bi and unspecified jade (2) and yellow colored disks bi (3). H. 196 (H3: 590, rubbings and drawing Huadong, vol. 2, 434–35, transcription and commentaries vol. 6, 1638–39), the prince orders a servant to give in tribute (ru 入) a disk bi to Ding (= Wu Ding). H. 475 (H3: 1467, rubbings and drawing Huadong, vol. 3, 938–39, transcription and commentaries Huadong, vol. 6, 742), there is (sentence 2) a mention of a disk bi and (sentence 4) mention of a gift of five er 珥, earrings, to Ding (= Wu Ding). H. 490 (H3: 1492, rubbings and drawing Huadong, vol. 3, 968–69, transcription and commentaries Huadon,g vol. 6, 1747–48), the prince gives to Ding (= Wu Ding) a disk bi and unspecified jade (sentence 5).

37 (H3: 583), rubbings and drawing Huadong, vol. 2, 428–29, transcription and commentaries Huadong, vol. 6, 1635. Other occurrences are H 203 (H3: 610+713, rubbings and drawing Huadong, vol. 2, 446–47, transcription and commentaries Huadong, vol. 6, 1640): the sentence 11 mentions a scepter and jade earrings given to Ding (= Wu Ding); H 286 (H3: 864 正, rubbings and drawing Huadong, vol. 2, 604–5, transcription and commentaries Huadong, vol. 6, 1677–79): the sentence 19 mentions the gift of a scepter to Ding (= Wu Ding). For the decipherment of the sentences, I use in part Han Jiangsu, “Dui ‘Huadong’ 480 buci de shidu,” 對《花東》480卜辭的釋讀, Yindu xuekan 殷都學刊 2008.3, 24–32, particularly p. 25 for the interpretation of the character corresponding to gui. This author has a different reading than the editors of the original publication. In the sentences’ order, I follow the editors.

38 (H3: 1472), rubbings and drawing Huadong, vol. 3, 48–49, transcription and commentaries Huadong, vol. 6, 1744.

39 Han Jiangsu, “Dui ‘Huadong’ 480 buci de shidu,” 27–30, analyzes this sentence in detail. He concludes that the “great prince” 大子 results from a faulty reading of the sentence; the character da 大 designates in fact one of the servants of the prince of Huadong; see Yinxu Huayuanzhuang dongdi jiagu buci yanjiu, 90–91. Zhu Qixiang, Yinxu Huayuanzhuang dongdi jiagu jiaoshi, 898, interprets the two characters zi Yu 子御 as a name. I follow his interpretation and reject Han’s since he interprets this sentence as the record of a sacrifice offered to Ding (=Wu Ding); it would mean that the king is dead, which does not appear to be the case when all the inscriptions on the shell are taken in account.

40 On this topic, see Boileau, Gilles, Politique et rituel dans la Chine ancienne (Paris: IHEC, Collège de France, 2013), 113–18Google Scholar.

41 (H3: 546+1517) drawings and rubbing Huadong, vol. 2, 400–401, commentaries and notes Huadong, vol. 6, 1627–28. Schwartz, “Huayuanzhuang East,” 378–79, interprets the character I have transcribed meng 盟 as huang 衁: blood. Sentence 5 has: 陟盟用 (Lifting in offering the blood-containing recipient; offering [the blood]). I interpret the character zhi 陟 as the physical act of lifting in offering, here a recipient full of blood. That is the etymology of the character, also present in Anyang inscriptions, according to Jiaguwen jianming cidian, 236.

42 (H3: 684+1152), rubbings and drawing Huadong, vol. 2, 508–9, commentaries and notes Huadong, vol. 6, 1654.

43 Peng Huixian 彭慧賢 (in “Shangmo jinian, jisi lei jiagu yanjiu,” 商末紀年、祭祀類甲骨研究 in Yuanpei xuebao 元培學報 16 [2009], 65–66) concludes that the character meng means only a blood sacrifice; see “Shangmo jinian, jisi lei jiagu yanjiu,” 商末紀年、祭祀類甲骨研究, Yuanpei xuebao 元培學報 16 (2009), 65–66. She did not examine occurrences of mengshi. Yu, Jiaguwenzi gulin, vol. The Gulin, vol. 3, notes 2644, 2636–2638 interprets it also as the ancestor of the character meng 盟 and understands it as designating a blood offering.

44 It is also documented, most notably through two archaeological discoveries, the Houma mengshu 侯馬盟書 and the Wenxian mengshu 溫縣盟書, series of inscriptions directly related to two treaties of alliance dating from the Warring States period. Crispin Williams has written several works on those two findings; see for example “Dating the Houma Covenant Texts: The Significance of Recent Findings From the Wenxian Covenant Texts” Early China 35–36 (2012–13), 247–75.The Shuowen jiezi 說文解字 has this definition “The character meng [designates a ritual consisting in] killing a victim and smearing one’s mouth with blood” ([盟],殺牲歃血).

45 It must be noted that when the character in Anyang inscriptions is close to the shape of Huayuanzhuang, the meaning seems to be a blood sacrifice. There is for example in the Heji a series of inscriptions on the model Heji 34103, period 1–2, group li 2 歷二, containing the same expression 禦王自上甲,盟用白豭九 (offering a sacrifice of appeasement [to royal ancestors] starting with Shang Jia for the king, a blood-filled recipient [containing the blood] of nine white male pigs).

46 This group contains inscriptions dating mainly from the reign of Zu Jia. See Fenlei, 9, 79, 87.

47 It could be argued that the two characters mengzi 盟子 should be read as “the prince of Meng” but in other cases of princes, their names are written as 子X and not X子. At the very least, one should find a 子盟 “prince Meng,” which, to my knowledge, is not the case. Besides, the character meng in the examples given below functions like a verb + direct object.

48 The sacrifice of an animal victim suggests that (a) this alliance was put under religious auspices; and (b) it might have been followed by a feast. One inscription, dated from the reign of Zu Jia shows that the king indeed offered banquets to the prince: Heji 23543, period 2, group chu 出 2 (mainly Zu Jia’s reign): □□卜,即〔貞〕: … 鄉(饗)多子 (The day xx, cracks, Ji tests … offering a banquet to the numerous princes). See also Heji 27649, period 2–4, group he 何 1, dated from the end of Zu Jia’s reign to the beginning of Wu Yi’s: 甲寅卜,彭鼎(貞):多子其鄉(饗)。(The day Jiayin, cracks, Peng tests, [about the] numerous princes, [I] will offer them a banquet). This usage persisted in later reigns, as the inscriptions Heji 27644, 27650 period 3–4, group wuming 無名 show. Those inscriptions are dated from the reign of Kang Ding to the reigns of Wu Yi and Wen Ding; see Liu Yifeng 劉義峰 Wuming zu buci de zhengli yu yanjiu 無名組卜辭的整理與研究 (Beijing: Jindun, 2014), 199, 210, 211; and Fenlei, 265. The Heji 27650 belongs to a sub-group with inscriptions dated from the last reigns of the Shang kings. Other examples show that such a banquet was also offered to other groups than the princes: Heji 27647 (group he 何 2) and 27894, period 3–4, group wuming (which, according to Wuming zu buci de zhengli yu yanjiu, 2102, belongs to a sub-group dated from the reign of Kang Ding to the reign of Wu Yi) shows: 叀(惠)多尹鄉(饗) (it is to the numerous overseers that a banquet is offered). The inscriptions of Huayuanzhuang also contain reference to banquets, for example the H 290–8 (呼多宁(賈)遥西饗), where the prince orders his retainers’ slaves. Those persons were in charge of the procurement of goods to set a banquet. On this point see also Wei Cide, “Cong fei wang buci yu wang buci de guanxi kan buci zhong ‘jia’ zi de yongfa” 從非王卜辭與王卜辭的關係看卜辭中「賈」字的用法, published November 3, 2014 in; he analyzes this character as the equivalent in later bronze inscription of “exchanging” (jiaohuan 交換). The jia would be then in charge of exchanging goods on behalf of their master.

49 See Guo Xinhe 郭新和, “Buci zhong de ‘xiang’” 卜辭中的“饗” in 2004 nian Anyang Yin Shang wenming guoji xueshu yantaohui lunwenji, 2004 年安陽殷商文明國際學術研討會論文集 ed. Wang Yuxin 王宇信, Song Zhenhao 宋鎮豪, Meng Huiwu 孟憲武 (Beijing: Shehui kexue wenxian, 2004), 354–58. For an in-depth study of banquets in later times, see Gilles Boileau, Politique et rituel dans la Chine ancienne, chap. 4, esp. 249–80.

50 According to Jiaguwen jianming cidian, 242, the character dian 奠 is in some cases the name of a person; another inscription, Heji 3195 甲, period 1, group bin 1 (庚寅卜爭貞仔奠惟令 [The day gengyin, Zheng tests the proposition, it is only the prince Dian that will receive orders]) suggests that that this Dian is probably the same person as the prince Dian. Yu, Jiaguwenzi gulin, vol. 1, n. 832, interprets the character as a type of sacrifice.

51 This is a conjectural translation, since some characters are barely legible. The characters mengshi in the partial sentence 史其告于盟室 are very legible. This inscription is close in content from another, Heji 24940, period 2 group chu 1: 丁亥史其告〔于〕南室 (The day dinghai, the officer will make an offering of blood and an announcement in the South Hall). In those two inscriptions, the character yong has the exact same shape.

52 We have seen that, in Shang times, the character meng was also used in circumstances involving the king and the princes. In the Zhou texts, the Zuo zhuan 左傳, twenty-fifth year of Duke Xi 僖公 (in Shisanjing zhushu 十三經注疏 [Beijing: Zhonghua, 1983], 16. 119) recalls an episode where the army of the Qin territory “during the night dug a pit, filled it with blood and added a covenant writing, in order to make believe that they had made a covenant with Zi Yi and Zi Bian” (宵坎血加書, 偽與子儀子邊盟者). While this was a ruse, this type of ritual involved blood. The character meng could of course have had its meaning completely transformed but considering the presence of jade bi, linked to alliances, mentioned in the Huayuanzhuang inscriptions, I interpret the character meng as related to a ritual of alliance.

53 See Liu Yiman 劉一曼, “Huayuanzhuang dongdi H3 jisi buci yanjiu,” 花園莊東地H3祭祀卜辭硏究, Sandai kaogu 三代考古 2 (2006), 445–47. Huayuanzhuang inscriptions often mention sacrifices to Zu Yi and Zu Jia in the same oracles, which is not the case in other princes’ inscriptions.

54 I have also consulted Wei Cide, Yinxu Huayuanzhuang dongdi jiagu buci yanjiu, 43–44, for the topic of the ancestors honored by the prince of Huayuanzhuang.

55 The character zhi 彘 might also mean a male pig.

56 H3: 1488, rubbing and drawing Huadong, vol. 3, 962–963, transliteration and explanation Huadong, vol. 6, 1746. The same inscription H 487 (1–2) is preceded by two other oracle enquiring whether Ding (=Wu Ding丁) would bless (yong永=福祐) the prince to go to the Capital hall of learning (xue shang學商). There is an interesting phenomenon: the sex of the victims is the inverse of the sex of the recipients; it might correspond to a particular inflexion of the ceremonies but other inscriptions do not allow discerning a clear pattern.

57 The complete list is as follows (see Huadong, vol. 6, 1895 ff. I mention only the ancestors at the over EGO+2 level and the number of shells on which the names are mentioned, not the total number of occurrences for each name): male ancestors Shang Jia上甲 (3 shells), Da Yi 大乙 (1 shell), Da Jia 大甲 (4 shells), Xiao Jia 小甲 (1 shell), Zu Yi 祖乙 (64 shells), Zu Xin 祖辛 (1 shell), Zu Jia 祖甲 (38 shells), Zu Ding 祖丁 (3 shells), Zu Geng 祖庚 (1 shell), Zu Bing 祖丙, Zu Wu 祖戊 (altogether 5 shells); female ancestors Bi Jia 妣甲 (3 shells), Bi Bing 妣丙 (1 shell), Bi Ding 妣丁(17 shells), Bi Ji 妣己 (23 shells), Bi Geng 妣庚 (120 shells). There is also an ancestress named “Third Ancestress Geng” 三妣庚 (see H 226, where she is mentioned in the same sentence before another sacrifice to a Bi Geng—who is probably the spouse of Xiao Yi). This “Third Ancestress Geng” is mentioned only one time in the inscriptions of Huayuanzhuang and nowhere else. The editors (see vol. 6, 1650) interpreted her as the spouse of Qiang Jia 羌甲 but this lone mention does not allow for a precise identification.

58 Liu Yuan 劉源, “Yinxu Huayuanzhuang dongdi suo jian rang fu zhi ji kao” 殷墟花園莊東地所見禳祓之祭考 in Huayuanzhuang dongdi jiagu luncong, 163–78. Liu Yuan does not accept the identification of Huayuanzhuang inscriptions that identified ancestors to royal ancestors mentioned in Anyang inscriptions (167–68). He thinks, therefore, that the zi mentioned in the inscriptions of Huayuanzhuang did not belong to the same lineage as the king. In the light of the constant relationship between the king and the prince and given the presence of Lady Hao, I reject his conclusions. Nevertheless, he interprets correctly her presence as a sign of the importance of the Huayuanzhuang lineage. Chang Yaohua 常耀華 attempts to prove that if the zi of Huayuanzhuang were one of the sons of Wu Ding, he could not offer sacrifices to royal ancestors while his father was alive; see “Huadong H3 buci zhong de ‘zi’—Huayuanzhuang dongdi buci renwu tongkao zhi yi” 花東H3 卜辭中的 「子」一 花園莊東地卜辭人物通考之一 in Huayuanzhuang dongdi jiagu luncong, 338–39. He concludes that the prince was the head of a powerful non-royal Shang related lineage. Since his references come from later Zhou ritual compendia, I do not think this is a valid observation.

59 See for example Lin Yun, Huadong yanjiu, 37–38.

60 H3: 113+1518, rubbings Huadong, vol. 1, 130–31, transliteration and explanation Huadong, vol. 6. 1571. The sentence used is 百牛又五. Schwartz (Huayuanzhuang East, 191, n. 2) does not interpret the character as a direct sacrifice and translates it as “register” but also mentions “to pledge” as a possible meaning. Jiaguwen jianming cidian, 235, interprets it as a type of sacrifice and the Heji gives numerous examples of this character followed directly by animal or human victims.

61 Hokamura Hidenori 岡村秀典 opines that the most coveted sacrificial victims for the Shang elite were the oxen; see Chūgoku kodai ōken to saishi 中國古代王權と祭祀 (Tokyo: Gakuseisha, 2005), 117–20, quoted in Ken-Ichi Takashima “Literacy to the South and the East of Anyang in Shang China: Zhengzhou and Daxinzhuang,” in Writing & Literacy in Early China: Studies from the Columbia Early China Seminar, ed. Li Feng and David Prager Brenner (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2012), 169–70. See also Okamura Hidenori, “Shangdai de dongwu xisheng” 商代的動物犧牲, Kaoguxue jikan 考古學集刊 15 (2004), 216–35. Takashima also mentions the archaeological report (Anyang team of the archaeological institute of the Chinese social sciences academy, “1986–1987 nian Anyang Huayuanzhuang nandi fajue baogao,” 1986–1987 年安陽花園莊南地發掘報告, Kaogu xuebao 考古學報1 [1992], 103), reporting that of the 300,000 bone fragments in pit H27, 98 percent are bovine. Takashima (ibid., 170n63) mentions the bone analysis of another dig (Yuan Jing 袁靖, Tang Jigen 唐際根, “Henan Anyangshi Huanbei Huayuanzhuang yizhi chutu dongwu guge yanjiu baogao,” 河南安陽市洹北花園莊遺址出土動物骨骼研究報告, Kaogu 考古 11 [2000], 75–81), showing that in other parts of Anyang, oxen were not as available, reflecting a different sociological and also historical (since the Huanbei site predates the Huayuanzhuang one) background.

62 See also Tao, Wang, “Shang Ritual Animals: Colour and Meaning (Part 2),” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 70.3 (2007), 544–58Google Scholar for an analysis of the color of the animal victims in the inscriptions of Huayuanzhuang and 558–59 for the importance of the white and multi-colored oxen in other Anyang royal inscriptions. It must be noted that black is not exclusively favored in Huayuanzhuang inscriptions since there are also multiple mentions of other colors (such as white and multicolored) for the victims. What is obvious is that, in the case of sacrifices of gendered bovines to Zu Yi and Bi Geng, black was favored.

63 H 49–3/4, 67–1/2, 220–1. There are other victims as well but the color of most of them is not mentioned. Only 5 inscriptions contain mention of multi colored (pattern) animals: H 142–5 variegated cow 勿 (= 物) 牛, offered to Zu Yi (with mention of a white pig); H 37–1/2 variegated bull 勿 (= 物) 牡, offered to Zu Jia; variegated cow 勿 (= 物), H 163–1/2 offered to Bi Geng (with mention of a white pig).

64 The inscription H 451 is interesting: in the interval of two days (jisi/gengwu), two oracular tests are made mentioning the same type of victim (bovine) but while the first mentions a black ox (黑牛), the second one mentions specifically a black bull (黑牡). Regarding the offering of black bovines to Bi Geng, there is a noticeable phenomenon: the inscriptions on the shell H 69 have been partially erased and what is left is the name of the ancestress and (in other places), the mention of black ox; on the shell H 120, there is also severe erasures leaving a few characters among which are left the name of Bi Geng and the mention “20 black.” It is probable that the character erased was the one designating bovines, gendered (“20 black bulls or cows”).

65 Yin Liya 殷麗雅 has examined the gender of animal victims in the Huayuanzhuang inscriptions; “Shangdai jisi buci yongsheng xingbie xianxiang kaocha—yi Yinxu Huayuanzhuang dongdi jiagu weili,” 商代祭祀卜辭用牲性別現象考察- 以殷墟花園莊東地甲骨為例, Zhongji xuekan 中極學刊 9 (2015), 135–60. She detects a certain tendency to offer victims corresponding to the gender of the recipient; it appears so in the case of other victims but in the case of the black bovine, it is not so obvious. In any case, the tendency is only moderate and by no means strongly marked.

66 Liu Yiman 劉一曼 has analyzed the type of sacrifices used in Huayuanzhuang inscriptions: “Huayuanzhuang dongdi H3 jisi buci yanjiu,” 花園莊東地H3祭祀卜辭研究, Sandai kaogu 三代考古 2 (2006), 428–49. The author shows that they do not mention any type of sacrifice not present in the inscriptions of Anyang or Xiaotun.

67 This group is active from the reign of the king Kang Ding to the ones of Wu Yi and Wen Ding, therefore after the reign of the king Zu Jia; see Liu Fenghua 劉鳳華 Yinxu cunnan xilie jiagu buci de zhengli yu yanjiu 殷墟村南系列甲骨卜辭的整理與研究 (Ph.D. diss., University of Zhengzhou, 2007), 1, 124; see also Fenlei, 265. According to Wuming zu buci de zhengli yu yanjiu, 210–11, this inscription belongs to a sub-group dated from the reign of Kang Ding to the last reigns of the Shang dynasty. The paucity of inscriptions mentioning a black ox suggests that this inscription dates immediately after the reign of Zu Jia, probably from the reign of Kang Ding, his son. This fragment contains the mention of other bovine victims, on the model 惠Ⅹ, where X is a composite character, ox (niu 牛) and a color; there is “dark” 幽牛, and “yellow” 黃牛. The preferred color seems to have been yellow in this instance, since it is followed by 大吉, “highly auspicious.” It seems that at that time, the choice of colors was more diverse than in Huayuanzhuang, probably reflecting an established royal practice.

68 This group contains inscriptions dating mainly from the reign of Zu Jia. See Fenlei, 9, 79. There is also Heji 22884 period 2, group chu 2; sacrifice type sui of 30 bulls and Heji 22904, period 2, group chu 2, sacrifice sui of a white bull.

69 I will examine below the importance of the character I translate as yu/zhou 毓/胄.

70 Another inscription of the same bone fragment, also mentioning the same type of sacrifice to the same yu/zhou Zu Yi, records the the bull as “multi colored” 勿(= 物). It must be noted that the sacrifice is also present in the Huayuanzhuang inscriptions; for example, H 350, after the mention of a sacrifice sui of a black bull to Zu Yi, records the dismemberment of this victim the second day yi ri 翌日. It is probable that, in many cases, this dismemberment happened after the killing of the victim, killing effected often through a sacrifice sui, with an axe.

71 There are, in this group, several inscriptions mentioning sacrifices to a “elder Brother Geng” = Zu Geng such as Heji 23498, period 2, group chu 2.

72 This importance of the color black for bulls and cows might have “seeped” through the editorial process of some received sources. Two of them, the Lun yu 論語 (chapter “Yao yue” 堯曰 and the Mozi 墨子 (chapter “Jian ai III” 兼愛下) mention an episode where the first Shang king, Tang 湯, sacrificed a black bull (the king “dared to sacrifice a black bull” 敢用玄牡). The forged (see Cheng Yuanmin 程元敏, Shang shu xueshi 尚書學史, [Taipei: Wunan tushu, 2008], 202–203) chapter “Tang gao” 湯誥 of the Shang shu 尚書 also mentions this anecdote. It might be a reminiscence of the importance taken by this type of victim in the process of “jockeying” for the royal position.

73 H3: 502, rubbing Huadong, vol. 2, 368–69, transliteration and explanation Huadong, vol. 6, 1622. The character I have translated as “offering” is written in the other Anyang inscriptions.

74 Building partly on Qiu Xigui 裘錫圭, “Lun Yinxu buci ‘duoyu’ zhi ‘yu’” 論殷墟卜辭“多毓” 之 “毓” (reproduced in Jiaguwenxian jicheng, 甲骨文獻集成, ed. Song Zhenhao 宋鎭豪 and Duan Zhihong 段志洪 [Chengdu: Sichuan daxue, 2001], vol. 21, 159–61), Liu Huan 劉桓, has studied this character in detail in “Yinxu buci zhong de ‘duoyu’ wenti” 殷墟卜辭中的”多毓”問題, Kaogu 考古 10 (2010), 61–68. He interprets (62–63) it as zhou 胄 meaning “descendant” and by extension “to succeed to.” In this article, I systematically use both interpretations, the more widely used yu and Liu Huan’s zhou.

75 In the Heji, there are, in period 1 (reign of Wu Ding) some inscriptions mentioning those numerous descendants, for example Heji 14852, period 1, group bin standard mentioning the expression “[sacrifice X offered to] Shang Jia and his numerous descendants” (自上甲至于多毓/胄) but most of them date from later periods. See Chang Yuzhi, Shangdai zhouji zhidu, 9, 17.

76 See Yao Xuan 姚萱, Yinxu Huayuanzhuang dongdi jiagu buci de chubu yanjiu 殷墟花園莊東地甲骨卜辭的初步研究 (Ph.D. diss., Shoudu Shifan University 首都師範大學, 2005), 40–43; she abandoned this hypothesis one year later; see Schwartz, “Huayuanzhuang East,” 35n30 and Yao Xuan姚萱: “Shilun Huadong zi buci de ‘zi’ dangwei Wu Ding zhi zi” 試論花東子卜辭的”子”當爲武丁之子 in Gugong bowuyuan yuankan 故宮博物院院刊 6 (2005), 42–52.

77 This character is transcribed by Schwartz (“Huayuanzhuang East,” p. iii, 35 n. 31) as Rong and interpreted as a variant of the character rong 戎 (“attack”); nevertheless, the form of the character he so deciphers is quite distinct from the oracular form of the character rong, as in Heji 21897, period 1, non-royal inscription, round characters.

78 See Schwartz, “Huayuanzhuang East,” 37–38, 35–39n35.

79 See Schwartz, “Huayuanzhuang East,” 40–46 and 42–44, Table 2.1. Schwartz notes also (41n45) that “There was a tendency in general to write the locative phrase ‘At Rong—our transcription Zai-’ in large calligraphy.” The land of the prince of Zai and the lineage cemetery has been located west of Anyang, near Beixinzhuang 北辛莊. See Hwang Ming-chorng 黃銘崇, “Wan Shang wangchao de zushi yu zushi zhengzhi” 晚商王朝的族氏與族氏政治, in Dong Ya kaogu de xin faxian 東亞考古的新發現, ed. Chen Guangzu 陳光祖 and Zang Zhenhua 臧振華, (Taipei: Academia Sinica, 2013), 33–34.

80 Dong Zuobin, “Jiagu duandai yanjiu li,” 427–29. See also Yan Yiping 嚴一萍, Yin Shang Shi ji 殷商史記, vols. 1–3 (Taipei: Yiwen, 1989), vol. 1, 175–79. I have also consulted Shang renwu, 160–63, 365–66, 379–81.

81 See Dong Zuobin, “Jiagu duandai yanjiu li,” 422, 429. The Zhushu jinian has two versions of this text, broadly speaking the transmitted version (“current version” jinben 今本) and the “old” version (古本). For the current version, I use the Pingjinguan congshu 平津館叢書, 42.19 (Taipei: Yiwen, 1967), hereafter Jin Zhushu. For the old version Guben Zhushu jinian 古本竹書紀年, I use the edition of Fang Shiming 方詩銘 and Wang Xiuling 王修齡, Guben Zhushu jinian jizheng 古本竹書紀年輯證 (Shanghai: Shanghai guji, 1981), hereafter Gu Zhushu. The Gu Zhushu in the quoted material here is bracketed. Dong Zuobin used the current and the old version of the Zhushu jinian. For my translations, I have consulted David Nivison, The Riddle of the Bamboo Annals 竹書紀年解謎 (Taipei: Airiti, 2009), 142–48. The bracketed passage quoted here comes from the Gu Zhushu, 32.

82 Schwartz, “Huayuanzhuang East,” 46.

83 Smith, “Writing at Anyang,” 204–9, also understands the prince of Huayuanzhuang to be a son of Wu Ding probably by Lady Hao but he does not identify him otherwise. Most recently, Cai Zhemao 蔡哲茂 has hypothesized that the prince of Huayuanzhuang would correspond to a person named , present in other oracular inscriptions, but he does not provides clues to this identification; see “Yinxu Huayuanzhuang dongdi jiagu de zhuren ‘Zi’ shi shei” 殷墟花園莊東地甲骨的主人「子」是誰, January 6, 2017, There is another clue, linked to the number of sacrifices offered to Lady Hao and the other spouses of Wu Ding mentioned in the cyclical sacrifices, during the reign of Zu Jia; it confirms the identity of the prince of Huayuanzhuang with Zu Jia and will be examined in detail below.

84 This identification has been proposed by Yao Xuan in Yinxu Huayuanzhuang dongdi jiagu buci de chubu yanjiu, 47; see also Liu Huan 劉桓, “Yinxu buci zhong de ‘duoyu’ wenti” 殷墟卜辭中的“多毓”問題, Kaogu 10 (2010), 64.

85 The hieronym Zu Jia 祖甲 in Huayuanzhuang inscriptions does not correspond to what was used very often in Anyang royal inscriptions, the hieronym Hu Jia 虎甲, used in the later iterations of the cyclical sacrifices, as for example in Heji 35751, group huang 黃. There are nevertheless examples of the hieronym Zu Jia 祖甲designating Hu Jia in the Anyang inscriptions of the first period (reign of Wu Ding). In the case of Huayuanzhuang, the designation Zu Jia corresponds in any case to an ancestor at least at the level EGO+2. I use here the term hieronym (or “sacred name,”) because it is present in ceremonial contexts. It designates here the name given to a deceased relative. It is by no means reserved for royalty or nobility, but is employed throughout all the Shang social strata. It is composed of a marker of seniority and kinship (such as xiong 兄 elder brother, fu 父 father, mu 母 mother, zu 祖 male ancestor, or bi 妣 female ancestor). This marker is not descriptive but classificatory since it is employed for all related individuals of the same age class. In the case of the markers zu and bi, they designate all ancestors for the level EGO+2 and before, regardless of the precise genealogical place of those ancestors. To this marker is associated a celestial stem character.

86 See “Wu Ding wangwei jicheng zhi mi—cong Yin buci de teshu xianxiang lai zuo tantao” 武丁王位繼承之謎——從殷卜辭的特殊現象來做探討, Jiaguwen yu Yin Shang shi 甲骨文與殷商史, 4 (2014), 10, n. 21.

87 Zai did not have to contract such an alliance with his mother, since, as her son, his position vis-à-vis her was secure. The gifts given to her (fineries) were probably meant to “promote” her status as a favorite spouse of the king.

88 Shi ji, “Yin benji” 殷本紀 (Beijing: Zhonghua, 1985), 3.103–104. Sima Qian seems to have had access to limited sources and systematized a type of titulature only given to some ancestors in the Shang oracular inscriptions. Still, his account of the Shang dynasty monarchs contains some elements, deformed, but relevant to this dynasty. For example, the Shji’s titulature systematically associates the character di 帝 to the hieronyms of the kings. Shang oracular inscriptions show that, in fact, this character was not associated with all the Shang royal ancestors.

89 See Gu Zhushu, 32.

90 The two versions are given in different editions; see Gu Zhushu, 4–5, 32.

91 Jin Zhushu, 2.19a–2.21a.

92 The two characters xiaoji 孝己 (literally Ji the filial [son]) are mentioned only in late Warring States and Han texts (such as the Lüshi Chunqiu 呂氏春秋), as an illustration of filial piety. It is here an anachronism, probably used by the editors of the original texts by reference to those texts. It also indicates that the tomb texts and among them the Zhushu jinian were indeed written during the Warring States period. According to Nivison, they have reached their final form at the very beginning of the third century bce; see Nivison, David S., “The Key to the Chronology of the Three Dynasties,” Sino-Platonic Papers 93 (1999), 54Google Scholar. The novel element not found in the other texts of the same period is the quality of this person, presented as son of the reigning king (Wu Ding).

93 Shangshu, in Shisanjing zhushu, 10. 64. This chapter is classified as jinben 今本, among the sources transmitted in “reformed” characters. According to Edward Shaughnessy, this chapter dates from the Warring States period but is based on actual events; see his “Shang shu,” in Early Chinese Texts. A Bibliographical Guide, ed. Michael Loewe (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), 378. See also Cheng Yuanmin 程元敏, Shangshu xueshi 尚書學史 (Taipei: Wunan tushu, 2008), 77, 134, 222–23. The two characters rongri 肜日 (day of the sacrifice rong, an expression present in oracular expressions) might be a faulty transmission about the cyclical sacrifice type shan 彡 (already present as a “stand-alone” sacrifice in the inscriptions of Wu Ding’s period). The character rong itself is referred to a definition given in the Erya 爾雅, section “shi Tian” 釋天, ed. Shisanjing zhushu, 6. 43: 繹又祭也。商曰肜。 (The sacrifice yi is a sacrifice [offered] the second day [after the first ceremony]; this sacrifice was called by the Shang rong). Since in a lot of cases (see Chang Yuzhi, Shangdai zhouji zhidu, 9–11), the divination process took place one day before the actual sacrifice, this definition might be a corruption of ritual information transmitted from the Shang.

94 This text comes from the chapter “Wuyi” 無逸, ed. Shisanjing zhushu 18.109, translation borrowed from James Legge, The Chinese Classics, Vol. 3, The Shoo King (London: Trübner, 1861), 467. This chapter is a “new characters” chapter. According to Edward Shaughnessy, “Shang shu,” Early Chinese Texts, 379, this chapter has been suspected to be of late composition; see also Shangshu xueshi, 282–83. The Zu Jia mentioned in this text is explained by the commentaries to be the king Tai Jia 太甲, grandson of the first Shang king and exiled by Yi Yin; nevertheless, he is mentioned in the text after the king Wu Ding = Gaozong 高宗. Cai Zhemao 蔡哲茂 adopts the explanation given by the commentators; see “Lun Shang shu ‘Wuyi’ ‘Qi zai Zu Jia, bu yi wei Wang,’” 論《尚書》“無逸”“其在祖甲,不義惟王,” Xianqin org. database,, published February 12, 2009, accessed January 19, 2018. This interpretation is of course also based on the fact that, in oracular inscriptions of the first period, Tai = Da Jia was also called Zu Jia. Furthermore, Cai Zhemao upholds the judgment of the Shi ji which depicted Zu Jia as a failed king. Yu Wanli 虞萬里 also tries to demonstrate that the Zu Jia of the text is in fact Tai Jia; see “‘Shang shu, Wu Yi’ pian jin guwen yitong yu cuojian” 《尚書•無逸》篇今古文異同與錯簡, in the Journal of the Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica 中央研究院歷史語言研究所集刊 87.2 (2016), 243–312. This article gives an in-depth history of the chapter and its transmission. Yuri Pines rejects the interpretation of the commentators and considers that the Zu Jia mentioned in the chapter is the son of Wu Ding; see “A Toiling Monarch? The “Wu yi” 無逸 Chapter Revisited,” in Origins of Chinese Political Philosophy: Studies in the Composition and Thought of the Shangshu (Classic of Documents), ed. Martin Kern and Dirk Meyer (Leiden: Brill, 2017), 360–92, esp. 363n15. See also Guo Xudong 郭旭東, “‘Qi zai Zu Jia’ kaobian” “其在祖甲”考辨, Yindu xuekan 殷都學刊 2 (2000), 18–22, who concludes that the Zu Jia of the chapter is the son of Wu Ding. Overall, I think that the discrepancies between the Shi ji and the Shang shu versions are due in fact to a difference of interpretation of the moral value of the reign of Zu Jia.

95 “Lu Zhougong shijia” 魯周公世家, Shi ji, 33.1520–1521. The text is 其在祖甲,不義惟王,久為小人于外,知小人之依,能保施小民,不侮寡,故祖甲饗國三十三年.

96 See Dong Zuobin, “Jiagu duandai yanjiu li,” 427.

97 In the Shi ji’s edition, the “Lu Zhougong shijia” (33.1522, note 11) mentions Ma Rong’s commentary from which I have quoted.

98 Dong Zuobin, building on his demonstration showing that Zu Jia was the youngest brother of the three sons/successors of Wu Ding, interpreted this text as the designation of a young and favored son of a beloved spouse by an old man. See Dong Zuobin, “Jiagu duandai yanjiu li,” 428–29. See also Yan Yiping, Yin Shang Shi ji, vol. 1, 178–79. While this quite imaginative interpretation is not impossible, I will show that other, lineage politics-based elements constitute a better explanation.

99 The core of the anecdote (Zu Jia’s flight) is coherent with what we know of the Shang power struggle between brothers, sons of the same king but of different mothers. An episode (mentioned by Chao Lin, Yinqi shiqing, 21) is narrated in the Shi ji (part “Song shijia” 宋世家隱公, 38.1622; see also Zuo zhuan third year of the duke Yin 隱公, ed. Shisanjing zhushu, 3. 21) centered on a famous case of devolution of the ducal power in the Song polity—heir to the Shang—at the beginning of the Spring and Autumn period has some resemblance with the devolution of royal power in the time of Zu Geng and Zu Jia: The duke Xuan (宋宣公 (747–729 bce) had a designated heir, his son the prince Yu Yi 與夷, but he left the throne to his own brother, Huo 和, who declined three times. Huo finally accepted the ducal power and became the duke Mu 穆公 (728–720 bce). This narrative shows that, in some States, the devolution of power between brothers continued during Zhou dynasty.

100 Some inscriptions mentioning Zu Ji belong to a specific group, the Zi 子 group. Huang Tianshu 黃天樹 dates the inscriptions of this group from Wu Ding’s early period to the beginning of Wu Ding late period; see “Zizu buci yanjiu” 子組卜辭研究, Huang Tianshu guwenzi lunji 黃天樹古文字論集 (Beijing: Xuefan), 2006, 95 ff. There is another inscription, Heji 40888, period 1, group zi 子 (see Huang Tianshu guwenzi lunji, 97, Fenlei, 154) mentioning an oracle about a hunting expedition by the same younger king, only designated by his personal name.

101 Huang Tianshu, Fenlei, 156, 167.

102 The three characters 小王歲 could be read “the younger king offers a sacrifice type sui” but the dating of the inscription precludes this interpretation. For other examples of this sentence type: name of recipient-type of sacrifice, see Shen Pei 沈培, Yinxu jiaguwen buci yuxu yanjiu 殷墟甲骨文卜辭語序研究 (Taipei: Wenjin, 1992), 68–71.

103 A partial reconstitution has been given in the Jiagu zhuihe xinbian 甲骨綴合新編 (n. 609), composed of the inscriptions Heji 28276+28278; the Heji 28276 mentions a Fu Jia 父甲 “Father Jia,” that could be Zu Jia. The inscriptions would then date from the reign of Kang Ding. According to Wuming zu buci de zhengli yu yanjiu, 2102, this inscription belongs to a sub-group dated from the reign of Kang Ding to the reign of Wen Ding. The doublet “younger king” was not in use after the reign of Kang Ding; see Bi Jingwei 畢經緯, “Lun Shangdai ‘dazi’ de shenfen yanbian” 論商代”大子”的身份演變, Yindu xuekan 殷都學刊 1 (2010), 10.

104 On the point of adelphic succession, see Maurice Godelier, Métamorphoses de la parenté (Paris: Flammarion, 2010), 397–-98. Data from received texts and the different iterations of the cyclical sacrifice show that this type of system occurred at least from the reign of Zhong Ding 中丁, who was succeeded by two of his sons.

105 This last example is somewhat closer to the case of Wu Ding and his son, the younger king, since in both cases, none of the “elder” kings abdicated.

106 Dong Zuobin identifies Zu Ji with a prince Yu 子漁 but simply because one inscription records an episode of malady for this prince; see “Jiagu duandai yanjiu li,” 420–21, 426–27. This of course linked to the Zhushu jinian report on the demise of Zu Ji/ Xiao Ji during the reign of Wu Ding. It is dubious that this prince Yu could have been the little king, already deceased at the middle of Wu Ding’s reign. Moreover, oracular inscriptions, as we have seen, give the personal name of the younger king as. Han Jiangsu and Jiang Linchang also reject this interpretation; see Shang renwu, 159–60, . To my knowledge, this prince Yu, while having an important status, remains otherwise non-identified to any person named in the received texts.

107 Dong Zuobin, “Jiagu duandai yanjiu li,” 427–29. See also Yan Yiping, Yin Shang Shi ji, vol. 1, 175–79. I have also consulted Shang renwu, 160–63, 365–66, 379–81.

108 The closeness of the prince Yang with Wu Ding is demonstrated by the famous inscription Heji 10405 正 (n.4), period 1, group bin standard, mentioning a chariot accident during a hunt. The context allows understanding that the prince was on the same chariot as the king; see Shang renwu, 380.

109 See also Heji 3187, period 1, group bin standard, (The day ding … cracks, Que tested: do not offer a sacrifice of protection [to an ancestor X, not mentioned] on behalf of Prince Zai … the king interprets the result, judging it auspicious, Zai avoids). Two other inscriptions, Heji 3185, 3186 a and b (same period, same group) mention the same sacrifice of protection on behalf of the same person, Zai, dedicated to a “Father Yi,” and a “Brother Ding “ (父乙、兄丁).

110 The Shang renwu, 366, identifies him as a close member of the royal house, son or nephew of Wu Ding. I think that the former interpretation is the correct one.

111 This is the opinion of Chang Yuzhi in Chang Yuzhi, Shangdai zhouji zhidu, 104.

112 Cf. Institute of archaeology, Chinese institute of social sciences, Yinxu Fu Hao mu 殷墟婦好墓 (Beijing: Wenwu, 1980), 4–9. I have also consulted Elizabeth Childs-Johnson, “Fu Zi 婦子(好) the Shang Woman Warrior 商 女 武士,” The Fourth International Conference on Chinese Paleography Proceedings, Chinese University of Hong Kong, October 15–17, 2003, 619–51,

113 Ge Yinghui 葛英會, “Shangdai dading de ‘si,’ ‘hou’ zhi zheng” 商代大鼎的“司”、“后”之爭, Yindu xuekan 1 (2012), 12–14, interprets the first character as si, meaning “sacrifice” or, in the context of the bronze inscription, “dedicated to xxx.” Chang Yuzhi is also in favor of this interpretation; see “Shi Si Mu Wu ding haishi Hou Mu Wu ding—lun buci zhong de ‘si,’ ‘yu’” 是”司母戊鼎”還是”后母戊鼎”——論卜辭中的“司”、“毓,” Zhongyuan wenhua yanjiu, 1 (2013), 39–49. According to Chao Lin, Yinqi shiqing, 54, the character hou 后 should be interpreted as si 司, meaning the principal, the elder wife. There is a problem with this interpretation; since he can only provide one inscription with Si Fuhao as in Heji 2672 (period 1, group bin standard), containing the three characters si Fu Hao 司婦好, an inscription very fragmentary, it is not clear whether those characters are the exact equivalent of those in the bronze inscriptions. Besides, would it be possible to have two elder or principal wives? The association of the character si with the designation of a living spouse is quite infrequent in oracular inscriptions; I have not been able to detect any other example. I will keep the designation si with the meaning of “sacrifice to” or “dedicated to.”

114 “Fu Hao zai Wu Ding wangchao de jiaose” 婦好在武丁王朝的角色, Guwenzi yu gudai shi 3 (2012), 101–2.

115 Shang renwu, 312–29, and Lin, Yinqi shiqing, 156–60, for the details of her career. See also Shang shehui, 134–37 on the status of the fu 婦 “spouses;” it gives also the list of those spouses giving tributes of shells and prepared bones to the king.

116 See “Cong Jiaguwen ji kaogu ziliao lun wanghou Fu Hao ruhe quan qing Shangchao” 從甲骨文及考古資料論王后婦好如何權傾商朝, in acts of the symposium Xingbie yiti yu duoyuanhua 性別議題與多元化 (Taoyuan: Zhongyang jingcha daxue, 2012), 67–72.

117 See “Fu Hao zai Wu Ding wangchao de jiaose,” 79. On the intricacies of names of spouses in oracular inscriptions, see Zhao Peng 趙鵬, “Yinxu jiaguwen nüming jiegou fenxi” 殷墟甲骨文女名結構分析, Jiaguwen yu Yin Shangshi 1 (2008), 191–202.

118 According to Fenlei, p. 104 the inscriptions of this group belong to Wu Ding middle to end reign.

119 See “Dui Fu Hao zhi hao yu chengwei zhi ci de pouxi” 對婦好之好與稱謂之司的剖析 in Jiaguwenxian jicheng, vol. 25, 2–3, originally published in kaogu 1985, n. 12.

120 See “Fu Hao lüeshuo 婦好略説, Jiagu wenxian, vol. 20, 473–474, originally published in Kaogu考古 6 (1983). Another researcher, Wu Yu 吳嶼, “Fu Hao zhengming” 婦好正名, in acts of the 2004 international symposium on the Shang civilization, Anyang 2004年安陽殷商文明國際學術研討會論文集, ed. Wang Yuxin 王宇信, Song Zhenhao 宋鎮豪, Meng Huiwu 孟憲武 (Beijing: Shehui kexue wenxian, 2004), 231–236, interpret also this name as Fu Zi 婦子, based on name glyphs on bronze vessels either from the lady’s tomb or other bronzes.

121 See Childs-Johnson, “Fu Zi 婦子(好) the Shang Woman Warrior 商 女 武士,” 620–21. This hypothesis has first been proposed by Cao Dingyun in an article published in 1989; see Shang renwu, 313n6.

122 An inscription, Tunnan 屯南 3723, is given by Liu Fenghua, Yinxu cunnan xilie jiagu buci de zhengli yu yanjiu, 253, as belonging to the group 無名, which, according to Huang Tianshu, Fenlei, 265, was active between the reigns of Kang Ding and Wen Ding. But this inscription is very close in content to others belonging to the group li 2 (see Fenlei p. 195, group comprised of inscriptions dating from the end of Wu Ding reign to Zu Geng’s); after examination and comparison, I classify it into li 2. This is confirmed through a reconstitution by Mo Bofeng 莫伯峰 “Jiagu pinhe di yi san si ze” 甲骨拼合第一三四則 (in, published December the 31th 2012, consulted February the 16th 2022): three oracle fragments have been reassembled, Heji 32114, 屯南 3673 and 屯南 3723. The first fragment belongs indeed to the group li 2. Qiu Xigui 裘錫圭 acknowledges the hypothesis that there was such a territory but does not give any other precise information; see Qiu, Xigui, “Shuo Yinxu buci de ‘dian’—shilun Shangren chuzhi fushuzhe de yi zhong fangfa” 說殷墟卜辭的‘奠’—試論商人處置服屬者的一種方法, originally published in the Bulletin of Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica 64–3 (1993), 659–86, online version

123 Shang renwu, 159.

124 Cf. “Fu Hao mu chutu siMu mingwen tongqi de tantao” 帚好墓出土司母銘文銅器的探討, Jiaguwenxian jicheng, vol. 20, 474–77, originally published in Kaogu 8 (1983).

125 Cao Dingyun (in “Si X mu kao– Yinxu ‘Fu Hao’ mu qiwu mingwen tantao zhi qi” 司母考—殷墟”婦好”墓器物銘文探討之七, Huaxia kaogu 華夏考古2 [1993], 80–89) proposes to read the inscriptions of the bronzes as dedicated to a living person who was in charge of hares (Si tu司兔—analysis the graph as composed from the character “hare” accompanied with a graph transcipted as kao 丂. Unfortunately, the examples he gives (such as the Heji 29700, period 1, group 歷無, mentioning a sacrifice to what appears to be a deity si yu司漁, maybe a spirit tasked with managing fishes) do not give any proof of the existence of such a function for living persons.

126 While this hypothesis might be correct, it does not solve the problem. It is difficult to understand why vessels belonging to one lady would have been put in another lady’s tomb.

127 Cf. “Fu Hao mu chutu si Mu mingwen tongqi de tantao,” n. 10 for references

128 The character is present in oracular inscriptions but is, to our knowledge, not associated with the character fu 婦, “wife.” See for example the inscription Heji 10405 正, period 1, n. 4, group bin standard, long inscription narrating a chariot accident. For the character , Jiaguwen jianming cidian, 354–355 and Yu, Jiaguwenzi gulin, vol. 2, nn. 1661, 1614–1615, give the meaning of “to collide with,” “to cause a catastrophe.”

129 See Chen Jianmin 陳建敏, “Buci zhufu de shenfen ji qi xiangguan wenti” 卜辭諸婦的身份及其相關問題, Jiaguwenxian jicheng, vol. 25, 18–19, originally published in Shilin 史林 2 (1986), 19.

130 Most of the inscriptions mentioning Lady Shu belong to the shi group. According to Fenlei (157–160 for the inscriptions, p. 167 for the dating) this group was active from the earliest period of Wu Ding to the late period of his reign.

131 See The Anyang Archaeological Team, 1A, CASS 中國社會科學院考古研究所安陽隊, “Yinxu 259, 260 hao mu fajue baogao” 殷墟 259, 260 號墓發掘報告, Kaogu xuebao 考古學報 1 (1987), 99–117, 140–145. The tomb is identified as 84M260 and has been unfortunately robbed. See also A. Thote, “Shang and Zhou Funeral Practices: Interpretation of Material Vestiges” in Early Chinese Religion, Part One: Shang through Han (1250 BC-220 AD), ed. J. Lagerwey, M. Kalinowski (Leiden, the Netherlands: Brill 2009), 108–110.

132 Recently, two researchers, Koji Mizoguchi, and Junko Uchida, analyzed the layout and the relationship of the royal tombs in Xibeigang and concluded that the tomb M260 was designed to express respect to the occupant of the tomb M 1400, the tomb of her husband, See, Wu Ding.The Anyang Xibeigang Shang royal tombs revisited: a social archaeological approachAntiquity. 92–363 (2018), 115Google Scholar, figure p. 11.

133 One inscription (Tunnan 4023, period 3–4, group 無名; see Liu Fenghua, Yinxu cunnan xilie jiagu buci de zhengli yu yanjiu, 161) bears the name of this queen in this way: Bi Wu Jing 妣戊妌; the context is a sacrifice offered by the king to this ancestress in order to gain protection. The group 無名 is composed of inscriptions written from the reign of Kang Ding 康丁to the reigns of Wu Yi 武乙 and Wen Ding 文丁; cf. Fenlei p. 265. According to Wuming zu buci de zhengli yu yanjiu, 2102, the inscription belongs to a sub-group dated from the reign of Kang Ding to the end of the dynasty.

134 See “Queens and Royal Ladies at Anyang,” in Pursuit of Gender: Worldwide Archaeological Approaches, ed. Sarah M. Nelson, Myriam Rosen-Ayalon (Walnut Creek: Altamira Press, 2002), 264–66.

135 Nevertheless, the position of the tomb of Lady Hao must indeed be compared to the one of the Lady Jing. If one considers the relative size and the location of the identified tombs of Lady Jing/Bi Wu and Lady Hao/Bi Xin, the status of Lady Jing seems to have been more elevated than the one of Lady Hao. The status of Lady Jing will be examined in more details in another article, in link with the matrimonial strategy of Wu Ding.

136 See Campbell, Roderick, Violence, Kinship and the Early Chinese State (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 165–66, 167CrossRefGoogle Scholar. See in particular 166n2 for the inscription Heji 9530正, period 1, group bin standard, 辛丑卜,㱿貞帚(婦)妌乎(呼)黍〔于〕丘商,受〔年〕。 “The day xinchou, cracks, Que tested, order the Lady Jing to plant millet in Qiu Shang, 〔and there will be〕 harvest.” Campbell analyses it as an example of agency, since it is by the order of the king that Lady Jing was directed to plant. Nevertheless, the Shang shehui, p. 143 points out the inscriptions, Heji 9506+ 9848, period 1, group bin standard, which mentions harvest in connection with Lady Hao. The editors of the volume surmise that she had command over a territory but the inscriptions mention that she was ordered to plant and harvest by the king.

137 Campbell, Violence, Kinship and the Early Chinese State, 165.

138 For Leon Vandermeersch, Wangdao ou la voie royale: Recherches sur l’esprit des institutions de la Chine archaïque, vol.1 structures cultuelles et structures familiales (Paris: EFEO, 1977), quoted below as Wangdao, vol. 1, 274–275, the character fu 婦 would be a title not linked to marriage but to an elevated status prior it. Those women were a link between their groups and either the capital or some important local center and they maintained their original status within their group.

139 Those two axioms can be found in the Gongyang zhuan公羊傳, first year of the duke Yin 隱公元年, ed. Shisanjing zhushu, 1. 3.:「桓何以貴?母貴也。母貴則子何以貴?子以母貴,母以子貴。」”(Why was the duke) Huan heir to the throne? Because of his mother’s status. His mother having a high status then whence comes the status of the son? His status comes from his mother. The status of the son comes from his mother (but) the mother’s status comes (from the fact that) she bore a son. The duke Huan of the State of Lu (魯國魯桓公 B.C.E. 731-694) was the young brother of the duke Yin 隱公 who was selected to reign because Huan was not yet fit to reign. Huan’s mother was Zhongzi 仲子, daughter of the duke of Song, one of the three accompanying spouses of the duke Hui (魯惠公). The received sources say that since the mother of the duke Yin was not given proper burial, Zhongzi was the recorded principal spouse of the duke Hui.

140 See Yan Yiping, Yin Shang Shi ji, vol. 1, 175. According to Fenlei, 68, most inscriptions of this group date from the middle reign of Wu Ding, with some inscriptions dating from the end of the reign.

141 This interpretation is given in the Shang renwu, 379 based on the resemblance with Heji 3010 反, period 1, group bin standard (with most inscriptions dating from the end of the reign of Wu Ding): 貞禦子央于母癸. After having examined two characters (yang 央 and gui 癸) of the inscriptions Heji 2580 and 3010, I conclude that they belong in fact to the same group.

142 They also indicate that the mother of the prince Yang = Zu Geng died during the end of the reign of Wu Ding.

143 Yin Shengping 尹盛平 considers that the mother of Zu Geng 祖庚 would be Lady Hao, due to the abundance of inscriptions with sacrifices dedicated to Mu Xin 母辛 = Lady Hao in the inscriptions from the reigns of Zu Geng and Zu Jia; see “‘Disi’ yu ‘simu’ kao” 「帝司」與「司母」考, Guwenzi yanjiu 13 (1986), 435. Nevertheless, the group chu 1 is active across the two reigns of Zu Geng and Zu Jia, and coexists with the group chu 2 which belongs solely to the reign of Zu Jia. See Huang Tianshu, Fenlei, 79. This pleads for a date corresponding to the reign of Zu Jia and not Zu Geng.

144 After comparison, I classify those two inscriptions in the group chu 2; as we have seen, according to Fenlei, 87, this group was essentially active during the reign of Zu Jia.

145 See “Wu Ding taizi Xiaoji xiangguan wenti bianxi” 武丁太子孝己相關問題辨析, published March 2014 in Guoxue 國學 online Schwartz, “Huayuanzhuang East,” 571, accepts the possibility that this Mother Wu (Mu Wu 母戊) was one of the spouses of Wu Ding.

146 Lin Yun 林澐 has written a seminal article on the alliances constituted by the Shang; see “Jiaguwen zhong de Shangdai fangguo lianmeng” 甲骨文中的商代方國聯盟 in Lin Yun xueshu wenji 林澐學術文集 (Beijing: Dabaike, 1998), 67–92. The article was originally published in 1981. He quotes a series of inscriptions from Wu Ding’s reign on the model 王比Ⅹ to attack a territory, where bi 比 (“to follow”) would denote an alliance. Those inscriptions mention precise circumstances and the character bi cannot be taken to denote a long-term agreement, an alliance, even if the circumstance itself was the result of such an agreement. He signals an inscription (Shanzai cangqi 善齋拓本= 善齋藏契): 呼比井伯 勿呼比井伯 (ordering to follow the leader of the Jing territory, do not order to follow the leader of the Jing territory) (p. 74). He mentions also other inscriptions of the same type with leaders of other territories. He notices (p. 75) that even if Lady Hao, and other high Shang-related nobles participated to military expeditions or even led them, there is no inscription where the king “bi” 比 them. The status of those territories’ leaders was obviously different from the one of Shang-related leaders. See also Campbell, Violence, Kinship and the Early Chinese State, 76 ff., 114n26, and 120 on the typology of Shang alliances.

147 See “‘Fu Hao,’ ‘Xiao Ji’ guanxi kaozheng- cong Fu Hao mu ‘Si Mu Xing’ mingwen tanqi” ‘婦好,’ “孝己”關係考証—從婦好墓“司母辛”銘文談起, Jiaguwenxian jicheng, vol. 21, 94–96, originally published in Zhongyuan wenwu 3 (1993). Elizabeth Childs-Johnson also makes the younger king the son of Lady Hao. Cf. Childs-Johnson, “Fu Zi 婦子(好) the Shang Woman Warrior商 女 武士,” 622–23. For Cao Dingyun, Lady Hao died a little after the middle of Wu Ding’s reign (he reigned 59 years). One of the reasons is that, while she participated in numerous campaigns, she is not seen for the campaign against the Gong territory 颅方. Since this campaign was waged during Wu Ding’s last period, she died before. This argument is not convincing; we have seen in the Huayuanzhuang inscriptions that Lady Hao was alive at the end of Wu Ding’s reign.

148 He has been guided by a passage in the Taiping yulan 太平御覽 Song encyclopedia (section “Emperors and kings” 皇王部, 卷 81) which gives a quote from the Diwang shi ji帝王世紀 (written by Huangfu Mi 皇甫謐 215–282 ce, passage non-extant in its current version): 高宗有賢子孝己,其母早死,高宗惑后妻言,放而死,天下哀之。 (The high ancestor [Wu Ding] had a wise son named Xiao Ji, his mother died early, Wu Ding was confused by other wives’s words and exiled [Xiao Ji, who] died, the kingdom mourned him). See also Yan Yiping, Yin Shang Shi ji, vol. 1, 162, quoting from a similar passage from the reconstituted Shizi 尸子. For a brief history of this text, see Fischer, Paul, Shizi: China’s First Syncretist (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012), 57Google Scholar.

149 Cf.See Chang Yuzhi, Shangdai zhouji zhiduZhouji, 104.

150 Cai Zhemao 蔡哲茂 proposes another identification: Bi Geng would be the mother of the younger king, Bi Xin (Lady Hao), the mother of Zu Geng and Bi Wu (Lady Jing) the mother of Zu Jia; see “Lun Wu Ding de san pei yu san zi” 論武丁的三配與三子, in Jin yu jiaohui; Shang Zhou kaogu, yishu yu wenhua xueshu lunwenji 金玉交輝—商周考古、藝術與文化學術論文集 (Radiance between Bronze and Jade: Archaeology, Art, and Culture of the Shang and Zhou Dynasties, ed. Chen Guangzu 陳光祖 (Taipei: Zhongyang yanjiuyuan lishi yuyan yanjiusuo, 2013), 61–62. As we have seen, for the case of Lady Jing, it would be strange that his son, if indeed he was Zu Jia, would not offer sacrifices to his mother. As for the younger king, I show in a forthcoming article that his status was the result of Wu Ding’s policy of alliances with a non-Shang lineage. For the king Zu Jia, it must be remembered that most inscriptions dedicated to Mother Xin= Lady Hao date from his reign.

151 See Zheng Huisheng, “Cong Shangdai wu di qie zhidu shuo dao ta de shengmu ru si fa” 從商代無嫡妾制度說到它的生母入祀法, Jiaguwenxian jicheng, vol. 20, 482–83, originally published in Shihui kexue zhanxian 社會科學戰綫 4 (1984).

152 The Shi ji passage is in the “Yin benji” 殷本紀, 3.105. The Xunxi 荀子, chapter “Feixiang” 非相 mentions also the physical strength possessed by Di Yi. Here, the Sh ji makes what appears to be a series of positive traits (intelligence and physical prowess) an indictment of the character of the king, as the rest of the passage shows: 知足以距諫,言足以飾非;矜人臣以能,高天下以聲,以為皆出己之下。 (He was smart enough to evade (his ministers) reproaches and his mastery of words could embellish his faults. He boasted that he was more capable than his ministers, and that his reputation surpassed anybody’s in the world). The contrast between positive qualities and the overall negative judgment of the last Shang king must be analyzed within the context of the transformation of the role of the monarch who, from the end of the Spring and Autumn period, was conceived more as a figurehead than a powerful leader, in line with the newfound role of ministers and the development of States pre-bureaucratic apparatuses. On this topic, see Yuri Pines, Foundations of Confucian Thought: Intellectual Life in the Chunqiu Period (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2002), 137, 138, 158, 160, 162.

153 By reference to the high god, the Shang Di 上帝, mentioned in a lot of inscriptions, particularly during the reign of Wu Ding.

154 Other incomplete partial inscriptions on the same bone fragment mention Father Ding 父丁. Based on this element and the dating of the inscription, Wu Junde 吳俊德 identifies the doublet Di Ding with Wu Ding; see Wu Junde, Yinxu buci xianwang chengwei zonglun 殷卜辭先王稱謂綜論 (Taipei: Liren, 2010), 66. According to Yu, Jiaguwenzi gulin, vol. 4, n. 3173, pp. 3201–7, the sacrifice xi is an offering of strips of meat. Gao Ming 高明 signals two inscriptions, Heji 24978, period 2, group chu 2 and Heji 26090, period 2, group chu 2, both with mention of a wangdi 王帝, a “divine king.” Those inscriptions are partial but since the inscriptions of this group chu 2 belong to the reign of Zu Jia, this “divine king” might be Wu Ding. See “Shangdai buci zhong suo jian wang yu di” 商代卜辭中所見王與帝, Jiaguwenxian jicheng, vol. 25, 76–79, originally published in Jinian Beijing daxue kaogu zhuanye sanshi zhounian lunwenji 紀念北京大學考古專業三十周年論文集 (Beijing: Wenwu, 1990). I have found another inscription, Heji 24980, period 2, group chu 2, mentioning the wangdi 王帝 in a context requiring approval for a divination made by the king himself.