Winds of the Four Directions


This oracle bone from around 1200 B.C. contains 24 characters in four groups in a vigorous and strong style, typical of the Bin group of diviners in the reign of Wu Ding (circa 1200-1189 B.C.). It records the gods of the four directions and of the four winds. The winds of the four directions reflect the spring and autumn equinoxes, the summer and winter solstices, and the changes of the four seasons. The four winds are the east wind, called Xie; the south wind, called Wei; the west wind, called Yi (second tone in Mandarin); and the north wind, called Yi (first tone in Mandarin). They constitute the independent standard seasonal system devised by the Yin people, and were an important basis for the calendar and the determination of intercalary months. This item is from a collection of 35,651 specimens of plastrons and bones in the National Library of China, constituting one-fourth of all oracle bones discovered to date, and considered to be the finest collection in China.

Last updated: July 9, 2014