Shang ritual animals: colour and meaning (part 2)

Wang Taoa1

School of Oriental and African Studies and University College, London,


Following on from Part 1 of this article (BSOAS 70/2, 305–372), Part 2 continues to examine the use of colour in different diviner groups, but focuses on the groups belonging to the non-kings' school. It also includes the newly discovered inscriptions from the eastern section of Huayuanzhuang in Yinxu. The exercise of colour preference in the non-kings' school is similar to that seen in the kings' school, but reveals an even broader interest. By looking at the context in which each colour was used, we can detect the process of a colour system working in Shang rituals. The final section of the paper provides a cross-cultural comparison of Shang colour symbolism which had a profound influence on the late wuxing theory.