Navigating early Chinese daybook divination manuals


  • Christopher J. Foster SOAS University of London



Zhoujiazhai, daybook, divination, bamboo-strip manuscripts, China


In Early China, ‘daybook’ (rishu 日書) divination manuals were consulted to determine auspicious times for a variety of life events. Recent discoveries of daybook manuscripts written upon bound bamboo strips have revealed much about how these manuals were compiled in the first centuries BC. Multiple different divination systems appear on the same manuscript, resulting in a confusion of running text, lists, and diagrams. In order to navigate these manuscripts efficiently, daybook compilers utilized certain strategies to aid their users. Taking the Han period Zhoujiazhai 周家寨 daybook as a case study, this article surveys the strategies employed in this manuscript to differentiate textual units. Attention is given to the materiality of the writing support, judicious framing with empty space, features of the calligraphy, punctuation usage, indexing, and the presence of both explicit titles and embedded identifiers.


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How to Cite

Foster, C. J. (2023). Navigating early Chinese daybook divination manuals. Manuscript and Text Cultures (MTC), 2(1).