Divination Lecture: "Arousing Images: The Poetry of Divination and the Divination of Poetry"

Cambridge, Sept. 5, 2012 - What does the future hold? In ancient China, diviners found the answers in fire-cracked bones of animals and the Yi ching, also known as the I Ching or Classic of Changes. And as in the ancient Chinese poems of the Shi jing or Classic of Poetry, even the movements and calls of birds may have inspired diviners.

The Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology at Harvard University presents the free lecture "Arousing Images: The Poetry of Divination and the Divination of Poetry" on Thursday, September 20, 2012 at the Geological Lecture Hall (24 Oxford St., Cambridge) at 6:00 PM. A reception will follow at the Peabody Museum (11 Divinity Avenue).

The intersection of divination and poetry in ancient China is the focus of "Arousing Images," the first lecture in a year-long series of Divination talks presented by the Peabody Museum. The illustrated lecture features the two best-known forms of divination in ancient China—pyromancy performed with turtle-shells and ox bones, and the predictions associated with the Yi jing or Classic of Changes.

For thousands of years and across the globe, diviners have predicted the weather, received the gods’ commands, and foretold the fortunes of commoners and potentates alike. Join us as we explore the many ways that humans attempt to understand the present and divine the future. Look for the tarot card icon on the Peabody Museum calendar for lectures on this topic.

Edward L. Shaughnessy is the Lorraine J. and Herrlee G. Creel Distinguished Service Professor of Early China, University of Chicago.

About the Peabody Museum
The Peabody Museum is among the oldest archaeological and ethnographic museums in the world with one of the finest collections of human cultural history found anywhere. It is home to superb materials from Africa, ancient Europe, North America, Mesoamerica, Oceania, and South America in particular. In addition to its archaeological and ethnographic holdings, the Museum’s photographic archives, one of the largest of its kind, hold more than 500,000 historical photographs, dating from the mid-nineteenth century to the present and chronicling anthropology, archaeology, and world culture.

Hours and location: 9 A.M. to 5 P.M., seven days a week. The Museum is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for students and seniors, $8 for children, 3–18. Free with Harvard ID or Museum membership. The Museum is free to Massachusetts residents Sundays, 9 A.M. to noon, year round, and Wednesdays from 3 P.M. to 5 P.M. (September to May). Admission includes admission to the Harvard Museum of Natural History. For more information call 617-496-1027 or go online to: www.peabody.harvard.edu. The Peabody Museum is located at 11 Divinity Avenue in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Museum is a short walk from the Harvard Square MBTA station.

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Faith Sutter
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Peabody Museum
Tel: 617-495-3397


Inscribed oracle bone from the Shang Dynasty, China. PM 35-79-60/2539.

High resolution image available on request.

"Arousing Images: The Poetry of Divination and the Divination of Poetry," part of the free Peabody Museum Divination lecture series, is Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 6:00 pm at the Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford St., Cambridge.

Edward L. Shaughnessy, Lorraine J. and Herrlee G. Creel Distinguished Service Professor of Early China, University of Chicago

A public reception follows at the Peabody Museum, 11 Divinity Ave., Cambridge.

Public information: 617-496-1027