A Fatal Case of Gu 蠱 Poisoning in Fourth-Century BC China?

Constance A. Cook


This essay reexamines the fourth century BC divination records found in the tomb of Shao Tuo 邵佗 in Baoshan 包山, Jingzhou 荊州, Hubei. Using charts, rules, and examples for divination from a newly discovered
trigram divination text, called by modern scholars, the Shifa 筮法 (Stalk Method), and preserved in the Tsinghua University collection of Warring States period bamboo manuscripts, the author suggests a radical new way to interpret stalk divination results and speculates upon a possible diagnosis. Essentially, the author unpacks the Baoshan results according to the rules of trigram divination given in the Shifa and not of hexagram divination as in the Zhouyi 周易 (Changes of Zhou).

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