(also spelled scapulomancy
, and also termed omoplatoscopy
) is the practice of divination
by use of scapulae
(shoulder blades). In the context of the oracle bones
of ancient China
, which chiefly utilized both scapulae and the plastrons
of turtle, scapulimancy
is sometimes used in a very broad sense to jointly refer to both scapulimancy and plastromancy
(similar divination using plastrons). However, the term osteomancy
might be more appropriate, referring to divination using bones. Many archaeological sites along the south coast and offlying islands of the Korean peninsula
show that deer and pig scapulae were used in divination during the Korean Protohistoric
, c. 300 B.C. - A.D. 300/400.
Historically, scapulimancy has taken two major forms. In the first, "apyromantic", the scapula of an animal was simply examined after its slaughter. This form was widespread in Europe, Northern Africa and the Near East. In Northeast Asia and North America however, the second form, "pyromantic" scapulimancy was practiced, involving the heating or burning of the bone and interpretation of the results.
Scapulimancy was also mentioned in Chapter 5 of the Kojiki, the Japanese Record of Ancient Matters, in which the heavenly deities used this process of divination during a consulation by lesser gods.
Keightley, David N. (1978). Sources of Shang History: The Oracle-Bone Inscriptions of Bronze Age China.
University of California Press, Berkeley. Large format hardcover, ISBN 0-520-02969-0 (out of print); A ppbk 2nd edition (1985) ISBN 0-520-05455-5 is still in print.
Andrée, R. (1906) Scapulimantia. In Anthropological Papers in Honour of Franz Boas, edited by Berthold Laufer, pp.143-165
Eisenberger, Elmar Jakob (1938). Das Wahrsagen aus dem Schulterblatt. Internationales Archiv für Ethnographie 35, pp.49-116.
Philippi, Donald L. (1968). Kojiki. University of Tokyo Press, Tokyo. p. 52.