The Document on Rain (Yushu 雨書): Weather and Prognostication in Early China

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The Document on Rain (Yushu 雨書) is a short manuscript that forms part of the Beijing University collection of Han slips. This text, divided into two sections, has thus far garnered little scholarly attention. However, it presents to us an unusual example of a daybook (rishu 日書)-type manuscript, one which is primarily concerned with the weather. The Document on Rain, while sharing many characteristics of excavated day- books, is unusual in its treatment of humans. Rather than providing advice on whether or not one should undertake activity on a certain day or engaging in the discourse about whether or not humans can manipulate the weather, the Document on Rain represents an understanding of the weather as a phenomenon that cannot be manipulated by humans, but one which can, perhaps, be understood. The Document on Rain integrates practices of prognostication based on calendrical and sexagenary cycles with theo- ries about rain and its relationship to the symbolic characteristics of the twenty-eight lodges (ershiba xiu 二十八宿). This article analyses some of the predictive methods in the text and situates it within a longer tradition of meteoromantic practices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-223
Number of pages33
JournalInternational Journal of Divination and Prognostication
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2021

User-Defined Keywords

  • early China
  • bamboo manuscripts
  • rain divination
  • meteoromancy
  • twenty-eight lodges (ershiba xiu 二十八宿)
  • daybooks (rishu 日書)


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