The Question of Literariness in the Composition of Western Zhou Bronze Bell Inscriptions

Joern Peter Grundmann

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


The present article sets out to investigate whether it is possible to talk
about verbal parallelism, such as rhyme and meter in early Chinese bronze
inscriptions in terms of sound correlated figures of speech. The answer to
this question depends on whether or not these audible patterns can be shown
to fulfill an identifiable structuring function in shaping the texts’ messages.
Addressing this issue is important in so far as it bears some major clues on
how bronze inscriptions were retrieved (i.e. read, recited, etc.) and understood
during the time when their carriers were still in use.

After discussing some disputed aspects concerning the nature and function
of texts from early Chinese bronze inscriptions with regard to their ritual and
material context, the present study proceeds with a detailed literary inquiry of
the rhymed text inscribed on the late Western Zhou Guoji bian zhong 虢季編
鐘 chime as a sample analysis
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-151
Number of pages37
JournalBulletin of the Jao Tsung-I Academy of Sinology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020

User-Defined Keywords

  • Bronze inscriptions
  • rhyme
  • literary form
  • literariness


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