From its archeological beginnings, the book moves—through “natural and economic resources” (animal, plant, mineral)—into anthropology. My interest waxes and wanes, but I have done very little skimming. Retention is another matter. Again, it is isolated details which impress me:
To what extent wild animals were depended upon for food by the Shang is a debatable point. Insofar as the hunting records in the oracle bone inscriptions are concerned, hunting was more of a sport than a subsistence activity, but the game that was hunted was presumably to be consumed. From the hunting records, at least one thing was quite certain: the forests were densely inhabited.
Domesticated and tamed animals were probably of much greater importance as sources of meat, skin, antler, and bone, and some of these were also of ritual significance. These include dog, cattle, water buffalo, sheep, horse, pig, and, in all probability, the elaphure, and they should be considered separately. The elaphure was not domesticated in the same sense as the others, but elaphure herds are sometimes thought to have been fenced in to assure a steady supply, as a supplement to hunted animals. The water buffalo, on the other hand, was a fully domesticated animal and a major source of shoulder blades for the diviners.
Of old Tan-fu the duke
At coming of day galloped his horses,
Going west along the river bank
Till he came to the foot of Mount Ch’i.
Where with the lady Chiang
He came to look for home.
The plain of Chou was very fertile,
Its celery and sowthistle sweet as rice-cakes
“Here we will make a start; here take counsel,
Here notch our tortoise.”
It says, “Stop,” it says, “Halt.
Build houses here.”
So he halted, so he stopped,
And left and right
He drew the boundaries of big plots and little,
He opened up the ground, he counted the acres
From west to east;
Everywhere he took his task in hand.
Then he summoned his Master of Works,
Then he summoned his Master of Lands
And made them build houses
Dead straight was the plumb line,
The planks were lashed to hold the earth;
They made the Hall of Ancestors, very venerable.
They tilted in the earth with a rattling,
They pounded it with a dull thud,
They beat the walls with a loud clang,
They pared and chiseled them with a faint p’ing, p’ing;
The hundred cubits all rose;
The drummers could not hold out.
They raised the outer gate;
The outer gate soared high.
They raised the inner gate;
The inner gate was very strong.
They raised the great earth-mound,
Whence excursions of war might start.
And in the time that followed they did not abate their sacrifices,
Did not let fall their high renown;
The oak forests were laid low,
Roads were opened up.
The K’un tribes scampered away;
Oh, how they panted!
For me, anthropological texts are even harder to train attention upon than archeological ones; however my interest perked up a bit with some description of legal anthropology:
Leopold Pospisil sees in legal decisions four attributes whose coexistence defines law: authority, intention of universal application, obligatio, and sanction. Shang data on legal decisions are so rare as to be nonexistent, but each of the four attributes is manifest in available data in some fashion. But first let us consider the parties involved in such decisions. All we can see are the king and authority he represented, on the one hand, and his subjects, on the other. His subjects were those of his people addressed in the Shu ching documents and those who bodily bore the consequences of his sanctions apparently because they failed, or were regarded as having failed, their part of the obligatio.
In T’ang shih, of Shu ching, we see the obligatio attribute most clearly, with obligatio defined as “that part of the legal decision that defines the rights of the entitled and the duties of the obligated parties.” On the king’s part, he demanded that the people “obey the words I have spoken to you”; otherwise he “will put your children to death with you” and “you will find no forgiveness.” But he also promised, by implication, that he, T’ang, would not commit the crimes he was accusing the Hsia king of having committed: “[he] in every way exhausts the strength of his people and exercises oppression in the cities.” The Hsia king committed these crimes and must be punished, and “his people have all become idle and will not assist him. They are saying, ‘When wilt thou, O sun, expire? We will all perish with thee!’” Thus, the obligatio equation was made up of promise of benevolent rule on the part of the king and the expectation of obedience on the part of his subjects. When the king, or his descendants, failed to keep his part of the bargain, he was fit to be overthrown—as he was at the end of the Shang dynasty—at least from the point of view of the Chou....
Obviously this reciprocal understanding was by no means a fair one between parties of equal status. For punishment of a king one had to wait for cataclysmic events such as the rise and fall of dynasties, whereas the punishment for his subjects was immediate and clear cut. From Shang written characters some authors have concluded that the following physical penalties may have been imposed: mutilation of a leg, mutilation of the nose, mutilation of an ear, the piercing of an eye, castration, tattooing of face or forehead, and the use of shackles and irons (of wood?). Unequivocal records of all of these punishments are available for the Chou, and their existence in the Shang period is entirely likely.