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In front of this basin, there was an iron statue of a boy standing with a whip formed of three chains, from which some buttons hung which touched the basin.

If the whip moved in the breeze, the buttons sounded against the basin.

An example of the upper portion of an ox scapula prepared in this way is shown above.

The application of heat to the hollows on the reverse produced characteristic shaped cracks on the obverse; this is the origin of the Chinese character bu (‘to divine’).

They are inscribed on ox shoulder-blades and the flat under-part of turtle shells, and record questions to which answers were sought by divination at the court of the royal house of Shang , which ruled central China between the 16th and 11th centuries B. Divination by examining animal scapulae and the cracks produced in them by heating is known from many different cultures and historical periods.

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