Coping with the Future

Theories and Practices of Divination in East Asia


Volume Editor:
Coping with the Future: Theories and Practices of Divination in East Asia offers insights into various techniques of divination, their evolution, and their assessment. The contributions cover the period from the earliest documents on East Asian mantic arts to their appearance in the present time.
The volume reflects the pervasive manifestations of divination in literature, religious and political life, and their relevance for society and individuals. Special emphasis is placed on cross-cultural influences and attempts to find theoretical foundations for divinatory practices. This edited volume is an initiative to study the phenomena of divination across East Asian cultures and beyond. It is also one of the first attempts to theorize divinatory practices through East Asian traditions.

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Preliminary Material
Editor(s): Michael Lackner
Pages: i–xv
Pages: 577–586
Michael Lackner, Dr. phil. (1983), Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, is Professor of Sinology at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg. He has published monographs and many articles on China and co-edited Mapping meanings. The Field of New Learning in Late Qing China (Brill, 2004).
"Coping with the Future is a landmark study of divination in East Asia, mainly for its depth and breadth of scholarship, but also for the impact it will have in elucidating an esoteric subject for a wider audience. The Käte Hamburger Center, under the auspices of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, is to be commended for funding the studies published herein and we applaud Michael Lackner for the years of effort he has dedicated to this project. With this groundbreaking work, if not before, he has distinguished himself as a leader in the field."
–Stephen L. Field, Trinity University, Journal of the American Oriental Society 140.2 (2020)

"Written mainly by historians and cultural researchers, these papers address subjects that are scattered throughout various historical and geographic areas, offering short but detailed insights into aspects of divinatory practices. […] This volume will be of great interest to every scholar studying East Asian practices of “fate exploration.”
– Grzegorz Frąszczak, Religious Studies 47.2 (June 2021)

List of Figures and Tables
Notes on Contributors

Michael Lackner

Part 1: Divination and Literature: Excavated and Extant

1 A Recently Published Shanghai Museum Bamboo Manuscript on Divination
Marco Caboara
2 Hexagrams and Prognostication in the Weishu Literature: The Thirty-Two-Year Cycle of the Qian zuo du
Bent Nielsen
3 The Representation of Mantic Arts in the High Culture of Medieval China
Paul W. Kroll
4 Divination, Fate Manipulation, and Protective Knowledge in and around The Wedding of the Duke of Zhou and Peach Blossom Girl, a Popular Myth of Late Imperial China
Vincent Durand-Dastès

Part 2: Divination and Religions

5 A List of Magic and Mantic Practices in the Buddhist Canon
Esther-Maria Guggenmos
6 The Allegorical Cosmos: The Shi 式 Board in Medieval Taoist and Buddhist Sources
Dominic Steavu*
7 Divining Hail: Deities, Energies, and Tantra on the Tibetan Plateau
Anne C. Klein

Part 3: Divination and Politics

8 Early Chinese Divination and Its Rhetoric
Martin Kern
9 Choosing Auspicious Dates and Sites for Royal Ceremonies in Eighteenth-century Korea
Park Kwon Soo

Part 4: Divination and Individual

10 Exploring the Mandates of Heaven: Wen Tianxiang’s Concepts of Fate and Mantic Knowledge
Liao Hsien-huei
11 Chŏng Yak-yong on Yijing Divination
Kim Yung Sik
12 From Jianghu to Liumang: Working Conditions and Cultural Identity of Wandering Fortune-Tellers in Contemporary China
Stéphanie Homola
13 Women and Divination in Contemporary Korea
Jennifer Jung-Kim

Part 5: Mantic Arts: When East Meets West

14 Translation and Adaption: The Continuous Interplay between Chinese Astrology and Foreign Culture
Che-chia Chang
15 Against Prognostication: Ferdinand Verbiest’s Criticisms of Chinese Mantic Arts
Chu Pingyi
16 Contradictory Forms of Knowledge? Divination and Western Knowledge in Late Qing and Early Republican China
Li Fan and Michael Lackner
17 Western Horoscopic Astrology in Korea
Jun Yong Hoon

Part 6: Reflections on Mantic Arts

18 How to quantify the Value of Domino Combinations? Divination and Shifting Rationalities in Late Imperial China
Andrea Bréard
19 Correlating Time Within One’s Hand: The Use of Temporal Variables in Early Modern Japanese “Chronomancy” Techniques
Matthias Hayek
20 The Physical Shape Theory of Fengshui in China and Korea
Oh Sanghak


All interested in the theory and practice of mantic arts, and anyone concerned with the history of divination in East Asia.
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