Inscribed Deer Skull

Inscribed Deer Skull

National Treasure

National Treasure Intro

The Inscribed Deer Skull was excavated by the IHP in 1931 at Hsiao-t’un (Xiaotun), Ruins of Yin (Yinxu) in Anyang, Henan. There have only been two deer skulls with inscriptions excavated at archaeological sites, both of which are in the collection of the IHP. This one has been preserved more completely, with its deer antlers still intact.

Most of discovered oracle bone inscriptions are divination inscriptions written on turtle plastron or animal bones, but this is one of the few inscriptions on an animal skull related to rituals. The inscription records the time and place of the king of the Shang dynasty’s hunting. It was designated as a “national treasure” by the Ministry of Culture of Taiwan (R.O.C.) in 2008.

National Treasure Appreciation

There are twelve surviving characters in oracle bone script on the Inscribed Deer Skull. They record that after the king of Yin conquered the Fang Kingdom, on the way back, he hunted in a place called “Hao,” and obtained game to sacrifice to Wen Wu Ding.
The twelve-character inscription runs from right to left in three lines.



The year 1928 saw the establishment of the Institute of History and Philology (IHP) in Guangzhou, China. In the winter of 1948, the IHP relocated to Taiwan, and in 1954, settled in its current location in Nangang. The IHP is a multidisciplinary research institute with research areas covering history, archaeology, anthropology, and philology. The IHP’s achievements are highly valued in both domestic and international academic circles.

The IHP has a collection of more than 140,000 artifacts. These include more than 120,000 archaeological artifacts excavated and collected when the Institute was in China; more than 10,000 Han dynasty wooden slips from Edsen-gol; and more than 1,000 Chinese ethnographic artifacts. In addition, there is also the archives of the Grand Secretariat that has approximately 310,000 archival documents from the Ming and Qing dynasties.

In 1986, the Museum of the Institute of History and Philology was completed to showcase the collection of the IHP. One of the missions of the Museum is to transcend how traditional exhibition formats display their artifacts or fine works, as well as attaching importance to related research efforts and results. The content of the Museum’s exhibitions includes artifacts excavated from tombs of the Shang and Zhou dynasties as well as the Warring States period, Han dynasty wooden slips from Edsen-gol, rare texts, materials contained in the archives of the Grand Secretariat, artifacts from ethnic groups of Southwest China, ink rubbings, and Taiwanese archaeological data and findings. Through the presentation of these artifacts and various educational activities, the IHP shares its latest findings with the broader public.

Recommended objects

By using the Taiwan glossary available on the Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT-Taiwan),
objects can be better understood by linking them to similar objects in global collections.