Chu (state)

Chu (state)

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The State of Chu was a Zhou Dynasty
Zhou Dynasty
The Zhou Dynasty was a Chinese dynasty that followed the Shang Dynasty and preceded the Qin Dynasty. Although the Zhou Dynasty lasted longer than any other dynasty in Chinese history, the actual political and military control of China by the Ji family lasted only until 771 BC, a period known as...

 vassal
Vassal
A vassal or feudatory is a person who has entered into a mutual obligation to a lord or monarch in the context of the feudal system in medieval Europe. The obligations often included military support and mutual protection, in exchange for certain privileges, usually including the grant of land held...

 state in present-day central and southern China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 during the Spring and Autumn period (722-481 BC) and Warring States Period
Warring States Period
The Warring States Period , also known as the Era of Warring States, or the Warring Kingdoms period, covers the Iron Age period from about 475 BC to the reunification of China under the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC...

 (481-221 BC). Its ruling house had the surname
Chinese surname
Chinese family names have been historically used by Han Chinese and Sinicized Chinese ethnic groups in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and among overseas Chinese communities. In ancient times two types of surnames, family names and clan names , existed.The colloquial expressions laobaixing...

 Nai (Zhou Chinese: 嬭), and clan name Yan (酓), later evolved to surname
Chinese surname
Chinese family names have been historically used by Han Chinese and Sinicized Chinese ethnic groups in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and among overseas Chinese communities. In ancient times two types of surnames, family names and clan names , existed.The colloquial expressions laobaixing...

 Mi (芈), and clan name Xiong (熊). Originally Chu's rulers were of the noble rank of Zi (子), roughly comparable to a viscount
Viscount
A viscount or viscountess is a member of the European nobility whose comital title ranks usually, as in the British peerage, above a baron, below an earl or a count .-Etymology:...

.

Originally known as Jing (荆) and then as Jingchu (荆楚), at the height of its power the Chu state occupied vast areas of land, including the present-day provinces of Hunan
Hunan
' is a province of South-Central China, located to the south of the middle reaches of the Yangtze River and south of Lake Dongting...

, Hubei
Hubei
' Hupeh) is a province in Central China. The name of the province means "north of the lake", referring to its position north of Lake Dongting...

, Chongqing
Chongqing
Chongqing is a major city in Southwest China and one of the five national central cities of China. Administratively, it is one of the PRC's four direct-controlled municipalities , and the only such municipality in inland China.The municipality was created on 14 March 1997, succeeding the...

, Henan
Henan
Henan , is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "豫" , named after Yuzhou , a Han Dynasty state that included parts of Henan...

, Anhui
Anhui
Anhui is a province in the People's Republic of China. Located in eastern China across the basins of the Yangtze River and the Huai River, it borders Jiangsu to the east, Zhejiang to the southeast, Jiangxi to the south, Hubei to the southwest, Henan to the northwest, and Shandong for a tiny...

 and parts of Jiangsu
Jiangsu
' is a province of the People's Republic of China, located along the east coast of the country. The name comes from jiang, short for the city of Jiangning , and su, for the city of Suzhou. The abbreviation for this province is "苏" , the second character of its name...

, Jiangxi
Jiangxi
' is a southern province in the People's Republic of China. Spanning from the banks of the Yangtze River in the north into hillier areas in the south, it shares a border with Anhui to the north, Zhejiang to the northeast, Fujian to the east, Guangdong to the south, Hunan to the west, and Hubei to...

, Zhejiang
Zhejiang
Zhejiang is an eastern coastal province of the People's Republic of China. The word Zhejiang was the old name of the Qiantang River, which passes through Hangzhou, the provincial capital...

, and Shanghai
Shanghai
Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities in the People's Republic of China, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010...

. For more than 400 years the Chu capital Danyang
Danyang (Chu)
Danyang was the first capital of the State of Chu. It is located near modern day Xichuan County in Henan Province. Following a number of battles with neighboring states the Chu capital moved to Ying, near modern day Jingzhou City on the Jianghan Plain in the western part of Hubei...

 was located at the junction region of Dan River
Dan River (China)
The Dan River , formerly known as the Dan Shui or 800 Li Black River , is a river located in Shaanxi province in the People’s Republic of China...

 and Xi River, near present-day Xichuan, Henan Province, but later moved to Ying
Ying (Chu)
Yǐng was a capital city of the State of Chu during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods of Chinese History.In the early years of Chu’s development, the state capital was located at Danyang , near modern day Xichuan County in Henan Province...

.

Foundation


According to legend, the ancestors of the founders of the State of Chu were a clan descended from Zhuanxu
Zhuanxu
Zhuanxu , also known as Gaoyang is a mythological monarch of ancient China.A grandson of the Yellow Emperor, Zhuanxu led the Shi clan in an eastward migration to present-day Shandong, where intermarriages with the Dongyi clan enlarged and augmented their tribal influences...

 also known as Gaoyang (高阳/高陽), grandson of the Yellow Emperor
Yellow Emperor
The Yellow Emperor or Huangdi1 is a legendary Chinese sovereign and culture hero, included among the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors. Tradition holds that he reigned from 2697–2597 or 2696–2598 BC...

. Zhuanxu’s fifth generation descendant was put in charge of fire by Emperor Ku
Emperor Ku
Kù , or Dì Kù , also known as Gāoxīn Shì , was a mythical Emperor of China during the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors period. He was the son of Jiăo Jí , the grandson of Shăohào and the great grandson of Huáng-dì , the Yellow Emperor. According to speculative dates he is supposed to have ruled...

 and given the name Zhurong, otherwise known as the God of Fire.
Zhurong had six sons, the youngest of who was called Jilian (季连).
One of Jilian’s later descendants Yu Xiong (鬻熊) was a well known teacher who taught both King Wen of Zhou
King Wen of Zhou
King Wen of Zhou family name : Ji , Clan name : Zhou Personal name: Chang, known as Zhou Chang or Xibo Chang was the founder of the Zhou Dynasty and the first epic hero of Chinese history....

 and his son King Wu of Zhou
King Wu of Zhou
King Wu of Zhōu or King Wu of Chou was the first sovereign, or ruler of the Chinese Zhou Dynasty. The dates of his reign are 1046-1043 BCE or 1049/45-1043. Various sources quoted that he died at the age of 93, 54 or 43. He was considered a just and able leader. Zhou Gong Dan was one of his...

.

King Cheng of Zhou
King Cheng of Zhou
King Cheng of Zhou or King Ch'eng of Chou was the second sovereign of the Chinese Zhou Dynasty. The dates of his reign are 1042-1021 BC or 1042/35-1006 BC King Cheng was young when he ascended the throne...

 (Reigned 1042–1021) did not forget Yu Xiong’s valuable service to his father and grandfather such that when Xiong Yi
Xiong Yi
Xióng Yì , Family name : 芈, Clan name , was a ruler of the Zhou Dynasty vassal State of Chu in 11th Century BCE China...

, Yu Xiong’s grandson, became leader of Chu he was given the hereditary title of (子), roughly equivalent to a Viscount
Viscount
A viscount or viscountess is a member of the European nobility whose comital title ranks usually, as in the British peerage, above a baron, below an earl or a count .-Etymology:...

. He also received a grant of land around Danyang (丹阳) (modern day Xichuan County
Xichuan County
Xichuan County is a county of Nanyang, Henan, China.Xichuan has an area of 2,798 square kilometers and a population of 746,000.Both of the Danjiangkou Reservoir and the Central route of South–North Water Transfer Project's canal head are located in Xichuan...

, Henan Province) where he built the first capital of Chu.

Early expansion


In 977 BCE, after an expedition into the State of Chu King Zhao of Zhou
King Zhao of Zhou
King Zhao of Zhou or King Chao of Chou was the fourth sovereign of the Chinese Zhou Dynasty. The dates of his reign are 995-977 BC or 977/75-957 ....

's boat sank and he drowned in the Han River. Due to the death of their king, Zhou did not expand further in the south thus allowing the southern tribes and Chu to cement their own autonomy and independence much earlier than the states to the north. Chu ruler Xiong Qu (熊渠) overthrew the State of E
E (state)
The State of È was a vassal state in present-day central China from the time of the Shang Dynasty until its overthrow in 863 BCE. E moved from its original location in what is now the southern province of Henan into Hubei Province...

 in 863 BCE, later making its successor city Ezhou
Ezhou
-Geography and climate:Ezhou is located in southeastern Hubei province, on the southern bank of the Yangtze River east of Wuchang , and across the river from the city of Huanggang, to which it is connected by the Ehuang Bridge...

 the alternate Chu capital. In either 703 or 706 Xiong Tong (熊通), Viscount of Chu assumed the title King Wu of Chu
King Wu of Chu
King Wu of Chu was a ruler of the Zhou Dynasty vassal State of Chu during the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history. He was the second son of Xiao'ao , and brother of former ruler Fenmao whom he is rumored to have murdered in 740 BCE in order to usurp the throne.-Biographical sketch:King Wu...

, implying an equality with the Zhou king and the independence of Chu.

Chu during the Spring and Autumn period


In its early years, Chu was a successful expansionist and militaristic state that developed a reputation for coercing and absorbing its allies. Chu grew from a small state into a large kingdom. King Zhuang of Chu
King Zhuang of Chu
King Zhuāng of Chǔ was a monarch of the Zhou Dynasty vassal State of Chu during the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history...

 even attained the traditional title of one of the Five Hegemons. After a number of battles with neighbouring states, sometime between 695 and 689 BC, the Chu capital moved southeast from Danyang to Ying. Chu first consolidated its power by absorbing the lesser states within its immediate vicinity in today's Hubei Province; then, it expanded into the north towards the North China Plain. The threat from Chu resulted in multiple northern alliances under the leadership of the Jin state against Chu and its allies; these alliances successfully kept Chu in check, with their first major victory at the Battle of Chengpu
Battle of Chengpu
The Battle of Chengpu took place in 632 BC between the State of Jin and the State of Chu and its allies during the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history. It was the first great battle in the protracted conflict between the states of the Yellow River valley, and the states of the Yangtze...

 in 632 BC.

At the beginning of the sixth century BC, the Wu state
Wu (state)
The State of Wu , also known as Gou Wu or Gong Wu , was one of the vassal states during the Western Zhou Dynasty and the Spring and Autumn Period. The State of Wu was located at the mouth of the Yangtze River east of the State of Chu. Considered a semi-barbarian state by ancient Chinese...

 grew in power with the support of the Jin state to counter Chu. Wu defeated the Qi state
Qi (state)
Qi was a powerful state during the Spring and Autumn Period and Period of the Warring States in ancient China. Its capital was Linzi, now part of the modern day city of Zibo in Shandong Province....

, invaded Chu in 506 BC and, following the Battle of Boju, occupied the Chu capital Ying, forcing King Zhao of Chu
King Zhao of Chu
King Zhao of Chu was from 515 – 489 BCE the king of the State of Chu during the Spring and Autumn Period of ancient China. Documents unearthed in the former state also show his title as King Shao. Born Xiong Zhen , King Zhao was the son of King Ping of Chu .-Life:In 506 BCE, King Helü of the...

 (楚昭王) to flee to his allies, first to the State of Yun (郧/鄖) then to the State of Sui
Sui (state)
The State of Suí was a Zhou Dynasty vassal state located in Hubei Province, China during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods located in the Han River Basin...

 (随/隨) in northern Hubei. Prominent historian Shi Quan (石泉) links the Sui state to the State of Zeng. King Zhao eventually returned to Ying but after a further Wu attack in 504 BC temporarily moved the capital into territory annexed from the former State of Ruo
Ruo (state)
The State of Ruò was a small vassal state during the Chinese Zhou Dynasty whose rulers used the title Zǐ , roughly equivalent to a Viscount. Located between the States of Qin and Chu, Ruo was eventually annexed by the State of Chu....

. At this time, the Yue state
Yue (state)
Yue was a state in China which existed during the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period , in the modern province of Zhejiang. During the Spring and Autumn Period, its capital was in Guiji , near the modern city of Shaoxing...

 also grew in power with the support of Chu to counter Wu's dominance in the east. However, Yue was subjugated by King Fuchai of Wu until he released the hostage King Goujian of Yue who took revenge and conquered Wu. The Yue state was one of the strongest states of the late Spring and Autumn Period.

Chu during the Warring States period



The kingdom's power continued even after the end of the Spring and Autumn period in 481 BC. Chu overran Cai
Cai (state)
The State of Cài was a Chinese state during the Zhōu Dynasty , prominent in the Spring and Autumn Period before being extinguished early in the Warring States Period .-History:...

 to the north in 447 BC. However, by the end of the 5th century BC, the Chu government had become very corrupt and inefficient with much of the state's treasury to pay for a large official retinue. Many officials had no meaningful task except taking money. Thus, Chu's large army was of low quality due to the corrupt and cumbersome bureaucracy.

In the late 390s BC, King Dao of Chu made Wu Qi
Wu Qi
Wu Qi was a Chinese military leader and politician in the Warring States period.-Biography:Born in the State of Wei , he was skilled in leading armies and military strategy. He had served in the states of Lu and Wei. In the state of Wei he commanded many great battles and was appointed Xihe Shou...

 his chancellor. Wu's reforms began in 389 BC to transform Chu into an efficient and powerful state, lowering the salaries of officials and removing useless ones. He also enacted building codes to make the capital, Ying seem less barbaric. Despite Wu Qi's massive unpopularity with the Chu government (except the king), his reforms made Chu very powerful until the late 4th century BC, when Zhao
Zhao (state)
Zhao was a significant Chinese state during the Warring States Period, along with six others...

 and Qin
Qin (state)
The State of Qin was a Chinese feudal state that existed during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods of Chinese history...

 were ascendant. Chu's powerful army annexed Chen
Chen (state)
Chen was a minor Zhou Dynasty vassal state during the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese History. It was a relatively minor state based on a single urban centre near what is now Huaiyang County in the plains of eastern Henan province...

 state, defeating the states of Wei
Wei (state)
The State of Wei was a Zhou Dynasty vassal state during the Warring States Period of Chinese history. Its territory lay between the states of Qin and Qi and included parts of modern day Henan, Hebei, Shanxi and Shandong...

 and Yue
Yue (state)
Yue was a state in China which existed during the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period , in the modern province of Zhejiang. During the Spring and Autumn Period, its capital was in Guiji , near the modern city of Shaoxing...

. However, Wu Qi was assassinated by the Chu officials at the funeral of King Dao in 381 BC.

During the late Warring States Period, Chu was increasingly pressured by Qin to its west, especially after Qin enacted and preserved the legalistic reforms of Shang Yang
Shang Yang
Shang Yang was an important statesman of the State of Qin during the Warring States Period of Chinese history. Born Wei Yang in the State of Wei, with the support of Duke Xiao of Qin Yang enacted numerous reforms in Qin...

. Chu's size and power made it the key state in alliances against Qin. As Qin expanded into Chu territory, Chu was forced to expand southwards and eastwards, absorbing local cultural influences along the way. In 333 BC, Chu and Qi
Qi (state)
Qi was a powerful state during the Spring and Autumn Period and Period of the Warring States in ancient China. Its capital was Linzi, now part of the modern day city of Zibo in Shandong Province....

 partitioned and annexed the coastal state of Yue.

By the late Warring States Period (about the late 4th century BC), however, Chu's prominent status had fallen into decay. As a result of several invasions headed by Zhao and Qin, Chu was eventually subjugated by Qin.

According to the Records of the Warring States, a debate between School of Diplomacy
School of Diplomacy
The School of Diplomacy , or "School of Vertical and Horizontal" Alliances was a political and diplomatic clique during the Warring States Period of Chinese history...

 strategist Zhang Yi
Zhang Yi (strategist)
Zhang Yi was born in the Wei state during the Warring States Period of Chinese history. He was an important strategist in helping Qin to dissolve the unity of the other states, and hence pave the way for Qin to unify China...

 and the Qin general Sima Cuo on unifying China led to two conclusions. Zhang Yi believed conquering the Han state
Han (state)
Han was a kingdom during the Warring States Period in China, located in modern-day Shanxi and Henan. Not to be confused with South Korea which shares the same character....

 and seizing the Mandate of Heaven
Mandate of Heaven
The Mandate of Heaven is a traditional Chinese philosophical concept concerning the legitimacy of rulers. It is similar to the European concept of the divine right of kings, in that both sought to legitimaze rule from divine approval; however, unlike the divine right of kings, the Mandate of...

 from the figurehead resident Zhou
Zhou Dynasty
The Zhou Dynasty was a Chinese dynasty that followed the Shang Dynasty and preceded the Qin Dynasty. Although the Zhou Dynasty lasted longer than any other dynasty in Chinese history, the actual political and military control of China by the Ji family lasted only until 771 BC, a period known as...

 king would be wise. Sima Cuo considered Chu as its main rival in the struggle to unite the Warring States. Sima Cuo decided it was essential to control the fertile Sichuan Basin
Sichuan basin
The Sichuan Basin is a lowland region in southwestern China. Despite its historical name, it is not only synonymous to Sichuan province, comprising its central and eastern portions as well as part of Chongqing Municipality...

 to increase agricultural output and most importantly, to control the upper reaches of the Yangzi River that led to the Chu heartland.

According to the Records of the Warring States, Sima Cuo remarked, "To conquer Shu is to conquer Chu. Once Chu is eliminated, the country will be united."

King Huiwen of Qin
Huiwen of Qin
King Huiwen of Qin , also known as Lord Huiwen of Qin or King Hui of Qin , personal name Ying Si , was the ruler of the Qin state from 338 BC to 311 BC during the Warring States Period of Chinese history.-Early life:...

 decided to support Sima Cuo. In 316 BC, the Qin army conquered the Shu (state)
Shu (state)
The State of Shu was an ancient state in what is now Sichuan, China. It was conquered by Qin in 316 BC. Shu was based on the Chengdu Plain, in the western Sichuan basin with some extension northeast to the upper Han River valley. To the east was the Ba tribal confederation. Further east down the...

 and Ba (state)
Ba (state)
Ba was an ancient state in eastern Sichuan, China. Its original capital was Yicheng , Hubei. Ba was conquered by Qin in 316 BC. The modern ethnic minority Tujia people trace some of their origins back to the Ba people....

 and successively expanded to the east in the following decades. In 278 BC, Qin
Qin (state)
The State of Qin was a Chinese feudal state that existed during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods of Chinese history...

 general Bai Qi
Bai Qi
Bái Qǐ was an outstanding military leader of the State of Qin during the Warring States Period of Chinese history. Born in Mei , as commander of the Qin army for more than 30 years, Bai Qi was responsible for the deaths of a total over 890,000 enemy soldiers, earning him the nickname Ren Tu...

 conquered Chu's capital city of Ying. Following the fall of Ying, the Chu government moved to various locations in the east until settling in Shouchun (in present-day Anhui
Anhui
Anhui is a province in the People's Republic of China. Located in eastern China across the basins of the Yangtze River and the Huai River, it borders Jiangsu to the east, Zhejiang to the southeast, Jiangxi to the south, Hubei to the southwest, Henan to the northwest, and Shandong for a tiny...

 province) in 241 BC.

At this critical moment when Chu was nearing annihilation, Qin set its strategic aims to central China, especially the powerful Zhao state. After a massive two year struggle, Bai Qi lured out, surrounded, isolated, forced the surrender of and massacred the main Zhao force of 400,000 men at the Battle of Changping
Battle of Changping
The Battle of Changping was a military campaign that took place during the Warring States Period in China. It concluded in 260 BC with a decisive victory by the State of Qin over the State of Zhao, and ultimately allowed Qin to conquer and unify China decades later...

. After 260 BC, all major obstacles to Qin dominance ended and it was a matter of time until China's unification.

Qin's conquest of Chu 225-223 BC




In 225 BC, only three kingdoms (states) remained independent: Chu, Yan
Yan (state)
Yān was a state during the Western Zhou, Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods of Chinese history. Its capital was Ji...

 and Qi
Qi (state)
Qi was a powerful state during the Spring and Autumn Period and Period of the Warring States in ancient China. Its capital was Linzi, now part of the modern day city of Zibo in Shandong Province....

. Chu had recovered significantly enough to mount serious resistance after their disastrous defeats to Qin in 278 BC and losing their centuries-old capital of Ying. Despite its territorial size, resources and manpower, Chu's fatal flaw was its largely corrupt government that mostly overturned the legalistic-style reforms of Wu Qi
Wu Qi
Wu Qi was a Chinese military leader and politician in the Warring States period.-Biography:Born in the State of Wei , he was skilled in leading armies and military strategy. He had served in the states of Lu and Wei. In the state of Wei he commanded many great battles and was appointed Xihe Shou...

 150 years earlier, when Wu transformed Chu into the most powerful state with an area of almost half of all the states combined. Ironically, Wu Qi was from the same state (Wei
Wei (state)
The State of Wei was a Zhou Dynasty vassal state during the Warring States Period of Chinese history. Its territory lay between the states of Qin and Qi and included parts of modern day Henan, Hebei, Shanxi and Shandong...

) as Shang Yang
Shang Yang
Shang Yang was an important statesman of the State of Qin during the Warring States Period of Chinese history. Born Wei Yang in the State of Wei, with the support of Duke Xiao of Qin Yang enacted numerous reforms in Qin...

, whose legalistic reforms turned Qin into an invincible war machine at this stage.

The king of Qin
Qin (state)
The State of Qin was a Chinese feudal state that existed during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods of Chinese history...

, Ying Zheng
Qin Shi Huang
Qin Shi Huang , personal name Ying Zheng , was king of the Chinese State of Qin from 246 BC to 221 BC during the Warring States Period. He became the first emperor of a unified China in 221 BC...

, decided to finally defeat the remnants of the Chu state located in Huaiyang. According to Records of the Grand Historian
Records of the Grand Historian
The Records of the Grand Historian, also known in English by the Chinese name Shiji , written from 109 BC to 91 BC, was the Magnum opus of Sima Qian, in which he recounted Chinese history from the time of the Yellow Emperor until his own time...

, Ying Zheng had first asked his great general Wang Jian
Wang Jian (Qin)
Wang Jian , a military leader of Qin in the Warring States Period. He was born in Guanzhong county, city of Pinyang, Dongxiang village .-Major Achievement:...

 how many men he needed, and Wang requested 600,000 men. Another Qin general, Li Xin, said 200,000 men would suffice. The first invasion was a disaster when 200,000 Qin troops were defeated by a counterattack and ambush of 500,000 Chu troops under Xiang Yan. Xiang lured the Qin troops into a trap by allowing them a few initial victories. During the counterattack, Chu troops burned two large Qin camps, defeating the Qin generals Li Xin and Meng Wu. In 224 BC, Wang Jian was recalled and finally accepted leadership of the second invasion force, requesting and receiving a force of 600,000 men. Wang Jian even asked for a lake, house and land for his descendants, responding to the Qin king's laughter that his extra requests will eventually pale once the empire is secured. The general continued to request luxury items and other commodities during the campaign. Wang Jian said to his dumbfounded officers that only by requesting more from the king, will the king have confidence in his general.

The Chu forces were confident in resisting a Qin invasion. However, Wang decided to dissipate Chu's morale by appearing inactive in his fortifications but secretly training his troops to fight in Chu territory. After a year, Chu decided to disband the bulk of its force levy due to inaction. Wang Jian then invaded and overran Huaiyang and the remaining Chu forces. Chu was finally conquered in 223 BC. During their peak sizes, both armies of Chu and Qin combined numbered over 1,000,000 troops, more than the massive Battle of Changping
Battle of Changping
The Battle of Changping was a military campaign that took place during the Warring States Period in China. It concluded in 260 BC with a decisive victory by the State of Qin over the State of Zhao, and ultimately allowed Qin to conquer and unify China decades later...

 between Qin and Zhao 35 years before. The excavated personal letters of two Qin regular soldiers, Hei Fu (黑夫) and Jing (惊), tell of a protracted campaign in Huaiyang under general Wang Jian. Both soldiers wrote letters requesting supplies of clothing and money from home to sustain the long waiting campaign.

Chu under Qin rule and the Western Han period


The Chu realm at its most powerful was vast with many ethnicities and various customs. Despite their diversity, the Chu people were united by a common respect for nature, the supernatural, their heritage and loyalty to their ruling house and nobility, epitomized by the famed Chu statesman-poet Qu Yuan
Qu Yuan
Qu Yuan was a Chinese poet who lived during the Warring States Period in ancient China. He is famous for his contributions to the poetry collection known as the Chu-ci...

 and the Songs of Chu
Chu Ci
Chu Ci , also known as Songs of the South or Songs of Chu, is an anthology of Chinese verse traditionally attributed to Qu Yuan and Song Yu from the Warring States Period, though about half of the poems seem to have been composed several centuries later, during the Han Dynasty...

. The Chu populace in areas conquered by Qin openly ignored the stringent Qin laws and governance, which was recorded in the excavated bamboo slips
Shuihudi Qin bamboo texts
The Shuihudi Qin bamboo texts are early Chinese texts written on bamboo slips, and are also sometimes called the Yúnmèng Qin bamboo texts. They were excavated in December 1975 from Tomb #11 at Chéngguān Shuìhǔdì , Yunmeng County, Hubei Province, China. The tomb belonged to a Qin administrator....

 of a Qin administrator in Hubei. Chu was one of the last states to fall, only 11 years before the death of Qin Shi Huang
Qin Shi Huang
Qin Shi Huang , personal name Ying Zheng , was king of the Chinese State of Qin from 246 BC to 221 BC during the Warring States Period. He became the first emperor of a unified China in 221 BC...

, and its people aspired of overthrowing the painful yoke of Qin rule and reestablishing the Chu state.

There was a famous saying that "Even if Chu has only three clans (or "families") left, it will still eventually destroy Qin." (楚雖三戶, 亡秦必楚). Historians believed that the "three clans" referred to the three biggest clans in Chu; Qu, Jing and Zhao (屈、景、昭). Hence, the quote was commonly interpreted as: "The people of Chu hate Qin so much such that even if there are only three clans left in Chu, their hatred is powerful enough to destroy Qin." (楚人怨秦, 雖三戶足以亡秦也).

After Qin Shi Huang's very short reign, peasants, soldiers and relatives of nobles and the ruling house of Chu quickly organized into violent insurrections against the repressive Qin governance, initializing the anti-Qin rebellion that spread to the rest of China. The people of Chu, whose culture was a naturalistic and Taoist one, were resentful of the forced labor under Qin, and folk poems recorded the mournful sadness of the Chu families of men who worked in the frigid north to construct the Great Wall of China
Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is a series of stone and earthen fortifications in northern China, built originally to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire against intrusions by various nomadic groups...

.

The Daze Village Uprising against the Qin Dynasty erupted in 209 BC, under the leadership of a peasant leader from the former Chu state, Chen Sheng
Chen Sheng
Chen Sheng , also known in some sources as Chen She , was the leader of the first rebellion, known as Daze Village Uprising, against the Qin Dynasty during the reign of Qin Er Shi.-Start of the rebellion:...

, who proclaimed himself "King of Zhangchu" (King of Rising Chu). The uprising was crushed by Qin forces but other rebellions started as well. One of the rebel leaders, Jing Ju
Jing Ju
Jing Ju was one of the leaders during the Daze Village Uprising against the Qin Dynasty.Upon hearing the news of Chen Sheng defeated by the Qin forces and uncertain about his death, his subordinate Qin Jia persuaded him to claim the title King of Chu...

, a native of Chu, proclaimed himself king of Chu. Jing Ju was defeated by Xiang Liang
Xiang Liang
Xiang Liang was a military leader who led a rebellion against the Qin Dynasty.-Early life:Xiang was a native of Xiaxiang . Xiang was a descendant of a family who served the Chu state for generations...

's rebel force and Xiang installed Xiong Xin
Emperor Yi of Chu
Emperor Yi of Chu , also known as King Huai II of Chu , personal name Xiong Xin was the ruler of the Chu state during the late Qin Dynasty...

, a descendant of the Chu royal family, on the throne of Chu, with the title of "King Huai II of Chu". In 206 BC, after the fall of the Qin Dynasty, Xiang Yu
Xiang Yu
Xiang Yu was a prominent military leader and political figure during the late Qin Dynasty. His given name was Ji while his style name was Yu ....

, nephew of Xiang Liang, proclaimed himself "Hegemon-King of Western Chu" and promoted King Huai II to the more honorific title of "Emperor Yi of Chu", but he had the emperor assassinated later. Xiang Yu engaged Liu Bang, another prominent rebel leader native to Chu, in a long power struggle for supremacy over China, known as the Chu-Han Contention
Chu-Han contention
The Chu–Han Contention was a post-Qin Dynasty interregnum period in Chinese history. Following the collapse of the Qin Dynasty, Xiang Yu split the former Qin Empire into the Eighteen Kingdoms. Two prominent contending powers, Western Chu and Han, emerged from these principalities and engaged in a...

. The conflict ended with victory for Liu Bang, who proceeded to found the Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

, while Xiang Yu committed suicide after his defeat.

The Chu people and customs were major influences in the new era of the Western Han Dynasty. Liu Bang immediately initialized the Taoist Wu wei
Wu wei
Wu wei is an important concept of Taoism , that involves knowing when to act and when not to act. Another perspective to this is that "Wu Wei" means...

 governance, made peace with the Xiongnu
Xiongnu
The Xiongnu were ancient nomadic-based people that formed a state or confederation north of the agriculture-based empire of the Han Dynasty. Most of the information on the Xiongnu comes from Chinese sources...

 through Heqin
Heqin
Heqin was a term used in ancient China for an alliance by marriage. It usually referred to the Chinese Emperor marrying off a "princess" to an aggressive "barbarian" chieftain or ruler. The theory was that in exchange for the marriage, the chieftain would cease all aggressive actions toward China...

 intermarriages, quickly rewarding his allies and giving them pseudo-fiefdoms, and allowing the population to rest from centuries of warfare. Eventually, by the time of Emperor Wu of Han
Emperor Wu of Han
Emperor Wu of Han , , personal name Liu Che , was the seventh emperor of the Han Dynasty of China, ruling from 141 BC to 87 BC. Emperor Wu is best remembered for the vast territorial expansion that occurred under his reign, as well as the strong and centralized Confucian state he organized...

, Chu folk culture in everyday lifestyles and Chu aesthetics were gradually amalgamated with state-sponsored Confucian ideals and Qin-styled centralized governance to create a distinct and unified "Chinese" culture, visible during the Eastern Han Dynasty.

Culture


Based on archaeological finds, Chu's culture was initially quite similar to that of other Zhou states. Later on, Chu culture absorbed indigenous elements as the state expanded to the south and east, developing a distinct culture from the traditional Northern Zhou states.

Early Chu burial offerings consisted primarily of bronze vessels in the Zhou style. Later Chu burials, especially during the Warring States Period, featured distinct Chu burial objects, such as colorful lacquer
Lacquer
In a general sense, lacquer is a somewhat imprecise term for a clear or coloured varnish that dries by solvent evaporation and often a curing process as well that produces a hard, durable finish, in any sheen level from ultra matte to high gloss and that can be further polished as required...

ware, iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

 and silk
Silk
Silk is a natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be woven into textiles. The best-known type of silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori reared in captivity...

, accompanied by a reduction in bronze vessel offerings.

A common Chu motif
Motif (art)
In art, a motif is an element of a pattern, an image or part of one, or a theme. A motif may be repeated in a design or composition, often many times, or may just occur once in a work. A motif may be an element in the iconography of a particular subject or type of subject that is seen in other...

 was the vivid depiction of wildlife, mystical animals and natural imagery, such as snakes, mystical dragons, phoenixes, tigers and free-flowing clouds and serpent-like beings. Some archaeologists speculate that Chu may have had cultural connections to the vanished Shang dynasty
Shang Dynasty
The Shang Dynasty or Yin Dynasty was, according to traditional sources, the second Chinese dynasty, after the Xia. They ruled in the northeastern regions of the area known as "China proper" in the Yellow River valley...

, since many motifs used by Chu appeared earlier at Shang sites, such as motifs depicting serpent-tailed gods.

In terms of philosophy, the Chu culture and government strongly supported Taoism
Taoism
Taoism refers to a philosophical or religious tradition in which the basic concept is to establish harmony with the Tao , which is the mechanism of everything that exists...

 and native shaman folk beliefs supplemented with some Confucian
Confucianism
Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius . Confucianism originated as an "ethical-sociopolitical teaching" during the Spring and Autumn Period, but later developed metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han...

 ideals. The naturalistic and flowing art, the Songs of Chu
Chu Ci
Chu Ci , also known as Songs of the South or Songs of Chu, is an anthology of Chinese verse traditionally attributed to Qu Yuan and Song Yu from the Warring States Period, though about half of the poems seem to have been composed several centuries later, during the Han Dynasty...

, historical records (Records of the Grand Historian
Records of the Grand Historian
The Records of the Grand Historian, also known in English by the Chinese name Shiji , written from 109 BC to 91 BC, was the Magnum opus of Sima Qian, in which he recounted Chinese history from the time of the Yellow Emperor until his own time...

), excavated bamboo documents (Guodian bamboo slips
Guodian Chu Slips
The Guodian Chu Slips were unearthed in 1993 in Tomb no. 1 of the Guodian tombs in Jingmen, Hubei. The archeological team suggested the tomb should be dated to the latter half of the Warring States period...

) and other artifacts reveal heavy Daoist and native folk influence in Chu culture. The disposition to a spiritual, often pleasurable and decadent lifestyle and the confidence in the size of the Chu realm led to the inefficiency and eventual destruction of the Chu state to the ruthless Legalist
Legalism (Chinese philosophy)
In Chinese history, Legalism was one of the main philosophic currents during the Warring States Period, although the term itself was invented in the Han Dynasty and thus does not refer to an organized 'school' of thought....

 state of Qin. Even though the Qin realm lacked the vast natural resources and waterways of Chu, the Qin government maximized its output and created a system of ruthless efficiency under the minister Shang Yang
Shang Yang
Shang Yang was an important statesman of the State of Qin during the Warring States Period of Chinese history. Born Wei Yang in the State of Wei, with the support of Duke Xiao of Qin Yang enacted numerous reforms in Qin...

, installing a meritocracy focused solely on agricultural and military might.

Later Chu culture was known for its affinity for employing shamanistic rituals. Chu was also known for its distinct music; archaeological evidence shows that Chu music was annotated differently from Zhou music; Chu music also showed an inclination for using different performance ensembles, as well as unique instruments; In Chu, the se
Se (instrument)
The se is an ancient Chinese plucked zither . It is the ancestor of many Asian zithers, including the Chinese guzheng, the Korean gayageum and the Japanese koto. It has 25 strings with moveable bridges and has a range of up to five octaves.-History:The history of the se extends back to early...

was preferred over the qin
Guqin
The guqin is the modern name for a plucked seven-string Chinese musical instrument of the zither family...

, while both instruments were equally preferred in the northern Zhou states.

Chu came into frequent contact with other peoples in the south, most notably the Ba
Ba (state)
Ba was an ancient state in eastern Sichuan, China. Its original capital was Yicheng , Hubei. Ba was conquered by Qin in 316 BC. The modern ethnic minority Tujia people trace some of their origins back to the Ba people....

, Yue
Yue (state)
Yue was a state in China which existed during the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period , in the modern province of Zhejiang. During the Spring and Autumn Period, its capital was in Guiji , near the modern city of Shaoxing...

 and the Baiyue. Numerous burials and burial objects in the Ba and Yue styles were discovered throughout the territory of Chu, co-existing with Chu-style burials and burial objects.

The early rulers of the Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

 romanticized the culture of Chu, sparking a renewed interest in Chu cultural elements such as the Songs of Chu. Evidence of heavy Chu cultural influence during the early years of Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

 appears in Mawangdui. After the Han dynasty, some Confucian scholars considered Chu culture with distaste, criticizing the "lewd" music and shamanistic rituals associated with Chu culture.

Chu artisanship shows a mastery of form and color, especially the lacquer
Lacquer
In a general sense, lacquer is a somewhat imprecise term for a clear or coloured varnish that dries by solvent evaporation and often a curing process as well that produces a hard, durable finish, in any sheen level from ultra matte to high gloss and that can be further polished as required...

 woodworks. Red and black pigmented lacquer were most used. Silk-weaving also attained a high level of craftsmanship, creating lightweight robes with flowing designs. These examples were preserved in waterlogged tombs (this preserved lacquerware, which is vulnerable to peel off in dry conditions) and coal/white clay sealed tombs (this preserved everything extremely well, since fine white clay is highly compressible and forms a tight seal). One such tomb at Mawangdui is a perfect example of a well-sealed tomb.

Chu used the difficult to read script called "Birds and Worms" style, which was borrowed by the Wu and Yue states. It has an intricate design that embellishes the characters with motifs of animals, snakes, birds and insects. This is another representation of the Chu reverence of the natural world and its liveliness. Chu produced broad bronze swords that were similar to Wuyue swords, but not as intricate.

Chu was in the region of many rivers, so it created an efficient riverine boat transport system augmented by wagons. These are detailed in bronze tallies with gold inlay regarding trade regulations around the capital, Ying.

List of states annexed by Chu


This list is not complete.

863 E; 704 Quan; 688-680 Shen; 684-680 Xi; 678 Deng; after 643 Dao; 623 Jiang; 622 Liao; after 622 Ruo; after 506 Sui; 512 Xu
Xu (state)
The State of Xu was a vassal state of ancient China during the Zhou Dynasty and Spring and Autumn Period ruled by descendants of the Yíng family. Xu was a Dongyi state also known as Xurong , Xuyi or Xufang , all meaning either "Xu barbarians" or "Xu Proper". Xu was one of the largest and most...

; 479 Chen; 445 Qi (henan); 447 Cai; 431 Ju; after 418 Pi; 334 Yue
Yue (state)
Yue was a state in China which existed during the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period , in the modern province of Zhejiang. During the Spring and Autumn Period, its capital was in Guiji , near the modern city of Shaoxing...

; 256 Lu
Lu (state)
The State of Lu, was a Zhou Dynasty ducal vassal state before and during the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history. Founded in the 10th century BC, its dukes used Ji as their family name. The first duke was Boqin |Qi]] and to the south by the powerful state of Chu...

;

Rulers

  1. Yu Xiong (鬻熊), teacher of King Wen of Zhou
    King Wen of Zhou
    King Wen of Zhou family name : Ji , Clan name : Zhou Personal name: Chang, known as Zhou Chang or Xibo Chang was the founder of the Zhou Dynasty and the first epic hero of Chinese history....

     and King Wu of Zhou
    King Wu of Zhou
    King Wu of Zhōu or King Wu of Chou was the first sovereign, or ruler of the Chinese Zhou Dynasty. The dates of his reign are 1046-1043 BCE or 1049/45-1043. Various sources quoted that he died at the age of 93, 54 or 43. He was considered a just and able leader. Zhou Gong Dan was one of his...

    , surname: Mi 芈 (or Nai 嬭, Qian 芊, Xiong 熊, Yan 酓)
  2. Xiong Li (楚熊麗), son of Xiong Zao
  3. Xiong Kuang (楚熊狂), ruled during the reign of King Cheng of Zhou
    King Cheng of Zhou
    King Cheng of Zhou or King Ch'eng of Chou was the second sovereign of the Chinese Zhou Dynasty. The dates of his reign are 1042-1021 BC or 1042/35-1006 BC King Cheng was young when he ascended the throne...

    : son of Xiong Li
  4. Xiong Yi
    Xiong Yi
    Xióng Yì , Family name : 芈, Clan name , was a ruler of the Zhou Dynasty vassal State of Chu in 11th Century BCE China...

     (楚熊繹), ruled 1042–1006, son of Xiong Kuang
  5. Xiong Ai (楚熊艾), ruled 1006–981 BC, son of Xiong Yi
  6. Xiong Dan (楚熊黵), ruled 981–970 BC
  7. Xiong Sheng (楚熊勝), possibly the Xiang Cheng referenced in Chinese legend, who lived at some point during the Zhou Dynasty
    Zhou Dynasty
    The Zhou Dynasty was a Chinese dynasty that followed the Shang Dynasty and preceded the Qin Dynasty. Although the Zhou Dynasty lasted longer than any other dynasty in Chinese history, the actual political and military control of China by the Ji family lasted only until 771 BC, a period known as...

    , ruled 970–946 BC
  8. Xiong Yang (楚熊煬) (or Xiong Yang 熊楊), ruled 946–887 BC, son of Xiong Sheng
  9. Xiong Qu (楚熊渠), ruled 887–877, son of Xiong Yang
  10. Xiong Zhi (楚熊摯), ruled 877–876 BC, born Xiong Zhihong (熊摯紅), second son of Xiong Qu
  11. Xiong Yan (楚熊延), born Xiong Zhici (熊执疵) ruled 876–848 BC, youngest son of Xiong Qu, murdered his brother Xiong Zhi and usurped the throne
  12. Xiong Yong (楚熊勇), ruled 848–838 BC: son of Xiong Yan
  13. Xiong Yan (楚熊嚴), ruled 837–828 BC: brother of Xiong Yong
  14. Xiong Shuang (楚熊霜), ruled 827–822 BC: son of Xiong Yan
  15. Xiong Xun (楚熊徇 (or 熊狥), ruled 821–800 BC: third brother of Xiong Shuang
  16. Xiong E (楚熊鄂) (or 熊咢), ruled 799–791 BC: son of Xiong Xun
  17. Ruo'ao (楚若敖) (Xiong Yi 熊儀), ruled 790–764 BC: son of Xiong E
  18. Xiao'ao
    Xiao'ao
    Xiāo’áo was a ruler of the Zhou Dynasty vassal State of Chu during the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history. The eldest son of Ruo’ao , after a six year reign he was succeeded on the throne by his son Fenmao ....

     (楚霄敖) (Xiong Kan 熊坎), ruled 763–758 BC: son of Ruo'ao
  19. Fenmao (楚蚡冒) (Xiong Xuan 熊眴) ruled 757–741 BC: son of Xiao'ao. Either he or his son was murdered by his younger brother, the future King Wu
  20. King Wu of Chu
    King Wu of Chu
    King Wu of Chu was a ruler of the Zhou Dynasty vassal State of Chu during the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history. He was the second son of Xiao'ao , and brother of former ruler Fenmao whom he is rumored to have murdered in 740 BCE in order to usurp the throne.-Biographical sketch:King Wu...

     (楚武王) (Xiong Tong 熊通), 740–690 BC: second son of Xiao'ao, brother of King Li. Declared himself first "king" of Chu sometime between 706 and 702 BC
  21. King Wen of Chu (楚文王) (Xiong Zi 熊貲), ruled 689–677 BC: son of King Wu. He moved the Chu capital to Ying
    Ying (Chu)
    Yǐng was a capital city of the State of Chu during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods of Chinese History.In the early years of Chu’s development, the state capital was located at Danyang , near modern day Xichuan County in Henan Province...

  22. Du'ao (楚堵敖) (Xiong Jian 熊艱), ruled 676–672 BC: son of King Wen. He was murdered by his younger brother, the future King Cheng
  23. King Cheng of Chu 楚成王 (Xiong Jun 熊頵), ruled 671–626 BC: brother of Du'ao. He invaded Central China and lost to the Jin state at the Battle of Chengpu
    Battle of Chengpu
    The Battle of Chengpu took place in 632 BC between the State of Jin and the State of Chu and its allies during the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history. It was the first great battle in the protracted conflict between the states of the Yellow River valley, and the states of the Yangtze...

    . Husband to Zheng Mao
    Zheng Mao
    Zheng Mao was the primary wife of King Cheng of the State of Chu during the Spring and Autumn Period of ancient China. She is one of 125 women of which biographies have been included in the Lienü zhuan, written by Liu Xiang.-Life:...

    . He was murdered by his heir and eldest son, the future King Mu
  24. King Mu of Chu 楚穆王 (Xiong Shangchen 熊商臣) ruled 625–614 BC: son of King Cheng
  25. King Zhuang of Chu
    King Zhuang of Chu
    King Zhuāng of Chǔ was a monarch of the Zhou Dynasty vassal State of Chu during the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history...

     (楚莊王) and Jing (荆莊王) (Xiong Lü 熊旅) ruled 613–591 BC: son of King Mu. He reformed the state and defeated the powerful Jin state at the Battle of Bi.
  26. King Gong of Chu (楚共王) (Xiong Shen 熊審) ruled 590–560 BC: son of King Zhuang
  27. King Kang of Chu (楚康王) (Xiong Zhao 熊招) ruled 559–545 BC: son of King Gong
  28. Jia'ao (楚郟敖) (Xiong Jun 熊麇) ruled 544–541 BC: son of King Kang. He and his sons were murdered by his uncle, the future King Ling
  29. King Ling of Chu
    King Ling of Chu
    King Ling of Chu was a king of the State of Chu between 540 BC and 529 BC. His birth name was Wei and before ascending the throne he was known as Gongzi Wei .-Taking the throne:...

     (楚靈王) (Xiong Qian 熊虔) ruled 540–529 BC: uncle of Jia'ao. He was overthrown by his younger brothers and committed suicide in despair
  30. Zi'ao (楚訾敖) (Xiong Bi 熊比) ruled 529–529 BC: brother of King Ling. He was cheated into committing suicide by his younger brother the later King Ping, who said that King Ling was back (in fact King Ling had already died)
  31. King Ping of Chu 楚平王 (Xiong Ju 熊居) ruled 528–516 BC: brother of King Bi
  32. King Zhao of Chu
    King Zhao of Chu
    King Zhao of Chu was from 515 – 489 BCE the king of the State of Chu during the Spring and Autumn Period of ancient China. Documents unearthed in the former state also show his title as King Shao. Born Xiong Zhen , King Zhao was the son of King Ping of Chu .-Life:In 506 BCE, King Helü of the...

     (楚昭王) (Xiong Zhen 熊軫) ruled 515–489 BC: son of King Ping. The Wu state
    Wu (state)
    The State of Wu , also known as Gou Wu or Gong Wu , was one of the vassal states during the Western Zhou Dynasty and the Spring and Autumn Period. The State of Wu was located at the mouth of the Yangtze River east of the State of Chu. Considered a semi-barbarian state by ancient Chinese...

     temporarily captured the capital Ying. For a time, the Sui state protected King Zhao.
  33. King Hui of Chu (楚惠王) (Xiong Zhang 熊章) ruled 488–432 BC: son of King Zhao. He conquered the Cai state
    Cai (state)
    The State of Cài was a Chinese state during the Zhōu Dynasty , prominent in the Spring and Autumn Period before being extinguished early in the Warring States Period .-History:...

     and the Chen state
    Chen (state)
    Chen was a minor Zhou Dynasty vassal state during the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese History. It was a relatively minor state based on a single urban centre near what is now Huaiyang County in the plains of eastern Henan province...

    . The year before he died, Marquis Yi of Zeng died, so he made a commemorative bell and attended the Marquis's funeral at Suizhou
    Suizhou
    Suizhou , formerly Sui County , is a prefecture-level city in Hubei province of Central China.-Administration:The prefecture-level city of Suizhou administers 2 county-level divisions, including 1 district and 1 county-level city....

    .
  34. King Jian of Chu (楚簡王) (Xiong Zhong 熊中) ruled 431–408 BC: son of King Hui
  35. King Sheng of Chu (楚聲王) (Xiong Dang 熊當) ruled 407–402 BC: son of King Jian
  36. King Dao of Chu
    King Dao of Chu
    King Dao of Chu , Family name : 芈, Clan name , was a ruler of the Zhou Dynasty vassal State of Chu from 401 BCE - 381 BCE: son of King Sheng. He made Wu Qi chancellor and reformed the Chu government and army....

     (楚悼王) (Xiong Yi 熊疑) ruled 401–381 BC: son of King Sheng. He made Wu Qi
    Wu Qi
    Wu Qi was a Chinese military leader and politician in the Warring States period.-Biography:Born in the State of Wei , he was skilled in leading armies and military strategy. He had served in the states of Lu and Wei. In the state of Wei he commanded many great battles and was appointed Xihe Shou...

     chancellor and reformed the Chu government and army.
  37. King Su of Chu (楚肅王) (Xiong Zang 熊臧) ruled 380–370 BC: son of King Dao
  38. King Xuan of Chu (楚宣王) (Xiong Liangfu 熊良夫) ruled 369–340 BC: brother of King Su
  39. King Wei of Chu (楚威王) (Xiong Shang 熊商) ruled 339–329 BC: son of King Xuan. He defeated and partitioned the Yue state
    Yue (state)
    Yue was a state in China which existed during the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period , in the modern province of Zhejiang. During the Spring and Autumn Period, its capital was in Guiji , near the modern city of Shaoxing...

     with Qi state
    Qi (state)
    Qi was a powerful state during the Spring and Autumn Period and Period of the Warring States in ancient China. Its capital was Linzi, now part of the modern day city of Zibo in Shandong Province....

    .
  40. King Huai of Chu (楚懷王) (Xiong Huai 熊槐) ruled 328–299: son of King Wei. He lost to the Qin armies at the Battle of Danyang after Qin's invasion of Sichuan
    Sichuan
    ' , known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan is a province in Southwest China with its capital in Chengdu...

    . Later, he was tricked and held hostage until his death by the Kingdom of Qin
    Qin (state)
    The State of Qin was a Chinese feudal state that existed during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods of Chinese history...

  41. King Qingxiang of Chu (楚頃襄王) (Xiong Heng 熊橫) ruled 298–263 BC: son of King Huai. As a prince, one of his elderly tutors was buried at the site of the Guodian Chu Slips
    Guodian Chu Slips
    The Guodian Chu Slips were unearthed in 1993 in Tomb no. 1 of the Guodian tombs in Jingmen, Hubei. The archeological team suggested the tomb should be dated to the latter half of the Warring States period...

     in Hubei
    Hubei
    ' Hupeh) is a province in Central China. The name of the province means "north of the lake", referring to its position north of Lake Dongting...

    . The Chu capital of Ying was captured and sacked by Qin.
  42. King Kaolie of Chu (楚考烈王) (Xiong Wan 熊完) ruled 262–238 BC: son of King Qingxiang. He made Shouchun the Chu capital.
  43. King You of Chu
    King You of Chu
    King You of Chu , was a ruler of the Chinese Zhou Dynasty vassal State of Chu between 237 and 228 BCE. He succeeded his father King Kaolie of Chu and during his reign You's maternal uncle Li Yuan served as prime minister....

     (楚幽王) (Xiong Yu 熊煜) ruled 237–228 BC: son of King Kaolie or illegitimate son of Lord Chunshen (春申君)
  44. King Ai of Chu
    King Ai of Chu
    King Ai of Chu , born Xiong You, was a king of Chu during the period of Warring States in ancient China. He was son of King Kaolie of Chu and Queen Li Yan. There was also rumors that he was indeed fathered by Huang Xie, Lord Chunshen as well as his elder brother and predecessor King You of...

     (楚哀王) (Xiong You 熊猶 or Xiong Hao 熊郝) ruled 228–228 BC: brother of King You. He was killed by the later King Fuchu
  45. King Fuchu of Chu (楚王負芻) (熊負芻 Xiong Fuchu) ruled 227–223 BC: brother of King Ai. He was captured by Qin troops and deposed
  46. Lord Changping of Chu
    Lord Changping of Chu
    Lord Changping of Chu was the last sovereign of the state of Chu in the last days Warring States Period of Chinese history. Although most state that his brother and predecessor King Fuchu of Chu was the last monarch of Chu, and he never bored the title of king . He was the son of King Kaolie of...

     (昌平君) ruled 223–223 BC (Chu annexed to Qin): brother of King Fuchu. He was killed in the battles against Qin troops

Pretenders

  • Chen Sheng
    Chen Sheng
    Chen Sheng , also known in some sources as Chen She , was the leader of the first rebellion, known as Daze Village Uprising, against the Qin Dynasty during the reign of Qin Er Shi.-Start of the rebellion:...

     (陳勝) as King Yin of Chu (楚隠王) ruled 210–209 BC
  • Jing Ju
    Jing Ju
    Jing Ju was one of the leaders during the Daze Village Uprising against the Qin Dynasty.Upon hearing the news of Chen Sheng defeated by the Qin forces and uncertain about his death, his subordinate Qin Jia persuaded him to claim the title King of Chu...

     (景駒) as King Jia of Chu 楚假王 (Jia for fake) ruled 209–208 BC
  • Xiongxin (熊心) as Emperor Yi of Chu
    Emperor Yi of Chu
    Emperor Yi of Chu , also known as King Huai II of Chu , personal name Xiong Xin was the ruler of the Chu state during the late Qin Dynasty...

     (楚義帝) (originally King Huai II 楚後懷王) ruled 208–206 BC: grandson or great-grandson of King Huai I of Chu
  • Xiang Yu
    Xiang Yu
    Xiang Yu was a prominent military leader and political figure during the late Qin Dynasty. His given name was Ji while his style name was Yu ....

     (项羽) as Hegemon-King of Western Chu (西楚霸王) ruled 206–202 BC

Famous people

  • Poet Qu Yuan
    Qu Yuan
    Qu Yuan was a Chinese poet who lived during the Warring States Period in ancient China. He is famous for his contributions to the poetry collection known as the Chu-ci...

     hailed from Chu. A government minister and a patriot, he had advocated uniting with the other states to combat the rising hegemon Qin
    Qin (state)
    The State of Qin was a Chinese feudal state that existed during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods of Chinese history...

    , yet to no avail; he was banished by the king of Chu. According to tradition, such was his grief upon learning of the Qin
    Qin (state)
    The State of Qin was a Chinese feudal state that existed during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods of Chinese history...

     invasion, he committed suicide in the Miluo River
    Miluo River
    The Miluo River is an important river in the Dongting Lake watershed. It is famous as the location of the ritual suicide in 278 BC of Qu Yuan, a poet of Chu state during the Warring States period, in protest against the corruption of the era....

    . The Duanwu Festival
    Dragon Boat Festival
    Duanwu Festival, also known as Dragon Boat Festival and the Double Fifth, is a traditional and statutory holiday originating in China and associated with a number of East Asian and Southeast Asian societies...

     honors his death for his country.
  • Xiang Yu
    Xiang Yu
    Xiang Yu was a prominent military leader and political figure during the late Qin Dynasty. His given name was Ji while his style name was Yu ....

    , also known as "Hegemon-King of Western Chu"; he defeated the Qin armies at the Battle of Julu
    Battle of Julu
    The Battle of Julu was fought in Julu in 207 BC primarily between Qin forces led by Zhang Han, and Chu rebels led by Xiang Yu. Xiang Yu emerged victorious, defeating a large Qin army with a small number of soldiers...

     and was also a rival to Liu Bang. He was fearsome in the battlefield but his arrogance lead to his downfall.
  • Han Dynasty
    Han Dynasty
    The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

     founder Liu Bang. He was born in Pei County, in present-day Xuzhou
    Xuzhou
    Xuzhou , otherwise known as Pengcheng in ancient times, is a major city in and the fourth largest prefecture-level city of Jiangsu province, People's Republic of China...

    , which is in northern Jiangsu
    Jiangsu
    ' is a province of the People's Republic of China, located along the east coast of the country. The name comes from jiang, short for the city of Jiangning , and su, for the city of Suzhou. The abbreviation for this province is "苏" , the second character of its name...

    . An intelligent statesman and ruler, he defeated Xiang Yu through his ability to attract and command talented generals and allies. After the formation of Western Han Dynasty, a blossoming of interest in Chu culture arose under Liu Bang's patronage.

Chu in astronomy


There are two opinions about the representing star of Chu in Chinese astronomy
Chinese astronomy
Astronomy in China has a very long history, with historians considering that "they [the Chinese] were the most persistent and accurate observers of celestial phenomena anywhere in the world before the Arabs."...

. The opinions are :
  • Chu is represented by the star Phi Capricorni
    Phi Capricorni
    Phi Capricorni is a star in the constellation Capricornus. φ Capricorni is an orange K-type bright giant with an apparent magnitude of +5.17...

    in asterism Twelve States, Girl mansion
    Girl (Chinese constellation)
    The Girl mansion is one of the Twenty-eight mansions of the Chinese constellations. It is one of the northern mansions of the Black Tortoise.- Asterisms :...

    . and also represented with the star Epsilon Ophiuchi
    Epsilon Ophiuchi
    Epsilon Ophiuchi is a star in the constellation Ophiuchus. It has the traditional name Yed Posterior ....

    in asterism Right Wall, Heavenly Market enclosure
    Heavenly Market enclosure
    Tian Shi Yuan, the Heavenly Market Enclosure , is one of the San Yuan or Three enclosures. Stars and constellations of this group are visible during late summer and early autumn in the Northern Hemisphere . The summer triangle lies directly to the northwest.-Asterisms:The asterisms are :...

    (see Chinese constellation
    Chinese constellation
    Chinese constellations are the way the ancient Chinese grouped the stars. They are very different from the modern IAU recognized constellations. This is because the IAU was based on Greco-Roman astronomy instead of Chinese astronomy....

    ).
  • Chu is represented with the star 24 Capricorni
    24 Capricorni
    24 Capricorni is a star in the constellation Capricornus. 24 Capricorni is a M-type red giant with an apparent magnitude of +4.49. It is approximately 523 light years from Earth.-Chinese name:...

     (A Capricorni)
    . and also represented with the star Epsilon Ophiuchi
    Epsilon Ophiuchi
    Epsilon Ophiuchi is a star in the constellation Ophiuchus. It has the traditional name Yed Posterior ....

    .

See also

  • Chu Ci
    Chu Ci
    Chu Ci , also known as Songs of the South or Songs of Chu, is an anthology of Chinese verse traditionally attributed to Qu Yuan and Song Yu from the Warring States Period, though about half of the poems seem to have been composed several centuries later, during the Han Dynasty...

  • Guodian Chu Slips
    Guodian Chu Slips
    The Guodian Chu Slips were unearthed in 1993 in Tomb no. 1 of the Guodian tombs in Jingmen, Hubei. The archeological team suggested the tomb should be dated to the latter half of the Warring States period...

  • Prime minister (Chu State)
    Prime minister (Chu State)
    The post of Prime Minister of Chu was an official government position established in the vassal State of Chu during the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history ....

  • Song Yu
    Song Yu
    Song Yu was a well-known Chinese poet in the State of Chu. He is commonly said to have been a nephew of Qu Yuan, but no reliable biographical information is available...

  • Wu Qi
    Wu Qi
    Wu Qi was a Chinese military leader and politician in the Warring States period.-Biography:Born in the State of Wei , he was skilled in leading armies and military strategy. He had served in the states of Lu and Wei. In the state of Wei he commanded many great battles and was appointed Xihe Shou...

  • Mawangdui
  • Tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng
    Tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng
    The Tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng is an important archaeological site in Suizhou, Hubei, China, dated sometime after 433 BCE. The tomb contained the remains of Marquis Yi of Zeng...

  • Chu Silk Manuscript
    Chu silk manuscript
    The Chu Silk Manuscript , also known as the Chu Silk Manuscript from Zidanku in Changsha , is a Chinese astrological and astronomical text. It was discovered in a Warring States period tomb from the southern Chinese state of Chu.-History:...

  • Lord Chang Ping of Chu
  • Tsinghua Chu Slips
    Tsinghua Chu Slips
    The Tsinghua Bamboo Slips refers to a collection of Chinese texts dating to the Warring States period and written in ink on strips of bamboo, that were acquired in 2008 by Tsinghua University , China...


Further reading

  • Cook, Constance. Death in Ancient China: The Tale of One Man's Journey. Leiden: Brill, 2006 ISBN 90-04-15312-8