Duke of Zhou

Duke of Zhou

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The Duke
Gong (title)
Gong was the highest title of Chinese nobles during Zhou Dynasty and the second highest title, ranked below wang, from Han Dynasty onwards. Gong is usually translated as Duke.-Examples :...

 of Zhou
' onMouseout='HidePop("41191")' href="http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Wade-Giles">Wade-Giles
Wade-Giles
Wade–Giles , sometimes abbreviated Wade, is a romanization system for the Mandarin Chinese language. It developed from a system produced by Thomas Wade during the mid-19th century , and was given completed form with Herbert Giles' Chinese–English dictionary of 1892.Wade–Giles was the most...

: Chou Kung-tan) played a major role in consolidating the newly-founded 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...

 (1046–256 BC). He was the brother of 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...

, the first king of the ancient Chinese 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...

. Because his fiefdom was based around the Zhou capital of Chengzhou (later Luoyang), the Duke of Zhou was also known as Zhou Gong (周公), Zhou Gong Dan (周公旦), Shu Dan (叔旦) or Zhou Dan (周旦).

According to Chinese legend, he annotated the 64 hexagrams
Hexagram (I Ching)
The I Ching book consists of 64 hexagrams.A hexagram is a figure composed of six stacked horizontal lines , where each line is either Yang , or Yin . The hexagram lines are traditionally counted from the bottom up, so the lowest line is considered line 1 while the top line is line 6...

 and completed the classic of I Ching
I Ching
The I Ching or "Yì Jīng" , also known as the Classic of Changes, Book of Changes and Zhouyi, is one of the oldest of the Chinese classic texts...

, established the Rites of Zhou
Rites of Zhou
The Rites of Zhou , also known as Zhouguan, is one of three ancient ritual texts listed among the classics of Confucianism. It was later renamed Zhouli by Liu Xin to differentiate it from a chapter in the Classic of History which was also known as Zhouguan.Though tradition ascribed the text of the...

, and created the Yayue
Yayue
Yayue , Wade-Giles ya-yüeh; ; ; ) was originally a form of Chinese classical music that was performed at imperial courts. The basic conventions of yayue were established in the Western Zhou. Together with law and rites, it formed the formal representation of aristocratic political power...

of Chinese classical music.

In 2004, Chinese archaeologists reported that they may have found the tomb complex of Zhou Gong in Qishan County
Qishan County
Qishan County is a county of Baoji, Shaanxi, China. It was the site of Zhouyuan , the first capital of the Zhou Dynasty . Historically, the site was also known as Qiyi or Qishan . It is located in Fengchu township on the Weishui River to the south of Mt. Qi...

, Shaanxi
Shaanxi
' is a province in the central part of Mainland China, and it includes portions of the Loess Plateau on the middle reaches of the Yellow River in addition to the Qinling Mountains across the southern part of this province...

 Province.

Regent to King Cheng


Only three years after defeating
Battle of Muye
The Battle of Muye was fought in China perhaps 1046 BC. The battle led to the end of the Shang dynasty, and the beginning of the Zhou dynasty.-Background:...

 the 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...

, King Wu died, and the kingship—following Zhou custom—passed to his young son, 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...

. Being too young and inexperienced to run the newly founded empire, King Cheng was assisted by the Duke of Zhou, who served as his regent for seven years, until he was old enough to rule. The Duke of Zhou fought in a war against his two brothers, who were conspiring with the feudal rulers and the remnants of the Shang to oppose the Zhou. Within five years, he had managed to defeat all the rebellions that were taking place in the Eastern regions and had one brother executed and the other banished. After defeating the rebels the armies continued east bring more land under Zhou control. (Some have questioned Zhou Gong Dan's actions, claiming the King Cheng may have been old enough to rule and that the "rebel" brothers may have had a better right to the regency than he. In any case, he was near the capital when the old king died and his brothers were not.)

In order to counter the Shang's claims to divine right of rule due to their descent from the god Ti, the Duke of Zhou formulated the doctrine of 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...

. According to this doctrine, the Shang had grossly offended Heaven: thus Heaven had commanded the reluctant Zhou to replace them and restore order. He is also credited with the creation of the fengjian
Fengjian
Fēngjiàn is the political ideology of the Zhou Dynasty of ancient China. Fengjian is a "decentralized system of government," comparable to European feudalism, though recent scholarship has suggested that fengjian lacks some of the fundamental aspects of feudalism.-Ranks:The sizes of troops and...

 enfeoffment system, a political ideology that used ranking methods and regional governors to keep control of the expanding 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...

.

The Duke of Zhou is also credited with writing many of the poems collected in the Shi Jing
Shi Jing
The Classic of Poetry , translated variously as the Book of Songs, the Book of Odes, and often known simply as its original name The Odes, is the earliest existing collection of Chinese poems and songs. It comprises 305 poems and songs, with many range from the 10th to the 7th centuries BC...

, or Book of Songs, the earliest surviving collection of Chinese poems. These poems were collected by Confucius
Confucius
Confucius , literally "Master Kong", was a Chinese thinker and social philosopher of the Spring and Autumn Period....

, whose thought was influenced by the Duke of Zhou's conception of the ideal ruler.

God of Dreams


Duke of Zhou is also known as the 'God of Dreams'. It comes from a saying of Confucius: "I must be slipping. It has been so long since I dreamt of the Duke of Zhou."

According to the folk legend, if an important thing is going to happen to someone, the Duke of Zhou will let the person know through dream. Hence the Chinese expression "Dreaming of Zhou Gong."

Zhou Gong's Book of Auspicious and Inauspicious Dreams (周公解梦)


There is a book called Zhou Gong's Book of Auspicious and Inauspicious Dreams (周公解梦), which is about dreams in traditional Chinese culture. People use it to analyse the dreams in order to predict the future.

Legacy


His eight sons all received land from the king. The eldest son received the Lu (state)
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...

 and the second son succeeded to his father's dukedom. Some names of the dukes are listed in the Zuo Zhuan
Zuo Zhuan
The Zuo Zhuan , sometimes translated as the Chronicle of Zuo or the Commentary of Zuo, is among the earliest Chinese works of narrative history and covers the period from 722 BCE to 468 BCE. It is one of the most important sources for understanding the history of the Spring and Autumn Period...

 but there is also a complete genealogy. In later centuries, leaders of many dynasties considered the Duke of Zhou a paragon of virtue. Chinese empress Wu Zetian
Wu Zetian
Wu Zetian , personal name Wu Zhao , often referred to as Tian Hou during the Tang Dynasty and Empress Consort Wu in later times, was the only woman in the history of China to assume the title of Empress Regnant...

 (r. 690–705 CE) named her short-lived Second Zhou Dynasty after him and conferred on the Duke the posthumous title King Baode . In 1008 CE, Emperor Zhenzong of Song
Emperor Zhenzong of Song
Emperor Zhenzong was the third emperor of the Song Dynasty of China. He reigned from 997 to 1022. Zhenzong was the third son of Emperor Taizong. His personal name was Zhao Heng and his temple name Zhenzong means "True Ancestor".Zhenzong's reign was noted for the consolidation of power and the...

gave the Duke the posthumous title King Wenxian . Subsequent generations would refer to the Duke as Yuán Shèng

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