King Wen of Zhou

King Wen of Zhou

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King Wen of Zhou family name (姓): Ji (姬), Clan name (氏): Zhou Personal name: Chang, known as Zhou Chang (周昌) or Xibo Chang (西伯昌) (1099–1050 BC) was the founder of 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...

 and the first epic hero of Chinese history.

Biography


The Zhou state was located in the Wei River
Wei River
The Wei River is a major river in west-central China's Gansu and Shaanxi provinces. It is the largest tributary of the Yellow River and very important in the early development of Chinese civilization....

 valley in present day 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. At one point, King Zhou of Shang
King Zhou of Shang
Emperor Xin of Shang was the last king of the Shang Dynasty. He was later given the pejorative posthumous name Zhòu . He is also called Zhou Xin or King Zhou . He may also be referred to by adding "Shang" in front of any of his names...

, fearing Wen's growing power, imprisoned him in Youli (羑里 - present day Tangyin in Henan Province). However, many officials respected Wen for his honourable governing. They gave King Zhou many gifts including gold, horses, women, and requested Wen's release. Zhou agreed and freed Wen.

King Wen planned to overthrow the dynasty in power, 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...

, but he died before he could accomplish this.

He married Taisi and had at least ten sons, two of who were Zhou Gong Wu
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...

  and Zhou Gong Dan. His second son became 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...

 and completed his father's wishes by defeating the Shang army at their capital. He eventually became the first king of the new Zhou dynasty with his capital at Zhouyuan in present day 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 Province. This he later relocated to Haojing
Haojing
This article is about the ancient Zhou Dynasty capital, for Haojing'ao see MacauHaojing was one of the two settlements comprising the capital of the Western Zhou Dynasty , the other of which was Fēngjīng . Together they were known as Fēnghào and stood on opposite banks of the Feng River with...

 (沣京/灃京) near present day Xi'an
Xi'an
Xi'an is the capital of the Shaanxi province, and a sub-provincial city in the People's Republic of China. One of the oldest cities in China, with more than 3,100 years of history, the city was known as Chang'an before the Ming Dynasty...

, Shaanxi Province.

King Wen is also known for his contributions to the Yi Jing, a manual of divination
I Ching divination
Among the many forms of divination is a bibliomancy method using the I Ching or Book of Changes. The book is structured as 32 pairs of hexagrams, divided in half after the first 30. The text was a subject for civil service exams in Imperial China...

. King Wen is attributed with having stacked the eight trigrams
Bagua (concept)
The bagua are eight diagrams used in Taoist cosmology to represent the fundamental principles of reality, seen as a range of eight interrelated concepts. Each consists of three lines, each line either "broken" or "unbroken," representing yin or yang, respectively...

 in their various permutations, to create the sixty-four hexagrams. He is also said to have written the judgements which are appended to each hexagram (the line statements are attributed to his son, the Duke of Zhou
Duke of Zhou
The Duke of Zhou played a major role in consolidating the newly-founded Zhou Dynasty . He was the brother of King Wu of Zhou, the first king of the ancient Chinese Zhou Dynasty...

. The most commonly used sequence of the sixty four hexagrams is attributed to King Wen and is usually referred to as the King Wen sequence
King Wen sequence
The King Wen sequence is an arrangement of the sixty-four divination figures in 易經 Yì Jīng, the I Ching or Book of Changes. They are called hexagrams in English because each figure is composed of six 爻 yáo—broken or unbroken lines, that represent 陰 yin or 陽 yang respectively.The King Wen sequence...

.

Family


Wives:
  • Taisi
    Taisi
    Taisi was the wife of King Wen of Zhou and is revered as a highly respected woman of ancient China. She was a descendant of Yu the Great - founder of the Xia Dynasty - and was the mother of ten sons, including the famed King Wu of Zhou - founder of the Zhou Dynasty - and his younger brother Duke...

     (太姒)
  • unknown

Sons:
  1. Boyi Kao (伯邑考)
  2. Fa 發, 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...

     (周武王)
  3. Guan Shu Xian,管叔鮮 Guan (state)
  4. Duke of Zhou
    Duke of Zhou
    The Duke of Zhou played a major role in consolidating the newly-founded Zhou Dynasty . He was the brother of King Wu of Zhou, the first king of the ancient Chinese Zhou Dynasty...

     (周公旦), Duke Wen of Zhou
  5. Cai Shu Du (蔡叔度), State of Cai
  6. Cheng Shu Wu (郕叔武), State of Cheng
  7. Huo Shu Chu (霍叔處), State of Huo
  8. Kang Shu Feng 康叔封,first Kang changed to of Wèi
    Wei
    -States:* Northern Wei , during Southern and Northern Dynasties* Wei , during the Spring and Autumn Period* Wei , during the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period...

  9. Mao Shu Zheng (毛叔鄭), State of Mao
  10. Ran Ji Zai (冉季載), Ruler of Dan (聃国君)
  11. Gao Shu (郜叔) Gao
  12. Earl of Yong (雍伯) Ruler of Yong (雍国君) also known as 雝叔伯 Yong Shu Bo.
  13. Caoshu Zhenduo ,State of Cao (曹叔振鐸)
  14. Teng Shu Xiu (滕叔繡) State of Teng
  15. Bi Gong Gao (畢公高) Duke Gao of Bi
  16. Earl of Yuan (原伯) Ruler of Yuan (原國君)
  17. Earl of Xun (郇伯) Ruler of Xun (郇國君)
  18. Marquis of Feng (酆侯) Ruler of Feng (酆国君)