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The Zhou dynasty ( ;
Old Chinese Old Chinese, also called Archaic Chinese in older works, is the oldest attested stage of Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It i ...
( B&S): *''tiw'') was a
Chinese dynasty Dynasties in Chinese history, or Chinese dynasties, were hereditary monarchical regimes that ruled over China during much of its history. From the inauguration of dynastic rule by Yu the Great in circa 2070 BC to the abdication of the Puyi, ...
that followed the
Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also historically known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese dynasty Dynasties in Chinese history, or Chinese dynasties, were hereditary monarchical regimes that ruled over China during much of its history. From ...

Shang dynasty
and preceded the
Qin dynasty The Qin dynasty, or Ch'in dynasty in Wade–Giles Wade–Giles () is a romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of ever ...

Qin dynasty
. The Zhou dynasty lasted longer than any other dynasty in
Chinese history The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also historically known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese dynasty that ruled in the middle and ...

Chinese history
(790 years). The military control of
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...
by the royal house, surnamed Ji, lasted initially from 1046 until 771 BC for a period known as the
Western Zhou The Western Zhou ( zh, c=, p=Xīzhōu; c. 1045 BC – 771 BC) was the first half of the Zhou dynasty of ancient China. It began when King Wu of Zhou King Wu of Zhou () was the first king of the King of the Romans (variant used in the ...
, and the political sphere of influence it created continued well into the
Eastern Zhou The Eastern Zhou (; zh, c=, p=Dōngzhōu; 770–256 BC) was the second half of the Zhou dynasty The Zhou dynasty ( ; Old Chinese Old Chinese, also called Archaic Chinese in older works, is the oldest attested stage of Chinese, and the an ...
period for another 500 years. During the Zhou dynasty, centralized power decreased throughout the
Spring and Autumn period #REDIRECT Spring and Autumn period#REDIRECT Spring and Autumn period The Spring and Autumn period was a period in Chinese history The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dyna ...
until the
Warring States period The Warring States period () was an era in ancient Chinese history characterized by warfare, as well as bureaucratic and military reforms and consolidation. It followed the Spring and Autumn period The Spring and Autumn period was a period i ...
in the last two centuries of the dynasty. In the latter period, the Zhou court had little control over its constituent states that were at war with each other until the Qin state consolidated power and formed the
Qin dynasty The Qin dynasty, or Ch'in dynasty in Wade–Giles Wade–Giles () is a romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of ever ...

Qin dynasty
in 221 BC. The Zhou dynasty had formally collapsed only 35 years earlier, although the dynasty had only nominal power at that point. This period of Chinese history produced what many consider the zenith of
Chinese bronzeware with zigzag thunder pattern; Early Zhou dynasty; Shanghai Museum , as it is now displayed File:Wine cup (gu), China, Shang dynasty, bronze, Honolulu Academy of Arts.JPG, 310px, ''Gu (vessel), Gū''; Shang dynasty; Honolulu Academy of Arts (Hawaii, ...
making. The latter period of the Zhou dynasty is also famous for the beginnings of three major Chinese philosophies:
Confucianism Confucianism, also known as Ruism, is a system of thought and behavior originating in ancient China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC ...
,
Taoism Taoism (), or Daoism (), is a philosophical and spiritual tradition of China, Chinese origin which emphasizes living in harmony with the ''Tao'' (, Taoism#Spelling and pronunciation, or ''Dao''). In Taoism, the ''Tao'' is the source, pattern a ...
and Legalism. The Zhou dynasty also spans the period in which the
written script
written script
evolved from the
oracle script Oracle bone script () was an ancestor of modern Chinese characters Chinese characters, also called ''Hanzi'' (), are logograms developed for the writing of Chinese. They have been adapted to write other East-Asian languages, and rem ...
and
bronze script Chinese bronze inscriptions, also commonly referred to as bronze script or bronzeware script, are writing in a variety of Chinese scripts The Chinese family of scripts are writing systems descended from the Chinese Oracle Bone Script Oracle bo ...
into the
seal script Seal script () is an ancient Chinese script styles, style of writing Chinese characters that was common throughout the latter half of the 1st millennium BC. It evolved organically out of the Bronze script, Zhou dynasty bronze script. The Qin (s ...
, and then finally into an almost-modern form with the use of an archaic
clerical script The clerical script (; Japanese: 隷書体, ''reishotai''; Vietnamese: lệ thư), also formerly chancery Chancery may refer to: * Chancery (diplomacy), the building that houses a diplomatic mission, such as an embassy * Chancery (medieval of ...
that emerged during the late
Warring States period The Warring States period () was an era in ancient Chinese history characterized by warfare, as well as bureaucratic and military reforms and consolidation. It followed the Spring and Autumn period The Spring and Autumn period was a period i ...
.


History


Foundation


Traditional myth

According to
Chinese mythology Chinese mythology () is mythology Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or group. This includes oral ...

Chinese mythology
, the Zhou lineage began when
Jiang Yuan Jiang Yuan () is an important figure in Chinese mythology Chinese mythology () is mythology that has been passed down in oral form or recorded in literature in the geographic area now known as Greater China. Chinese mythology includes many vari ...
, a consort of the legendary
Emperor Ku Kù (, variant graph ), usually referred to as Dì Kù (), also known as Gaoxin or Gāoxīn Shì (), was a descendant of Huangdi, the Yellow Emperor. He went by the name Gaoxin until receiving imperial authority, when he took the name Ku and the t ...
, miraculously conceived a child, Qi "the Abandoned One", after stepping into the divine footprint of
Shangdi Shangdi (), also written simply, "Emperor An emperor (from la, imperator, via fro, empereor) is a monarch, and usually the sovereignty, sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the female equivalent, may in ...

Shangdi
.
Shijing The ''Classic of Poetry'', also ''Shijing'' or ''Shih-ching'' (), translated variously as the ''Book of Songs'', ''Book of Odes'' or simply known as the ''Odes'' or ''Poetry'' (), is the oldest existing collection of , comprising 305 works dati ...
, Ode 245.
"Hou Ji". ''Encyclopædia Britannica''. Qi was a
culture hero A culture hero is a mythological Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or group. These include oral trad ...
credited with surviving three abandonments by his mother and with greatly improving Xia agriculture, to the point where he was granted lordship over Tai and the
surname In some cultures, a surname, family name, or last name is the portion of one's personal name 300px, First/given, middle and last/family/surname with John Fitzgerald Kennedy as example. This shows a structure typical for the Anglosphere, a ...
Ji by his own Xia king and a later
posthumous name A posthumous name is an honorary name given to royalty, nobles, and sometimes others, in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern He ...
,
Houji Hou Ji (or Houji; ) was a legendary Chinese culture hero A culture hero is a mythological Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to ...
"Lord of
Millet Millets () are a group of highly variable small-seeded grasses, widely grown around the world as cereal crops or grains for fodder and human food. Millets are important crops in the semiarid tropics of Asia and Africa (especially in Indi ...

Millet
", by the
Tang of Shang Cheng Tang (; – 1646 BC), personal name Zi Lü (), recorded on oracle bones Oracle bones () are pieces of ox scapula In anatomy Anatomy (Greek ''anatomē'', 'dissection') is the branch of biology concerned with the study of the struc ...
. He even received sacrifice as a harvest god. The term ''Hòujì'' was probably a hereditary title attached to a lineage. Qi's son, or rather that of the ''Hòujì'',
Buzhu Buzhu or Buku (Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous ...
is said to have abandoned his position as Agrarian Master () in old age and either he or his son Ju abandoned their tradition, living in the manner of the
Xirong Xirong () or Rong were various people who lived primarily in and around the western extremities of ancient China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty The ...
and Rongdi (see
Hua–Yi distinction The distinction between ''Huá'' and ''Yí'' ( zh, t=, p=Huá Yí zhī biàn), also known as Sino–barbarian dichotomy, is an ancient Chinese concept that differentiated a culturally defined "China" (called Huá, Huaxia ''Huaxia'' is a histor ...
). Ju's son
Liu / ( or ) is a East Asian East Asia is the eastern region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, an ...
, however, led his people to prosperity by restoring agriculture and settling them at a place called Bin, which his descendants . Tai later led the clan from Bin to Zhou, an area in the
Wei River The Wei River () is a major river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course ...
valley of modern-day
Qishan County Qishan County () is a county in the west of Guanzhong Guanzhong (, formerly romanised as Kwanchung) region, also known as the Guanzhong Basin, Wei River Basin, or uncommonly as the Shaanzhong region, is a historical region Historical regions (o ...
. The duke passed over his two elder sons
Taibo Taibo ()(circa 1150 BCE) or Wu Taibo was the eldest son of King Tai of ZhouKing Tai of Zhou () or Gugong Danfu () was a great leader of the predynastic Zhou, Zhou clan during the Shang dynasty. His great-grandson King Wu of Zhou, Fa would later c ...
and Zhongyong to favor the younger Jili, a warrior in his own right. As a vassal of the Shang kings Wu Yi and
Wen Ding Wen Wu Ding or Wen Ding (), personal name Zǐ Tuō, was a king of the Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also historically known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese dynasty Dynasties in Chinese history, or Chinese dynasties, were here ...
, Jili went to conquer several
Xirong Xirong () or Rong were various people who lived primarily in and around the western extremities of ancient China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty The ...
tribes before being treacherously killed by Shang forces. Taibo and Zhongyong had supposedly already fled to the Yangtze delta, where they established the
state of Wu Wu (; Old Chinese Old Chinese, also called Archaic Chinese in older works, is the oldest attested stage of Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a co ...
among the tribes there. Jili's son bribed his way out of imprisonment and moved the Zhou capital to
Feng Feng may refer to: *Feng (surname) Feng may refer to: *Feng (surname)Feng may refer to: *Feng (surname), one of several Chinese surnames in Mandarin: **Féng (surname) (wikt:冯 féng 2nd tone "gallop"), very common Chinese surname **Fèng (surna ...
(within present-day
Xi'an Xi'an ( , ; ; Chinese: ), sometimes romanized as Sian, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals ...
). Around 1046 BC, Wen's son and his ally
Jiang Ziya Jiang Ziya ( century BC – century BC), also known by several other names, was a Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East A ...
led an army of 45,000 men and 300
chariots A chariot is a type of carriage driven by a charioteer, usually using horses to provide rapid motive power. The oldest known chariots have been found in burials of the Sintashta culture in modern-day Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia, dated to c. 2000& ...
across the
Yellow River The Yellow River (Chinese: , Jin: uə xɔ Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is ...
and defeated
King Zhou of Shang King Zhou (/oʊ/; ) was the pejorative posthumous name given to Di Xin of Shang (), the last king of the Shang dynasty of ancient China. He is also called Zhou Xin (; Zhòu Xīn). In Chinese, his name Zhòu (wikt:纣, 紂) also refers to a horse c ...
at the
Battle of Muye The Battle of Muye or Battle of Mu () was a battle fought in ancient China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC), during the king Wu Ding's ...

Battle of Muye
, marking the beginning of the Zhou dynasty. The Zhou enfeoffed a member of the defeated Shang royal family as the Duke of Song, which was held by descendants of the Shang royal family until its end. This practice was referred to as Two Kings, Three Reverences.


Culture

According to Nicholas Bodman, the Zhou appear to have spoken a language not basically different in vocabulary and syntax from that of the Shang. A recent study by David McCraw, using lexical statistics, reached the same conclusion. The Zhou emulated extensively Shang cultural practices, perhaps to legitimize their own rule, and became the successors to Shang culture.Li, Feng (2006),
Landscape And Power In Early China
', Cambridge University Press, p. 286.
At the same time, the Zhou may also have been connected to the
Xirong Xirong () or Rong were various people who lived primarily in and around the western extremities of ancient China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty The ...
, a broadly defined cultural group to the west of the Shang, which the Shang regarded as tributaries; According to the historian Li Feng, the term "Rong" during the Western Zhou period was likely used to designate political and military adversaries rather than cultural and ethnic "others". Cultural artifacts of the Western Rong coexisted with Western Zhou bronze artifacts, displaying influences between them.


Western Zhou

King Wu maintained the old capital for ceremonial purposes but constructed a new one for his palace and administration nearby at Hao. Although Wu's early death left a young and inexperienced heir, the
Duke of Zhou Dan, Duke Wen of Zhou (), commonly known as the Duke of Zhou (), was a member of the royal family of the early Zhou dynasty The Zhou dynasty ( ) was a Chinese dynasty that followed the Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also historical ...
assisted his nephew in consolidating royal power. Wary of the Duke of Zhou's increasing power, the "Three Guards", Zhou princes stationed on the eastern plain, rose in
rebellion Rebellion, uprising, or insurrection is a refusal of obedience or order. It refers to the open resistance against the orders of an established authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behavio ...

rebellion
against his regency. Even though they garnered the support of independent-minded nobles, Shang partisans, and several
Dongyi The Dongyi or Eastern Yi () was a collective term for ancient peoples found in Chinese records. The definition of Dongyi varied across the ages, but in most cases referred to inhabitants of eastern China, then later, the Korean peninsula, and Ja ...
tribes, the Duke of Zhou quelled the rebellion, and further expanded the Zhou Kingdom into the east. To maintain Zhou authority over its greatly expanded territory and prevent other revolts, he set up the ''
fengjian ''Fēngjiàn'' ( zh, c=封建, l=enfeoffment and establishment) was a political ideology An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about the world is ...
'' system. Furthermore, he countered Zhou's crisis of legitimacy by expounding the doctrine of the
Mandate of Heaven The Mandate of Heaven () is a Chinese political philosophy that was used in ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsWangcheng and
Chengzhou Luoyang is a city located in the confluence area of Luo River and Yellow River The Yellow River (Chinese: , Jin Chinese, Jin: uə xɔ Standard Beijing Mandarin, Mandarin: ''Huáng hé'' ) is the second-longest river in China, afte ...

Chengzhou
. Over time, this decentralized system became strained as the familial relationships between the Zhou kings and the regional dynasties thinned over the generations. Peripheral territories developed local power and prestige on par with that of the Zhou. When King You demoted and exiled his
Jiang Jiang may refer to: *Jiang Zemin, a Chinese politician and a General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party from 1989 to 2002 *Jiang (surname), several Chinese surnames *Jiang, Common of Kang (Korean name) *Jiang River, an ancient river of China ...
queen in favor of the beautiful commoner
Bao Si Bao Si () was the Concubinage, concubine of the China, ancient Chinese sovereign King You of Zhou. She was considered one of the most beautiful Chinese people, Chinese women ever. Life Legends record that during the last years of the Xia dynasty, ...
, the disgraced queen's father the Marquis of Shen joined with Zeng and the
Quanrong The Quanrong () or Dog Rong were an ethnic group, classified by the ancient Chinese as " Qiang", active in the northwestern part of China during and after the Zhou dynasty The Zhou dynasty ( ; Old Chinese Old Chinese, also called Archaic Ch ...
barbarians A barbarian is a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use of culture, language and tools. They ...
to sack Hao in 771 BC. Some modern scholars have surmised that the sack of Haojing might have been connected to a
Scythian The Scythians (from grc, Σκύθης , ) or Scyths, also known as Saka and Sakae ( ; egy, 𓋴𓎝𓎡𓈉 The ancient Egyptian Hill-country or "Foreign land" hieroglyph (𓈉) is a member of the sky, earth, and water hieroglyphs. A ...
raid from the before their westward expansion. With King You dead, a conclave of nobles met at Shen and declared the Marquis's grandson King Ping. The capital was moved eastward to Wangcheng, marking the end of the "Western Zhou" (, p ''Xī Zhōu'') and the beginning of the "Eastern Zhou" dynasty (, p ''Dōng Zhōu'').


Eastern Zhou

The Eastern Zhou was characterized by an accelerating collapse of royal authority, although the king's ritual importance allowed over five more centuries of rule. The Confucian chronicle of the early years of this process led to its title of the " Spring and Autumn" period. The
partition of JinThe Partition of Jin (), the watershed between the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods, refers to the division of the State of Jin between rival families into the three states of Han, Zhao and Wei. As a result, the three states were of ...
in the mid-5th century BC initiated a second phase, the "Warring States". In 403 BC, the Zhou court recognized
Han Han may refer to: Ethnic groups * Han Chinese The Han Chinese,
. Huayuqiao.org. Retrieved on ...
, Zhao, and Wei as fully independent states. Duke Hui of Wei, in 344 BC, was the first to claim the royal title of
king King is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is queen regnant, queen, which title is also given to the queen consort, consort of a king. *In the context of prehistory, antiquity and contempora ...
(Chinese: 王) for himself. Others followed, marking a turning point, as rulers did not even entertain the pretence of being vassals of the Zhou court, instead proclaiming themselves fully independent kingdoms. A series of states rose to prominence before each falling in turn, and Zhou was a minor player in most of these conflicts. The last Zhou king is traditionally taken to be
Nan In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes and development of both computer hardware , hardware and softwar ...
, who was killed when
QinQin may refer to: Dynasties and states * Qin (state) (秦), a major state during the Zhou Dynasty of ancient China * Qin dynasty (秦), founded by the Qin state in 221 BC and ended in 206 BC * Daqin (大秦), ancient Chinese name for the Roman Empi ...
captured the capital Wangcheng in 256 BC. A " King Hui" was declared, but his splinter state was fully removed by 249 BC. Qin's
unification of ChinaChinese unification or unification of China most commonly refers to the potential political unification of the China, People's Republic of China and the Taiwan, Republic of China into one sovereign state. Chinese unification may also refer to: Hist ...
concluded in 221 BC with
Qin Shihuang Qin Shi Huang (, ; 18 February 25910 September 210) was the founder of the Qin dynasty and the first emperor of a unified China. From 247 to 221 BC he was Zheng, King of Qin (, ''Qín Wáng Zhèng'', personal name 嬴政 ''Yíng Zhèng'' or ...
's annexation of Qi. The Eastern Zhou, however, is also remembered as the golden age of Chinese philosophy: the
Hundred Schools of Thought The Hundred Schools of Thought () were philosophies and schools that flourished from the 6th century BC to 221 BC during the Spring and Autumn period#REDIRECT Spring and Autumn period The Spring and Autumn period was a period in Chinese histo ...
which flourished as rival lords patronized itinerant '' shi'' scholars is led by the example of Qi's Jixia Academy. The Nine Schools of Thought which came to dominate the others were
Confucianism Confucianism, also known as Ruism, is a system of thought and behavior originating in ancient China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC ...
(as interpreted by Mencius and others), Legalism,
Taoism Taoism (), or Daoism (), is a philosophical and spiritual tradition of China, Chinese origin which emphasizes living in harmony with the ''Tao'' (, Taoism#Spelling and pronunciation, or ''Dao''). In Taoism, the ''Tao'' is the source, pattern a ...
, Mohism, the utopian communalist Agriculturalism, two strains of school of Diplomacy, Diplomatists, the sophistic School of Names, Logicians, Sun-tzu's School of the Military, Militarists, and the School of Naturalists, Naturalists..Carr, Brian & al.
Companion Encyclopaedia of Asian Philosophy
'' p. 466. Taylor & Francis, 2012. , 9780415035354.
Although only the first three of these went on to receive imperial patronage in later dynasties, doctrines from each influenced the others and Chinese society in sometimes unusual ways. The Mohism, Mohists, for instance, found little interest in their praise of meritocracy but much acceptance for their mastery of defensive siege warfare; much later, however, their arguments against nepotism were used in favor of establishing the imperial examination system.


Culture and society

The Zhou heartland was the
Wei River The Wei River () is a major river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course ...
valley; this remained their primary base of power after conquering the Shang.


Mandate of Heaven and the justification of power

Zhou rulers introduced what was to prove one of East Asia's most enduring political doctrines: the concept of the "
Mandate of Heaven The Mandate of Heaven () is a Chinese political philosophy that was used in ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past events The Mandate of Heaven was presented as a religious compact between the Zhou people and their supreme god in heaven (literally the 'sky god'). The Zhou agreed that since worldly affairs were supposed to align with those of the heavens, the heavens conferred Legitimacy (political), legitimate power on only one person, the Zhou ruler. In return, the ruler was duty-bound to uphold heaven's principles of harmony and honor. Any ruler who failed in this duty, who let instability creep into earthly affairs, or who let his people suffer, would lose the mandate. Under this system, it was the prerogative of spiritual authority to withdraw support from any wayward ruler and to find another, more worthy one. In this way, the Zhou sky god legitimized regime change. In using this creed, the Zhou rulers had to acknowledge that any group of rulers, even they themselves, could be ousted if they lost the mandate of heaven because of improper practices. The book of odes written during the Zhou period clearly intoned this caution. The early Zhou kings contended that heaven favored their triumph because the last Shang kings had been evil men whose policies brought pain to the people through waste and corruption. After the Zhou came to power, the mandate became a political tool. One of the duties and privileges of the king was to create a royal calendar. This official document defined times for undertaking agricultural activities and celebrating rituals. But unexpected events such as solar eclipses or natural Disaster, calamities threw the ruling house's mandate into question. Since rulers claimed that their authority came from heaven, the Zhou made great efforts to gain accurate knowledge of the stars and to perfect the astronomical system on which they based their calendar. Zhou Legitimacy (political), legitimacy also arose indirectly from Shang material culture through the use of bronze ritual vessels, statues, ornaments, and weapons. As the Zhou emulated the Shang's large scale production of ceremonial bronzes, they developed an extensive system of bronze metalworking that required a large force of tribute labor. Many of its members were Shang, who were sometimes forcibly transported to new Zhou to produce the bronze ritual objects which were then sold and distributed across the lands, symbolizing Zhou legitimacy.


Feudalism

Western writers often describe the Zhou period as "Feudalism, feudal" because the Zhou's ''fēngjiàn'' (封建) system invites comparison with Middle Ages, medieval rule in Europe. There were many similarities between the decentralized systems. When the dynasty was established, the conquered land was divided into hereditary fiefs (, ''zhūhóu'') that eventually became powerful in their own right. In matters of inheritance, the Zhou dynasty recognized only patrilineal primogeniture as legal. According to Tao (1934: 17–31), "the Tsung-fa or descent line system has the following characteristics: patrilineal descent, patrilineal succession, patriarchate, sib-exogamy, and primogeniture" The system, also called "extensive stratified patrilineage", was defined by the anthropologist Kwang-chih Chang as "characterized by the fact that the eldest son of each generation formed the main of line descent and political authority, whereas the younger brothers were moved out to establish new lineages of lesser authority. The farther removed, the lesser the political authority". Ebrey defines the descent-line system as follows: "A great line (ta-tsung) is the line of eldest sons continuing indefinitely from a founding ancestor. A lesser line is the line of younger sons going back no more than five generations. Great lines and lesser lines continually spin off new lesser lines, founded by younger sons". K.E. Brashier writes in his book "Ancestral Memory in Early China" about the tsung-fa system of patrilineal primogeniture: "The greater lineage, if it has survived, is the direct succession from father to eldest son and is not defined via the collateral shifts of the lesser lineages. In discussions that demarcate between trunk and collateral lines, the former is called a zong and the latter a zu, whereas the whole lineage is dubbed the shi. [...] On one hand, every son who is not the eldest and hence not heir to the lineage territory has the potential of becoming a progenitor and fostering a new trunk lineage (Ideally he would strike out to cultivate new lineage territory). [...] According to the Zou commentary, the son of heaven divided land among his feudal lords, his feudal lords divided the land among their dependent families and so forth down the pecking order to the officers who had their dependent kin and the commoners who "each had his apportioned relations and all had their graded precedence"" This type of unilineal descent-group later became the model of the Korean family through the influence of Neo-Confucianism, as Zhu Xi and others advocated its re-establishment in China.


Fēngjiàn system and bureaucracy

There were Chinese nobility#Peer ranks of the Zhou dynasty, five peerage ranks below the royal ranks, in descending order with common English translations: ''gōng'' 公 "duke", ''hóu'' 侯 "marquis", ''bó'' 伯 "count", ''zǐ'' 子 "viscount", and ''nán'' 男 "baron". At times, a vigorous duke would take power from his nobles and centralize the state. Centralization became more necessary as the states began to war among themselves and decentralization encouraged more war. If a duke took power from his nobles, the state would have to be administered bureaucratically by appointed officials. Despite these similarities, there are a number of important differences from medieval Europe. One obvious difference is that the Zhou ruled from walled cities rather than castles. Another was China's distinct class system, which lacked an organized clergy but saw Shang-descent yeomen become masters of ritual and ceremony, as well as astronomy, state affairs and ancient canons, known as ''ru'' (儒). When a dukedom was centralized, these people would find employment as government officials or officers. These hereditary classes were similar to Western knights in status and breeding, but unlike the European equivalent, they were expected to be something of a scholar instead of a warrior. Being appointed, they could move from one state to another. Some would travel from state to state peddling schemes of administrative or military reform. Those who could not find employment would often end up teaching young men who aspired to official status. The most famous of these was Confucius, who taught a system of mutual duty between superiors and inferiors. In contrast, the Legalism (Chinese philosophy), Legalists had no time for Confucian virtue and advocated a system of strict laws and harsh punishments. The wars of the Warring States were finally ended by the most legalist state of all, Qin. When the
Qin dynasty The Qin dynasty, or Ch'in dynasty in Wade–Giles Wade–Giles () is a romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of ever ...

Qin dynasty
fell and was replaced by the Han dynasty, many Chinese were relieved to return to the more humane virtues of Confucius.


Agriculture

Agriculture in the Zhou dynasty was very intensive and, in many cases, directed by the government. All farming lands were owned by nobles, who then gave their land to their Serfdom, serfs, a situation similar to European feudalism. For example, a piece of land was divided into nine squares in the well-field system, with the grain from the middle square taken by the government and that of surrounding squares kept by individual farmers. This way, the government was able to store surplus food and distribute it in times of famine or bad harvest. Some important manufacturing sectors during this period included bronze smelting, which was integral to making weapons and farming tools. Again, these industries were dominated by the nobility who directed the production of such materials. China's first projects of hydraulic engineering were initiated during the Zhou dynasty, ultimately as a means to aid agricultural irrigation. The Chancellor (China), chancellor of Wei, Sunshu Ao, who served King Zhuang of Chu, dammed a river to create an enormous irrigation reservoir in modern-day northern Anhui province. For this, Sunshu is credited as China's first hydraulic engineer. The later Wei statesman Ximen Bao, who served Marquis Wen of Wei (445–396 BC), was the first hydraulic engineer of China to have created a large irrigation canal system. As the main focus of his grandiose project, his canal work eventually diverted the waters of the entire Zhang River to a spot further up the
Yellow River The Yellow River (Chinese: , Jin: uə xɔ Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is ...
.


Military

The early Western Zhou supported a strong army, split into two major units: "the Six Armies of the west" and "the Eight Armies of Chengzhou". The armies campaigned in the northern Loess Plateau, modern Ningxia and the
Yellow River The Yellow River (Chinese: , Jin: uə xɔ Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is ...
floodplain. The military prowess of Zhou peaked during the 19th year of King Zhao of Zhou, King Zhao's reign, when the six armies were wiped out along with King Zhao on a campaign around the Han River (Hanshui), Han River. Early Zhou kings were true commanders-in-chief. They were in constant wars with barbarians on behalf of the fiefs called ''guo'', which at that time meant "statelet" or "principality". King Zhao was famous for repeated campaigns in the Yangtze River, Yangtze areas and died in his last action. Later kings' campaigns were less effective. King Li of Zhou, King Li led 14 armies against barbarians in the south, but failed to achieve any victory. King Xuan of Zhou, King Xuan fought the
Quanrong The Quanrong () or Dog Rong were an ethnic group, classified by the ancient Chinese as " Qiang", active in the northwestern part of China during and after the Zhou dynasty The Zhou dynasty ( ; Old Chinese Old Chinese, also called Archaic Ch ...
nomads in vain. King You was killed by the Quanrong when Haojing was sacked. Although Chariot (Ancient China), chariots had been introduced to China during the Shang dynasty from Central Asia, the Zhou period saw the first major use of chariots in battle. Recent archaeological finds demonstrate similarities between horse burials of the Shang and Zhou dynasties and Indo-European peoples in the west. Other possible cultural influences resulting from Indo-European contact in this period may include fighting styles, head-and-hooves burials, art motifs and myths. The Zhou army also included "Barbarian" troops such as the Di people. King Hui of Zhou married a princess of the Red Di as a sign of appreciation for the importance of the Di troops. King Xiang of Zhou also married a Di princess after receiving Di military support.


Philosophy

During the Zhou dynasty, the origins of native Chinese philosophy developed, its initial stages of development beginning in the 6th century BC. The greatest Chinese philosophers, those who made the greatest impact on later generations of Chinese, were Confucius, founder of
Confucianism Confucianism, also known as Ruism, is a system of thought and behavior originating in ancient China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC ...
, and Laozi, founder of
Taoism Taoism (), or Daoism (), is a philosophical and spiritual tradition of China, Chinese origin which emphasizes living in harmony with the ''Tao'' (, Taoism#Spelling and pronunciation, or ''Dao''). In Taoism, the ''Tao'' is the source, pattern a ...
. Other philosophers, theorists, and schools of thought in this era were Mozi, founder of Mohism; Mencius, a famous Confucian who expanded upon Confucius' legacy; Shang Yang and Han Fei, responsible for the development of ancient Chinese Legalism (the core philosophy of the
Qin dynasty The Qin dynasty, or Ch'in dynasty in Wade–Giles Wade–Giles () is a romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of ever ...

Qin dynasty
); and Xun Zi, who was arguably the center of ancient Chinese intellectual life during his time, even more so than iconic intellectual figures such as Mencius.


Li

Established during the Western period, the ''Li'' () ritual system encoded an understanding of manners as an expression of the social hierarchy, ethics, and regulation concerning material life; the corresponding social practices became idealized within Confucian ideology. The system was canonized in the ''Book of Rites'', ''Zhou li, Zhouli'', and ''Yili (text), Yili'' compendiums of the Han dynasty (206 BC–220 AD), thus becoming the heart of the Chinese imperial ideology. While the system was initially a respected body of concrete regulations, the fragmentation of the Western Zhou period led the ritual to drift towards moralization and formalization in regard to: * The five orders of Chinese nobility. * Ancestral temples (size, legitimate number of pavilions) * Ceremonial regulations (number of Ding (vessel), ritual vessels, musical instruments, people in the dancing troupe)


Kings

The rulers of the Zhou dynasty were titled ''Wáng'' (), which is normally translated into English as "king" and was also the Shang dynasty, Shang term for their rulers. In addition to these rulers, King Wu's immediate ancestors Gugong Danfu, Danfu, Jili, and are also referred to as "Kings of Zhou", despite having been nominal vassals of the Shang kings. NB: Dates in Chinese history before the first year of the Gonghe Regency in 841 BC are contentious and vary by source. Those below are those published by Xia–Shang–Zhou Chronology Project and Edward L. Shaughnessy's ''The Absolute Chronology of the Western Zhou Dynasty''. Nobles of the Ji family proclaimed Duke Hui of Eastern Zhou as King Nan's successor after their capital, Chengzhou, fell to Qin forces in 256 BC. Ji Zhao, a son of King Nan, led a resistance against Qin for five years. The dukedom fell in 249 BC. The remaining Ji family ruled Yan (state), Yan and Wei (Spring and Autumn period), Wei until 209 BC.


Astrology

In traditional Chinese astrology, Zhou is represented by two stars, Eta Capricorni () and 21 Capricorni (), in Girl (Chinese constellation), "Twelve States" asterism. Zhou is also represented by the star Beta Serpentis in asterism "Right Wall", Heavenly Market enclosure (see Chinese constellation).


See also

*Family tree of the Zhou dynasty *Four occupations *Historical capitals of China *Tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng *Women in ancient and imperial China


Notes


References


Citations


Works cited

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Further reading

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External links


Chinese Text Project
Rulers of the Zhou period – with links to their occurrences in pre-Qin and Han texts. {{Authority control Zhou dynasty, 256 BC 3rd-century BC disestablishments in China 11th-century BC establishments in China Dynasties in Chinese history Former countries in Chinese history Former monarchies of East Asia States and territories disestablished in the 3rd century BC States and territories established in the 11th century BC