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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 country in East Asia. It is ...
: ''*'') was one of the
states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, Un ...
during 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 ...
dynasty and the
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 dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC), during the ...
. It was also known as Gouwu ( /''*''/) or Gongwu ( /''*''/) from the pronunciation of the local language. Wu was located at the mouth of the
Yangtze along the Yangtze River. in Hubei Hubei (; Postal romanization, alternately Hupeh) is a landlocked provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, and is part of the Central China region. The name of the provinc ...
River east of the
State of Chu Chu (, Hanyu Pinyin ''Hanyu Pinyin'' (), often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics, is the conversion of writing from a different writing system to the Latin script, Roman ( ...
. Its first capital was at Meili (probably in modern
Wuxi Wuxi () is a city in southern Jiangsu Jiangsu (; ; Postal romanization, formerly romanized Kiangsu) is an eastern-central coastal Provinces of the People's Republic of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China. It is one of the ...

Wuxi
) and was later moved to Gusu (姑蘇, modern
Suzhou Suzhou (; ; , 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 a member of a bureaucracy and ca ...

Suzhou
) and then Helu City (the old town of present-day Suzhou).


History

A
founding myth An origin myth is a myth Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths. The main characters in myths are usually gods, demigods, or supernatural humans. ...
of Wu, first recorded by
Sima Qian Sima Qian (; ; ) was a Chinese historian of the early Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the H ...

Sima Qian
in the
Han dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han dynasty
, traced its royal lineage to Taibo, a relative of
King Wen of Zhou King Wen of Zhou (; 1112–1050 BC, the Civilizing King) was Count of ZhouZhou may refer to: Chinese history * King Zhou of Shang () (1105 BC–1046 BC), the last king of the Shang dynasty * Predynastic Zhou (), 11th-century BC precursor to the Zh ...

King Wen of Zhou
. According to the ''
Records of the Grand Historian The ''Records of the Grand Historian'', also known by its Chinese name ''Shiji'', is a monumental history of ancient China and the world finished around 94 BC by the Western Han Dynasty official Sima Qian after having been started by his father ...

Records of the Grand Historian
'', Taibo was the oldest son of
Gugong DanfuKing Tai of Zhou () or Gugong Danfu () was a great leader of the Zhou clan during the Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also historically known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese dynasty that ruled in the middle and lower Yellow River va ...
and the elder uncle of King Wen who started the Zhou Dynasty.
Gugong DanfuKing Tai of Zhou () or Gugong Danfu () was a great leader of the Zhou clan during the Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also historically known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese dynasty that ruled in the middle and lower Yellow River va ...
had three sons named Taibo, Zhongyong, and Jili. Taibo was the oldest of three brothers, Jili being the youngest. Realizing that his youngest brother, Jili, was favored by his father to inherit the throne of
Predynastic ZhouThe Predynastic Zhou or Proto-Zhou (; ) refers to the state of Zhou that existed in the Guanzhong region of modern Shaanxi province during the Shang dynasty of ancient China, before its conquest of Shang in 1046/45 BC which led to the establishment o ...
, the older brothers Taibo and Zhongyong left Zhou to avoid conflict and settled southeast to Wu with a group of followers loyal to him and his brother Zhongyong. They established their first capital at Meili (), believed to be today's Meicun in
Wuxi Wuxi () is a city in southern Jiangsu Jiangsu (; ; Postal romanization, formerly romanized Kiangsu) is an eastern-central coastal Provinces of the People's Republic of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China. It is one of the ...

Wuxi
. Taibo's youngest brother Jili who was eventually the heir of the throne became the father of King Wen, who is attributed to starting the Zhou dynasty. Little is known about the history of Wu before the
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 dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC), during the ...
. Wu rose to power in the 6th century BC, after it was aided by the State of Jin as a useful ally against the State of Chu. In 584 BC, Wu rebelled against Chu upon the advice of Wuchen, a Jin minister, who defected from Chu. From then on, Wu would become a constant threat to the Chu Kingdom. Wu planted seeds of rebellion amongst Chu's vassals along the Yangtze valley.
Wu Zixu :''Note: names are in simplified characters followed by traditional and Pinyin transliteration.'' Wu Yun (died 484 BC), better known by his courtesy name Zixu, was a general and politician of the Wu (state), Wu kingdom in the Spring and Autumn per ...
, a highly influential Chu politician's mother and brother was murdered by
King Ping of Chu of the King of the Romans (variant used in the early modern period) File:Nezahualpiltzintli.jpg, Aztec King Nezahualpiltzintli of Texcoco King is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is queen re ...
and fled to Wu plotting revenge. Wu Zixu later became a trusted advisor of Prince Guang and helped him assassinate his cousin King Liao of Wu and usurp the throne. After the successful assassination of King Liao, Prince Guang ascended the throne and became known as
King Helü of Wu of the King of the Romans King of the Romans ( la, Rex Romanorum; german: König der Römer) was the title used by the German king following his election An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population choos ...
. In 506 BC, during the reign of
King Zhao of Chu King Zhao of Chu (, died 489 BC) was from 515 to 489 BC the king of the State of Chu during the Spring and Autumn period of ancient China. He was born Xiong Zhen () and King Zhao was his posthumous title. Documents unearthed in the former state ...
, King Helü decided to invade Chu. The king personally led the army, along with his younger brother Fugai, Wu Zixu, as well as
Sun Tzu Sun Tzu ( ; zh, t=孫子, p=Sūnzǐ) was a Chinese general, military strategist, writer, and philosopher who lived in the Eastern Zhou period of ancient China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as ea ...
, author of ''
The Art of War ''The Art of War'' () is an ancient List of Chinese military texts, Chinese military treatise dating from the Late Spring and Autumn Period (roughly 5th century BC). The work, which is attributed to the ancient Chinese military strategist Su ...
''. Although Chu had a strong army led by
Nang Wa Nang or nangs may refer to: * Nang County, Nyingchi, Tibet, China * Nang yai, a form of shadow play * ''Nang!'', a general interest magazine * Nang, a slang term for nitrous oxide (N2O, laughing gas) when used as a recreational drug; or for w ...
and Shen Yinshu, it suffered a heavy defeat at the
Battle of Boju The Battle of Boju () was the decisive battle of the war fought in 506 BC between Wu and Chu, two major kingdoms during the Spring and Autumn period The Spring and Autumn period was a period in Chinese history The earliest known writte ...

Battle of Boju
. King Zhao of Chu fled to Sui and the Wu army captured Ying, Chu's capital. After entering Ying, Wu Zixu exhumed King Ping's corpse, and gave it 300 lashes to exact vengeance on for his mother and brother who were murdered by the Chu King. The military victory led to Wu Zixu's elevation to Duke of Shen and his alias Shenxu. After these victories, Wu was briefly the most powerful nation and turned to other campaigns, defeating the
State of Qi Qi was a state of the Zhou dynasty The Zhou dynasty ( ) was a Chinese dynasty that followed the Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also historically known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese dynasty that ruled in the middle and ...
in 484 BC.
King Helü of Wu of the King of the Romans King of the Romans ( la, Rex Romanorum; german: König der Römer) was the title used by the German king following his election An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population choos ...
is considered to be one of the
Five Hegemons The Five Hegemons () refers to several especially powerful rulers of Chinese states of the 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 da ...

Five Hegemons
of China during the Spring and Autumn period due to his military successes at this time with the help of his famous commander/strategist
Sun Tzu Sun Tzu ( ; zh, t=孫子, p=Sūnzǐ) was a Chinese general, military strategist, writer, and philosopher who lived in the Eastern Zhou period of ancient China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as ea ...
. Wu is also generally regarded as developing the first Chinese Navy. This Navy was quite complex and had different classes of ships. These "classes" of ships were the great wing (da yi), the little wing (xiao yi), the stomach striker (tu wei), the
castle in East Sussex East Sussex is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary, L. Brookes (ed.), 2005, Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, Edinburgh in certain modern na ...

castle
ship (lou chuan), and the bridge ship (qiao chuan). These were listed in the ''Yuejueshu'' (''Lost Records of the
State of Yue Yue (, Old Chinese: ''*''), also known as Yuyue (), was a Ancient Chinese states, state in ancient China which existed during the first millennium BC the Spring and Autumn period, Spring and Autumn and Warring States period, Warring States per ...
'') as a written dialogue between
King Helü of Wu of the King of the Romans King of the Romans ( la, Rex Romanorum; german: König der Römer) was the title used by the German king following his election An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population choos ...
(r. 514 BC–496 BC) and
Wu Zixu :''Note: names are in simplified characters followed by traditional and Pinyin transliteration.'' Wu Yun (died 484 BC), better known by his courtesy name Zixu, was a general and politician of the Wu (state), Wu kingdom in the Spring and Autumn per ...
(526 BC–484 BC) in which the latter stated:
Nowadays in training naval forces we use the tactics of land forces for the best effect. Thus great wing ships correspond to the army's heavy
chariot 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 Russia, dated to c. 2000 BC. The critica ...

chariot
s, little wing ships to light chariots, stomach strikers to
battering ram A battering ram is a siege engine A siege engine is a device that is designed to break or circumvent heavy castle doors, thick city wall A defensive wall is a fortification A fortification is a military construction or building ...

battering ram
s, castle ships to mobile assault towers, and bridge ships to light
cavalry Cavalry (from the French word ''cavalerie'', itself derived from "cheval" meaning "horse") are soldiers or warriors who Horses in warfare, fight mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the most mobile of the combat arms, operating as li ...

cavalry
.
Ironically, Wu was later threatened by an upstart state to its own south, Yue; Chu then aided Yue's rise as a counter to Wu. Although Wu won majority of battles against the Yue and captured their King
Goujian Goujian () (reigned 496–465 BC) was the king of the State of Yue, Kingdom of Yue (present-day northern Zhejiang) near the end of the Spring and Autumn period. He was the son of King Yunchang. Goujian's reign coincided with arguably the last maj ...

Goujian
, Wu failed to completely subjugate Yue, in part because of Fuchai's willingness to let King Goujian live in Wu as his servant. King Goujian suffered for years as Fuchai's servant/slave and planned his revenge. Fuchai under the promise of peace, let Goujian return to Yue, his homeland which later proved to be a fatal mistake for Wu. While Wu was engaged in a military campaign in the north, Goujian enacted his revenge and launched a surprise attack on Wu in 482 BC and conquered the capital. Over the next decade, Wu was unable to recover and Yue absorbed the state in 473 BC. Wu, Yue, and Chu all proclaimed themselves kings in the 6th century BC, showing the drastic weakening of the Zhou court's authority during the
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 dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC), during the ...
. Wu and Yue were masters of metallurgy, fabricating excellent swords with incised messages, geometric patterns, and inlaid gold or silver. Wu and Yue swords tend to use much more tin than copper compared to those of other states. Wu often sent swords as gifts to northern states, such as and Cai. Examples include the spearhead of King Fuchai and the sword of Prince Guang.


Kings of Wu family tree

Chinese historical texts linked the kings of Wu to Taibo, the uncle of
King Wen of Zhou King Wen of Zhou (; 1112–1050 BC, the Civilizing King) was Count of ZhouZhou may refer to: Chinese history * King Zhou of Shang () (1105 BC–1046 BC), the last king of the Shang dynasty * Predynastic Zhou (), 11th-century BC precursor to the Zh ...

King Wen of Zhou
. Their
ancestral name In some cultures, a surname, family name, or last name is the portion of one's personal name that indicates one's family, tribe or community. Practices vary by culture. The family name may be placed at either the start of a person's full name, ...
was Ji and their clan name was Gufa. The last king of Wu, King Fuchai had at least four sons, three of whom were named You, Hong and Hui. You was his heir but was killed in one of the battles leading to the defeat of Wu, and Hong became the new heir. After the collapse of the state, the other three sons of Fuchai were exiled. Themselves, their blood relatives and descendants took Wu as their clan name in honor of their fallen kingdom.


Culture

The ''
Records of the Grand Historian The ''Records of the Grand Historian'', also known by its Chinese name ''Shiji'', is a monumental history of ancient China and the world finished around 94 BC by the Western Han Dynasty official Sima Qian after having been started by his father ...

Records of the Grand Historian
'' states that the people in Wu wore their hair short and sported tattoos. For
Sima Qian Sima Qian (; ; ) was a Chinese historian of the early Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the H ...

Sima Qian
this would have illustrated their supposed barbarism, as in his time Chinese men and women were not allowed to cut their hair or otherwise modify their body - doing so was considered an offence against the ancestors from which one had inherited one's physical features. Wu rulers did not receive
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 Hem ...
s after death.


Literature

The famed military strategist
Sun Tzu Sun Tzu ( ; zh, t=孫子, p=Sūnzǐ) was a Chinese general, military strategist, writer, and philosopher who lived in the Eastern Zhou period of ancient China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as ea ...
, renowned for his military treatise ''
The Art of War ''The Art of War'' () is an ancient List of Chinese military texts, Chinese military treatise dating from the Late Spring and Autumn Period (roughly 5th century BC). The work, which is attributed to the ancient Chinese military strategist Su ...
'', served as a general under King Helü of Wu.


Language

The indigenous language of Wu region is distinct from
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 is ...
spoken by central Chinese states. Historians have linked the language with
Austronesian languages The Austronesian languages () are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing ...
, Tai or a distinct
Sino-Tibetan language Sino-Tibetan, also known as Trans-Himalayan in a few sources, is a family In human society, family (from la, familia) is a group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth) or affinity (by marriage or other relationsh ...
.


Legacy

"Wu" continues to be used as a name for the region around
Suzhou Suzhou (; ; , 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 a member of a bureaucracy and ca ...

Suzhou
and
Shanghai Shanghai (, , Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin pronunciation: ) is one of the four Direct-administered municipalities of China, direct-administered municipalities of the China, People's Republic of China. The city is located on the sout ...

Shanghai
and their regional speech,
Wu Chinese Wu (Chinese character: , , Mandarin: ) is a group of linguistically similar and historically related Sinitic languages spoken primarily in Shanghai Shanghai (, , Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin pronunciation: ) is one of the four ...
. It was employed by other states and princes holding power in the region, most notably
Eastern Wu Wu (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 count ...
of the
Three Kingdoms The Three Kingdoms () from 220 to 280 AD was the tripartite division of China among the states of Wei, Shu Shu may refer to: China * Sichuan, China, officially abbreviated as Shu (蜀) * Shu (state) (conquered by Qin in 316 BC), an ancie ...

Three Kingdoms
, and Wu and
Wuyue Wuyue (; Shanghainese: ), 907–978, was an independent coastal kingdom founded during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period (907–960) of Chinese history. It was ruled by the Qian family, whose family name remains widespread in the kin ...
of the
Ten Kingdoms The Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period (907–979) was an era of political upheaval and division in 10th-century Imperial China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang d ...
.


Connections with Japan

Ambassadorial visits to
Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat = Imperial Seal of Japan.svg , alt_coat = Golden circle subdiv ...

Japan
by the later Chinese dynasties Wei and Jin recorded that the Wajin of Japan claimed to be descendants of Taibo of Wu, traditionally believed to be the mythical founder of Wu. Several scholars suggest that the
Yamato people The or the David Blake Willis and Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu''Transcultural Japan: At the Borderlands of Race, Gender and Identity,'' p. 272: "“Wajin,” which is written with Chinese characters that can also be read “Yamato no hito” (Yamat ...
and the
Imperial House of Japan The , also referred to as the Imperial Family, comprises those members of the extended family of the reigning Emperor of Japan who undertake official and public duties. Under the present Constitution of Japan, the Emperor is "the symbol of the Sta ...
are descendants of the Wu and possibly Taibo. Many Japanese historians also link the early Japanese
Yayoi people The were an ancient ethnic group that migrated to the Japanese archipelago mainly from the Korean Peninsula during the Yayoi period (300 BCE–300 CE). Radio-carbon evidence suggests the Yayoi period began between 1,000 and 800 BCE.Silberma ...
to the
Baiyue The Baiyue ( zh, t=百越), Hundred Yue, or simply Yue, was a blanket term historically used by ancient Chinese to describe various indigenous ethnic groups inhabiting sporadic regions in Southern China and Northern Vietnam during the 1st mil ...

Baiyue
tribes.


Wu in astronomy

Wu, together with Yue, is represented with the star
Zeta Aquilae Zeta Aquilae (ζ Aquilae, abbreviated Zeta Aql, ζ Aql) is a spectroscopic binary star in the equatorial constellation of Aquila (constellation), Aquila. It is readily visible with the naked eye, being of the third magnitude. Based on stel ...
in asterism ''Left Wall'',
Heavenly Market enclosure The Heavenly Market Enclosure (天市垣, ''Tian Shi Yuan''), 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 (late winter and early s ...
(see
Chinese constellation 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 country, with a populati ...
s).AEEA (Activities of Exhibition and Education in Astronomy) 天文教育資訊網 2006 年 6 月 23 日


See also

*
King of Wu {{chinese , t={{linktext, 吳王, s={{linktext, 吴王, p=Wúwáng , w=Wu Wang , l=Wang (title), King of Wu (state), Wu King or Prince of Wu was an ancient and medieval Chinese title referring to ruler of the area originally controlled by the Gou ...
*
Wu Zixu :''Note: names are in simplified characters followed by traditional and Pinyin transliteration.'' Wu Yun (died 484 BC), better known by his courtesy name Zixu, was a general and politician of the Wu (state), Wu kingdom in the Spring and Autumn per ...
* Yue


References


Further reading

*Wagner, Donald B. 1990.
The language of the ancient Chinese state of Wu
'. East Asian institute Occasional paper 6. University of Copenhagen. * Needham, Joseph (1986). ''Science and Civilization in China: Volume 4, Physics and Physical Technology, Part 3, Civil Engineering and Nautics''. Taipei: Caves Books Ltd. *
Zhengzhang Shangfang Zhengzhang Shangfang (; ; 9 August 1933 – 19 May 2018) was a Chinese linguist, known for his reconstruction of Old Chinese. Zhengzhang was born as Zheng Xiangfang ( ; ) in Yongjia County, on the outskirts of Wenzhou. As and have the same ...
1990. "Some Kam-Tai Words in Place Names of the Ancient Wu and Yue States" 吴越地名中的侗台语成份 In ''Minzu Yuwen'' 6. *
Zhengzhang Shangfang Zhengzhang Shangfang (; ; 9 August 1933 – 19 May 2018) was a Chinese linguist, known for his reconstruction of Old Chinese. Zhengzhang was born as Zheng Xiangfang ( ; ) in Yongjia County, on the outskirts of Wenzhou. As and have the same ...
鄭張尚芳. "Gu Yueyu" 古越語 [The old Yue language]. In Dong Chuping 董楚平 et al. Wu Yue wenhua zhi 吳越文化誌 [Record of the cultures of Wu and Yue]. Shanghai: Shanghai renmin chubanshe, 1998, vol. 1, pp. 253–281. {{DEFAULTSORT:Wu (State) Wu (state), Ancient Chinese states 11th-century BC establishments in China History of Jiangsu History of Shanghai 473 BC 5th-century BC disestablishments in China