King Wen of Zhou
|King of Zhou|
|Reign||1099–1050 BC (49 years)|
|Died||1056 BC (aged 96)|
Fa, King Wu of Zhou
Xian, Marquess of Guan
Dan, Duke of Zhou
Du, Marquess of Chai
Wu, Earl of Cheng
Chu, Marquess of Huo
Feng, Marquess of Wei
Zheng, Earl of Mao
Ranjizai, Lord of Dan
Lord of Gao
Viscount of Yong
Zhenduo, Earl of Cao
Xiu, Viscount of Teng
Gao, Earl of Bi
Earl of Yuan
Marquess of Feng
Marquess of Xun
Grandson Cen Zi (Qu), Viscount of Cen
|Father||King Ji of Zhou|
|King Wen of Zhou|
|Literal meaning||"The Cultured King of Zhou"|
|Alternative Chinese name|
|Literal meaning||(personal name)|
King Wen of Zhou (Chinese: 周文王; pinyin: Zhōu Wén Wáng; 1152 – 1056 BC) was king of Zhou during the late Shang dynasty in ancient China. Although it was his son Wu who conquered the Shang following the Battle of Muye, King Wen was honored as the founder of the Zhou dynasty. A large number of the hymns of the Classic of Poetry are praises to the legacy of King Wen. Some consider him the first epic hero of Chinese history.
Born Ji Chang (姬昌), Wen was the son of Tai Ren and Ji Jili, the king of a small state along the Wei River in present-day Shaanxi. His father was betrayed and executed by the Shang king Wen Ding in the late 12th century BC.
He married Tai Si and had at least ten sons.
At one point, King Zhou of Shang, fearing Wen's growing power, imprisoned him in Youli (present-day Tangyin in Henan). However, many officials respected Wen for his honorable governance and they gave King Zhou so many gifts – including gold, horses, and women – that he released Wen, who subsequently planned to overthrow King Zhou but died before he could accomplish it. His second son, King Wu, followed his father's wishes and crushed the Shang at Muye, creating the imperial Zhou dynasty.
A burial mound in Zhouling town, Xianyang, Shaanxi was once thought to be the final resting place of King Wen. In the Qing dynasty the tomb was fitted with a headstone bearing Wen's name and incorporated into a temple complex in his honor, which is still open to tourists. Nearby tombs were thought to be those of Wen's successors King Wu, King Cheng and King Kang.
Modern archeology has since concluded that the five tombs are not old enough to be from the Zhou dynasty, and are more likely to be those of Han dynasty royals. The true location of King Wen's tomb is therefore unknown, although it is likely to be in the Xianyang-Xi'an area.
Ah! Solemn is the clear temple,
reverent and concordant the illustrious assistants.
Dignified, dignified are the many officers,
holding fast to the virtue of King Wen.
Responding in praise to the one in Heaven,
they hurry swiftly within the temple.
Greatly illustrious, greatly honored,
may [King Wen] never be weary of [us] men.
Many of the older odes from the Classic of Poetry (Shijing 詩經) are hymns in praise of King Wen. King Wen is also credited with having stacked the eight trigrams in their various permutations to create the sixty-four hexagrams of the I Ching. He is also said to have written the judgments which are appended to each hexagram. The most commonly used sequence of the 64 hexagrams is attributed to him and is usually referred to as the King Wen sequence.
In 196 BC, Han Gaozu gave King Wen the title "Greatest of All Kings".
- Cihai, p. 201.
- Kern (2010), p. 23.
- Creel. The Origins of Statecraft, p. 42.
- Ci Hai Bian Ji Wei Yuan Hui (辞海编辑委员会). Shanghai Ci Shu Chu Ban She (Shanghai), 1979 (Chinese)
- Wu, K. C. The Chinese Heritage. Crown Publishers (New York), 1982. ISBN 0-517-54475-X.
King Wen of ZhouBorn: 1152 BC Died: 1056 BC
|New title||King of Zhou
1099 – c. 1050 BC
| Succeeded by|
King Wu of Zhou
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