E (state)

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State of E


c. 12th century BCE–863 BCE

Capital Xiangning County
Nanyang, Henan Province
Ezhou, Hubei Province
Religion Chinese folk religion, ancestor worship
Political structure Monarchy
 -  Established c. 12th century BCE
 -  Disestablished 863 BCE
Currency Chinese coin, gold coins

The State of E (Old Chinese, *Ngˤak;[1] Modern Chineset 鄂國, s 鄂国, p Èguó, IPA [əkwɔ]) was an ancient state in the area of present-day Henan and Hubei in China from around the 12th century BCE until its overthrow in 863 BCE. It was a vassal of the Shang state and its ruler was one of the Three Excellencies appointed by King Zhou.[2]

E was originally located in the southern part of the modern province of Henan[3] but later moved to Hubei. Its name is now used as the one-character abbreviation of Hubei.


There are a number of different theories about the origins of E, including that its original inhabitants were descended from the Baiyue[4] or the Daxi culture.[5] Another theory claims that during the Shang Dynasty, descendants of the Yellow Emperor surnamed () were granted land by King Zhou around modern-day Xiangning County in Shanxi and that it became the original nucleus of E.

In Chinese historical records, King Zhou was said to have wanted to make the daughter of the Marquess of Jiu an imperial concubine but she was a dignified woman who regarded such a role as beneath her. In a fit of anger, King Zhou murdered both the Marquess and his daughter and turned the marquess's body into mincemeat. The Marquess of E, protesting this injustice, renounced his vassalage but was also then murdered.

Following the c. 1046 BCE establishment of the (unrelated) Zhou dynasty, the state of Jin moved into E’s territory and forced its people to flee southward into the northern part of modern-day Nanyang in Henan. The relocation exposed them to the powerful southern state of Chu. By the middle of the Western Zhou, E had fled once again, settling east of present-day Ezhou in Hubei.

A rebellion in E during the seventh year of the reign of King Yi of the Zhou (863 BCE) permitted Chu to finally absorb the smaller state. Chu's ruler Xiong Qu conferred its former lands upon his son Xiong Zhi. The destruction of the State of E was inscribed upon a bronze tripod cauldron, the Yu Ding.[6]

Xiong Zhi continued to live in Ezhou after the death of his father, making it the de facto capital of Chu. Subsequent rulers remained there until the sixth after Xiong Zhi, Xiong E, decided to reduce it to the status of an alternative capital. King Gong (楚共王, r. 590–560 BCE) made his third son Lord of E. In the sixth year of the reign of King Huai (323 BCE), the king made his younger brother Xiong Qu the Lord of E. Following the destruction of Chu by Qin in 223, Ezhou became a county under the Qin and Han dynasties.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Baxter, William & al. "Baxter-Sagart Old Chinese Reconstruction", p. 99.
  2. ^ Sima Qian Records of the Grand Historian • Yin (Shang) Annals (史记•殷本纪) p19.
  3. ^ "Data on the State of E (有关 "鄂"的部分资料)" (in Chinese). Retrieved October 21, 2010. 
  4. ^ "The States of Chu, E and the Ancient Yue People (楚国与鄂国及古越族)" (in Chinese). Retrieved October 22, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Investigation into the Origin of Hubei’s Abbreviation "鄂" (湖北的简称--"鄂"溯源)" (in Chinese). 
  6. ^ "禹鼎:西周灭鄂国的见证 [Yu Ding: Evidence of the Extermination of the State of E during the Western Zhou Dynasty]" (in Chinese). Retrieved 23 October 2010.