Wu (state)

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This article is about the Zhou Dynasty state. For the Three Kingdoms period state, see Eastern Wu. For the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period state, see Wu (Ten Kingdoms).
State of Wu
吳國
Kingdom
11th century BC–473 BC
Capital Wu (modern-day Suzhou, Jiangsu province)
Languages Proto-Wu
Religion Chinese folk religion, ancestor worship
Government Monarchy
King
 -  11th century BC Taibo
 -  495 – 473 BC Fuchai
Chancellor
 -  Late 6th century BC – 484 BC Wu Zixu
Historical era Zhou Dynasty
 -  Foundation by Taibo 11th century BC
 -  Defeated by Yue 473 BC
Currency Ancient Chinese coinage

Wu (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: ) was one of the states during the Western Zhou Dynasty and the Spring and Autumn Period. It was also known as Gouwu (勾吳) or Gongwu (工吳) from the pronunciation of the local language.

Wu was located at the mouth of the Yangtze River east of the State of Chu. Its first capital was at Meili (probably in modern Wuxi) and was later moved to Gusu (within modern Suzhou) and then Helu City (the old town of present-day Suzhou).

History[edit]

Chinese plain 5c. BC-en.svg

The rulers of the State of Wu had the surname Ji (), the same as the Zhou royal family. According to the Records of the Grand Historian, this was because the rulers of Wu are descended from Taibo, the elder uncle of King Wen. Realizing that his youngest brother, Jili, was wiser than he and deserved to inherit the throne, Taibo fled to Wu and settled there with his other brother Zhongyong. They established their first capital at Meili (梅里), believed to be today's Meicun in Wuxi.

The State of Jin aided Wu's rise to power 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.

Afterwards, Wu would be a constant threat to the Chu until its demise. Wu fomented rebelliousness among Chu's vassals in the Yangtze valley. In 506 BC, Wu launched a surprise attack and occupied the capital of Chu. Afterwards, Wu was briefly the most powerful nation and turned to other campaigns, defeating the State of Qi in 484 BC.

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 a major victory against Yue in 494 BC, it failed to completely subjugate it, in part because of Yue's timely bribing of an important Wu minister. While Wu was engaged in a military campaign in the north, Yue 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.

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 Qi and Cai. Examples include the spearhead of King Fuchai and the sword of Prince Guang.

Kings of Wu family tree[edit]

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
(1)Taibo
太伯
 
(2) Zhongyong
仲雍
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
(3)Jijian
季简
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
(4)Shuda
叔达
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
(5)Zhouzhang
周章
 
Yuzhong
虞仲
State of Yu
虞国
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
(6)Xiongsui
熊遂
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
(7)Kexiang
柯相
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
(8)Qiangjiuyi
彊鳩夷
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
(9)Yuqiaoyiwu
餘橋疑吾
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
(10)Kelu
柯卢
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
(11) Zhouyao
周繇
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
(12) Quyu
屈羽
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
(13) Yiwu
夷吾
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
(14) Qinchu
禽处
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
(15) Zhuan
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
(16)Pogao
颇高
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
(17) Goubei
句卑
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
(18) Quqi
去齐
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Shoumeng
寿梦
?-586–561 BC
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Liao

?-527–515 BC
 
 
 
 
 
Zhufan
诸樊
?-561–548 BC
 
Yuji
余祭
?-548–544 BC
 
Yimo
夷末
?-544–527 BC
 
Jueyou
蹶由
 
Yanyu
掩余
 
Zhuyong
烛庸
 
Jizha
季札
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Crown Prince Zhufan
太子诸樊
 
Qingji
庆忌
 
Tong
 
 
 
 
 
Helü
阖闾
?-515–496 BC
 
Fugai
夫概
?-505 BC-?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Cheng
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Zhonglei
终累
 
Fuchai
夫差
?-496–473 BC
 
Zishan
子山
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Crown Prince You
太子友
 
Prince Gucao
王子姑曹
 
Prince Di
王子地

Legacy[edit]

"Wu" continues to be used as a name for the region around Suzhou and Shanghai and their regional speech, Wu Chinese. It was employed by other states and princes holding power in the region, most notably Eastern Wu of the Three Kingdoms, and Wu and Wuyue of the Ten Kingdoms.

Possible connection with ancient Japan[edit]

Ambassadorial visits to Japan by the later Chinese dynasties Wei and Jin recorded that the Wō people of Japan claimed to be descendants of Taibo of Wu, traditionally believed to be the founder of Wu.[1]

Wu in astronomy[edit]

Wu, together with Yue, is represented with the star Zeta Aquilae in asterism Left Wall, Heavenly Market enclosure (see Chinese constellations).[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Zhengzhang Shangfang [郑张尚芳]. 1990. "Some Kam-Tai Words in Place Names of the Ancient Wu and Yue States" [古吴越地名中的侗台语成份]. In Minzu Yuwen 6. (Chinese)