Kings of Xia Dynasty in History of China

King Si Zhu — Inventor of Armor and A Strong Expansionist 

 

Si Zhu was the 7th king of the Xia Dynasty (2070 BC — 1600 BC). When he was born, his father, King Si Shaokang was in exile and planning to take back their lost throne. 

Si Zhu was quite brave and strong and had contributed significantly to his father's recovering war and rebuilding of the Xia Empire. 

He achieved excellent military skills during those battles and later got the throne after his father passed away. 

Si Zhu’s father left him a stable and flourishing kingdom, which made him possible to expand his territory. 

So he initiated some wars to clans situated in the east (Dong Yi).

 

Exquisite Thin Black Pottery Chalice of Longshan Culture (Around 2500 BC — 2000 BC), Approximately the Same Era and Places of Dongyi Tribes — Shandong Museum

In the beginning, his army lost several times, when fighting against people in the east that were using advanced weapons like arrows. Si Zhu retreated back and invented armors that were made out of animals’ skin, which make his army much stronger.  

In some other documents, King Si Zhu also invented spear.

With the protection of the armors, King Si Zhu and his army finally got succeed and extended Xia’s territory from the middle part of China eastward to the sea.

Unearthed Ritual Jade Spear of Xia Dynasty — Nanyang Cultural Relic and Archaeology Institute (Photo by Dongmaiying)

In some legends, Si Zhu also captured an auspicious creature, the Nine-Tale Fox (Jiu Wei Hu). However, it is also possible that King Si Zhu conquered nine tribes whose totem were foxes. 

Clans in the east (Dongyi) integrated into Xia’s culture since then. 

King Si Zhu was highly respected and honored as an excellent monarch in the history of China, for his successful consolidation of Xia’s regime, expansion of the territory, and the invention of armor.

Mythical Creature Jiu Wei Hu, Produced by Artist Shan Ze or Li Yifan or VIKI LEE

 

King Si Mang — Inventor of Special Sacrificial Ceremony 

 

King Si Mang (1897 BC — 1833 BC) was the 9th king of the Xia Dynasty. 

Besides being a fine monarch that ruled the kingdom well for nearly half a century (44 years), he invented an important sacrifice ceremony format to worship deities living in the river, lake, and the sea. 

In ancient Chinese culture, war and worship ceremonies were considered extremely important for a country and were believed closely connected to a kingdom’s existence and flourishing.

In the past, worshiping of heaven, ancestors, and mythical animals had been the commonest activities.

After Si Mang ascended to the throne, a new sacrificial ceremony was held and then lasted for the next thousands of years in the history of China.  

In this sacred sacrifice ceremony, three livestock (cattle, pig, and sheep) and an important ceremonial Jade Gui (Yu Gui) were sunk in the Huang He River, to pray for peace and safety, from the celestial living in this river.  

The king believed that sinking sacrificial offerings in water could be easier to reach deities that are living in rivers, lakes, and seas. 

Gradually, the Sinking Sacrifice expanded to other places and became an important sacrifice ceremony in ancient Chinese culture.

Jade Gui of 20th Century BC — Nanyang Cultural Relic and Archaeology Institute (Photo by Dongmaiying)

 

Si Kongjia — King with Dragons

Si Kongjia was a prince of the Xia Dynasty, who was considered superstitious and absurd; so he didn’t get the throne from his father, the 13th king of Xia.

Hence, his uncle and uncle’s son became the 14th and 15th king of Xia. 

When they all passed away, Kongjia finally ascended to the throne and made himself the 16th king of the empire. 

As a monarch, King Si Kongjia was irresponsible, and had brought severe declines to his kingdom; many lords started to disobey and disrespect him as the king.

Restoration Map of the Palace of the Xia Dynasty

Besides being an incapable king, Kongjiao was a good poet and musician that created some famous songs and left interesting stories with dragons in some legends. 

One day, King Kongjia was given two dragons by a deity and was told to take care of them well. Kongjia couldn’t do it by himself, so he found a professional to do that for him.

Unfortunately, this person wasn't an expert as he claimed, and one dragon died because of his ignorance.

He didn’t know how to deal with the dragon’s body, so he made the dragon's flesh into delicious meals and provided it to King Kongjia.  

Sometime later, when the king wanted to visit the dragons, this person had fled, and his horrible behavior was found out.

Then, King Kongjia nominated another decent man to raise the other dragon for him. 

But this man was very straightforward, and had displeased Kongjia many times; so he was sentenced to death and poorly buried outside of the city. 

Right after the burial of this man's body, heavy rains and powerful storms outburst, and followed by a big fire in the nearby forest.

Kongjia thought that was a revenge from the excellent dragon keeper, or maybe even those dragons themselves. 

He was super terrified and started to pray, but unfortunately, he passed away on his way back, the real reason for his death was unclear.

Ritual Jade Weapon (Yue) from Taosi Site Culture (2300 BC — 1900 BC) — Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (Photo by Dongmaiying)

 

Si Gui or Xia Jie — Last King of Xia Dynasty and Spy Queen

Si Gui or Si Lvgui (? — 1600 BC), posthumous title as Jie or Xia Jie, was the last king of the Xia Dynasty in the history of China. 

When he inherited the throne from his father, most of the seigneurs already stopped paying tribute nor honoring the central king. Hence, he initiated many annex wars trying to gain sanctity back.

Jie was a strong and brave monarch with good military skills, so he achieved many military successes and robbed many valuable treasures and beautiful women. One of them was Moxi, an extremely beautiful girl that was nominated as the queen soon.

Jie and his gorgeous queen then started to live a very luxurious life together. Moxi was extraordinarily demanding: she liked the fancy palace and clothes, smelling of good wine, and the sound when expensive silk was teared up.

To please his beautiful queen, Jie built a tall and spectacular palace, which was decorated with ivory and valuable jade; then he commanded to pour large amounts of wine into a pond so people could drink directly when they were boating. 

In addition, he asked large numbers of women to weave and make fancy clothes and silk, for his queen to wear or hear the sound of tearing them up.

Bronze Wine Cup (Jue) Unearthed from Erlitou Site that Believed as Capital of the Xia Dynasty — Luoyang Museum (Photo by Dongmaiying)

Since Moxi was captured from a clan that Jie conquered, many people believed that this woman was actually a spy who made great contributions to harm Jie’s ruling, squander his money and maybe even provide valuable information to Yi Yin, the prime minister of State Shang.

Anyway, Jie’s luxurious life, large numbers of wars, and his chaotic reign quickly declined the kingdom.

 

Consequently, many armies that were aimed at revolting against the king, appeared.  

Army of State Shang was the strongest one, who had an intense war with King Jie at a place named Mingtiao and won.

Bronze Artifact Decorated with Turquoise Unearthed From Erlitou Site — Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (Photo by Dongmaiying)

After the Battle of Mingtiao, King Jie was banished and died in desolation, and the Shang Dynasty (1600 BC — 1046 BC) was established. 

After the Xia Dynasty ended, its offsprings were separated into three main streams: one big group complied with the Shang Dynasty and stayed in their original place, one moved southward, the other moved northward, and was believed as ancestors of the Xiongnu (or the Huns). 

Scripts on Oracle Bones of the Shang Dynasty — National Museum of China

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