Fun Facts about Chinese Culture and History

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Zhou Dynasty and Some of their Notable Kings

Ji Xia -- A Turing Point King Mysteriously Perished in River

Ji Xia (? — 977 B. C.), also respected as Zhou Zhao Wang, King of Brightness, was the fourth king of the Zhou Dynasty in the history of China, whose father and grandfather left him a prosperous kingdom.

 

However, he wasn’t quite a perfect monarch like his ancestors and dramatically declined the national power. 

 

Firstly, an illegal coup and murder happened in one of his vassal states, but Ji Xia didn’t do or say anything about it. Since then, injustice behaviors gradually became common within the kingdom of Zhou.

 

In addition, Ji Xia initiated many wars to eastern and southern regions in Chinese mainland; he successfully conquered those in the east, while didn’t have enough luck in the south.

 

Around a decade after he ascended to the throne, some abnormal natural phenomena appeared in Zhou’s capital city, which included an earthquake, colorful lights at night, overflew water from the river, well, spring and ponds.

 

In ancient Chinese culture, those were believed as signs of Ji Xia having done something wrong, but he didn’t take those words seriously. 

 

Some years later, Ji Xia initiated the third war to the regime in south, leading his best armies.

 

They went very well and had conquered many places in the beginning, but Ji Xia himself and most of his soldiers suddenly drawn into a river. A brave general risked his life to take Ji Xia’s body out of the river and carried back to the capital, who was given a noble title by the new king later. 

 

The reason why so many brave and experienced soldiers and king drawn together was not clearly noted on historical documents; it feels like many people were trying to avoid talking about it.

 

Ji Xia and his powerful army had many military successes before that largely extended his territory, so they wouldn’t be beat such quickly and utterly. Some people said that they all died because the bridge broke down, some believed that those boats they used were of bad quality, while others thought they came into a big earthquake or large groups of crocodiles. 

 

After this tragedy, Ji Xia’s crown prince, his first son ascended the throne; he took from his father a kingdom with much larger territory as well as many contradictions within the empire. 

 

Ji Man -- Legendary and Ambitious King with Mythical Experiences

When Ji Man (1054 B.C. — 949 B. C.) was the crown prince of the Zhou Dynasty, he spent lots of time traveling around many places in China and meeting intelligent people, sitting in his eight-horse-lead cart driving by a magical coachman.

 

After his father (King Ji Xia) suddenly drowned in the river with a large army, Ji Man ascended the throne and became the next king Zhou Mu Wang, King of Benign in the history of China. 

 

Ji Man turned out to be an excellent king. 

 

Right after he ascended the throne, he efficiently solved all the problems within his kingdom that his father left behind. Soon, everything was in order and civilians regained stable lives as they had in the previous flourishing age.

 

Then Ji Man started his journey again; but this time, he took his best army with him. 

Based on the enlarged territory his father left him, Ji Man further extended his kingdom.

 

He defeated eastern rebellion vassal states, consolidated southerners that his father conquered, vanquished northern nomadic regimes and implemented very coercive policies to those failed northerners. 

 

When he and his army were marching westward to the most mysterious and magical place in Chinese culture, the Mount Kunlun, the fairy who was in charge there named Xi Wangmu showed up and tried to stop Ji Man.

 

She invited him into her fancy palace and provided him some magical fruits and syrups that helped him live more than 100 years.

 

When he left, the fairy gave him 4 pure white deers and wolves each, and blessed him and his kingdom.

After King Ji Man achieved those unexceptional successes, he summoned all the lords of his vassal states and held a grand alliance meeting.

 

This was a declaration of his remarkably big realm and absolute dominance of this big empire.

 

After such a long and legendary life, he departed when he was 105 years old and passed the throne to his first son. 

King Ji Yihu -- Legalization of Land Privatization and War Initiator Because of Women

Father of Ji Yihu (1019 B. C. — 936 B.C.), the King Ji Man, had spent lots of time traveling around the world, expanding the territory and meeting with celestial.

 

After Yihu asceded to the throne, he got a powerful kingdom, but with relatively less money on their national treasury. 

 

Therefore, the first important mission of the Ji Yihu, the King Gong of Zhou, was to earn more money to fulfill the empty exchequer that was used up by his father. 

 

As a monarch, he tried his best to encourage development of economy and to search for peace.

 

Yihu reduced the number of his soldiers to make sure more people could get involved in agricultural production. Most importantly, he legalized Land Privatization and established a relevant registration and tax system.

 

Within this new system, even nobles and landlords need to have their land registered and pay for taxes. Consequently, the income of the exchequer increased thanks to the efficient new management system of national land. 

 

Moreover, as long as there was conflicting in borders, Yihu always tried to solve it by negotiating and avoid clashes of arms. But when his kingdom was attacked by a rebellion nomadic regime, he led his army defeated them decisively.

 

Unlike his father and grandfather who were ambitious in expanding territory and conquering nearby regimes through wars, he paid more attention to economic development and peace within his country.

 

As a peace worshiper, however, he did initiate a war and perished one of his loyal vassal state because of women. 

 

One day when Yihu was touring that vassal state, three beautiful women passed by.

 

He was impressed by their stunning beauty and asked lord of that state about those women. The lord said that they were local girls and promised to send them to Yihu.

 

When the lord closely saw those three beauties, however, he couldn’t resist their extremely good looks and took all of them as his own concubines. This lord’s mother strongly disagreed with this behavior and told him that he was not entitled to obtain such unusual treasures, but he didn’t listen.

 

One year later, King Yihu still didn’t see any of those beautiful women and soon found out the truth.

 

He was outrageous; so he led his army marched there and perished this lord and the state, under the name of having forcibly occupied civilians and being unfaithful to the king. 

 

Decades later, King Yihu passed away peacefully in his palace, after he gave the throne to his crown prince.

 

Yihu was a good monarch in history of China in maintaining and protecting his kingdom, as well as developing agriculture and economy.

 

But he also cut off large numbers of his soldiers and left this smaller army to his weak son, which led to a situation that a young and feeble new king with a small scale army surrounded by long-suppressed nomadic regimes.

 

Consequently, Zhou’s capital had been moved for several times to avoid invasions of those nomadic forces; more of the Zhou’s royal lands were rewarded to contributive generals in those defensive wars.