An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Pu 濮

Jan 19, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Pu 濮 was a designation of non-Chinese peoples living in the middle Yangtze area during the Zhou period 周 (11th cent.-221 BCE). Because there were many different tribes and communities, Chinese sources refer to them as the "Hundred Pu" 百濮. According to the Classic Shangshu 尚書 "Book of Documents" the Pu supported King Wu of Zhou 周武王 in the conquest of the Shang empire 商 (17th-11th cent. BCE). During the reign of King Xuan 周宣王 (r. 827-782 BCE) the younger brother of the king of Chu 楚, Shu Kan 叔堪, fled to the Pu tribes. When the state of Chu become more centralised and stronger during the Spring and Autum period 春秋 (770-5th cent. BCE) it gradually conquered the territories in which Pu tribes lived, especially under King Wu 楚武王 (r. 741-690).

During the reign of King Zhuang 楚莊王 (r. 614-591) the many native tribes in the territory of Chu rebelled against the exploitative rule of Chu. The most important rebel leader was a chieftain called Junren 麇人. Yet King Zhuang disposed of an excellent military machine that suppressed the native tribes one by one. It is said that the army of Chu conquered twenty-six non-Chinese states. The Pu tribes therafter gradually merged with other native tribes or with the Chinese that migrated into their territories. The term Pu later still appears in place names.

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