An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Shang Dynasty Rulers

Feb 9, 2018 © Ulrich Theobald

Shang Dynasty 商 (17th-11th cent. BCE)
Residences: Bo 亳 (modern Caoxian 曹縣, Shandong), Ao 隞 or 囂 (Xingyang 滎陽, Henan), Xiang 相 (Neihuang 內黃, Henan), Geng [Xing] 邢 or 耿 (Xingtai 邢台, Hebei or Wenxian 溫縣, Henan), Bi 庇 (Yuncheng 鄆城, Shandong), Yan 奄 (Qufu 曲阜, Shandong), Yin 殷 or called Beimeng 北蒙 (Anyang 安陽, Henan), Mei 沬 or Chaoge 朝歌 (Qixian 淇縣, Henan)
dynastic title {temple name}
O: different title in oracle texts
personal name residence reign length
trad. reign time (probable reign time)
Yellow Emperor 黃帝
Xuan Ao 玄囂
Jiao Ji 蟜極
Gao Xin 高辛
Shang Jia 上甲 Xie 契 (or 禼)
Zhao Ming 昭明
Xiang Tu 相土
Chang Ruo 昌若
Cao Yu 曹圉
Ming 冥
Wang Hai 王亥 Zhen 振
Shang Jia 上甲 Wei 微 (or Shang Jia Wei 上甲微)
Bao Ding 報丁
In oracle texts after Bao Bing.
Bao Yi 報乙
Bao Bing 報丙
Zhu Ren 主壬 (or Shi Ren 示壬)
Zhu Gui 主癸 (or Shi Gui 示癸)
Da Yi 大乙 or Tian Yi 天乙
O: Tang 唐, Xian 咸 (?)
First king of the Shang dynasty.
Tang the Perfect (Cheng Tang) 成湯, Shang Lü 商履 Bo, later Shangyi 29 years
Tai Ding 太丁
O: Da Ding 大丁
Tang's oldest son, died before accession.
Wai Bing 外丙
O: Bu Bing 卜丙
In oracle texts after Da Jia.
Sheng 勝 Bo 2 or 3 years: 1759-1758
Zhong Ren 中壬 (or 仲任)
O: Nan Ren 南壬 (?)
Yong 庸 Bo 4 years: 1757-1754
Tai Jia 太甲 (or Da Jia 大甲) {Taizong 太宗}
Chief counsellor Yi Yin 伊尹 acts as regent, tries to usurp the thorne. Tai Jia kills him.
Zhi 至 Bo 12 years
Wo Ding 沃丁
O: Qiang Ding 羌丁 (?)
Xun 絢 Bo 19 years
Tai Geng 太庚 (or Da Geng 大庚), also called Xiao Geng 小庚; erroneously Tai Kang 太康, Xiao Kang 小康 Bian 辨 Bo 5 years
Xiao Jia 小甲 Gao 高 Bo 17 years
Yong Ji 雍己
O: Lü Ji 呂己 (?)
Dian 佃 or Zhou 伷 Bo 12 years
Tai Wu 太戊 (or Da Wu 大戊) {Zhongzong 中宗}
O: Tian Wu 天戊, Zu Wu 祖戊
Mi 密 Bo 75 years
Lü Ji 呂己 (only in oracle texts; identical with Yong Ji?)
Zhong Ding 中丁 (or 仲丁)
O: Sanzu Ding 三祖丁
Zhuang 莊 Ao 9 years
Wai Ren 外壬
O: Bu Ren 卜壬
Fa 發 Ao 10 years
Hedan Jia 河亶甲
O: Jian Jia 戔甲
Zheng 整 Xiang 9 years
Zu Yi 祖乙 {Zhongzong 中宗, Gaozu 高祖}
O: Xia Yi 下乙, Ru Yi 入乙
Teng 滕 Geng 19 years
Zu Xin 祖辛 Dan 旦 Bi 4 years
Wo Jia 沃甲, Kai Jia 開甲
O: Qiang Jia 羌甲, Long Jia 龍甲
Yu 踰 Bi 5 years
Zu Ding 祖丁
O: Xiao Ding 小丁, Sizu Ding 四祖丁
Xin 新 Bi 9 years
Nan Geng 南庚; erroneously: Nan Kang 南康
O: Zu Geng 祖庚
Geng 更 Bi, later Yan 6 years
Yang Jia 陽甲, He Jia 和甲 or 魺甲
O: Xiang Jia {象/口}甲, Fu Jia 父甲, Zu Jia 祖甲
He 和 Yan 4 years
Pan Geng 盤庚
O: Fu Geng 父庚, Zu Geng 祖庚, Sanzu Geng 三祖庚
Changed the dynastic name of Shang to Yin.
Xun 旬 Yan, later Yin 28 years
Xiao Xin 小辛
O: Fu Xin 父辛, Erzu Xin 二祖辛
Song 頌 Yin 3 years
Xiao Yi 小乙
O: Fu Yi 父乙, Xiaozu Yi 小祖乙, Houzu Yi 后祖乙
Jian 歛 Yin 10 years
Wu Ding 武丁 {Gaozong 高宗}
O: Fu Ding 父丁, Zu Ding 祖丁, Houzu Ding 后祖丁, Di Ding 帝丁
First historical ruler, c. 1150 BC.
Zhao 昭 Yin 59 years
1324-1266 (1238-1180)
Zu Ji 祖己 or Xiao Ji 孝己
O: Fu Ji 父己, Xiong Ji 兄己, Xiao Wang 小王, Zhong Ji 中己
Probably a son of Wu Ding who did not come to the throne.
Zu Geng 祖庚 or Zu Kang 祖康
O: Fu Geng 父庚, Xiong Geng 兄庚
Yao 曜 Yin 11 years
1265-1259 (1179-1173)
Zu Jia 祖甲, Di Jia 帝甲
O: Fu Jia 父甲
Dai 載 Yin 33 years
1258-1226 (1172-1140)
Lin Xin 廩辛 or Feng Xin 馮辛
O: Sanzu Xin 三祖辛, Fu Xin 父辛, Xiong Xin 兄辛
Xian 先 Yin 4 years
Kang Ding 康丁
O: Fu Ding 父丁, Gengzu Ding 庚祖丁
Ao 囂 Yin 8 years
1219-1199 (1139-1130)
Wu Yi 武乙
O: Fu Yi 父乙, Wuzu Yi 武祖乙
Appointed the ancestor of the Zhou 周, Dan Fu 亶父, regional ruler of Qi 岐.
Di 瞿 Yin, later Hebei, then Mo 35 years
1198-1195 (1129-1095)
Wen Ding 文丁, Tai Ding 太丁 or Da Ding 大丁
O: Fu Ding 父丁, Wenwu Ding 文武丁
Imprisoned Li Ji 季歷, the Earl of Zhou, who died in prison.
Tuo 托 Yin 13 years
1194-1192 (1094-1084)
Di Yi 帝乙
His oldest son, Prince Qi of Wei 微子啟 did not succeed; Prince Qi was later by King Wu of Zhou 周武王 made regional ruler of Song 宋.
Xian 羨 Yin 9 years
1191-1155 (1184-1080/1060/1050)
Di Xin 帝辛
Di Xin was the last depraved ruler of Shang, enticed by his consort Da Ji 妲己, daughter of the noble You Su 有蘇; he imprisoned the Viscount of the West 西伯, the father of eventual King Wu of Zhou. Died by self-immolation.
Zhou 紂 or Shou 受 Yin 52 years
1154-1123 (1060/1050-1027)

The Shang adressed their ancestors with numbers of the Celestial Stems (tiangan 天干; jia 甲 "1", yi 乙 "2", bing 丙 "3", ding 丁 "4", etc.), probably expressing kinship relation (certain royal lines expressed by certain numbers), but in the late Anyang period also bestowed to them a honorative name like Wen 文 "the Cultured", Wu 武 "the Martial". The posthumous title of the Shang rulers is Di 帝 "godlike ancestor". In oracle bone inscriptions the rulers are also posthumously adressed "Father XY" (Fu 父), "Older Brother XY" (Xiong 兄), "Second/Third/Fourth Ancestor XY" (Er/San/Sizu 二/三/四祖).

Chen Mengjia 陳夢家 (1955), "Shang-Yin yu Xia-zhou de niandai wenti 商殷與夏周的年代問題", in: Lishi yanjiu 歷史研究, 2:53-75. [for historical dates (proved in oracle bone inscriptions)]
David N. Keightley (1978). Sources of Shang History: The Oracle-Bone Inscriptions of Bronze Age China (Berkeley: University of California Press), 185-186.
Zhongguo da cidian bianzuan chu 中國大辭典編纂處, ed. (1936). Guoyu cidian 國語辭典 (Beiping: Shangwu yinshuguan. [rev. ed. Chongqing 1947]), Vol. 4. [For the traditional reign dates. These can also be found in other Chinese and Western dictionaries of an older date.]