An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Luan Wuzi 欒武子 Luan Shu 欒書

Oct 26, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald

Luan Shu 欒書 (died 573 BCE), personal name Ji Shu 姬書, posthumous title Luan Wuzi 欒武子, was a nobleman in the state of Jin 晉 during the Spring and Autumn period 春秋 (770-5th cent. BCE). He was member of the house of Luan 欒, a grandson of Luan Zhi 欒枝 and served the dukes Jing 晉景公 (r. 600-581) and Dao 晉悼公 (r. 573-558).

Luan Shu began his career as assistant commander of the Lower Army (xiajun zuo 下軍佐). In 589 he participated in the victorious battle of An 鞍 against the army of Qi 齊, at the side of Xi Ke 郤克 and Han Jue 韓厥 (Han Xianzi 韓獻子). Luan Shu refused any reward by the Duke, but he was promoted to marshal of the Central Army (zhongjun yuanshuai 中軍元帥) as successor of Xi Ke. This position allowed him participating in governmental affairs.

In 585 he led the six divisions of Jin against the states of Cai 蔡 and Chu 楚 who had attacked Zheng 鄭. The campaign was resumed two years later, and Luan Shu captured the nobleman Shen Li 申驪 of Chu. Duke Cheng of Zheng 鄭成公 (r. 585-571) visited the court of Jin in 581, yet because of his secret contacts with Chu, he was detained. The nobles of Zheng thereupon enthroned Prince Kunwan 髠頑 (also called Xu 繻).

Luan Shu clearly saw that the only advantage for Jin would be in bringing Duke Cheng back to the throne and forcing him to become and ally. With a joint army Jin conquered Zheng and escorted the duke of Zheng back home. In 579 chief minister Hua Yuan 華元 of Song 宋, Luan Shu and the Prime Minister (lingyin 令尹) of Chu, Zizhong 子重, confered in Song and concluded an alliance (meng 盟). Yet four years later the two countries were again at war, and Jin defeated the army of Chu in the battle of Yanling 鄢陵 (modern Yanling, Henan).

The dukedom of Jin was at that time dominated by nobles of the houses of Luan, Shao 邵, Zhonghang 中行 and Xi 郤. Duke Li 晉厲公 (r. 581-573) wanted to get rid of their influence and had the three heads of the house of Xi (the Three Xi 三郤) assassinated in 573. Luan Shu and Zhonghang Yan 中行偃 (Xun Yan 荀偃) thereupon arrested the Duke and killed him and invited Prince Zhou 周 (or Zhouzi 周子), who lived in exile in the royal capital Luoyang 洛邑, to mount the throne of Jin. He is known as Duke Dao.

The name of Luan Shu is mentioned in a surviving bronze pot (Luan Shu fou 欒書缶).

Figure 1. Bronze vessel inscription including the name of Luan Shu
Rubbing of an inscription of a bronze vessel mentioning Luan Shu (counting from left, the lowest character in col. 4, and the first of col. 5). From Zhongguo shehui kexue yuan kaoguxue yanjiusuo 中國社會科學院考古學研究所, ed. (1984). Yin-Zhou jinwen jicheng 殷周金文集成 (Shanghai: Zhonghua shuju), No. 10008.
The inscription reads (from left to right!) as: 正月季春元日己丑/余畜孫書也擇其吉/金厶(=以){乍+又}鑄{金+缶}厶(=以)祭我/皇祖{虍/魚}厶(=以)旂眉(?)壽欒/書之子孫萬{枼+主}是寶.
Xiong Tieji 熊鐵基, Yang Youli 楊有禮 (ed. 1994), Zhongguo diwang zaixiang cidian 中國帝王宰相辭典 (Wuhan: Hubei jiaoyu chubanshe), p. 402.