An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

The Regional State of Guo 虢

Nov 1, 2018 © Ulrich Theobald

Guo 虢 (occasionally written Guo 郭) was a small regional state of the Western Zhou period 西周 (11th cent.-770 BCE). It was ruled by a dynasty related to the royal house of Zhou, and thefore bearing the family name Ji 姬. Its ancestor was Guo Shu 虢叔, a younger brother of King Wen 周文王. A half-brother of both, Guo Shu 虢仲, was given the territory of Eastern Guo (Dongguo 東虢), located in today's Xingyang 滎陽, Henan. In order to discern the two, the larger Guo was called Western Guo (Xiguo 西虢). Eastern Guo was in 767 conquered by the state of Zheng 鄭.

Guo Zhong and Guo Shu served the Zhou dynasty as ministers (qing 卿). (Western) Guo was originally located close to Baoji 寶鷄 in southern Shaanxi, and later moved eastwards to the banks of the Yellow River, close to present-day Sanmenxia 三門峽, Henan. The territory was split in two parts, namely Southern Guo (Nanguo 南虢) around Shangyang 上陽 (Sanmenxia), and Northern Guo (Beiguo 北虢), located in Xiayang 下陽 close to present-day Pinglu 平陸. A lateral branch of the dukes of Guo ruled over Lesser Guo (Xiaoguo 小虢), corresponding to the original location of Guo in the west. It was conquered in 687 by the state of Qin 秦.

In the early Spring and Autumn period 春秋 (770-5th cent. BCE), Guo Gong Jifu 虢公忌父 and Guo Gong Linfu 虢公林父 (late 8th cent.) were still in the service of the Eastern Zhou 東周 (770-221 BCE) court in Chengzhou 成周 (today's Luoyang 洛陽, Henan). In 655, Guo was conquered by the state of Jin 晉.

Not much is known about the history of Guo. Yet the state is important for the finds of ducal tombs in Shangcunling 上村嶺 in 1990. Some of them were fully intact and included rich tomb furnishings, among them precious jade objects (see Zhou art), parts of chariots, and inscribed bronze vessels. Bronze inscriptions mention several persons of the house of Guo, namely Guo Cheng Gong 虢城公 (personal name Ji Qian 遣) in the early Western Zhou period, and the lineages Guo Bo 虢伯, Guo Zhong 虢仲, Guo Shu 虢叔, and Guo Ji 虢季 in the late Western Zhou, in particular Duke Li of Gou 虢厲公 (Guo Gong Chang Fu 虢公長父), Duke Xuan 虢宣公 (Guo Ji Zibo 虢季子白), Duke Wen 虢文公, Guo Shifu 虢石父 (also written 虢石甫, Guo Gong Gu 虢公鼓, Guo Shuo Fu 虢碩父), Guo Gong Han 虢公翰, Guo Shu Lü 虢叔旅, and Guo Gong Chou 虢公丑, the last ruler.

Cai Yunzhang 蔡運章 (1996). "Guo guo de fenfeng yu wuge Guo guo lishi jiuge: Sanmenxia Guo gu mudi yanjiu zhi san 虢國的分封與五个虢國的歷史糾葛——三門峽虢國墓地研究之三, Zhongyuan wenwu 中原文物, 1996/2: 69-76.
Chen Houyao 陳厚耀 (1800). Chunqiu shizu pu 春秋世族譜 (Lianghu Shuyuan Zhengxuetang edition 兩湖書院正學堂本, 1899).
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), 144-145.
Wang Wenyuan 王文源 (1845). Chunqiu shizu jilüe 春秋世族輯略 (Xuxiu siku quanshu 續修四庫全書. 124).