An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Zhou Dynasty - The Western Zhou Period 西周 (11th cent.-770 BCE)

Sep 22, 2018 © Ulrich Theobald

Traditional accounts

The Western Zhou period (Xizhou 西周, 11th cent.-770 BCE) was the first half of the reign of the Zhou dynasty 周 that ruled over China from the mid-11th century to 221 BCE, at least nominally. The Zhou kingdom (or empire) was established in the western region of China (modern province of Shaanxi) and expanded to the east, where the Zhou, in alliance with other statelets, overthrew the kings of the Shang 商 (17th-11th cent. BCE).

The Zhou dynasty established a network of secondary states throughout the Yellow River Plain to ensure its domination over all parts of their empire. Additionally, a secondary capital was founded in the east. The regional rulers (zhuhou 諸侯) of these secondary states were to a great part relatives to the house of Zhou. The consolidation of the Zhou dynasty was achieved not by the founder of the Zhou dynasty, King Wu 周武王, but by his brother, the Duke of Zhou 周公, who acted as regent for the young King Cheng 周成王. The enemies of the early Zhou were non-Chinese tribes in the Huai River 淮水 region, and then, from the 9th century on, the nomad tribes of the Rong 戎 from the west that in 770 forced the Zhou court to flee to the east.

In the eyes of later generations, the rule of the early Western Zhou kings was seen as a government of righteousness and benevolence, of proper conduct and utmost virtue. It was especially hailed by the Confucians who lamented the replacement of orally transmitted and therefore "natural" rituals and etiquette by written law and regulations.

King Wu, son of the Viscount of the West 西伯 (also known as King Wen 周文王), appointed Lü Shang 呂尚 (posthumously known as Qi Taigong 齊太公 or Taigong Wang 太公望) as chief commander, his brother Ji Dan 姬旦 (known as the Duke of Zhou 周公) as chief minister, and two other brothers, the Duke of Shao 召公 and the Duke of Bi 畢公 (Gao, Duke of Bi 畢公高, ancestor of the house of Wei 魏), as right and left aides. He then decided to overthrow the Shang dynasty and marched to the Ford of Mengjin 盟津 at the Yellow River, where a white fish was delivered to him as an auspicious omen.

Although 800 former vassals of the Shang declared their allegiance to the Zhou, King Wu was aware that the time was not ripe yet, and returned to the west. Two years later, when King Zhou 紂 of the Shang had killed Prince Bi Gan 比干 and incarcerated Prince Ji Zi 箕子, and the grand and small preceptors of the king of Shang fled to the court of King Wu of Zhou, he reckoned that it was time to take over the empire.

He assembled the regional rulers at the Ford of Mengjin and proclaimed the "Great Speech" (Taishi 太誓, today a chapter of the Classic Shangshu 尚書), in which he accused the king of Zhou of all his crimes. He marched on to the plain of Muye 牧野, where he prepared his army with the "Speech at Muye" 牧誓 (also included in the Shangshu). The army of the king of Shang was defeated, and a last contingent defending the capital was also unable to resist the attackers. King Zhou burnt himself on the Deer Terrace 鹿臺, and his two wives killed themselves.

Zhou historiography blames King Zhou's consort Da Ji 妲己 of interfering into governmental affairs. The people of the Shang received King Wu of Zhou outside the capital. Archaeological sources make evident that the overthrow of the Shang house must have occurred very suddenly and almost without any previous indications (xxx).

The metropolitan region (jinei 畿內) of the Zhou in the far west was divided into three states, Bei 邶 (given to King Zhou's surviving son Lu Fu 祿父, later to King Wu's brother Huo Shu 霍叔), Yong 鄘 (given to King Wu's brother Guan Shu Xian 管叔鮮), and Wei 衛 (given to King Wu's brother Cai Shu Du 蔡叔度).

King Wu invested the descendants of the mythological emperor Shen Nong 神農 as rulers of the regional state of Jiao 焦, descendants of the Yellow Emperor 黃帝 as that of Zhu 祝, those of Emperor Yao 堯 as rulers of Ji 薊, those of Emperor Shun 舜 as regional rulers of Chen 陳, and the descendants of the Xia dynasty 夏 (17th-15th cent. BCE) with the statelet of Qi 杞. King Wu then rewarded his followers with territories as vassals: Shang Fu 尚父 (Lü Shang) was made lord of Qi 齊, his own brother, the Duke of Zhou, was made lord of Lu 魯, the Duke of Shao 召公奭 was made lord of Yan 燕. His brother Xian 鮮 was made lord of Guan 管, for which reason he is known as Guan Shu Xian, and Du 度 (Cai Shu Du) was made lord of Cai 蔡.

One surviving son of King Zhou of the Shang, Prince Lu Fu, was granted the position of head of the house of Shang (Yin). In order to control him, Guan Shu Xian and Cai Shu Du were appointed Lu Fu's counsellors. The Zhou kingdom or empire covered the region from the modern province of Shaanxi to the Shandong peninsula and from the Beijing area southwards to a line from the Rivers Han 漢 and Huai 淮.

The kingdom was thus divided into many regional (or secondary) states that were bestowed to nobles belonging to the royal family of Ji 姬 (states of Guo 虢, Guan, Cai 蔡, Cheng 郕, Huo 霍, Wei 衛, Mao 毛, Dan 聃, Gao 郜, Yong 雍, Cao 曹, Teng 滕, Bi 畢, Yuan 原, Feng 酆, Xun 郇, Yu 邘, Jin 晉, Ying 應, Han 韓, Lu 魯, Fan 凡, Jiang 蔣, Xing 邢, Mao 茅, Zuo 胙, Ji (Zhai) 祭, Yan 燕) but also of other meritorious families like the Jiang 姜 (Qi 齊) and Zi 子 (Song 宋; descendants of the Shang). The main difference between the system of regional states of the Zhou empire and the European feudal states was that a large part of the vassals were relatives to the house of Zhou. For a detailed discussion on this matter, see regional rulers.

Concerning the ethnology of Western Zhou China, it is important to note that the regional states were not much more than walled cities. Between these regions many non-Chinese peoples were roaming. The Western Zhou empire was not a territorial empire in the modern sense but was based on the political centres of the regional states.

Two years after King Wu had conquered the Shang empire, Prince Jizi of Shang decided to leave the Zhou empire because his people had lost credibility under the last ruler. It is said that he left to Korea where he is known as Gija.

When King Wu fell ill, his brother, the Duke of Zhou, offered himself formally to the deities in order to take the disease away from the king. King Wu was succeeded by his young son Prince Song 誦 who is known as King Cheng 周成王 (r. 1116-1079 BCE). Chinese historiography generally assumed that King Cheng was still under age and therefore the Duke of Zhou took over regency for his nephew.

The Duke's brothers Guan Shu and Cai Shu suspected him of usurpation and joined with Wu Geng 武庚 (i. e. Lu Fu), a prince of the house of Shang, in rebellion. The Duke of Zhou undertook a campaign of suppression, defeated the rebels and appointed Prince Weizi 微子 head of the house of Shang. The state of Wei 衛 was given to Wei Kang Shu 衛康叔, a brother of the Duke of Zhou. The Duke of Zhou acted as regent for seven years and then withdrew to hand over regency to the king.

The wish of late King Wu had been to establish a secondary capital in the east, in order to have a better control over the empire, because the main capital of the Zhou dynasty was Feng 豐 (also called Zongzhou 宗周; near modern Xi'an 西安, Shaanxi) in the far west. The Duke of Shao and the Duke of Zhou selected an appropriate place and founded the eastern capital Luoyi 洛邑 (also written 雒邑, also called Chengzhou 成周; modern Luoyang 洛陽, Henan). King Cheng conducted military campaigns against the wild Yi tribes of the Huai region 淮夷 and destroyed their state of Yan 奄 (near modern Yanzhou 兖州, Jiangsu).

King Cheng was succeeded by his son Prince Zhao 釗, who is posthumously known as King Kang 周康王 (r. 1079-1053 BCE). His reign was an age of peace and consolidation for the Zhou dynasty. His son Prince Xia 瑕, known as King Zhao 周昭王, died during a hunting-and-inspection tour (xunshou 巡狩, actually a military campaign) in the south. Some sources say that it was not a hunting tour but a military campaign against the native state of Chu 楚 whose chieftains at that time still controlled the Han River 漢 valley before they migrated more to the south. It is said that King Zhao drowned when crossing the River Han. His son, Prince Man 滿, mounted the throne. He is known as King Mu 周穆王.

King Mu was aware that the lacking personal integrity of his father and grandfather had weakened the dynasty and therefore tried reviving the virtuous government of the kings Wen and Wu. Most famous is the western campaign of King Mu against the nomad tribes of the Quanrong 犬戎 which had been literally transformed into the story of his travel to Mt. Kunlun 崑崙 where he encountered the fabulous Queen Mother of the West 西王母. The story is told in the book Mu Tianzi zhuan 穆天子傳. The rule of King Mu is seen as the apogee of the Western Zhou dynasty. He introduced a penal law codex, the Fuxing 甫刑 or Lüxing 呂刑 "Punishments of Fu/Lü". King Mu also ordered to undertake a campaign against the native tribes of the River Huai area that had founded the state of Xu 徐. The troops were commanded by Zao Fu 造父. Zao Fu defeated King Yan of Xu 徐偃王 and was therefore invested with the rulership of the regional state of Zhao 趙. He is the ancestor of the houses of Zhao and Qin 秦.

King Mu's successor was his son Prince Yihu 繄扈, who is known posthumously as King Gong 周共王. The histories speak of a quarrel with Duke Kang of Mi 密康公 who had married three women without conducting the proper rituals. The result was the destruction of the state of Mi by King Gong.

Under King Yi 周懿王, personal name Prince Jian 囏, the house of Zhou began to decline. King Li 周厲王 (r. 878-841 BCE), for instance, appreciated extravagant objects, albeit his forefathers had always warned against luxurious ease. He elevated Duke Yi of Rong 榮夷公 to a high position in government, a person that also indulged in pleasures. The King was therefore criticized by grand master (dafu 大夫) Rui Liangfu 芮良夫 (Rui Bo 芮伯). Even Duke Mu of Shao 召穆公 dared to admonish the King to keep austerity. In the end all critics were accused of high treason, and no one dared to raise his voice. This oppressive government finally led to a rebellion that forced King Li to flee. He was exiled to Yi 彘, a small place in the dukedom of Jin 晉. In order to appease the mob the Duke of Shao offered his own son to the masses, while he secretly helped the crown prince to escape.

The Duke of Shao and the Duke of Zhou (descendants of the brothers of King Wu) took over regency while there was no ruler on the throne. Their reign was later called Gonghe 共和 "Common peace", but this term is also interpreted as the reign of the usurper He, Earl of Gong 共伯和. A fragment of the book Lulianzi 魯連子 says that Earl He was a benevolent ruler, and not a usurper. After fourteen years of vacancy, King Li died in exile, and his heir apparent Prince Jing 靜 was enthroned. His posthumous title is King Xuan 周宣王 (r. 827-782 BCE).

King Xuan refused to undertake the ceremonial ploughing by the ruler at Qianmou 千畝. This inattentiveness was many decades later punished by a crushing defeat of the royal troops by the Rong tribes of Jiang 姜.The royal troops were also defeated by the southern state of Chu. In order to conscribe more troops the king ordered a census, a measure that was harshly criticized as inappropriate politics for a benevolent ruler.

The military threat by the northwestern nomad tribes critically increased during the reign of King Xuan. When he died his son Prince Gongsheng 宮湦 (also called Gongnie 宮湼 or Gonghuang 宮湟) mounted the throne. He is known as King You 周幽王 (r. 781-771) and was the last ruler of the Western Zhou period. The end of the Zhou was announced by a severe earthquake in the region of Sanchuan 三川 that changed the courses of the rivers Luo 洛, Yi 伊 and Jian 澗 and caused a landslide at Mt. Qishan 岐山, the site of the former capital.

The downfall of King You is a very famous story that is peppered with a lot of phantastic and erotic taste. It is said that King You had a queen called Bao Si 褒姒 that was the fruit of a unison between a harem girl and a dragon during the Xia period 夏 (17th to 15th cent. BC). Historical fact is that King You discarded his proper queen, a daughter of the Marquis of Shen 申侯, and elevated Bao Si to his new queen, her son Bo Fu 伯服 replacing the heir apparent. In order to please Bao Si, King You ordered the drums of the watchtowers in the west to be beaten, so that the army assembled in defence of the capital. This joke pleased the queen so much that she had it repeated many times. The commanders therefore decided not to haste to the court again should the drums be beaten again.

Another problem at the court was the influence of Guo Shi Fu 虢石父, a corrupt noble who was entrusted with important governmental affairs. When the proper queen and her son were discarded, the father of the queen, the Marquis of Shen, joined with some discontented regional rulers, among them the lord of Zeng 繒, and sought support of the western Rong tribes. They instigated the Quanrong (also called Xuanyuan 玁狁) to attack the royal seat. The generals did not respond to the alarm of the drum towers, so that the king had to lead his contingent alone. He was killed at Mt. Lishan 驪山 and the capital was plundered by the Rong warriors.

The regional rulers, unable to help the king, enthroned Prince Yijiu 宜臼, who is known as King Ping 周平王 of Zhou. He was escorted by the lords of Qin and Jin to the eastern capital, where he took his royal seat. This was the beginning of the Eastern Zhou period. The fleeing Zhou elite had to dig their precious bronze vessels in hoards, which was a great luck for today's archaeologists because the inscriptions of the vessels bear important historical information.

Archaeology of the Western Zhou


Zhou settlements were widely distributed between the region of southern Shaanxi and the Shandong Peninsula and today’s Beijing and central Hunan, but they were surrounded by local populations whose languages and cultures are largely unknown (Rawson 1999: 353).

Archaeological projects investigated the metropolitan area of the Western Zhou, the twin capital Feng-Hao along the banks of River Feng west of present-day Xi'an, Shaanxi. The most important sites in this area are Zhangjiapo 張家坡 (settlements and graves), Mawangcun 馬王村, and Keshengzhuang 客省莊 (buildings), Luoshuicun 落水村 (settlements), Hualouzi 花樓子 (palace), and the graves of Puducun 普渡村 and Huayuancun 花園村. Another area of interest is the Zhouyuan 周原 area with the ancient residence in Qishan, today districts of Qishan and Fufeng. The most important sites are Fengchu, Zhaochen, Yuntang, and Qizhen with the fundaments of buildings and several cemeteries. The ruins of Fengchu included pits holding inscribed oracle bones, and in many places, hoards were discovered (Qijia 齊家, Zhuangbai 莊白, Dongjia 董家) holding sets of precious bronze vessels left back when the Zhou nobility fled to the east in the early 8th century.

The eastern capital of the Zhou was Chengzhou, today's Luoyang. In this area, Western Zhou remains were found (settlements, tombs), even it was the settlement of the royal house during the Eastern Zhou period.

The ruins of the regional state of Yan 匽(燕) were found in Liulihe 琉璃河 southwest of Beijing. The village of Qucun 曲村 (Tianma) 天馬 near Quwo 曲沃, Shanxi, was the place of the regional state of Jin. The leftovers of the houses of Qi and Lu were found in Linzi and Qufu, Shandong, and that of Song – descendants of the house of Shang – in Changzikou 長子口, Luyi 鹿邑, Henan. The site of Shanglingcun in the district of Shaanxian, Shanxi, close to Sanmenxia, was the capital of the state of Guo, whose history is barely dealt with in transmitted sources. The excavations in this place nonetheless yielded the most perfectly preserved tombs of the late Western Zhou period. In Shaanxi and Gansu, the tombs of the lords of the statelets of Yu 𢐗 (茹家莊 and 竹園溝, Baoji), Ge 戈 (Jingyang 涇陽, Shaanxi), Hei 水黑, and Xi 阜奚 (both in Lingtai 靈臺, Gansu) were discovered. The most important sites in south China were Jichun 蘄春 (Hubei) with a wooden building and hoards of bronze tools, and the cemeteries of Yandunshan 煙墩山 (Dantu 丹徒, Jiangsu), and Tunxi 屯溪 in Anhui.

Focussing on the shapes of pottery, archaeologists divide the Western Zhou period into five eras (Zhongguo Shehui Kexue Yuan Kaogu Yanjiusuo 2004: 49).

Residences and royal tombs

The search for the royal residences of the Western Zhou preoccupied archaeologists for a long time. Until date no "capital city" with citywalls and moat has been found, barring the remains of stamped earth walls in Luoyang that were hidden under the Han-period city wall. In the area of the first residence, Qishan, the foundations of buildings were found, and the area of the residences Feng and Hao (west of present-day Xi'an) revealed settlements and the foundations of buildings.

Near villages of Keshengzhuang and Mawangcun west of River Feng, excavators found the pounded-earth terraces for 14 buildings, the largest of which had measurements of 61.5*35.5m. Because the terrain is uneven, the thickness of the terrace is uneven, with 4m at the thickest part. The construction was apparently altered in the course of time. Another building included pottery tubes as part of a dewatering facility (Zhongguo Shehui Kexue Yuan Kaogu Yanjiusuo 2004: 56).

On the east bank of River Feng, more than ten buildings were found in the villages Doumenzhen 鬬門鎮 and Xiaquancun 下泉村. One building with two wings had a size of 59*23m.

Apart from these palaces or temples, dwellings of normal size were found. Some were semi-subterranean, others fully subterranean; some had an oblong shape, and others were round. While the semi-subterranean dwellings were rather small (3*4m), the subterranean ones were mostly round and quite large (10m diameter) (Zhongguo Shehui Kexue Yuan Kaogu Yanjiusuo 2004: 62).

Because transmitted sources are only superficial when it comes to the exact names and locations of the Western Zhou residences, the interpretation of bronze inscriptions must be used to learn more about the whereabouts of the Western Zhou kings. It seems that they used several "capitals" at one time, of which not all served the same purpose. Zhou Hongwei 周宏偉 (2014), after careful investigation of various written sources, came to the conclusion that Zhou 周 or Qizhou 岐周 (Qixia 岐下, Qishan 岐山) was the most stable place for sacrifices, worldly rule, and military matters. It is the most oftenly mentioned place.

The residence Zongzhou 宗周 was Feng 豐 (酆) or Fengyi 豐邑 (酆邑), another important place of royal activity, but mainly used as an itinerant residence, where the court met and the regional rulers were convoked. It was located in today's Qinduzhen 秦渡鎮, Huxian 戶縣, Shaanxi.

Hao 鎬 or Haojing 鎬京 (in inscriptions also called , 京, Pang 旁, Hao 蒿, 鄗, 滈, Yu 淢 or Xiayu 下淢), was located at the shores of Lake Biyong 辟雍 (during the Han period called Lake Kunming 昆明池), and had in the early Western Zhou a special function as a place for hunting, recreation, entertainment, banquets, and living, but also, in case of need, to carry out political or sacrificial functions.

Chengzhou 成周, Luo 雒 or Luoyi 雒邑 (also called Xinyi 新邑, Dayi 大邑, Xindayi 新大邑, Xinyi Luo 新邑洛 or Luo 洛) served as a residence in the east, in present-day Luoyang. It had a military function, but also served as a political and religious centre. It was used when the Zhou kings toured their eastern domains.

King Mu 周穆王 created a new residence in Zheng 鄭, Xizheng 西鄭, or Huaili 槐里 (also called Yulin 棫林, Quanqiu 犬丘 or Junqiu 軍丘), close to present-day Xingping 興平, Shaanxi. It also had the multiple functions of combining political activity with leisuretime activities.

The political importance of these residences can be assessed by the statistics of appointments of regional rulers or other functionaries (ceming 册命): 65 in Qishan, 28 in Feng, 20 in Hao, and 17 in Luoyang. The spiritual function can be assessed by the number of shrines mentioned in inscriptions: 9 in Qishan, 2 in Feng, 1 in Hao, and 2 in Luoyang (Zhou 2014: 86, 88). Qishan, the westernmost and oldest Zhou residence, retained its position of a political and spiritual centre of the empire through the Western Zhou period.

The terms jingshi 京師, Zhoushi 周師 or wangshi 王師, later interpreted as "royal seat/capital", had in the Western Zhou period the meaning of "royal army".

The location of the royal tombs of the Zhou poses a similar problem to archaeologists. Like the Shang, the Western Zhou did not heap up artificial hills over the tombs, but just a small shrine. Various transmitted sources explain that the royal tombs of the Western Zhou were located either in the Plain of Bi 畢原 close to the village of Guoduzhen 郭杜鎮, district of Chang'an 長安 (Yue 1998) or in the regional state of Bi 畢, domain of the Duke of Bi, close to Zhougongmiao 周公廟 in the district of Qishan 岐山 (Xin 2007). Some sources even say, the kings were buried in the wilderness, and their graves not marked by hills (qiu 丘, ling 陵, zhong 冢), earthen heaps (fen 墳), tombstones, or groves (zang zhi zhongye, bu feng, bu shu 藏之中野, 不封不樹; Yijing, 易經, ch. Xici zhuan 繫辭傳 B).

The construction of Western Zhou period tombs like that of the Marquesses, Wei 衛, Jin 晉 and Yan 燕 showed the use of two ramps, and the use of horse and chariots as tomb furnishings (Yue 1998). Finds on the slopes of Mt. Fenghuang 鳳凰山 close to Zhougongmiao constituted of an assembly of larger graves (Liu 2004). Yet even if these graves were large constructions with four ramps, it seems that these were rather the tombs of members of the Duke of Zhou's family than that of the royal lineage (Yue 2004; Zhong 2018).

One of the most important tombs found in the "metropolitan region" is located in Zhangjiapo. It has two ramps leading down into the tomb chamber and belonged to the lineage of Jing Shu 井叔. The tomb chamber is 4*5m wide, and the corpse was laid into a construction with inner (guan) and outer coffin (guo). The tomb was furnished with jades, sound stones, and other implements, most of which were robbed. The tomb robbers left back the many parts of chariots that were laid on the ramps and above the outer coffin: 30 wheels, 12 (chexiang), and many scattered parts.

The inclusion of chariot parts into tombs was not always the case. Very early Western Zhou tombs had separated pits where horses and chariots were buried. From the middle Western Zhou period on, chariots were dismembered and the parts laid into the main tomb, while the horses had their own pits. Smaller tombs found in Zhangjiapo showed that the custom was still persistent to have the deceased person accompanied into the netherworld by a servant (renxun) (Zhongguo Shehui Kexue Yuan Kaogu Yanjiusuo 2004: 72-75).

Apart from Shang-style tombs, the site of the Feng-Hao area included a small number of "cave tombs" (dongxuemu 洞穴墓), with a round shaft from whose bottom a niche was dug out, into which coffin and tomb furnishings were laid.

Archaeology of the regional states

The site of Liulihe, representing the residence of the regional rulers of Yan, consisted of a walled city and a cemetery zone. The double citywalls covered an area of 829×300m and were surrounded by a moat. The cemetery included many smaller tombs located between larger ones – with no apparent social division. The tomb chamber of M202 to which two large ramps led down had a dimension of 7×5m. Another tomb (M1193) with a tomb chamber of 7.6×5.5m was accessed by four small ramps leading down into the corners of the tomb chamber. This construction is unique.

Bronze vessels found inside are testimonies of the earliest lord of Yan, a certain Ke 克, appointed as regional ruler in the very early Western Zhou. He must have been a direct descendant of the Duke of Shao, nominally the first lord of the place (not known in transmitted ruler lists). Other copper objects were inscribed with the words Chengzhou, perhaps a hint that they were produced in the royal foundries at Luoyang. The weapons in the tomb were all destroyed, a phenomenon commonplace during that time (xxx). Quite interesting are two copper masks found in that tomb. Some of the smaller tombs were not robbed and the excavators yielded richly ornated objects, bronze vessels and lacquered wooden vessels, some of which decorated with turquois stones and clam shells in pieces and disks. Several horse pits or horse-and-carriage pits were found in the area, like M1100 with a size of 6.1×5.7m which contained five chariots and fourteen horses.

The two cities of Qucun (district of Quwo ) and Tianma (district of Jicheng) are located where the political centre of the regional state of Jin had been. Many tombs were discovered and 6 chariot-with-horse pits. Just in the middle of the two sites, archaeologists discovered the tombs of the marquesses of Jin and their spouses. The latter were laid down in the same tomb, but in a separate pit (yi xue he zang 異穴合葬). Most tombs had only one access ramp, while the tomb chambers of two were accessible from north and south. All tombs were constructed in the ancient Shang-period style with ercengtai on which various objects, horses, and the bodies of sacrifical animals (xunsheng 殉牲: dogs, cows, horses) were laid down. In one tomb (M33), as much as the parts of five chariots were found. Sacrificial pits were found in the surroundings of most tombs. Only one sacrificial person (renxun 人殉, a young female) was found in the tombs of Jin. All bodies were buried on single or double inner coffins (guan 棺) enclosed in outer coffins (guo 槨), head towards the north. On some coffins, traces of lacquer were found. The coffins were embedded in a mixture of pebbles, ash, and loam (qinggaoni 青膏泥).

Tomb furnishings were laid down according to fix rules, with chariots and bronze objects above the tomb chamber, and ritual vessels, musical instruments, weapons and pottery between inner and outer coffin, and adornments, mostly jades or jade pendants (yupeishi 玉佩飾), inside the inner coffin. Jades were partially used to cover the faces of the tomb owners.

The marquesses of Jin followed the ritual rule of equipping their late fathers with five ding tripods, 4 gui vessels, 2 square hu cans (square for male), and 1 yan, pan, yi (or he) vessel each, their spouses with 3 ding, 2 gui, 2 round hu cans (round for female), and 1 pan and yi (or he each. These sets expressed the ritual, aristocratic or bureaucratic rank of the couples in the Zhou state. The oldest tomb, M114, included a square ding inscribed with the name of Shu Ze 叔夨, who must have been Shu Yu 叔虞, Marquis of Jin, a brother of King Cheng and the first lord of Jin. The tomb belonged to his son who inherited the vessel. The names inscribed in the vessels of other tombs also deviate from the transmitted names:

transmitted name (Shiji 史記) name in bronze inscriptions
Ji Fu 姬福
Marquis Li 晉厲侯
Jin hou Boma 晉侯僰馬
Ji Yijiu 姬宜臼
Marquis Jing 晉靖侯
Jin hou Xifu 晉侯喜父
Ji Situ 姬司徒
Marquis Xi 晉釐侯 (or 晉僖侯)
Jin hou Dui 晉侯對
Ji Ji 姬籍
Marquis Xian 晉獻侯
Jin hou Su 晉侯蘇
Ji Fusheng 姬弗生 or Feiwang 費王
Marquis Mu 晉穆侯
Jin hou Bangfu 晉侯邦父

Other objects belonged to relatives of the marquesses' line, like Jin Shu Jiafu 晉叔家父. Unlike in Liulihe, the tombs of the lords of Jin were clearly separated by a moat from those of functionaries or commoners.

While Jin was a large and powerful state, that of Guo 虢 is barely mentioned in transmitted sources. Yet it held an important position on the eastward knee of the Yellow River and was able to protect the xxx Pass. More than 200 tombs were discovered, and 7 horse-and-chariot pits and several horse pits. The largest tombs (M1052, M2001, M2009) belonged to members of the house of Guo, like Guo Ji 虢季 and Guo Zhong 虢仲 (the last two are rather lineage titles than personal names), respectively.

The tombs were equipped with bronze vessels, musical instruments (bells, sound stones), weapons of bronze and stone, and a huge number of jade objects, part of them adornments used in life, and others particularly made for the funeral, like han jades put into the mouth of the corpse. Ritual bronze vessels were used in sets of 7 ding, 6 gui and one or more li. In the vicinity of all tombs, horse and chariot pits were found, with more than 10 chariots and 20 or even up to 64 horses (Zhongguo Shehui Kexue Yuan Kaogu Yanjiusuo 2004: 99).

The most important find of the Guo tombs is perhaps a sword with iron blade and bronze core (yujing tongrui tiejian 玉莖銅芯鐵劍) and a ge dagger-axe with iron blade and bronze corpus (tong nei tie huan 銅內鐵援). The sword, 33cm-long, has a handle of jade decorated with turquois stones in the fore part. The sword was wrapped in silk and put in a leather sheath, which is now tightly merged with the corroded iron blade (Zhang 1994, Li 2006). Another important find were linen clothes (Li et al. 2018).

On the territory of the village Taiqinggong 太清宮鎮 in the district of Luyi 鹿邑, Henan, a tomb of an unknown lord was found. The tomb chamber is 9×6.6m-large, was accessed by two ramps, and contained a double-coffin with a cross-shaped outer coffin. In a quite traditional way, the tomb was constructed with a yaokeng pit beneath the coffin and an ercengtai step above the chamber on which several accompanying persons (renxun) were laid. Others were put on the southern ramp, just outside the tomb chamber. With a total of fifteen, their number was considerably high for the Zhou period. The tomb furnishings were quite rich with more than 600 pieces and included bronze vessels with the inscription Chang Zi Kou 長子口, perhaps meaning "Kou, Viscount xxx of Chang". Some scholars hold that this was the tomb of Prince Wei 微子, the last of the Shang princes (Zhongguo Shehui Kexue Yuan Kaogu Yanjiusuo 2004: 113).

The tombs of the state of Yu were a mixture of the Zhou and the local cultures. This can be seen, for instance, in the custom to bury consorts along with their masters, or the many anthropomorphical bronze figures (Zhongguo Shehui Kexue Yuan Kaogu Yanjiusuo 2004: 125).

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