Wei (state)

Wei (/weɪ/;[1] Chinese: ; pinyin: Wèi; Old Chinese: *N-qʰuj-s) was an ancient Chinese state during the Warring States period. Its territory lay between the states of Qin and Qi and included parts of modern-day Henan, Hebei, Shanxi, and Shandong. After its capital was moved from Anyi to Daliang (present-day Kaifeng) during the reign of King Hui, Wei was also called Liang (Chinese: ; pinyin: Liáng).

State of Wei

*N-qʰuj-s
403 BCE–225 BCE
Location of Wei
Capital Anyi (安邑, first)
Daliang (大梁)
Languages Old Chinese
Government Marquessate ()
Kingdom (; after 344 BCE)
History
 •  Partition of Jin 403 BCE
 •  Conquered by Qin 225 BCE
Currency spade money
other ancient Chinese coinage
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Jin (Chinese state)
Qin (state)
Wei
Wei (Chinese characters)
"Wei" in seal script (top) and regular Chinese (bottom) characters
Chinese
Transcriptions
Standard Mandarin
Hanyu Pinyin Wèi
Gwoyeu Romatzyh Wey
Wade–Giles Wei4
IPA [wêi]
Yue: Cantonese
Yale Romanization Ngaih
IPA [ŋɐ̀i]
Jyutping Ngai6
Southern Min
Hokkien POJ Guī
Old Chinese
Baxter–Sagart (2014) *N-qʰuj-s

History

Foundation

Surviving sources trace the ruling house of Wei to the Zhou royalty: Gao, duke of Bi (畢公高), was a son of King Wen of Zhou. His descendents took their surname from his fief. After the destruction of Bi by the Xionites, Bi Wan (畢萬) escaped to Jin, where he became a courtier of Duke Xian's, accompanying his personal carriage. After a successful military expedition, Bi Wan was granted Wei, from which his own descendants then founded the house of Wei.

Spring and Autumn period

Jin's political structure was drastically changed after the slaughter of its ruling dynasty during and after the Li Ji Unrest. Afterwards, "Jin ha[d] no princely house" (晉無公卿) and its political power diffused into extended relations, including the Wei. In the last years of the Spring and Autumn period, the founders of Wei, Zhao, and Han joined to attack and kill the dominant house of Zhi () in 453 BCE, resulting in the partition of Jin. King Weilie of Zhou finally legitimized the situation in 403 BCE, when he elevated the three houses' heads to the rank of marquess (Chinese: ; pinyin: hóu).

Warring States Period

The state reached its apogee during the reigns of its first two rulers, Marquess Wen of Wei and Marquess Wu of Wei. The third ruler, King Hui of Wei, declared himself an independent sovereign and concentrated on economic developments, including irrigation projects at the Yellow River. Hui felt that Qin in the west was weak and their land a barren waste. He focused on conquering the well-settled eastern lands which were richer in known resources. However, a series of battles including the battle of Maling in 341 BCE checked Wei's ambitions while Qin's expansion went largely unimpeded, boosting its economy and military strength.

Early strengthening of the state of Wei resulted from adoption of legalist reforms proposed by Li Kui (Chinese: 李悝, c. 459 - c. 395 BCE).

Defeat

Wei eventually lost the western Hexi region, a strategic area of pastoral land on the west bank of the Yellow River between the border of modern-day Shanxi and Shaanxi, to Qin. Thereafter, it remained continuously at war with Qin, requiring the capital to be moved from Anyi to Daliang. Wei surrendered to Qin in 225 BCE, after the Qin general Wang Ben diverted the Yellow River into Daliang, destroying the capital in a flood.

Rulers

  1. Marquess Wen of Wei, personal name Si (斯) or Du (都), (445–396 BCE)
  2. Marquess Wu of Wei, personal name Ji (擊), son of Marquess Wen, (396–370 BCE)
  3. King Hui of Wei, personal name Ying (罃), son of Marquess Wu, (370–319 BCE)
  4. King Xiang of Wei (魏襄王), personal name Si (嗣) or He (赫), son of King Hui, (319–296 BCE)
  5. King Zhao of Wei (魏昭王), personal name Chi (遫), son of King Xiang, (296–277 BCE)
  6. King Anxi of Wei (魏安釐王),personal name Yu (圉), son of King Zhao, (277–243 BCE)
  7. King Jingmin of Wei (魏景湣王), personal name Zeng (增) or Wu (午), son of King Anxi, (243–228 BCE)
  8. King Jia, (魏王假), personal name Jia (假), son of King Jingmin, (228–225 BCE)

According to Sima Qian's Records of the Grand Historian written in the 1st century BCE, the list of rulers is slightly different: King Hui died in 335 BCE and was succeeded by his son King Xiang in 334 BCE. King Xiang died in 319 BCE and was succeeded by his son King Ai (哀王), who died in 296 BCE and was succeeded by his son King Zhao. However, the majority of scholars and commentators believe that King Ai, whose personal name is not recorded, never existed. It seems that Sima Qian assigned the second part of the reign of King Hui (starting in 334 BCE, on which date Marquess Hui probably proclaimed himself King) to his son King Xiang and added King Ai to fill in the gap between 319 and 296 BCE. On the other hand, a minority of scholars believe King Ai did indeed exist.

Family tree of Wei rulers

Wei state family tree
Bi Wan 毕万
芒季
Ji Chou 姬犨
Viscount Wu of Wei
魏武子
Wei Ke 魏颗
令狐氏
Wèi Qí 魏锜
吕氏
?–575
Viscount Dao of Wei
魏悼子
Wèi Jié 魏颉
令狐文子
?–570
Wei Xiang 魏相
吕宣子
?–622
Ji Jiang 姬絳
Viscount Zhao of Wei
魏昭子
Ji Shu 姬舒
Viscount Xian of Wei
魏獻子
565–509 BC
魏取
Viscount Jian of Wei
魏简子
Wèi Wù 魏戊
Wei Chi 魏侈
Viscount Xiang of Wei
魏襄子
Viscont Huan of Wei
魏桓 子魏驹
?–446 BC
(1)Wei Si 魏斯
Wen of Wei 魏文侯
Marquess of Wei
?–424–396 BC
Wei Cheng 魏成
(2)Wu of Wei 魏武侯
Marquess of Wei
?–396–370 BC
少子挚
(3)Ji Ying 罃
Hui of Wei 魏惠王
King of Wei
400–370–319 BC
魏緩
Prince Shen 太子申 (4)Ji He 姬赫
Xiang of Wei 魏襄王
King of Wei
?–319–296 BC
Prince Gao 公子高
Prince Zheng
太子政
(5)Ji Chi 魏遫
Zhao of Wei 魏昭王
King of Wei
?–296–277 BC
(6)Ji Yu 姬于
Anxi of Wei 魏安釐王
King of Wei
?–277–243 BC
Wei Wuji 魏無忌
Lord Xinling
信陵君
?–243 BC
(7)Ji Zeng 姬增
Jingmin of Wei
魏景湣王
King of Wei
?–243–228 BC
(8)Ji Jia 姬假
Jia of Wei 魏王假
King of Wei
?–228–225 BC

Famous people

Legacy

Chinese legend

According to the Han Feizi, King Anxi had a lover named Lord Long Yang, with whom he enjoyed fishing. One day, Long began to weep. When questioned, Long said he saw his own future in how he had treated a fish. Happy to have the catch at first, Long Yang had wanted to throw it back when he caught a better fish. He wept, "I am also a previously-caught fish! I will also be thrown back!" To show his fidelity to Long Yang, the king declared that, "Anyone who dares to speak of other beauties will be executed along with his entire family".[2]

Chinese astronomy

In traditional Chinese astronomy, Wei is represented by one star in the "Twelve States" asterism of the "Girl" lunar mansion of the "Black Turtle" symbol and other star in the "Left Wall" of the "Heavenly Market" enclosure. Sources differ, however, in whether those two stars are (respectively) 33 Capricorni[3] and Delta Herculis[4] or whether they are Chi Capricorni and Phi Capricorni.[5]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Wei". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
  2. ^ Hinsch, Bret. Passions of the Cut Sleeve, p. 32. University of California Press, 1990.
  3. ^ Ian Ridpath's Startales - Capricornus the Sea Goat
  4. ^ Activities of Exhibition and Education in Astronomy. "天文教育資訊網". 23 June 2006. (in Chinese)
  5. ^ Star Names - R.H.Allen p.142

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