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State of Yue
Map of the Chinese plain in the 5th century BC. The state of Yue is located in the southeast corner.
|Capital||Kuaiji, later Wu|
• 496–465 BC
|Historical era|| Spring and Autumn period |
Warring States period
• Conquered by Chu
"Yue" in seal script (top) and modern (bottom) Chinese characters
Yue (Chinese : 越 ; Old Chinese: *[ɢ]ʷat), also known as Yuyue, was a state in ancient China which existed during the first millennium BC – the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods of China's Zhou dynasty – in the modern provinces of Zhejiang, Shanghai, and Jiangsu. Its original capital was Kuaiji (modern Shaoxing); after its conquest of Wu, the Kings of Yue moved their court north to the city of Wu (modern Suzhou).
Chinese is a group of related, but in many cases not mutually intelligible, language varieties, forming the Sinitic branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Chinese is spoken by the Han majority and many minority ethnic groups in China. About 1.2 billion people speak some form of Chinese as their first language.
Old Chinese, also called Archaic Chinese in older works, is the oldest attested stage of Chinese, and the ancestor of all modern varieties of Chinese. The earliest examples of Chinese are divinatory inscriptions on oracle bones from around 1250 BC, in the late Shang dynasty. Bronze inscriptions became plentiful during the following Zhou dynasty. The latter part of the Zhou period saw a flowering of literature, including classical works such as the Analects, the Mencius, and the Zuozhuan. These works served as models for Literary Chinese, which remained the written standard until the early twentieth century, thus preserving the vocabulary and grammar of late Old Chinese.
The Spring and Autumn period was a period in Chinese history from approximately 771 to 476 BC which corresponds roughly to the first half of the Eastern Zhou Period. The period's name derives from the Spring and Autumn Annals, a chronicle of the state of Lu between 722 and 479 BC, which tradition associates with Confucius.
The name "Baiyue" (百越) was applied indiscriminately to many non-Chinese peoples who had been mentioned in numerous classical texts. A specific kingdom, which had been known as the "Yue Guo" (越國) in modern Zhejiang. According to the Records of the Grand Historian and Discourses of the States , the Yue are descended from Wuyu, the son of Shao Kang which as known as the sixth king of the Xia dynasty.
The Baiyue, Hundred Yue or Yue were various indigenous non-Chinese peoples who inhabited the region stretching along the coastal area from Shandong to southeast China, and as far west as the Sichuan Basin between the first millennium BC and the first millennium AD. Meacham (1996:93) notes that, during the Zhou and Han dynasties, the Yue lived in a vast territory from Jiangsu to Yunnan, while Barlow (1997:2) indicates that the Luoyue occupied the southwest Guangxi and northern Vietnam. The Han shu (漢書) describes the lands of Yue as stretching from the regions of Kuaiji (會稽) to Jiaozhi (交趾). In the Warring States period, the word "Yue" referred to the State of Yue in Zhejiang. The later kingdoms of Minyue in Fujian and Nanyue in Guangdong were both considered Yue states.
Zhejiang, is an eastern coastal province of China. Zhejiang is bordered by Jiangsu and Shanghai to the north, Anhui to the northwest, Jiangxi to the west, and Fujian to the south. To the east is the East China Sea, beyond which lie the Ryukyu Islands of Japan.
The Records of the Grand Historian, also known by its Chinese name Shiji, is a monumental history of ancient China and the world finished around 94 BC by the Han dynasty official Sima Qian after having been started by his father, Sima Tan, Grand Astrologer to the imperial court. The work covers the world as it was then known to the Chinese and a 2500-year period from the age of the legendary Yellow Emperor to the reign of Emperor Wu of Han in the author's own time.
With help from Wu's enemy Chu, Yue was able to be victorious after several decades of conflict. The famous Yue King Goujian destroyed and annexed Wu in 473 BCE. Competing against the fewer, more powerful Warring States, Yue did not fare as well. During the reign of Wujiang (無彊), six generations after Goujian, Yue was destroyed and annexed by Chu in 334 BCE.
Chu was a hegemonic, Zhou dynasty era state. From King Wu of Chu in the early 8th century BCE, the rulers of Chu declared themselves kings on an equal footing with the Zhou kings. Though initially inconsequential, removed to the south of the Zhou heartland and practising differing customs, Chu began a series of administrative reforms, becoming a successful expansionist state during the Spring and Autumn period. With its continued expansion Chu became a great Warring States period power, until it was overthrown by the Qin in 223 BCE.
Goujian was the king of the Kingdom of Yue near the end of the Spring and Autumn period. He was the son of King Yunchang.
The Warring States period was an era in ancient Chinese history characterized by warfare, as well as bureaucratic and military reforms and consolidation. It followed the Spring and Autumn period and concluded with the Qin wars of conquest that saw the annexation of all other contender states, which ultimately led to the Qin state's victory in 221 BC as the first unified Chinese empire, known as the Qin dynasty. Although different scholars point toward different dates ranging from 481 BC to 403 BC as the true beginning of the Warring States, Sima Qian's choice of 475 BC is the most often cited. The Warring States era also overlaps with the second half of the Eastern Zhou dynasty, though the Chinese sovereign, known as the king of Zhou, ruled merely as a figurehead and served as a backdrop against the machinations of the warring states.
During its existence, Yue was famous for the quality of its metalworking, particularly its swords. Examples include the extremely well-preserved Swords of Goujian and Zhougou.
The Sword of Goujian is an archaeological artifact of the Spring and Autumn period found in 1965 in Hubei, China. Cast in tin bronze, it is renowned for its unusual sharpness and resistance to tarnish rarely seen in artifacts so old. This historical artifact of ancient China is currently in the possession of the Hubei Provincial Museum.
The Yue state appears to have been a largely indigenous political development in the lower Yangtze. This region corresponds with that of the old corded-ware Neolithic, and it continued to be one that shared a number of practices, such as tooth extraction, pile building, and cliff burial, practices that continued until relatively recent times in places such as Taiwan. Austronesian speakers also still lived in the region down to its conquest and sinification beginning about 240 B.C.
The YangtzeRiver, which is 6,380 km (3,964 mi) long, is the longest river in Asia and the third-longest in the world. The river is the longest in the world to flow entirely within one country. It drains one-fifth of the land area of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and its river basin is home to nearly one-third of the country's population. The Yangtze is the sixth-largest river by discharge volume in the world.
What set the Yue apart from other Sinitic states of the time was their possession of a navy.Yue culture was distinct from the Chinese in its practice of naming boats and swords. A Chinese text described the Yue as a people who used boats as their carriages and oars as their horses.
姒 ) or Luo ( 雒 ).Their ancestral name is rendered variously as either Si (
|Rulers of Yue family tree|
After the fall of Yue, the ruling family moved south to what is now northern Fujian and set up the Minyue kingdom. This successor state lasted until around 150 BC, when it miscalculated an alliance with the Han dynasty.
Mingdi, Wujiang's second son, was appointed minister of Wucheng (present-day Huzhou's Wuxing District) by the king of Chu. He was titled Marquis of Ouyang Ting, from a pavilion on the south side of Ouyu Mountain. The first Qin dynasty emperor Qin Shi Huang abolished the title after his conquest of Chu in 223 BC, but descendants and subjects of its former rulers took up the surnames Ou, Ouyang, and Ouhou (歐侯) in remembrance.
In Chinese astronomy, there are two stars named for Yue:
The virus genus Yuyuevirus and the virus family Yueviridae are both named after the state.
Possible languages spoken in the state of Yue may have been of Tai-Kadai and Austronesian origins. Li Hui (2001) identifies 126 Tai-Kadai cognates in Maqiao Wu dialect spoken in the suburbs of Shanghai out of more than a thousand lexical items surveyed.According to the author, these cognates are likely traces of 'old Yue language' (gu Yueyu 古越語).
Wolfgang Behr (2002) points out that some scattered non-Sinitic words found in the two ancient Chinese fictional texts, Mu tianzi zhuan 穆天子傳 (4th c. B.C.) and Yuejue shu 越絕書 (1st c. A.D.),can be compared to lexical items in Tai-Kadai languages:
“The Wú say yī for ‘good’ and huăn for ‘way’, i.e. in their titles they follow the central kingdoms, but in their names they follow their own lords.”
伊 yī < MC ʔjij < OC *bq(l)ij ← Siamese diiA1, Longzhou dai1, Bo'ai nii1 Daiya li1, Sipsongpanna di1, Dehong li6 < proto-Tai *ʔdɛiA1 | Sui ʔdaai1, Kam laai1, Maonan ʔdaai1, Mak ʔdaai6 < proto-Kam-Sui/proto-Kam-Tai *ʔdaai1 'good'
缓 [huăn] < MC hwanX < OC *awan ← Siamese honA1, Bo'ai hɔn1, Dioi thon1 < proto-Tai *xronA1| Sui khwən1-i, Kam khwən1, Maonan khun1-i, Mulam khwən1-i < proto-Kam-Sui *khwən1 'road, way' | proto-Hlai *kuun1 || proto-Austronesian *Zalan (Thurgood 1994:353)
絕 jué < MC dzjwet < OC *bdzot ← Siamese codD1 'to record, mark' (Zhengzhang Shangfang 1999:8)
“The Middle mountains of Gū are the mountains of the Yuè’s bronze office, the Yuè people call them ‘Bronze gū[gū]dú.”
「姑[沽]瀆」 gūdú < MC ku=duwk < OC *aka=alok
← Siamese kʰauA1 'horn', Daiya xau5, Sipsongpanna xau1, Dehong xau1, Lü xău1, Dioi kaou1 'mountain, hill' < proto-Tai *kʰauA2; Siamese luukD2l 'classifier for mountains', Siamese kʰauA1-luukD2l 'mountain' || cf. OC 谷 gǔ < kuwk << *ak-lok/luwk < *akə-lok/yowk < *blok 'valley'
"... The Yuè people call a boat xūlú. (‘beard’ & ‘cottage’)"
須 xū < MC sju < OC *bs(n)o
? ← Siamese saʔ 'noun prefix'
盧 lú < MC lu < OC *bra
← Siamese rɯaA2, Longzhou lɯɯ2, Bo'ai luu2, Daiya hə2, Dehong hə2 'boat' < proto-Tai *drɯ[a,o] | Sui lwa1/ʔda1, Kam lo1/lwa1, Be zoa < proto-Kam-Sui *s-lwa(n)A1 'boat'
"[Líu] Jiă (the king of Jīng 荆) built the western wall, it was called dìngcuò ['settle(d)' & 'grindstone'] wall."
定 dìng < MC dengH < OC *adeng-s
← Siamese diaaŋA1, Daiya tʂhəŋ2, Sipsongpanna tseŋ2 'wall'
錯 cuò < MC tshak < OC *atshak
? ← Siamese tokD1s 'to set→sunset→west' (tawan-tok 'sun-set' = 'west'); Longzhou tuk7, Bo'ai tɔk7, Daiya tok7, Sipsongpanna tok7 < proto-Tai *tokD1s ǀ Sui tok7, Mak tok7, Maonan tɔk < proto-Kam-Sui *tɔkD1
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