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Jin (Chinese state)


11th century BCE–376 BCE


Capital Tang (唐)
Quwo (曲沃)
Jiang (絳)
Xintian (新田)
Languages Old Chinese
Religion Taoism, Animism, Ancestor veneration
Government Monarchy
 -  Established 11th century BCE
 -  Disestablished 376 BCE
Currency Spade money

Jin (Chinese: ; pinyin: Jìn; Wade–Giles: Chin), originally known as Tang (唐),[1] was a major state during the middle part of the Zhou dynasty, based near the center of what was then China, on the lands attributed to the legendary Xia dynasty: the southern part of modern Shanxi. Although it grew in power during the Spring and Autumn period, its aristocratic structure saw it break apart when the duke lost power to his nobles. In 453 BCE, Jin was split into three successor states: Han, Zhao and Wei. The Partition of Jin marks the end of the Spring and Autumn Period and the beginning of the Warring States period.


  • Geography 1
  • Western Zhou (1046-771 BCE) 2
  • Spring and Autumn period 3
    • The breakaway state of Quwo (745-677 BCE) 3.1
    • Ascendency 3.2
    • Decline and fall 3.3
  • Rulers 4
  • Jin in astronomy 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Jin was located in the lower Fen River drainage basin on the Shanxi plateau. To the north were the Xirong and Beidi peoples. To the west were the Lüliang Mountains and then the Loess Plateau of northern Shaanxi. To the southwest the Fen River turns west to join the south-flowing part of the Yellow River which soon leads to the Guanzhong, an area of the Wei River Valley that was the heartland of the Western Zhou and later of the Qin. To the south are the Zhongtiao Mountains and then the east-west valley of the Yellow River which was the main route to the Wei Valley to the west. To the east were the Taihang Mountains and then the North China Plain. This location gave ambitious Jin dukes the opportunity to move north to conquer and absorb the Xirong tribes, move southwest and fight Qin, and move southeast to absorb the many smaller Zhou states.

Also important to the region were the large states of Chu to the south in the Yangtze and Huai River regions and Qi to the east in Shandong.

Jin had multiple capitals. The first capital of Jin was Tang (唐).[2] The capital was later moved to È (鄂), then Jiàng (絳), then Xintian (新田).[3] From 746 to 677, Quwo (曲沃) was the capital of a fragment of Jin.

Western Zhou (1046-771 BCE)

When the Zhou Dynasty was founded, the conquered lands were given to Zhou relatives and ministers as hereditary fiefs. King Cheng of Zhou, the second Zhou king, gave the land called Tang (唐), west of modern Yicheng County in Shanxi, to his younger brother, Tang Shuyu (唐叔虞) with the rank of a marquis. Tang Shuyu's son and successor, Marquis Xie of Jin (晉侯燮), changed the name of Tang to Jin. There is little information about Jin for this period beyond a list of rulers.

Spring and Autumn period

Jin and other states in 5th century BCE

In 771 BCE the Quanrong nomads drove the Zhou out of the Wei River valley and killed the king. Marquis Wen of Jin, the eleventh marquis of Jin, supported King Ping of Zhou by killing his rival, King Xie of Zhou, an act that King Ping heavily rewarded him for.

The breakaway state of Quwo (745-677 BCE)

When Marquis Zhao of Jin (745-739 BCE) accessed the throne, he gave the land of Quwo to his uncle Chengshi who became Huan Shu of Quwo. In 739 BCE, an official named Panfu (潘父) murdered Marquis Zhao and invited Huan Shu to take the throne. Huan Shu entered Jin but was driven out by the people and retreated to Quwo. All three Quwo rulers, Huan Shu (745-731), Zhuang Bo (731-716) and Duke Wu (716-678) made attempts to take over Jin. In 678 BCE, Duke Wu of Quwo conquered Jin and killed Marquis Min of Jin (704-678). One year later, after receiving gifts from Duke Wu, King Xi of Zhou made Duke Wu the legal ruler of Jin, who became known as Duke Wu of Jin (679-677).


Duke Wen of Jin Recovering His State attributed to Li Tang, 1140 (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

With the establishment of the Quwo line, Jin became the most powerful state for three generations and remained powerful for a century or more after that. Duke Wu died soon after gaining control of Jin. He was followed by Duke Xian of Jin (676-651 BCE). Xian broke with Zhou feudalism by killing or exiling his cousins and ruling with appointees of various social backgrounds. He annexed 16 or 17 small states in Shanxi, dominated 38 others, and absorbed a number of Rong tribes. Some of the states conquered were Geng (耿), Huo (霍), old Wei (魏), Yu (虞) and Western Guo. His death led to a succession struggle which ended with the enthronement of Duke Hui of Jin (650-637). In 646 BCE, Duke Hui was captured by Qin and restored as a vassal.

Another son of Duke Xian was Duke Wen of Jin (636-628), who spent 19 years exile in various courts. He came to the throne in 636 escorted by the troops of his father-in-law, Duke Mu of Qin. Duke Wen quickly established himself as an independent ruler by driving the Di barbarians west of the Yellow River. In 635 BCE he supported King Xiang of Zhou against a rival and was rewarded with lands near the royal capital. In 633 BCE, he confronted the rising power of the southern state of Chu which was then besieging Song. Instead of directly assisting Song, he attacked two vassals of Chu, Cao and Wei. The following year, he formed a military alliance with Qin, Qi and Song that defeated Chu at the Battle of Chengpu, perhaps the largest battle in the Spring and Autumn period. Shortly after the battle, he held an interstate conference at Jitu (踐土) with King Xiang of Zhou and the rulers of six other states. He affirmed the lords' loyalty and received from the King the title of "ba" or hegemon. At some point there was a war with Qin which ended in peace. Duke Wen erected monuments to the fallen on both sides. The Chinese proverb "The Friendship of Qin and Jin", meaning an unbreakable bond, dates from this period.

Over the next century, a four-way balance of power developed between Qin (west), Jin (west-center), Chu (south) and Qi (east), with a number of smaller states between Jin and Qi. In 627 BCE, Jin defeated Qin while it was attacking Zheng. Jin invaded Qin in 625 BCE and was driven back the following year. In 598 BCE, Chu defeated Jin at the Battle of Mi. In 589 BCE, Jin defeated Qi, which had invaded Lu and Wei. About this time Jin began to support the southeastern state of Wu as a means of weakening Chu. Duke Li of Jin (580-573) allied with Qin and Qi to make an east-west front against the threat of Chu from the south. In 579 BCE, a minister of the state of Song arranged a four-power conference in which the states agreed to limit their military strength. Four years later, fighting broke out again; Jin and its allies defeated Chu at the battle of Yingling. Duke Dao of Jin (572-558) strengthened the state by internal improvements rather than external wars. He absorbed a number of Rong tribes and was recognized as Hegemon.

Decline and fall

In 607 BCE, Duke Ling of Jin (620-607) was killed by Zhao Chuan (趙穿) under the orders of his uncle Zhao Dun (趙盾). Prince Heitun was placed on the throne as Duke Cheng of Jin (606-600). This was the beginning of the slow shift of power from the Jin dukes to the ministerial clans. Duke Li of Jin (580-573), the grandson of Duke Cheng, tried to break the power of the clans by fostering conflicts between them. In 573 BCE, he was killed by the Luan (欒氏) and Zhonghang (中行氏) clans. Duke Dao of Jin (572-558) strengthened the ducal power, but could not eliminate the power of the other aristocratic families.

After the reign of Duke Zhao of Jin (531-526), the Jin dukes were figureheads and the state was controlled by six clans: Fan (范), Zhonghang (中行), Zhi (智), Han (韓), Zhao (趙) and Wei (魏).

The clans soon began to fight among themselves. During the time of Duke Ding of Jin (511-475), the Fan and Zhonghang clans were eliminated. By about 450 BCE, the Zhi were dominant and began demanding territory from the other clans. When Zhao resisted, Zhi attacked Zhao and brought along Han and Wei as allies. After a long siege at Taiyuan, Han and Wei switched sides and the three weaker clans annihilated the Zhi. They then divided the Zhi lands, as well as most of the rest of Jin, among themselves. When Duke You of Jin (433-416) came to the throne the three clans took over much of the remaining Jin lands, leaving the dukes only the area around Jiang and Quwo. From then on, the three clans were known as the "Three Jins" (三晉).

In 403 BCE, during the reign of Duke Lie of Jin (415-389), King Weilie of Zhou recognized Marquis Jing of Han, Marquis Wen of Wei and Marquess Lie of Zhao, as marquises of Han in the south, Wei in the center and Zhao in the north, completing the partition of Jin. The state of Jin still nominally existed for several decades afterwards. The Bamboo Annals mentions that in the 20th year of Duke Huan's reign (369 BC), Marquess Cheng of Zhao and Marquess Gong of Han moved Duke Huan to Tunliu, and after that there were no more records of Duke Huan or any other Jin ruler.[4] Modern historians such as Yang Kuan, Ch'ien Mu, and Han Zhaoqi generally consider 369 BC the final year of Jin's existence.[5]


List of Jin rulers based on the Records of the Grand Historian and the Bamboo Annals.[5]

The original branch:
Title Given name Reign
Shu Yu of Tang

1042 BC–?
Xie, Marquis of Jin
Marquis Wu of Jin
Marquis Cheng of Jin
Marquis Li of Jin

?–859 BC
Marquis Jing of Jin
858–841 BC
Marquis Xi of Jin
840–823 BC
Marquis Xian of Jin

822–812 BC
Marquis Mu of Jin
811–785 BC
Shang Shu
unknown 784–781 BC
Marquis Wen of Jin
780–746 BC
Marquis Zhao of Jin

745–740 BC
Marquis Xiao of Jin
739–724 BC
Marquis E of Jin

723–718 BC
Marquis Ai of Jin
717–709 BC
Marquis Xiaozi of Jin
unknown 708–705 BC
Min, Marquis of Jin
704–678 BC
The Quwo branch, replacing the original branch in 678 BC:
Title Given name Reign
Huan Shu of Quwo
745–732 BC
Zhuang Bo of Quwo
731–716 BC
Duke Wu of Quwo and Jin
715–679 BC as Duke of Quwo
678–677 BC as Duke of Jin
Duke Xian of Jin
676–651 BC
none Xīqí
651 BC
651 BC
Duke Hui of Jin
650–637 BC
Duke Huai of Jin

637 BC
Duke Wen of Jin
636–628 BC
Duke Xiang of Jin
627–621 BC
Duke Ling of Jin
620–607 BC
Duke Cheng of Jin
606–600 BC
Duke Jing of Jin

599–581 BC
Duke Li of Jin
580–573 BC
Duke Dao of Jin
573–558 BC
Duke Ping of Jin
557–532 BC
Duke Zhao of Jin

531–526 BC
Duke Qing of Jin
525–512 BC
Duke Ding of Jin

511–475 BC
Duke Chu of Jin
474–452 BC
Duke Jing (or Ai or Yi)
451–434 BC
Duke You of Jin
433–416 BC
Duke Lie of Jin
415–389 BC
Duke Huan (or Xiao)

388–369 BC

The Records of the Grand Historian (Shiji) also has another Duke Jing (晉靜公) after Duke Xiao. However, Shiji's account of the last rulers of Jin is often self-contradictory, and is further contradicted by the Bamboo Annals, which does not mention any Jin ruler after Duke Huan of Jin.[4] Historians such as Yang Kuan (楊寬), Ch'ien Mu, and Han Zhaoqi generally regard the Bamboo Annals as more reliable, as it was unearthed from the tomb of King Xiang (died 296 BC) of the State of Wei, one of the three successor states of Jin. Duke Huan is therefore generally considered the final ruler of Jin.[5]

Jin in astronomy

Jin is represented by the star 36 Capricorni (b Capricorni) in the asterism Twelve States, Girl mansion.[6] Jin is also represented by the star Kappa Herculis in asterism Right Wall, Heavenly Market enclosure (see Chinese constellation).[7]


  1. ^ Zuo Zhuan, 5th Year of Duke Ding of Lu (魯定公): 懷姓九宗,職官五正。命以《唐誥》,而封於夏虚,啓以夏政,疆以戎索。
  2. ^ near modern Qucun (曲村).
  3. ^ in modern Houma
  4. ^ a b Annals of Wei, Bamboo Annals.
  5. ^ a b c Han, Zhaoqi (2010). "House of Jin". Annotated Shiji (in Chinese). Zhonghua Book Company. pp. 3093–3094.  
  6. ^ Richard Hinckley Allen: Star Names — Their Lore and Meaning: Capricornus
  7. ^ (Chinese) AEEA (Activities of Exhibition and Education in Astronomy) 天文教育資訊網 2006 年 6 月 24 日

External links

  • Jin, No States Are Stronger Than Her

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