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Xu (state)

The meaning of «xu (state)»

The State of Xu (Chinese: 徐) (also called Xu Rong (徐戎) or Xu Yi (徐夷)[a] by its enemies)[4][5] was an independent Huaiyi state of the Chinese Bronze Age[6] that was ruled by the Ying family (嬴) and controlled much of the Huai River valley for at least two centuries.[3][7] It was centered in northern Jiangsu and Anhui.

An ancient but originally minor state that already existed during the late Shang dynasty, Xu was subjugated by the Western Zhou dynasty around 1039 BC, and was gradually sinified from then on. It eventually regained its independence and formed a confederation of 36 states that became powerful enough to challenge the Zhou empire for supremacy over the Central Plain. Able to consolidate its rule over a territory that stretched from Hubei in the south, through eastern Henan, northern Anhui and Jiangsu, as far north as southern Shandong,[6] Xu's confederation remained a major power until the early Spring and Autumn period.[8][9] It reached its apogee in the mid 8th century BC, expanding its influence as far as Zhejiang in the south.[9] By that time, however, Xu's confederation began to break up as result of internal unrest. As its power waned, Xu was increasingly threatened by neighboring states, losing control over the Huai River to Chu. Reduced to its heartland, Xu was eventually conquered by Wu in 512 BC.[10]

According to the Rongcheng Shi bamboo slips from the Warring States period, the Yu Gong from the Han dynasty and various other sources, Yu the Great divided the world into the Nine Provinces in prehistoric times, one of them Xu.[11][12][13] The Yuanhe Xingzuan, a Tang dynasty compilation of information on the origins of Chinese surnames, as well as the Tongzhi, a Southern Song dynasty historical book, also state that Yu enfeoffed Ruomu, grandson of the mythological emperor Zhuanxu, as lord of Xu around 2100 BC. In turn the Xu peoples were supposed to be Ruomu's descendants. Furthermore, it was claimed this Xu state or province had originally occupied the entire area between the Huai and Yellow River.[14] No contemporary evidence exists to verify this information and the oldest literary sources available, the oracle bones of the Shang dynasty, do not mention such an empire. As result, the stories of Xu's foundation remain legendary.

Archaeological excavations have proven that the area around modern-day Xuzhou, including the later heartland of Xu, was a major trading hub and cultural centre for the Yangshao, Dawenkou and Longshan cultures since the 3rd millennium BC.[15] Oracle bones and later historical records both indicate that the Xuzhou area was occupied by the indigenous Dapeng kingdom since the middle Shang dynasty. A powerful polity, Dapeng was eventually destroyed by the Shang under King Di Xin.[16] In turn, Xu's existence is first reliably reported by the Yi Zhou Shu for 1042 BC, only a few decades after Dapeng's fall.[17] It remains unknown if these two polities were related in any way.

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