(Clearwisdom.net) Zhou Wen Wang (1) (who lived between 1148 B.C. – 1051 B.C.) was a virtuous duke at the end of the Shang Dynasty (from 1600 B.C. – 1046 B.C.). His mother was Tai Ren, a dignified, respectful, religious, and pious lady. Wen Wang remembered past ancestors. He had the virtue and compassion of past virtuous people. Following his ancestors’ teachings, he diligently managed the Zhou kingdom without daring to be even slightly negligent.

Wen Wang governed many noble lords. Even when his own brothers or cousins in the patriarchal clan violated the law, he still punished them with the law. As a result, his kingdom was peaceful.

Wen Wang was mild-tempered, reverent and prudent. He treated elders with respect, politeness, and understanding, and treated his brothers with modesty. During ceremonies at temples he was modest, respectful, solemn and tidy. At public places he always kept his dignity and was friendly. When he was alone he would not forget self-examination: he looked within all the time to see if his behavior and virtue had any omissions, and he did not dare to slacken off a bit.

When Wen Wang heard words beneficial to the public he would follow and put them into reality. When he heard upright criticism and advice, he would definitely accept and follow the advice. As a result, catastrophes and dangerous situations stopped occurring in his kingdom, and suffering and epidemics no longer existed.

He also chose virtuous people to teach his own sons and grandsons. At this time adults all had high morality, and teenagers were also virtuous, which was a result of Wen Wang’s being good at encouraging and educating talented individuals. Saints and virtuous people in ancient times did not say or do immoral things. In addition, they selected the virtuous and the talented to foster and recruit.

Therefore, the Zhou kingdom was peaceful, and the people were safe, rich and satisfied.

From The Book of Odes (2)


Zhou Wen Wang, whose original name was Ji Chang, was Duke of the Zhou kingdom at the end of the Shang Dynasty. Ji Chang’s son killed Shang Zhou, the last and one of the most dissolute and cruel emperors in the Shang Dynasty, and established the Zhou Dynasty (around 1046 B.C. – 256 B.C.). He gave Ji Chang the posthumous title of honor, Zhou Wen Wang, which means Zhou Wen the Emperor.

The Book of Odes is the first major collection of Chinese poems. It comprises 305 poems. Some poems were possibly written around 1000 B.C.