King Wen, Wen Wang
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Wen Wang
- Qin Shi #7 2
文王 1  
琴史 #7  
文王之製 (Qin) made by Wen Wang 3            
Wen Wang (d. ca. 1073 BCE), the Literary King, struggled against the corruption of Zhou Xin of the Shang dynasty.4 It was Wen Wang's son 武王 Wu Wang who finally defeated them, but he then declared Wen Wang the posthumous ruler. Another son, Bo Yi Kao, is depicted as an expert qin player in the Ming dynasty novel Investiture of the Gods.5

Wen Wang is associated with a number of qin melodies.

  1. Wen Wang Cao
    The Yuefu Shiji entry for lyrics of this name says Wen Wang himself wrote it.

  2. Juyou Cao, also called 離憂操 Liyou Cao
    Zhu Changwen says Wen Wang wrote this,6 but that the Wen Wang Cao that Confucius played was not actually by Wen Wang himself.

  3. Gufeng Cao.
    Shen Qi Mi Pu also credits Wen Wang with this melody

  4. Weibin Yin
    Concerns Wen Wang meeting Lü Shang7 at the Wei Riverbank.

  5. Shi Xian
    Also concerns Wen Wang meeting Lü Shang at the Wei Riverbank.

  6. Wen Wang Shou Ming
    Qin Cao, Hejian Zage, #3; has commentary.

  7. Wen Wang Si Shi
    Qin Cao, Hejian Zage, #4; has commentary.

  8. Qianjin Qing
    A Song dynasty melody list says only that Wen Wang wrote it.

  9. Geng Shen Diao Wei
    A melody that seems to appear first in 1875; some explanations say it concerns Lü Shang (or Jiang Ziya) and Yi Yin.

The original biography in Qin Shi is as follows.8

Wen Wang, at the time of Zhou Xin, was the only one to carry out virtuous rule. He took care of the old and nurtured the young....(translation incomplete)

The complete original text is below. It does not seem to include the story that claims that he and Wu Wang each added a string to the five string qin that was then common, thus giving us the modern 7 string qin.  

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Wen Wang references
13766.25 文王 says to see 6368.34 姬昌 Ji Chang but 13766.25 has an illustration and more information. There is a memorial to Wen Wang at Anyang city in Henan province, at a place said to be the site of his imprisonment at Youli.

2. 15 lines

3. Wen Wang image
The original of this image, from a series called 宋人畫歷代琴式圖, is in the digital archives of the 國立故宮博物院 National Palace Museum.

Compare this image found at 13766.25; original in San Cai Tu Hui.

4. 紂辛 Zhou Xin (12th c. BCE)
See under Jizi.

5. 伯邑考 Bo Yi Kao
538.107 伯邑考 says Bo Yi Kao (also written Bo Yikao and Boyi Kao) was the eldest son of Wen Wang. He is depicted as a qin player in the novel 封神演義 Feng Shen Yanyi; his playing enamours Zhou Xin's evil concubine Da Ji.

6. Yuefu Shiji lyrics
See YFSJ p.829f.

7. 呂尚 Lü Shang; also called 姜子牙 Jiang Ziya. Image at right shows him having caught a fish without using a hook.
Lü Shang (or Jiang Ziya), commonly called 太公 Tai Gong or 太公呂 Taigong Lü, is said to have been a high official who broke his sword and retired into voluntary exile to avoid serving the tyrannous last Shang emperor, 紂辛 Zhou Xin. After Wen Wang (King Wen), who was serving as Chief of the West for the Duke of Zhou, met Lü by the Wei River (see Weibin Yin and Shi Xian) and, recognizing his merit, enticed him out of exile. Lü then helped Wen's son Wu Wang (King Wu) overthrow the Shang and establish the Zhou dynasty (ca. 1122 BCE). The image at right is from the Ming dynasty Liexian Quanzhuan, see under Liexian Zhuan. Further biographical details are in his biography in Liexian Zhuan and elsewhere.

The melody Yi Qiao Jin Lü relates another story of a momentous riverside meeting, this time between Zhang Liang (later advisor to Liu Bang) and Huangshi Gong.

8. Original text
The Chinese text is as follows:




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