Chu identity as seen from its manuscripts: a reevaluation

Yuri Pines*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The question of Chu's cultural affinity perplexed - and continues to perplex - traditional and modern scholars. Some view it as the cultural Other of the Zhou world, while others believe that this state fundamentally belonged to the Zhou cultural sphere. The difficulty in assessing Chu's cultural trajectory derives in not a small measure from the bias of traditional sources, all of which were composed or compiled in the northern and eastern parts of the Zhou world. Yet recently discovered Chu historical manuscripts allow us to overcome this northeastern bias. How much do the newly available texts display - if at all - a distinct Chu identity? Do they present an alternative version of Chu history? Who were their audience? By answering these questions I hope both to revisit the question of Chu's relations to the Zhou (Chinese) world, and to put forward novel understandings of the usages of history writing in preimperial China.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Chinese History
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
* This research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (grant No. 240/15) and by the Michael William Lipson Chair in Chinese Studies. It was presented at the panel “Cultural identities in the Zhou world: The state of Chu revisited” at the 21 st EACS conference, Saint Petersburg (August 2016). I am grateful to the panel's participants and guests, to Chen Minzhen, and to the reviewers of this article for their comments and suggestions. Pines Yuri 銳 尤 Nankai University (Tianjin) and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem , email: [email protected] 04 09 2017 01 2018 2 1 1 26 Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2017  2017 Cambridge University Press

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2017.


  • Chu
  • Warring States
  • Xinian
  • Zhou
  • Zuo zhuan
  • historiography
  • identity


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