Where is King Ping? the history and historiography of the Zhou Dynasty's eastward relocation

Minzhen Chen, Yuri Pines

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article introduces new evidence about an important, dramatic event in early Chinese history, namely the fall of the Western Zhou in 771 BC and the subsequent eastward relocation of the dynasty. The recently discovered bamboo manuscript, Xinian 繁年, now in the Tsinghua (Qinghua) University collection, presents a new account of the events, most notably the claim that for nine years (749–741 BC) there was no single king on the Zhou throne. This departs considerably from the traditional story preserved in Records of the Historian (Shiji 史史). Facing this contradiction, scholars have opted to reinterpret Xinian so as to make it conform to Shiji. The present authors analyze the Xinian version of events and its reliability; further, we explore the reasons for the disappearance of this version from the subsequent historiographic tradition. It is a point of departure that addresses a broad methodological problem: how to deal with ostensible contradictions between unearthed and transmitted texts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-27
Number of pages27
JournalAsia Major: Third Series
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Chinese literature
  • 499-200 B.C. Warring States period
  • Xi nian
  • historiography
  • Western Zhou dynasty period
  • Sima Qian(ca. 145-ca. 86 B.C.)
  • Shi ji
  • manuscript study
  • manuscripts
  • Qing Hua Daxue
  • 199 B.C.-199 A.D. Han dynasty period
  • prose


Dive into the research topics of 'Where is King Ping? the history and historiography of the Zhou Dynasty's eastward relocation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this