An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Qi Taigong 齊太公 Lü Shang 呂尚

Nov 24, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Qi Taigong 齊太公, personal name Jiang Shang 姜尚, courtesy name Ziya 子牙, also known as Lü Shang 呂尚 or Lü Wang 呂望, was the founder of the first dynasty of the state of Qi 齊 during the Zhou period 周 (11th cent.-221 BCE). The name surname of Lü is derived from his first territory, the state of Lü.

As the story goes, Jiang Shang was already quite old and lived a reclusive life as a fisherman at the banks of River Wei 渭水. He encountered Ji Chang 姬昌, the Viscount of the West 西伯, when the latter was out on a hunt. Ji Chang was very pleased to meet Jiang Shang because he was "longing for" (wang 望) talented worthies to support him against the cruel tyrant King Zhou of Shang 商 (17th-11th cent. BCE). He therefore bestowed Jiang Shang the name of Taigong Wang 太公望.

Jiang Shang was appointed highest commander of Ji Chang's armies, and he also served this son Ji Fa 姬發, the eventual King Wu of Zhou 周武王, who adressed him as Shi Shang Fu 師尚父 "Father Shang of the Army".

After the conquest of the Shang kingdom, Jiang Shang was made regional ruler (zhuhou 諸侯) of the territory of Qi in the east, with the task to control the eastern region. He is credited with a benevolent and farsighted government in Qi, and is therefore also venerated by the Confucians.

The military treatise Liutao 六韜 is traditionally attributed to him.

Cang Xiuliang 倉修良, ed. (1991). Shiji cidian 史記辭典 (Jinan: Shandong jiaoyu chubanshe), 172.