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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: September 2009

Appendix 1 - The periphery: the Western Zhou state at its maximum geographical extent


Beyond the central areas – the Wei River plain and the eastern plain that formed the geopolitical axis – there lay the more distant peripheral regions of the Western Zhou state. These regions can be generally grouped into three sections: the Shandong region as the “Far East” of Zhou, the Huai–Yangzi River region in the south, and the northern Hebei plain to the east of the Taihang Mountains. These regions, combined with the upper Jing River valley in the west, formed the geographical perimeter of the Western Zhou state. The spatial division of the Western Zhou state suggested here corresponds roughly with the cosmological perception by the Zhou people of their own world as being divided into “Four Quarters” surrounding a core, fully evident in the bronze inscriptions as well as in Western Zhou texts. By establishing strongholds in these more distant regions the Zhou had effectively secured their standing on the eastern plain and created for themselves demonstrably the largest ever geopolitical entity in China before the rise of the Qin Empire in 221 bc.

Continuing the same line of investigation that guided chapter 1, in this appendix I will explore the macro-geographical dimensions of the Western Zhou state, examining how Zhou's political organization and military conduct were interwoven with the landscape of these peripheral regions. I will demonstrate that, compared to the Zhou's quick victory in the eastern plain, constructing the geopolitical periphery entailed a much longer period of enterprise and a more complex operation, accompanied by many defeats and setbacks.