|This gui is a reproduction 复制品 (fùzhìpǐn). The original was used as a ritual object during the Western Zhou Dynasty (1046 - 771 BC). The original was excavated in 1976 in Xiduan Town, Lintong District, Xi'an. I assume that the museum displays a reproduction because the original is being studied at some institute or on loan to another museum. This is an important gui. It is called the Li Gui because it was made by Li, a subordinate of King Wu. King Wu is the founder of the Western Zhou Dynasty and to do so he had to defeat King Zhou of the Shang Dynasty. Yes, I wish the names were different, too. Anyway, Li engraved an account of the whole action on this gui.
On the morning of a certain day, King Wu shared a large tripod that symbolized the power of the Shang dynasty... he enlisted the aid of many tribal states, including Shu, Lu, Qiang, Yong, and Peng. They held an oath taking ceremony at Muye where King Wu commended his allies and thanked them for coming so far to join him. Then, to raise their fighting spirit, he enumerated the crimes of King Zhou. The time and place, as well as the hearts of the people, were all on his side, and though he had a smaller force, if men were loyal and courageous, they were ready to give their lives for his cause. They marched into battle singing lustily as if on their way to a banquet. The cruel Zhou soon realized that all was lost. Dressing himself in costly, bejewelled robes he ascended a platform and set fire to it, immolating himself and bringing the Shang Dynasty to an end.
Also in the inscription is the line "King Wu with 300 battle wagons and 3,000 men fought King Zhou at Muye." Battle wagons were chariots drawn by two to four horses and usually manned by three man teams of warriors. The inscription supports other, later evidence of the encounter.
Last update: March 2010
© Marilyn Shea, 2010