State of Xian
Unknown–655 BC[1]
The state of Xian (red) and its allies (pink). Escape of Xian's viscount (red arrow) and the capital-in-exile (red square). Shown borders are approximate.[2]
CapitalXian (modern-day Qishui, Huangzhou District)[1]
Capital-in-exileUnknown (near modern-day Xi County, Henan)[1][3]
Historical eraWestern Zhou period
Spring and Autumn period
• Established
c. 961–957 BC
• Conquered by Chu
655 BC[1]
Succeeded by
Chu (state)
Today part ofChina

Xian (Chinese: )[3] was a minor state of the Western Zhou and Spring and Autumn periods, whose capital was located at modern-day Qishui, Huangzhou District. While it controlled only a small territory along the Yangtze, the Wei clan () that ruled Xian maintained far-reaching diplomatic and marital relations with many neighboring states.[1]


During the reign of King Zhao of Zhou, the Zhou dynasty launched a successful campaign against Xian. This campaign was probably part of the wider Zhou–Chu War (c. 961–957 BC). Despite its defeat, however, Xian survived.[4]

In the early Spring and Autumn period, the state of Chu grew in power and began to expand its influence over eastern Hubei. In doing so, it was mostly content with expressions of loyalty from its neighbors, instead of immediately conquering them.[5] The viscount of Xian, however, remained defiant. Despite Chu's power, he felt secure because of his marital ties with the states of Jiang, Huang, Dao, and Bo, which in turn were allies of the hegemon of China, Duke Huan of Qi. Confident that they would aid him if Chu attacked, the viscount made no emergency preparations. This overconfidence led to Xian's ruin according to the Zuo Zhuan, as no one came to help the state when it was actually invaded by a Chu army under Dou Gouwutu in 655 BC. Xian was annexed by Chu, but the viscount managed to escape to Huang. Eventually, he and his followers settled down near modern-day Xi County, Henan,[1][3] on the border to the Chu-occupied territory of Xi.[3] Chu eventually conquered the area where Xian's new capital-in-exile was located between 648[6] and 623 BC.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e Zuo Qiuming. "Book 5 - Duke Xi. Fifth year". Zuo Zhuan (in Chinese and English). Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  2. ^ Herrmann (1966), p. 5.
  3. ^ a b c d "Chinese History - The Feudal State of Chu 楚". Ulrich Theobald. Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  4. ^ Sawyer (2013), p. 194.
  5. ^ Blakeley (1999), pp. 14, 15.
  6. ^ Zuo Qiuming. "Book 5 - Duke Xi. Twelfth year". Zuo Zhuan (in Chinese and English). Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  7. ^ Blakeley (1999), p. 16.