An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Shao Gong Shi 召公奭, the Duke of Shao

Feb 23, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald

The Duke of Shao 召公 (died ca. 1000 BCE), personal name Ji Shi 姬奭, posthumous honorific title Duke Kang of Shao 召康公, was a brother of King Wu 周武王, the founder of the Zhou dynasty 周 (11th. cent.-221 BCE). He occupied the post of Grand Guardian (taibao 太保, see Three Dukes) during the reigns of King Cheng 周成王 and King Kang 周康王.

The Duke of Shao is famous for his benevolent stance towards the people in the south he was entrusted to govern. The song Gantang 甘棠 "Sweet pear-tree" in the Confucian Classics Shijing 詩經 is dedicated to his style of politics.

His original territory of Shao 召 was located near the modern city of Baoji 寶雞 in Shaanxi. Later on he was made regional ruler (zhuhou 諸侯) of Yan 燕 in the northeast. He never personally took seat in its capital Ji 薊 but sent his oldest son to take over regency there.

During the Duke of Zhou's 周公 regency for King Cheng, he acted as preceptor to the king, together with Duke Tai 太公, lord of Qi 齊, and the dukes of Mao 毛公 and Bi 畢公. While the Duke of Zhou controlled the eastern part of the kingdom, the Duke of Shao was entrusted with the west. The Duke of Zhou, as a regent, proclaimed the edict Junshi 君奭 "Lord Shi" (later a chapter of the Classic Shangshu 尚書).

In 1057, King Cheng sent the Duke of Shao to the east where he had to undergo geomantic activities to find out an ideal place for the projected Eastern Capital. Fearing that the king would not put enough diligence into his task of reigning the kingdom, the Duke of Shao announced an adhortative speech to the king, the Shaogao 召誥 "Announcement of Duke Shao". The King thereupon skipped his plans of the geomantic project and called the Duke back to his post as Counsellor-in-chief.

When the king fell ill, the Duke cared for the education and instruction of the heir apparent, the eventual King Kang. The Duke of Bi, the Duke of Mao, the Earl of Rui 芮伯, the Earl of Tong 彤伯 and the Marquis of Wei 衛侯 supported him. During the reign of King Kang, the Duke of Shao still acted as Grand Guardian.

Xiong Tieji 熊鐵基, Yang Youli 楊有禮, ed. (1994). Zhongguo diwang zaixiang cidian 中國帝王宰相辭典 (Wuhan: Hubei jiaoyu chubanshe), 369.