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Jiang Taigong (姜太公) LISTEN

Chinese. ‘Old Grandfather Jiang’. Title given to Jiang Shang (姜尚), who is also known as Jiang Ziya (姜子牙), an astute political thinker and military strategist in ancient China, who lived in the reign of Zhou Wang (紂王), the tyrannical and last ruler of the Shang (商) Dynasty, later renamed Yin (殷) Dynasty after its capital, whom he had once served, but hated with all his heart and eventually helped to overthrow on the behest of King Wen (文) of Zhou (周) State, after the latter had appointed him Prime Minister and gave him the title Jiang Taigongwang (姜太公望),  which was later shortened to Jiang Taigong (姜太公). He is typically portrayed as an old, white-haired, often bearded, fisherman, who sits fishing placidly using a barbless hook or even no hook at all, on the theory that the fish would come to him of their own volition when they were ready, believing that if one wants to be successful one needs to be patient. After King Wen died, his son King Wu (武), who inherited the throne, decided to send troops to overthrow the King of Yin, but insisting on his tactic of patience, Jiang Taigong was able to convince him to postpone the attack and wait for the appropriate opportunity. Soon it was reported that the people of Yin were so oppressed that no one dared speak, and Jiang Taigong decided the time to attack had come. In the ensuing battle fought at Muye (牧野), some 35 kilometers from the Yin capital, many Yin troops surrendered or revolted, enabling Zhou to take the capital. Zhou Wang set fire to his palace and perished in it, and King Wu and his successors as the Zhou dynasty established rule over all of China. Jiang Taigong was made duke of the State of Qi (齊). Jiang Shang, depicted as a lone, contemplating fisherman, is a widely seen figure in Chinese art and iconography, though he may also be depicted in royal attire seated on a throne in his role as Prime Minister or Duke of Qi.