For readers of the Chinese sources (and there are no other sources), the Chu state comes into view on the periphery of the Jou world, beginning in 0684, about a century after the collapse of Jou power in 0771. Chu pressure tended to unify the Yellow River or northern states for purposes of resistance. Characteristic of Chu throughout this period and into the Warring States was its large territory and relatively modest population, and its more aristocratic social organization. Later evidence suggests that it also had its own deities, which were not those of the northern states. In the Warring States period, Chu was gradually pushed eastward by the successful geostrategy of Chin; it was among the last of the states to be extinguished by Chin, in 0222. At the end of the Chin Dynasty, Chu emerged in 0206-0202 as the chief rival to the northern-based Han forces attempting to succeed Chin.
The Chu state moved its capital several times, at first within its original territory on the lower Han River, and in 0278, being forced eastward by the Chin armies, to the previously conquered small state of Chvn. Uncovering the earlier series of moves is an intricate problem of historical geography, to which Barry Blakeley has devoted much attention.
Some details of Chu history are given separately as a tentative Chronology. In this section some major topics are explored in detail as a complement to the Chronology.
Chu culture, in an attenuated form and after the Chu polity had been safely extinguished, had a certain literary vogue in early Han, and was a major influence on many aspects of Han literature.
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