Xia Dynasty

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  • Dates: c. 2200-1750 BCE?
  • Chinese/Japanese: (Xia / Ka)

The Xia Dynasty was, according to legend, the first dynasty to rule over China. Along with the Shang and Zhou Dynasties which followed, it is known as one of the Three Dynasties.

Artifacts and writings (esp. oracle bones and bronzes) from the Shang and Zhou periods, as well as from later periods, make reference to the Xia, and archaeological excavations at Erlitou, near Luoyang, have uncovered the foundations of a palace, bronze vessels and weapons, and pieces of jade and lacquered wood. However, as the Erlitou finds included no writings or inscriptions, it is unclear whether this site is evidence of the Xia Dynasty, or of another culture or polity which the Shang conquered.[1]

The Dynasty is said to have been founded by the legendary Yu the Great (son of Gun), who was selected by Shun the Great to succeed him, in accordance with the tradition of "succession by invitation." Yu then changed to a pattern of succession by descent, breaking with tradition and establishing a dynasty.

Yu, or his son & successor Qi, is credited with, among other feats, the construction of the legendary Nine Bronze Tripods, or Nine Ding, a great symbol of imperial legitimacy and power.

Rulers of Xia

Preceded by:
Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors
Xia Dynasty
c. 2200-1750 BCE?
Succeeded by:
Shang Dynasty


  • K.C. Chang, Art, Myth, and Ritual, Harvard University Press (1983), 131.
  1. Conrad Schirokauer, et al, A Brief History of Chinese and Japanese Civilizations, Fourth Edition, Cengage Learning (2012), 7.