Jiang Taigong is a popular name for Jiang Ziya, statesman and strategist. As an adviser of King Wen of the Zhou State in ancient China, he, at the age of 80, helped the young King Wu overthrow the Shang Dynasty and establish the Zhou Dynasty.
Jiang was a senior official during the reign of King Zhou of the Shang Dynasty. Since the king was muddleheaded and atrocious, and the masses had no means to live, Jiang resigned and lived in seclusion on the shore of the Wei River. The State Zhou was strong and prosperous. There Ji Chang (King Wen of the Zhou State) was courteous to the wise and condescendent to the scholarly, ruling the state with benevolence and uprighteousness. He had long been in search of a virtuous assistant. One day Ji Chang went to hunt on the northern shore of the Wei River. He saw an old man fishing by the shore who, oblivious of so many people passing by, continued to fish quietly. That was Jiang. It was said he was over 70 then. Ji Chang felt curious so he stepped down from the chariot and walked to the old man, only to find the man’s fishhook was not bent, impossible to get any fish. Realizing this man was not a common one, Ji Chang began to chat with him. He found this was the right man he was in quest of, so he said, “Before he died, my grandfather had anticipated that Zhou would become prosperous when a sage came to us. Are you the sage? My grandfather had long expected your arrival!” So he called him Taigong. He returned with Taigong, sharing his carriage with him, and treated him as his mentor. Taigong assisted Ji Chang. The Western Zhou became more flourishing, so the people of other states came over and pledged allegiance one after another. After Ji Chang passed away, his son Ji Fa (King Wu) succeeded to the throne. With Jiang Shang’s assistance, Ji Fa met the sovereigns of the other states in Mengjin and then they together sent an army to crusade against Zhou. As a result, King Zhou of the Shang Dynasty burned himself to death. After the downfall of the Shang Dynasty, Ji Fa established the Zhou Dynasty. Known as King Wu in history, he honored his father with the posthumous title of King Wen.