Kingdom of Wu
Ruiguang Pagoda, Suzhou China
Creative Commons AttributionRuiguang Pagoda, Suzhou China - Credit: Russ Bowling
The author of the Art of War was born in the ancient province of Wu, a region in the area surrounding the modern day city of Suzhou in Jiangsu Province, which lies in the eastern part of China. The first kingdom of Wu was established during the later part of the Zhou Dynasty, the longest lasting dynasty in Chinese History, being prominent from 1046 – 256 BC.


Wu emerged to be a powerful warring nation under Sun Tzu’s military leadership during the Spring and Autumn Period, which spanned the years 770 to 476 BC. It was here that the great general penned his infamous treatise, and here when its principles were first put into practice. The kingdom of Wu was reigned over by King Ho-lu, originally named Prince Guang Zung Fu, and it was he who laid the foundations of today’s city of Suzhou.





Modern Day Suzhou



Suzhou Gardens
Creative Commons AttributionSuzhou Gardens - Credit: Jakob Montrasio

Suzhou today is a bustling, picturesque city, often referred to as the Venice of the East. This area of Jiangsu province is rich in natural beauty, and Suzhou boasts its share of scenic canals, ornamental bridges, and gorgeous classical gardens; several of which have been designated as World Heritage Sites. 

There were at one time over two hundred such gardens in the city, but with the advancement of modern society, that number has now been reduced to sixty.











Suzhou Canal
Creative Commons AttributionSuzhou Canal - Credit: Jakob Montrasio

The quiet waters flowing freely through the city and the gentle dialect of its people only add to the dignified serenity of Suzhou. The city’s waterway system provides a most popular choice for local commuters, as well as a charming distraction for visitors. Some of the canals may be used to reach neighbouring cities such as Hangzhou in Zhejiang province, and many are used for the transportation of local goods to Suzhou port.












Creative Commons AttributionOpera - Credit: tfkt12

With a history dating back over 2,500 years, Suzhou has a wealth of cultural treasures for the visitor to enjoy, the area being especially known for its superb handicrafts, consisting of; jade carving, mahogany furniture fabrication, silk tapestries, lantern making, and traditional Chinese scroll mounting. 


Its Traditional Operas are some of the most popular in China, and the Suzhou and Kun Operas have centuries of history behind them. The Kun Opera in particular has the distinction of being recognized as an outstanding contribution to world culture by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.












The Warring States

The period during which the Art of War was composed is also known as the Warring States era of Chinese history. The period is aptly named, as during the two and a half centuries that it lasted, there was no unified state of China. It is no surprise then that the text was written during this period, or of its relevance to it.

China at this time consisted of Seven Warring States; Qin in the west, Wu to the east (Shandong), Chu on the southern frontier, Yan in the northeast (Beijing area), Han in the very center of china, Wei to the north of Han, and Zhao above Wei.  




State of Qin

The kingdom or state of Qin existed in what is today Shaanxi Province in China. It is situated in the north of modern China along the border of Mongolia, and considered to be an area of desert. Its modern day capital and premier city is Xi’an, which is located on the eastern tip of the famous Silk Road which brought the first foreign merchants into China.



Xian Belltower
Creative Commons AttributionXian Belltower - Credit: Tom Thai



Xian LandscapeCreative Commons AttributionXian Landscape - Credit: David Dong
















State of Chu

The legendary State of Chu is the equivalent of the modern day province of Anhui. The capital city of Anhui province is today Hefei, while its most famous city is the ancient capital of Souchun, present day Shouxian. Many historical sites such as King Liu An’s Tomb, Bao’en Temple, the famous Ancestor Arches, and the Kuiguang Pavilion attract tourists to Anhui and its ancient city , whose formidable 10 meters thick walls provide an excellent example of historical Chinese defenses. 


Creative Commons AttributionAnhui - Credit: Andrew Ciceri
















State of Yan


Modern day Hebei province was the location of the ancient state of Yan, and is the location where the discovery of the Neolithic remains of Peking Man occurred. Its capital city today is Shijiazhuang, an industrialized city with a sprawling metropolis with a population of around 10,000,000. As an industrialised city there is mot much to see in the way of attractions, but it is home to the Zhaozhou Bridge; the oldest open-spandrel stone segmental arch bridge in existence.