Abstract: According to historical literature, the ancient Shu State comprised two periods: Former Shu and Latter Shu, the period in between was without kingship and lacks written records. The Former Shu went through three phases of kings, namely Cancong, Baiguan and Yufu, while the Latter Shu went through the two phases of Duyu and Kaiming. In terms of archaeological culture, the Former Shu is equivalent to the Sanxingdui Culture during the Xia-Shang period, and Latter Shu latter is equivalent to the Ba-Shu Culture in Eastern Zhou dynasty. The image of stork catching fish on the gold scepter discovered in Sanxingdui can be interpreted as Boguan hunting for fish, and the large bronze statue in Boguan’s clothing is an evidence of the reign of Baiguan and Yufu. As recorded in Shu Wang Ben Ji (“Biographic Sketches of the Kings of Shu”), “kings in all the three phases became immortal, followed by most of their people”. When the last generation of King Yufu became immortal, he was followed by an enormous number of people; when Duyu made himself King of Shu, “Yufu’s followers came back in large numbers”. The period between Former and Latter Shu which lacked kingship is referred to as the “deification” period. It is equivalent to the archaeological culture of Shierqiao. “Hua min” means edification. The event of the kings leading their people to immortality was the manifestation of a secular regime’s transition into religious. Once flourishing in the plain area, the State disappeared and transformed into a kingdom of deities in the mountains. According to the literature, King Yufu became immortal when he went hunting in Jianshan. His path of “deification” should have started from the ancient city of Sanxingdui, going westward to the Tianpengque Mountain along the Jianjiang River, and then turned north to the valley at the upper reaches of Jianjiang River. Before the deification of an old King of Shu, he held a ritual to burn and bury the sacrificial utensils. Sacrificial pit no.1 dates to the first period of Yin Xu, corresponding to King Baiguan. Sacrificial pit no.2 dates to the second period of Yin Xu (Wuding period), corresponding to King Yufu. They both served as sacrificial pits and utensil pits. Not only material achievements were destroyed during the deification process, but also religious beliefs such as ancestor worship. Losing spiritual support brought the ﬂourishing period of ancient Shu to its end. The history of ancient Shu provides a case for the theoretical exploration of the disappearance of ancient civilizations, that degeneration to a “Kingdom of deities”probably resulted in its sudden decline or even extinction.
Key Words: Sanxingdui Culture, Ancient Shu, King Yufu, Deification, Sacrificial pits
The Chinese version appeared in Sichuan Cultural Relics, 2021(01).