Duke Mu of Qin Attracts Talent and Welcomes Scholars-秦穆公招贤纳士


The state of Qin, originally located in the western frontier, started as a tribe near Mount Qin (modern-day Zhangjiachuan, Gansu). In the early Western Zhou period, when King Cheng of Zhou moved to the east, Duke Xiang of Qin provided significant assistance and was subsequently enfeoffed as a vassal, granted land west of Mount Qi, and established its capital in Yong (modern-day Fengxiang, southern Shaanxi). At the inception of its formal establishment, Qin was a small and weak state in the tumultuous Spring and Autumn period, struggling to match the power of other hegemonic states.

During the reign of Duke Mu of Qin, spanning 39 years (659–621 BCE), Qin experienced significant internal governance reforms and external expansion. Duke Mu successfully incorporated regions like Gansu and Ningxia into Qin’s territory, marking the beginning of Qin’s historical pursuit of hegemony among the feudal states and Duke Mu’s recognition as one of the Five Hegemons of the Spring and Autumn period.

In 659 BCE, Duke Mu personally led an expedition across the Yellow River, defeating the Rong people in Maoting (east of modern-day Ruicheng, Shanxi), initiating the expansion of Qin’s territory. Eager to fulfill his ambition of becoming a dominant power, Duke Mu faced the challenge of lacking talented advisors. Seeking exceptional individuals, he employed a strategy of talent recruitment from various sources. Notably, he consulted the renowned horse judge Jiufang Gao, demonstrating his commitment to recognizing valuable qualities beyond superficial appearances.

Duke Mu’s open-minded approach to talent recruitment proved successful, leading to the appointment of capable individuals like Jiufang Gao and Baili Xi as key figures in the administration. Their contributions significantly contributed to Qin’s growth and development. The narrative further explores Duke Mu’s diplomatic and military maneuvers, including his marriage alliance with Jin, the defeat of the states of Yu and Guo, and the insightful advice provided by advisors like Jian Shu and Baili Xi.

As Qin expanded to the west, facing challenges from various Rong and Di tribes, Duke Mu adopted a cautious approach, gradually subduing and assimilating these tribes into the expanding Qin territory. The text provides details about Duke Mu’s interactions with Mianzhu, a powerful Rong tribe, showcasing his diplomatic and strategic acumen.

Duke Mu’s successful military campaigns against the western Rong tribes solidified Qin’s influence in the region and earned the recognition of King Xiang of Zhou. Despite initial setbacks in the east, Duke Mu’s focus shifted to the western expansion, leading to the conquest of several Rong territories, eventually establishing Qin as a dominant force in the western regions.

The narrative concludes with the expanded boundaries of Qin, reaching from the Yellow River in the east to Didi Dao (modern-day Lintao, Gansu) in the west, from the Qin Mountains in the south to Quyan Rong (modern-day Yanchi, Ningxia) in the north. The translation captures the historical account of Qin’s rise to power, emphasizing the significance of Duke Mu’s leadership, governance, and strategic vision.