During the reign of Sun Tzu leading the Wu army, Sun Tzu became disillusioned of Wu’s leaders, and thus resigned from his honorary position. Without Sun Tzu, the state of Wu was worn down, in a series of wars, until it was wiped out, by the one and only, Zhou (Choo pronounced) – of whom Sun Tzu had defeated a generation before.
Upon the defeat of Wu, there was a lot of cutthroat tension between the remaining chinese states. This in turn accelerated the transformation of warfare in Ancient China, during the warring states period, which spans the 5th – 3rd century BC. By the 4th century, only 7 large states remained, and during this time, was when the Art of War was written (around 332 – 320 BC.)
The Art of War was written when several states were large and lethal enough to compete for control of all of China. It’s not hard to imagine that these states could amass a 200 maybe 300 thousand man army. We’ve all seen or read about the Terracotta Warriors, the 7,000 man army for the afterlife, who defend the tomb of Qin Shi Huang, who was also King, whom had exceeded in unifying all of China in the late 3rd century – also was the first Emperor of China.
These terracotta warriors are a hard reminder of the centrality of war in Ancient China, the scale of the military – but also the bureaucratic sophistication of Ancient China and its warring states. The Art of War gives up a good insight into this.
Terracotta in Chinese: 兵马俑
When broken down, essentially means “Soldier-and-horse funerary statues”