Jiang Taigong is a popular name for Jiang Ziya, a statesman and strategist 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. At that time the State Zhou was strong and prosperous. Ji Chang, King Wen of the Zhou State, was courteous to the wise and condescendent to the scholarly, ruling the state with benevolence and unrighteousness. 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, who 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, and realized that this man was the sage his grandfather had long. So he called him Taigong, a respective name for old man. Ji Chang returned with Taigong, sharing his carriage with him, and treated him as his mentor. With the assistant of Taigong, the Western Zhou became more flourishing, so the people of other states came over and pledged allegiance one after another.
It is said that Taigong was intentionally using an unbent hook for the purpose of fishing Ji Chang, the expected wise master, rather than the real fish. Nowadays, Taigong’s story has become a two-part allegorical saying – Jiang Taigong fishing, those who are willing to hook, which means when a person is doing something he’s got an implicit purpose, rather than the obvious one.