Yellow Emperor
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The Yellow Emperor, also known as the Yellow Thearch or by his Chinese name Huangdi (), is a
deity A deity or god is a supernatural being who is considered divine or sacred. The ''Oxford Dictionary of English'' defines deity as a god In monotheistic thought, God is usually viewed as the supreme being, creator, and principal object of ...
('' shen'') in Chinese religion, one of the legendary Chinese sovereigns and
culture hero A culture hero is a mythological hero specific to some group (Culture, cultural, Ethnic group, ethnic, Religion, religious, etc.) who changes the world through invention or Discovery (observation), discovery. Although many culture heroes help with ...
es included among the mytho-historical
Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors The Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors were two groups of Chinese mythology, mythological rulers in ancient north China. The Three Sovereigns supposedly lived long before The Five Emperors, who have been assigned dates in a period from 3162 BC ...
and cosmological Five Regions' Highest Deities (). Calculated by
Jesuit missionaries , image = Ihs-logo.svg , image_size = 175px , caption = Christogram A Christogram ( la, Monogramma Christi) is a monogram or combination of letters that forms an abbreviation for the name of Jesus Christ ...
on the basis of Chinese chronicles and later accepted by the twentieth-century promoters of a universal calendar starting with the Yellow Emperor, Huangdi's traditional reign dates are 2697–2597 or 2698–2598 BC. Huangdi's cult became prominent in the late
Warring States The Warring States period () was an era in ancient Chinese history characterized by warfare, as well as bureaucratic and military reforms and consolidation. It followed the Spring and Autumn period The Spring and Autumn period was a peri ...
and early
Han dynasty The Han dynasty (, ; ) was an imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 9 AD, 25–220 AD), established by Emperor Gaozu of Han, Liu Bang (Emperor Gao) and ruled by the House of Liu. The dynasty was preceded by the short-lived Qin dynasty (22 ...
, when he was portrayed as the originator of the centralized state, as a cosmic ruler, and as a patron of esoteric arts. A large number of texts – such as the ''
Huangdi Neijing ''Huangdi Neijing'' (), literally the ''Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor'' or ''Esoteric Scripture of the Yellow Emperor'', is an ancient China, ancient Chinese medical text or group of texts that has been treated as a fundamental doctrinal sou ...
'', a medical classic, and the '' Huangdi Sijing'', a group of political treatises – were thus attributed to him. Having waned in influence during most of the imperial period, in the early twentieth century Huangdi became a rallying figure for
Han Chinese The Han Chinese () or Han people (), are an East Asian ethnic group native to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by populat ...
attempts to overthrow the rule of the Qing dynasty, which they considered foreign because its emperors were
Manchu people The Manchus (; ) are a Tungusic East Asian ethnic group An ethnic group or an ethnicity is a grouping of people who identity (social science), identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other g ...
. To this day the Yellow Emperor remains a powerful symbol within
Chinese nationalism Chinese nationalism () is a form of nationalism in the People's Republic of China, People's Republic of China (Mainland China) and the Taiwan, Republic of China on Taiwan which asserts that the Chinese people are a Zhonghua minzu, nation and p ...
. Traditionally credited with numerous inventions and innovations – ranging from the lunar calendar (
Chinese calendar The traditional Chinese calendar (also known as the Agricultural Calendar 曆; 农历; ''Nónglì''; 'farming calendar' Former Calendar 曆; 旧历; ''Jiùlì'' Traditional Calendar 曆; 老历; ''Lǎolì'', is a lunisolar calendar ...
) to an early form of football – the Yellow Emperor is now regarded as the initiator of Han culture (later
Chinese culture Chinese culture () is one of the world's oldest cultures, originating thousands of years ago. The culture prevails across a large geographical region in East Asia and is extremely diverse and varying, with customs and traditions varying gre ...
).


Names


"Huangdi": Yellow Emperor, Yellow Thearch

Until 221 BC when
Qin Shi Huang Qin Shi Huang (, ; 259–210 BC) was the founder of the Qin dynasty and the first Emperor of China, emperor of a unified China. Rather than maintain the title of "Chinese king, king" ( ''wáng'') borne by the previous Shang dynasty, Shang an ...
of the
Qin dynasty The Qin dynasty ( ; zh, c=秦朝, p=Qín cháo, w=), or Ch'in dynasty in Wade–Giles romanization ( zh, c=, p=, w=Ch'in ch'ao), was the first dynasty of Imperial China. Named for its heartland in Qin state (modern Gansu Gansu (, ; ...
coined the title ''huangdi'' () – conventionally translated as "
emperor An emperor (from la, imperator, via fro, empereor) is a monarch, and usually the sovereignty, sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the female equivalent, may indicate an emperor's wife (empress consort), ...
" – to refer to himself, the character ''di'' did not refer to earthly rulers but to the highest god of the
Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese royal dynasty founded by Tang of Shang (Cheng Tang) that ruled in the Yellow River The Yellow River or Huang He (Chinese: , Standard Beijing Mandarin, Mandar ...
(c. 1600–1046 BC) pantheon. In the Warring States period (c. 475–221 BC), the term ''di'' on its own could also refer to the deities associated with the five
Sacred Mountains of China The Sacred Mountains of China are divided into several groups. The ''Five Great Mountains'' () refers to five of the most renowned mountains in Chinese history, and they were the subjects of imperial pilgrimage by emperors throughout ages. They ...
and colors. Huangdi (), the "yellow ''di''", was one of the latter. To emphasize the religious meaning of ''di'' in pre-imperial times, historians of early China commonly translate the god's name as "Yellow Thearch" and the first emperor's title as "August Thearch", in which "thearch" refers to a godly ruler. In the late Warring States period, the Yellow Emperor was integrated into the cosmological scheme of the
Five Phases (; Japanese: (); Korean: (); Vietnamese: ''ngũ hành'' (五行)), usually translated as Five Phases or Five Agents, is a fivefold conceptual scheme that many traditional Chinese fields used to explain a wide array of phenomena, from cosmi ...
, in which the color yellow represents the earth phase, the
Yellow Dragon The Yellow Dragon A dragon is a reptile, reptilian legendary creature that appears in the folklore of many cultures worldwide. Beliefs about dragons vary considerably through regions, but European dragon, dragons in western cultures since th ...
, and the center. The correlation of the colors in association with different dynasties was mentioned in the '' Lüshi Chunqiu'' (late 3rd century BC), where the Yellow Emperor's reign was seen to be governed by earth. The character ''huang'' ("yellow") was often used in place of the
homophonous A homophone () is a word that is Pronunciation, pronounced the same (to varying extent) as another word but differs in meaning. A ''homophone'' may also differ in spelling. The two words may be Spelling, spelled the same, for example ''rose'' ( ...
''huang'' , which means "august" (in the sense of 'distinguished') or "radiant", giving Huangdi attributes close to those of Shangdi, the Shang supreme god.


Xuanyuan and Youxiong

The ''
Records of the Grand Historian ''Records of the Grand Historian'', also known by its Chinese language, Chinese name ''Shiji'', is a monumental Chinese historiography, history of China that is the first of China's Twenty-Four Histories, 24 dynastic histories. The ''Records'' ...
'', compiled by
Sima Qian Sima Qian (; ; ) was a Chinese historian of the early Han dynasty The Han dynasty (, ; ) was an imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 9 AD, 25–220 AD), established by Emperor Gaozu of Han, Liu Bang (Emperor Gao) and ruled by the H ...
in the first century BC, gives the Yellow Emperor's name as "Xuan Yuan" ( <
Old Chinese Old Chinese, also called Archaic Chinese in older works, is the oldest attested stage of Chinese, and the ancestor of all modern varieties of Chinese. The earliest examples of Chinese are divinatory inscriptions on oracle bones from around 12 ...
( B-S) *''qʰa a ', lit. "Chariot Shaft"). Third-century scholar Huangfu Mi, who wrote a work on the sovereigns of antiquity, commented that Xuanyuan was the name of a hill where Huangdi had lived and that he later took as a name. The
Classic of Mountains and Seas The ''Classic of Mountains and Seas'', also known as ''Shan Hai Jing'', formerly Wade-Giles, romanized as the ''Shan-hai Ching'', is a Chinese classic text and a compilation of mythic geography and beasts. Early versions of the text may have ...
mentions a Xuanyuan nation whose inhabitants have human faces, snake bodies, tails twisting above their heads; Yuan Ke, a contemporary scholar of early Chinese mythology, "noted that the appearance of these people is characteristic of gods and suggested that they may reflect the form of the Yellow Thearch himself". The
Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty ( ), officially the Great Qing,, was a Manchu people, Manchu-led Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China and the last orthodox dynasty in Chinese history. It emerged from the Later Jin (1616–1636), La ...
scholar Liang Yusheng (, 1745–1819) argued instead that the hill was named after the Yellow Emperor. Xuanyuan is also the name of the star
Regulus Regulus is the brightest object in the constellation Leo (constellation), Leo and one of the List of brightest stars, brightest stars in the night sky. It has the Bayer designation designated α Leonis, which is Latinisation of names, ...
in Chinese, the star being associated with Huangdi in traditional astronomy. He is also associated to the broader constellations Leo and Lynx, of which the latter is said to represent the body of the Yellow Dragon ( ''Huánglóng''), Huangdi's animal form. Huangdi was also referred to as "Youxiong" (). This name has been interpreted as either a place name or a clan name. According to British sinologist
Herbert Allen Giles Herbert Allen Giles (, 8 December 184513 February 1935) was a British diplomat A diplomat (from grc, δίπλωμα; romanization, romanized ''diploma'') is a person appointed by a state (polity), state or an intergovernmental institution ...
(1845–1935), that name was "taken from that of uangdi'shereditary principality". William Nienhauser, a modern translator of the ''Records of the Grand Historian'', states that Huangdi was originally the head of the Youxiong clan, which lived near what is now
Xinzheng Xinzheng () is a county-level city of Henan, Henan Province, China. It is under the administration of the prefecture-level city of Zhengzhou, the provincial capital. The city has a population of 600,000 people and covers an area of , of which is ...
in Henan. Rémi Mathieu, a French historian of Chinese myths and religion, translates "Youxiong" as "possessor of bears" and links Huangdi to the broader theme of the bear in world mythology. Ye Shuxian has also associated the Yellow Emperor with bear legends common across northeast Asia people as well as the Dangun legend.


Other names

Sima Qian Sima Qian (; ; ) was a Chinese historian of the early Han dynasty The Han dynasty (, ; ) was an imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 9 AD, 25–220 AD), established by Emperor Gaozu of Han, Liu Bang (Emperor Gao) and ruled by the H ...
's ''
Records of the Grand Historian ''Records of the Grand Historian'', also known by its Chinese language, Chinese name ''Shiji'', is a monumental Chinese historiography, history of China that is the first of China's Twenty-Four Histories, 24 dynastic histories. The ''Records'' ...
'' describes the Yellow Emperor's ancestral name as
Gongsun Gongsun () is one of the few Chinese compound surname A Chinese compound surname is a Chinese surname Chinese surnames are used by Han Chinese and Sinicization, Sinicized ethnic groups in China, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, and among overseas Chin ...
(). In
Han dynasty The Han dynasty (, ; ) was an imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 9 AD, 25–220 AD), established by Emperor Gaozu of Han, Liu Bang (Emperor Gao) and ruled by the House of Liu. The dynasty was preceded by the short-lived Qin dynasty (22 ...
texts, the Yellow Emperor is also called upon as the "Yellow God" ( ''Huángshén''). Certain accounts interpret him as the incarnation of the "Yellow God of the Northern Dipper" ( ''Huángshén Běidǒu''), another name of the universal god (''
Shangdi Shangdi (), also written simply, "Emperor" (), is the Chinese term for "Supreme Deity" or "Highest Deity" in the Chinese theology, theology of the classical texts, especially deriving from Shang dynasty, Shang theology and finding an equivalen ...
'' or ''
Tian ''Tiān'' () is one of the oldest Chinese terms for heaven and a key concept in Chinese mythology, Chinese philosophy, philosophy, and Chinese folk religion, religion. During the Shang dynasty (17th―11th century BCE), the Chinese referred to ...
di'' ). According to a definition in apocryphal texts related to the '' Hétú'' , the Yellow Emperor "proceeds from the essence of the Yellow God". As a cosmological deity, the Yellow Emperor is known as the "Great Emperor of the Central Peak" ( ''Zhōngyuè Dàdì''), and in the '' Shizi'' as the "Yellow Emperor with Four Faces" ( ''Huángdì Sìmiàn''). In old accounts the Yellow Emperor is identified as a deity of light (and his name is explained in the ''
Shuowen jiezi ''Shuowen Jiezi'' () is an ancient Chinese dictionary Chinese dictionaries date back over two millennia to the Han dynasty The Han dynasty (, ; ) was an imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 9 AD, 25–220 AD), established by Emper ...
'' to derive from ''guāng'' , "light") and thunder, and as one and the same with the "Thunder God" ( ''Léishén''), who in turn, as a later mythological character, is distinguished as the Yellow Emperor's foremost pupil, such as in the ''
Huangdi Neijing ''Huangdi Neijing'' (), literally the ''Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor'' or ''Esoteric Scripture of the Yellow Emperor'', is an ancient China, ancient Chinese medical text or group of texts that has been treated as a fundamental doctrinal sou ...
''.


Historicity

The Chinese historian
Sima Qian Sima Qian (; ; ) was a Chinese historian of the early Han dynasty The Han dynasty (, ; ) was an imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 9 AD, 25–220 AD), established by Emperor Gaozu of Han, Liu Bang (Emperor Gao) and ruled by the H ...
and much Chinese historiography following himconsidered the Yellow Emperor to be a more historical figure than earlier legendary figures such as
Fu Xi Fuxi or Fu Hsi (伏羲 ~ 伏犧 ~ 伏戲) is a culture hero in Chinese legend and Chinese mythology, mythology, credited along with his sister and wife Nüwa with List of protoplasts, creating humanity and the invention of music, hunting, fishin ...
,
Nüwa Nüwa, also read Nügua, is the mother goddess A mother goddess is a goddess who represents a personified deification of motherhood, fertility goddess, fertility, Creation myth, creation, natural disasters, destruction, or the earth godde ...
, and
Shennong Shennong (), variously translated as "Divine Farmer" or "Divine Husbandman", born Jiang Shinian (), was a mythological Chinese sovereign, Chinese ruler known as the first Yan Emperor who has become a deity in Chinese folk religion, Chinese an ...
. Sima Qian's ''
Records of the Grand Historian ''Records of the Grand Historian'', also known by its Chinese language, Chinese name ''Shiji'', is a monumental Chinese historiography, history of China that is the first of China's Twenty-Four Histories, 24 dynastic histories. The ''Records'' ...
'' begins with the Yellow Emperor, while passing over the others., and chapter endnotes. Throughout most of Chinese history, the Yellow Emperor and the other ancient sages were considered to be historical figures. Their historicity started to be questioned in the 1920s by historians such as Gu Jiegang, one of the founders of the
Doubting Antiquity School The Doubting Antiquity School or Yigupai ( Wilkinson, Endymion (2000). ''Chinese History: A Manual''. Harvard Univ Asia Center. . Page 345, see/ref>Loewe, Michael and Edward L. Shaughnessy (1999). ''The Cambridge History of Ancient China'' Cambridg ...
in China. In their attempts to prove that the earliest figures of Chinese history were mythological, Gu and his followers argued that these ancient sages were originally gods who were later depicted as humans by the rationalist intellectuals of the
Warring States The Warring States period () was an era in ancient Chinese history characterized by warfare, as well as bureaucratic and military reforms and consolidation. It followed the Spring and Autumn period The Spring and Autumn period was a peri ...
period. Yang Kuan, a member of the same current of
historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historians in developing history as an academic discipline, and by extension is any body of historical work on a particular subject. The historiography of a specific topic covers how historians ha ...
, noted that only in the Warring States period had the Yellow Emperor started to be described as the first ruler of China. Yang thus argued that Huangdi was a later transformation of
Shangdi Shangdi (), also written simply, "Emperor" (), is the Chinese term for "Supreme Deity" or "Highest Deity" in the Chinese theology, theology of the classical texts, especially deriving from Shang dynasty, Shang theology and finding an equivalen ...
, the supreme god of the
Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese royal dynasty founded by Tang of Shang (Cheng Tang) that ruled in the Yellow River The Yellow River or Huang He (Chinese: , Standard Beijing Mandarin, Mandar ...
's pantheon.. Also in the 1920s, French scholars
Henri Maspero Henri Paul Gaston Maspero (15 December 188317 March 1945) was a French sinologist and professor who contributed to a variety of topics relating to East Asia. Maspero is best known for his pioneering studies of Daoism. He was imprisoned by the Naz ...
and Marcel Granet published critical studies of China's accounts of high antiquity. In his ''Danses et légendes de la Chine ancienne'' Dances and legends of ancient China" for example, Granet argued that these tales were "historicized legends" that said more about the time when they were written than about the time they purported to describe. Most scholars now agree that the Yellow Emperor originated as a god who was later represented as a historical person. K.C. Chang sees Huangdi and other cultural heroes as "ancient religious figures" who were "
euhemerized Euhemerism () is an approach to the interpretation of mythology in which mythological accounts are presumed to have originated from real historical events or personages. Euhemerism supposes that historical accounts become myths as they are exagge ...
" in the late Warring States and Han periods. Historian of ancient China Mark Edward Lewis speaks of the Yellow Emperor's "earlier nature as a god", whereas Roel Sterckx, a professor at
University of Cambridge The University of Cambridge is a Public university, public collegiate university, collegiate research university in Cambridge, England. Founded in 1209 and granted a royal charter by Henry III of England, Henry III in 1231, Cambridge is the world' ...
, calls Huangdi a "legendary cultural hero".


Origin of the myth

The origin of Huangdi's mythology is unclear, but historians have formulated several hypotheses about it. Yang Kuan, a member of the
Doubting Antiquity School The Doubting Antiquity School or Yigupai ( Wilkinson, Endymion (2000). ''Chinese History: A Manual''. Harvard Univ Asia Center. . Page 345, see/ref>Loewe, Michael and Edward L. Shaughnessy (1999). ''The Cambridge History of Ancient China'' Cambridg ...
(1920s–40s), argued that the Yellow Emperor was derived from
Shangdi Shangdi (), also written simply, "Emperor" (), is the Chinese term for "Supreme Deity" or "Highest Deity" in the Chinese theology, theology of the classical texts, especially deriving from Shang dynasty, Shang theology and finding an equivalen ...
, the highest god of the
Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese royal dynasty founded by Tang of Shang (Cheng Tang) that ruled in the Yellow River The Yellow River or Huang He (Chinese: , Standard Beijing Mandarin, Mandar ...
. Yang reconstructs the etymology as follows: Shangdi → Huang Shangdi → Huangdi → Huangdi , in which he claims that ''huang'' ("yellow") either was a
variant Chinese character Variant Chinese characters (; Kanji: ; Hepburn romanization, Hepburn: ''itaiji''; ; Revised Romanization of Korean, Revised Romanization: ''icheja'') are Chinese characters that are homophones and synonyms. Most variants are allographs in most cir ...
for ''huang'' ("august") or was used as a way to avoid the
naming taboo A naming taboo is a cultural taboo against speaking or writing the given names of exalted persons, notably in China and within the Chinese cultural sphere. It was enforced by several laws throughout Imperial China, but its cultural and possibly r ...
for the latter. Yang's view has been criticized by Mitarai Masaru and by Michael Puett. Historian Mark Edward Lewis agrees that ''huang'' and ''huang'' were often interchangeable, but disagreeing with Yang, he claims that ''huang'' meaning "yellow" appeared first. Based on what he admits is a "novel etymology" likening ''huang'' to the phonetically close ''wang'' (the "burned shaman" in Shang rainmaking rituals), Lewis suggests that "Huang" in "Huangdi" might originally have meant "rainmaking shaman" or "rainmaking ritual." Citing late Warring States and early Han versions of Huangdi's myth, he further argues that the figure of the Yellow Emperor originated in ancient rain-making rituals in which Huangdi represented the power of rain and clouds, whereas his mythical rival
Chiyou Chiyou (蚩尤, ) is a mythological being that appears in East Asian mythology. Individual According to the Song dynasty history book ''Lushi (book), Lushi'', Chiyou's surname was Jiang (surname 姜), Jiang (), and he was a descendant of Flame E ...
(or the
Yan Emperor The Yan Emperor () or the Flame Emperor was a legendary ancient Chinese ruler in pre-dynastic times. Modern scholarship has identified the Sheep's Head Mountains (''Yángtóu Shān'') just north of Baoji in Shaanxi Province as his homeland and ...
) stood for fire and drought. Also disagreeing with Yang Kuan's hypothesis, Sarah Allan finds it unlikely that such a popular myth as the Yellow Emperor's could have come from a taboo character. She argues instead that pre-Shang "'history'," including the story of the Yellow Emperor, "can all be understood as a later transformation and systematization of Shang
mythology Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths. Since "myth" is widely used to imply that a story is not objectively true, the identification of a narra ...
." In her view, Huangdi was originally an unnamed "lord of the underworld" (or the "Yellow Springs"), the mythological counterpart of the Shang sky deity Shangdi. At the time, Shang rulers claimed that their mythical ancestors, identified with "the ensuns, birds, east, life, ndthe Lord on High" (i.e., Shangdi), had defeated an earlier people associated with "the underworld, dragons, west." After the
Zhou dynasty The Zhou dynasty ( ; Old Chinese (Reconstructions of Old Chinese#Baxter–Sagart (2014), B&S): *''tiw'') was a Dynasties in Chinese history, royal dynasty of China that followed the Shang dynasty. Having lasted 789 years, the Zhou dynasty was t ...
overthrew the Shang dynasty in the eleventh century BC, Zhou leaders reinterpreted Shang myths as meaning that the Shang had vanquished a real political dynasty, which was eventually named the
Xia dynasty The Xia dynasty () is the first dynasty in traditional Chinese historiography. According to tradition, the Xia dynasty was established by the legendary Yu the Great, after Emperor Shun, Shun, the last of the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors, ...
. By Han times – as seen in
Sima Qian Sima Qian (; ; ) was a Chinese historian of the early Han dynasty The Han dynasty (, ; ) was an imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 9 AD, 25–220 AD), established by Emperor Gaozu of Han, Liu Bang (Emperor Gao) and ruled by the H ...
's account in the ''
Shiji ''Records of the Grand Historian'', also known by its Chinese name ''Shiji'', is a monumental history of China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600– ...
'' – the Yellow Emperor, who as lord of the underworld had been symbolically linked to the Xia, had become a historical ruler whose descendants were thought to have founded the Xia. Given that the earliest extant mention of the Yellow Emperor was on a fourth-century BC Chinese bronze inscription claiming that he was the ancestor of the royal house of the
state of Qi Qi, or Ch'i in Wade–Giles romanization, was a state of the Zhou dynasty The Zhou dynasty ( ; Old Chinese (Reconstructions of Old Chinese#Baxter–Sagart (2014), B&S): *''tiw'') was a Dynasties in Chinese history, royal dynasty of Chi ...
, Lothar von Falkenhausen speculates that Huangdi was invented as an ancestral figure as part of a strategy to claim that all ruling clans in the "
Zhou dynasty The Zhou dynasty ( ; Old Chinese (Reconstructions of Old Chinese#Baxter–Sagart (2014), B&S): *''tiw'') was a Dynasties in Chinese history, royal dynasty of China that followed the Shang dynasty. Having lasted 789 years, the Zhou dynasty was t ...
culture sphere" shared common ancestry.


History of Huangdi's cult


Earliest mention

Explicit accounts of the Yellow Emperor started to appear in Chinese texts during the
Warring States period The Warring States period () was an era in History of China#Ancient China, ancient Chinese history characterized by warfare, as well as bureaucratic and military reforms and consolidation. It followed the Spring and Autumn period and concluded ...
. "The most ancient extant reference" to Huangdi is an inscription on a bronze vessel made during the first half of the fourth century BC by the royal family (surnamed Tian ) of the
state of Qi Qi, or Ch'i in Wade–Giles romanization, was a state of the Zhou dynasty The Zhou dynasty ( ; Old Chinese (Reconstructions of Old Chinese#Baxter–Sagart (2014), B&S): *''tiw'') was a Dynasties in Chinese history, royal dynasty of Chi ...
, a powerful eastern state.
Harvard University Harvard University is a Private university, private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded in 1636 as Harvard College and named for its first benefactor, the History of the Puritans in North America, Puritan cler ...
historian Michael Puett writes that the Qi bronze inscription was one of several references to the Yellow Emperor in the fourth and third centuries BC within accounts of the creation of the state. Noting that many of the thinkers who were later identified as precursors of the
Huang–Lao ''Huang–Lao'' or ''Huanglao'' () was the most influential Hundred Schools of Thought, Chinese school of thought in the early 2nd-century BCE Han dynasty, having its origins in a broader political-philosophical drive looking for solutions to stre ...
– "Huangdi and Laozi" – tradition came from the state of Qi, Robin D. S. Yates hypothesizes that Huang–Lao originated in that region.


Warring States period

The cult of Huangdi became very popular during the
Warring States period The Warring States period () was an era in History of China#Ancient China, ancient Chinese history characterized by warfare, as well as bureaucratic and military reforms and consolidation. It followed the Spring and Autumn period and concluded ...
(5th century–221 BC), a period of intense competition between rival states which ended with the unification of the realm by the
state of Qin Qin () was an ancient Chinese state Ancient Chinese states () were typified by variously sized City-state, city-states and territories that existed in China prior to Qin's wars of unification, its unification by Qin Shi Huang in 221 BCE. In ...
. In addition to his role as ancestor, he became associated with "centralized statecraft" and emerged as a figure paradigmatic of emperorship.


The state of Qin

In his ''
Shiji ''Records of the Grand Historian'', also known by its Chinese name ''Shiji'', is a monumental history of China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600– ...
'',
Sima Qian Sima Qian (; ; ) was a Chinese historian of the early Han dynasty The Han dynasty (, ; ) was an imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 9 AD, 25–220 AD), established by Emperor Gaozu of Han, Liu Bang (Emperor Gao) and ruled by the H ...
claims that the
state of Qin Qin () was an ancient Chinese state Ancient Chinese states () were typified by variously sized City-state, city-states and territories that existed in China prior to Qin's wars of unification, its unification by Qin Shi Huang in 221 BCE. In ...
started worshipping the Yellow Emperor in the fifth century BC, along with Yandi, the Fiery Emperor. The altars were established at Yong (near modern Fengxiang County in
Shaanxi Shaanxi (alternatively Shensi, see #Name, § Name) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of China. Officially part of Northwest China, it borders the province-level divisions of Shanxi (NE, E), Henan (E), Hubei (SE), Chongqing (S), Sichu ...
province), which was the capital of Qin from 677 to 383 BC. By the time of King Zheng, who became king of Qin in 247 BC and
First Emperor Qin Shi Huang (, ; 259–210 BC) was the founder of the Qin dynasty The Qin dynasty ( ; zh, c=秦朝, p=Qín cháo, w=), or Ch'in dynasty in Wade–Giles romanization ( zh, c=, p=, w=Ch'in ch'ao), was the first dynasty of Imperi ...
of a unified China in 221 BC, Huangdi had become by far the most important of the four "thearchs" (''di'' ) who were then worshiped at Yong.


The ''Shiji'' version

The figure of Huangdi had appeared sporadically in Warring States texts.
Sima Qian Sima Qian (; ; ) was a Chinese historian of the early Han dynasty The Han dynasty (, ; ) was an imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 9 AD, 25–220 AD), established by Emperor Gaozu of Han, Liu Bang (Emperor Gao) and ruled by the H ...
's ''Shiji'' (or ''
Records of the Grand Historian ''Records of the Grand Historian'', also known by its Chinese language, Chinese name ''Shiji'', is a monumental Chinese historiography, history of China that is the first of China's Twenty-Four Histories, 24 dynastic histories. The ''Records'' ...
'', completed around 94 BC) was the first work to turn these fragments of myths into a systematic and consistent narrative of the Yellow Emperor's "career". The ''Shiji''s account was extremely influential in shaping how the Chinese viewed the origin of their history. The ''Shiji'' begins its chronological account of Chinese history with the life of Huangdi, whom it presents as a sage sovereign from antiquity. It recounts that Huangdi's father was Shaodian and his mother was
Fubao Fubao (), a woman from the Youjiao clan, was, according to Chinese mythology sources, the mother-in-law of the inventor of silk, Leizu; mother of Huang Di the Yellow Emperor; and, wife of Shaodian. However, the mythological genealogy varies. Fubao i ...
().Chinareviewnews.com
"The ugliest among the empresses and consorts of past ages"
. Retrieved on August 8, 2010.
The Yellow Emperor had four wives. His first wife
Leizu Leizu (), also known as Xi Ling-shi (, Wade–Giles Hsi Ling-shih), was a legendary Chinese empress and wife of the Yellow Emperor. According to tradition, she discovered sericulture, and invented the silk Silk is a natural fiber, nat ...
of Xiling bore him two sons. His other three wives were his second wife Fenglei (), third wife Tongyu () and fourth wife Momu (). The emperor had a total of 25 sons,. 14 of whom began their own surnames and clans. The oldest was
Shaohao Shaohao or Shao Hao ( "Lesser Brightness"), also known Jin Tian (金天), was a legendary China, Chinese sovereign. Shaohao is usually identified as a son of the Yellow Emperor. According to some traditions (for example the ''Book of Documents''), ...
or Xuan Xiao, who lived in
Qingyang Qingyang () is a prefecture-level city in eastern Gansu province, China. Geography and climate Qingyang is the easternmost prefecture-level division of Gansu and is thus sometimes referred to as "Longdong" (). It forms an administrative peninsu ...
by the
Yangtze River The Yangtze or Yangzi ( or ; ) is the longest list of rivers of Asia, river in Asia, the list of rivers by length, third-longest in the world, and the longest in the world to flow entirely within one country. It rises at Jari Hill in th ...
.
Changyi Changyi (? – ?) was the second son of the legendary Yellow Emperor and the father of Zhuanxu. History According to the ''Records of the Grand Historian'' by Sima Qian, the Yellow Emperor had twenty-five sons, two of the known ones who were b ...
, the second son, lived by the Ruo River. When the Yellow Emperor died, he was succeeded by Changyi's son, Zhuan Xu. The chronological tables found in chapters 13 of the ''Shiji'' represent all past rulers – legendary ones such as Yao and Shun, the first ancestors of the Xia, Shang, and Zhou dynasties, as well as the founders of the main ruling houses in the Zhou sphere – as descendants of Huangdi, giving the impression that Chinese history was the history of one large family.


Imperial era

The Yellow Emperor was credited with an enormous number of cultural legacies and esoteric teachings. While
Taoism Taoism (, ) or Daoism () refers to either a school of Philosophy, philosophical thought (道家; ''daojia'') or to a religion (道教; ''daojiao''), both of which share ideas and concepts of China, Chinese origin and emphasize living in harmo ...
is often regarded in the West as arising from
Laozi Laozi (), also known by #Names, numerous other names, was a Chinese legend, semilegendary ancient China, ancient Chinese Taoism, Taoist Chinese philosophy, philosopher. Laozi ( zh, ) is a Chinese honorific, generally translated as "the Old Ma ...
, Chinese Taoists claim the Yellow Emperor formulated many of their precepts. The '' Yellow Emperor's Inner Canon'' ( ''Huángdì Nèijīng''), which presents the doctrinal basis of
traditional Chinese medicine Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is an alternative medicine, alternative medical practice drawn from traditional medicine in China. It has been described as "fraught with pseudoscience", with the majority of its treatments having no logica ...
, was named after him. He was also credited with composing the Four Books of the Yellow Emperor ( ''Huángdì Sìjīng''), the '' Yellow Emperor's Book of the Hidden Symbol'' ( ''Huángdì Yīnfújīng''), and the "Yellow Emperor's Four Seasons Poem" included in the
Tung Shing ''Tung Shing'' () is a Chinese divination guide and almanac. It consists primarily of a calendar based on the Chinese calendar, Chinese lunar year. History ''Tung Shing'' originated from ''Wong Lik'' (, the "Yellow Calendar"), which legend at ...
fortune-telling almanac., pp. 59 and 107. "Xuanyuan (+ number)" is also the Chinese name for
Regulus Regulus is the brightest object in the constellation Leo (constellation), Leo and one of the List of brightest stars, brightest stars in the night sky. It has the Bayer designation designated α Leonis, which is Latinisation of names, ...
and other stars of the constellations Leo and Lynx, of which the latter is said to represent the body of the Yellow Dragon. In the Hall of Supreme Harmony in Beijing's
Forbidden City The Forbidden City () is a palace complex in Dongcheng District, Beijing, China, at the center of the Imperial City of Beijing. It is surrounded by numerous opulent imperial gardens and temples including the Zhongshan Park, the sacrific ...
, there is also a mirror called the "Xuanyuan Mirror".


In Taoism

In the second century AD, Huangdi's role as a deity was diminished because of the rise of a deified
Laozi Laozi (), also known by #Names, numerous other names, was a Chinese legend, semilegendary ancient China, ancient Chinese Taoism, Taoist Chinese philosophy, philosopher. Laozi ( zh, ) is a Chinese honorific, generally translated as "the Old Ma ...
. A state sacrifice offered to "Huang-Lao jun" was not offered to Huangdi and Laozi, as the term Huang-Lao would have meant a few centuries earlier, but to a "yellow Laozi". Nonetheless, Huangdi kept being considered as an immortal: he was seen as a master of longevity techniques and as a god who could reveal new teachings – in the form of texts such as the sixth-century ''
Huangdi Yinfujing The ''Huangdi Yinfujing'' (), or ''Yinfujing'', is a circa 8th century CE Taoist scripture associated with Chinese astrology and ''Neidan''-style Internal alchemy. In addition, ''Huangdi Yinfujing'' is also the name of a Chinese Fengshui text on m ...
'' – to his earthly followers.


Twentieth century

The Yellow Emperor became a powerful national symbol in the last decade of the
Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty ( ), officially the Great Qing,, was a Manchu people, Manchu-led Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China and the last orthodox dynasty in Chinese history. It emerged from the Later Jin (1616–1636), La ...
(1644–1911) and remained dominant in Chinese nationalist discourse throughout the Republican period (1911–49). The early twentieth century is also when the Yellow Emperor was first referred to as the ancestor of all Chinese people.


Late Qing

Starting in 1903, radical publications started using the projected date of his birth as the first year of the
Chinese calendar The traditional Chinese calendar (also known as the Agricultural Calendar 曆; 农历; ''Nónglì''; 'farming calendar' Former Calendar 曆; 旧历; ''Jiùlì'' Traditional Calendar 曆; 老历; ''Lǎolì'', is a lunisolar calendar ...
. Intellectuals such as Liu Shipei (1884–1919) found this practice necessary in order to "preserve the anrace" (''baozhong'' ) from both dominance by
Manchu people The Manchus (; ) are a Tungusic East Asian ethnic group An ethnic group or an ethnicity is a grouping of people who identity (social science), identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other g ...
and foreign encroachment. Revolutionaries motivated by Anti-Manchuism such as
Chen Tianhua Chen Tianhua (; 1875 – December 1905) was a Chinese people, Chinese revolutionary born in Xinhua County, Xinhua, Hunan province to a poor peasant family during the Qing dynasty. Biography Early life and education Chen did not begin his formal ...
(1875–1905), Zou Rong (1885–1905), and
Zhang Binglin Zhang Binglin (January 12, 1869 – June 14, 1936), also known by his art name Zhang Taiyan, was a Chinese philologist, textual critic, philosopher, and revolutionary. His philological works include ''Wen Shi'' (文始 "The Origin of Writing"), t ...
(1868–1936) tried to foster the racial consciousness they thought was missing from their compatriots, and thus depicted the Manchus as racially inferior barbarians who were unfit to rule over
Han Chinese The Han Chinese () or Han people (), are an East Asian ethnic group native to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by populat ...
. Chen's widely circulated pamphlets claimed that the "Han race" formed one big family descended from the Yellow Emperor. The first issue (Nov. 1905) of the ''Minbao'' ("People's Journal"), which was founded in Tokyo by revolutionaries of the
Tongmenghui The Tongmenghui of China (or T'ung-meng Hui, variously translated as Chinese United League, United League, Chinese Revolutionary Alliance, Chinese Alliance, United Allegiance Society, ) was a secret society and Resistance movement, underground ...
, featured the Yellow Emperor on its cover and called Huangdi "the first great nationalist of the world." It was one of several nationalist magazines that featured the Yellow Emperor on their cover in the early twentieth century. The fact that Huangdi meant "yellow" emperor also served to buttress the theory that he was the originator of the "yellow race". Many historians interpret this sudden popularity of the Yellow Emperor as a reaction to the theories of French scholar Albert Terrien de Lacouperie (1845–94), who in a book called ''The Western Origin of the Early Chinese Civilization, from 2300 B.C. to 200 A.D.'' (1892) had claimed that Chinese civilization was founded around 2300 BCE by
Babylonia Babylonia (; Akkadian: , ''māt Akkadī'') was an ancient Akkadian-speaking state and cultural area based in the city of Babylon in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq and parts of Syria). It emerged as an Amorites, Amorite-ruled ...
n immigrants. Lacouperie's " Sino-Babylonianism" posited that Huangdi was a
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن or ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the northern part of the F ...
n tribal leader who had led a massive migration of his people into China around 2300 BC and founded what later became Chinese civilization. European
sinologist Sinology, or Chinese studies, is an academic discipline that focuses on the study of China primarily through Chinese philosophy, Chinese language, language, Chinese literature, literature, Chinese culture, culture and History of China, history and ...
s quickly rejected these theories, but in 1900 two Japanese historians, Shirakawa Jirō and Kokubu Tanenori, omitted these criticisms and published a long summary that presented Lacouperie's views as the most advanced Western scholarship on China. Chinese scholars were quickly attracted by "the historicization of
Chinese mythology Chinese mythology () is mythology Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths. Since "myth" is widely used to imply that a story is not objectiv ...
" that the two Japanese authors advocated. Anti-Manchu intellectuals and activists who searched for China's "national essence" (''guocui'' ) adapted Sino-Babylonianism to their needs. Zhang Binglin explained Huangdi's battle with Chi You as a conflict opposing the newly arrived civilized Mesopotamians to backward local tribes, a battle that transformed China into one of the most civilized places in the world. Zhang's reinterpretation of Sima Qian's account "underscored the need to recover the glory of early China." Liu Shipei also presented these early times as the golden age of Chinese civilization. In addition to tying the Chinese to an ancient center of human civilization in Mesopotamia, Lacouperie's theories suggested that China should be ruled by the descendants of Huangdi. In a controversial essay called ''History of the Yellow Race'' (''Huangshi'' ), which was published serially from 1905 to 1908, Huang Jie (; 1873–1935) claimed that the "Han race" was the true master of China because it was descended from the Yellow Emperor. Reinforced by the values of
filial piety In Confucian ethics, Confucianism, Chinese Buddhist ethics, Buddhism, and Daoism, Daoist ethics, filial piety (, ''xiào'') (Latin: pietas) is a virtue of respect for one's parents, elders, and ancestors. The Confucian ''Classic of Filial Piety ...
and the Chinese patrilineal clan, the racial vision defended by Huang and others turned vengeance against the Manchus into a duty owed to one's ancestors.


Republican period

The Yellow Emperor continued to be revered after the
Xinhai Revolution The 1911 Revolution, also known as the Xinhai Revolution or Hsinhai Revolution, ended China's last Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty, the Manchu people, Manchu-led Qing dynasty, and led to the establishment of the Republic of Chi ...
of 1911, which overthrew the Qing dynasty. In 1912, for instance, banknotes carrying Huangdi's effigy were issued by the new Republican government. After 1911, however, the Yellow Emperor as national symbol changed from first progenitor of the Han race to ancestor of China's entire multi-ethnic population. Under the ideology of the
Five Races Under One Union Description This principle emphasized harmony between what were considered the five major ethnic groups in China, as represented by the colored stripes of the Flag of the Republic of China, Five-Colored Flag of the Republic: the Han Chinese, Han ( ...
, Huangdi became the common ancestor of the
Han Chinese The Han Chinese () or Han people (), are an East Asian ethnic group native to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by populat ...
, the
Manchu people The Manchus (; ) are a Tungusic East Asian ethnic group An ethnic group or an ethnicity is a grouping of people who identity (social science), identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other g ...
, the
Mongols The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , , ; ; russian: Монголы) are an East Asian people, East Asian ethnic group indigenous peoples, native to Mongolia, Inner Mongolia in China and the Buryatia, Buryatia Republic of the Russia, Russ ...
, the
Tibetans The Tibetan people (; ) are an East Asian people, East Asian ethnic group indigenous peoples, native to Tibet. Their current population is estimated to be around 6.7 million. In addition to the majority living in Tibet Autonomous Region of Chin ...
, and the
Hui people The Hui people ( zh, c=, p=Huízú, w=Hui2-tsu2, Xiao'erjing: , dng, Хуэйзў, ) are an East Asian ethnoreligious group predominantly composed of Islam in China, Chinese-speaking adherents of Islam. They are distributed throughout China, m ...
, who were said to form the
Zhonghua minzu ''Zhonghua minzu'' (, ) is a political term in modern Chinese nationalism related to the concepts of nation-building, ethnicity, and race in the Chinese nationality. ''Zhonghua minzu'' was established during the early Beiyang (19 ...
, a broadly understood Chinese nation. Sixteen state ceremonies were held between 1911 and 1949 to Huangdi as the "founding ancestor of the Chinese nation" () and even "the founding ancestor of human civilization" ().


Modern significance

The cult of the Yellow Emperor was forbidden in the People's Republic of China until the end of the Cultural Revolution. The prohibition was halted during the 1980s when the government reversed itself and resurrected the "Yellow Emperor cult". Starting in the 1980s, the cult was revived and phrases relating to the "Descendants of Yan and Huang" were sometimes used by the Chinese state when referring to people of Chinese descent. In 1984, for example,
Deng Xiaoping Deng Xiaoping (22 August 1904 – 19 February 1997) was a Chinese revolutionary leader, military commander and statesman who served as the paramount leader of the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) from December 1978 to November 1989. Aft ...
argued for
Chinese unification Chinese unification, also known as the Cross-Strait unification or Chinese reunification, is the potential unification of territories currently controlled, or claimed, by the People's Republic of China China, officially the People ...
saying "
Taiwan Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a Country, country in East Asia, at the junction of the East China Sea, East and South China Seas in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, with the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the n ...
is rooted in the hearts of the descendants of the Yellow Emperor," whereas in 1986 the PRC acclaimed the Chinese-American astronaut Taylor Wang as the first of the Yellow Emperor's descendants to travel in space. In the first half of the 1980s, the Party had internally debated whether this usage would make
ethnic minorities The term 'minority group' has different usages depending on the context. According to its common usage, a minority group can simply be understood in terms of demographic sizes within a population: i.e. a group in society with the least number o ...
feel excluded. After consulting experts from
Beijing University Peking University (PKU; ) is a Public university, public research university in Beijing, China. The university is funded by the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China, Ministry of Education. Peking University was established as ...
, the Chinese Academy of Social Science, and the Central Nationalities Institute, the Central Propaganda Department recommended on March 27, 1985, that the Party speak of the
Zhonghua Minzu ''Zhonghua minzu'' (, ) is a political term in modern Chinese nationalism related to the concepts of nation-building, ethnicity, and race in the Chinese nationality. ''Zhonghua minzu'' was established during the early Beiyang (19 ...
 – the "Chinese nation" broadly defined – in official statements, but that the phrase "sons and grand-sons of Yandi and the Yellow Emperor" could be used in informal statements by party leaders and in "relations with
Hong Kong Hong Kong ( (US) or (UK); , ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (abbr. Hong Kong SAR or HKSAR), is a List of cities in China, city and Special administrative regions of China, special ...
and Taiwanese compatriots and overseas Chinese compatriots". After retreating to Taiwan in late 1949 at the end of the
Chinese Civil War The Chinese Civil War was fought between the Kuomintang-led government of the Republic of China and forces of the Chinese Communist Party, continuing intermittently since 1 August 1927 until 7 December 1949 with a Communist victory on m ...
,
Chiang Kai-shek Chiang Kai-shek (31 October 1887 – 5 April 1975), also known as Chiang Chung-cheng and Jiang Jieshi, was a Chinese Nationalist politician, revolutionary, and military leader who served as the leader of the Republic of China (ROC) from 192 ...
and the
Kuomintang The Kuomintang (KMT), also referred to as the Guomindang (GMD), the Nationalist Party of China (NPC) or the Chinese Nationalist Party (CNP), is a major political party in the Taiwan, Republic of China, initially on the Mainland China, Chin ...
(KMT) ruled that the
Republic of China Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a Country, country in East Asia, at the junction of the East China Sea, East and South China Seas in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, with the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the n ...
(ROC) would keep paying homage to the Yellow Emperor on April 4, the National Tomb Sweeping Day, but neither he nor the three presidents that succeeded him ever paid homage in person.. In 1955, the KMT, which was led by Mandarin speakers and still poised on retaking the mainland from the Communists, sponsored the production of the movie ''Children of the Yellow Emperor'' (''Huangdi zisun'' ), which was filmed mostly in
Taiwanese Hokkien Taiwanese Hokkien () (; Tâi-lô: ''Tâi-uân-uē''), also known as Taigi/Taigu (; Pe̍h-ōe-jī/Tâi-lô: ''Tâi-gí / Tâi-gú''), Taiwanese, Taiwanese Minnan, Hoklo and Holo, is a variety of the Hokkien language spoken natively by about 70% ...
and showed extensive passages of Taiwanese folk opera. Directed by Bai Ke (1914–1964), a former assistant of
Yuan Muzhi Yuan Muzhi (; March 3, 1909 – January 30, 1978) was an actor and film director, director from the Republic of China (1912-1949), Republic of China and later of the People's Republic of China. Career As an actor, Yuan became extremely popular ...
, it was a propaganda effort to convince speakers of Taiyu that they were linked to mainland people by common blood. In 2009
Ma Ying-jeou Ma Ying-jeou ( zh, 馬英九, born 13 July 1950) is a Hong Kong-born Taiwanese politician who served as president of the Republic of China from 2008 to 2016. Previously, he served as Ministry of Justice (Republic of China), justice minister fro ...
was the first ROC president to celebrate the Tomb Sweeping Day rituals for Huangdi in person, on which occasion he proclaimed that both
Chinese culture Chinese culture () is one of the world's oldest cultures, originating thousands of years ago. The culture prevails across a large geographical region in East Asia and is extremely diverse and varying, with customs and traditions varying gre ...
and common descent from the Yellow Emperor united people from
Taiwan Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a Country, country in East Asia, at the junction of the East China Sea, East and South China Seas in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, with the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the n ...
and the mainland. Later the same year,
Lien Chan Lien Chan (; born 27 August 1936) is a Taiwanese politician. He was the Chairman of the Taiwan Provincial Government from 1990 to 1993, Premier of the Republic of China The Premier of the Republic of China, officially the President of ...
 – a former Vice President of the Republic of China who is now Honorary Chairman of the
Kuomintang The Kuomintang (KMT), also referred to as the Guomindang (GMD), the Nationalist Party of China (NPC) or the Chinese Nationalist Party (CNP), is a major political party in the Taiwan, Republic of China, initially on the Mainland China, Chin ...
 – and his wife Lien Fang Yu paid homage at the
Mausoleum of the Yellow Emperor The Mausoleum of the Yellow Emperor () is the alleged burial site of the legendary Yellow Emperor The Yellow Emperor, also known as the Yellow Thearch or by his Chinese name Huangdi (), is a deity (''Shen (Chinese religion), shen'') in Chine ...
in Huangling,
Yan'an Yan'an (; ), Chinese postal romanization, alternatively spelled as Yenan is a prefecture-level city in the Shaanbei region of Shaanxi Province of China, province, China, bordering Shanxi to the east and Gansu to the west. It administers severa ...
, in mainland China.. Gay studies researcher Louis Crompton has cited Ji Yun's report in his popular ''Notes from the'' Yuewei ''Hermitage'' (1800), that some claimed the Yellow Emperor was the first Chinese to take male bedmates, a claim that Ji Yun dismissed. Ji Yun argued that this was probably a false attribution. Today, Xuanyuanjiao based on Taiwan represents an organised form of Yellow Emperor worship married to Confucian orthodoxy.


Elements of Huangdi's myth

As with any myth, there are numerous versions of Huangdi's story, emphasizing different themes and interpreting the main character's significance in different ways.


Birth

According to Huangfu Mi (215–282), the Yellow Emperor was born in Shou Qiu ("Longevity Hill"),, note 6. which is today on the outskirts of the city of
Qufu Qufu ( ; ) is a city in southwestern Shandong province, East China. It is located about south of the provincial capital Jinan and northeast of the prefectural seat at Jining. Qufu has an area of 815 square kilometers, and a total population of 6 ...
in Shandong. Early on, he lived with his tribe near the Ji RiverEdwin Pulleyblank states that "there seems to be no record of a Ji River outside the myth" – and later migrated to Zhuolu in modern-day
Hebei Hebei or , (; Postal romanization, alternately Hopeh) is a North China, northern Provinces of China, province of China. Hebei is China's List of Chinese administrative divisions by population, sixth most populous province, with over 75 mi ...
. He then became a farmer and tamed six different special beasts: the bear (), the
brown bear The brown bear (''Ursus arctos'') is a large bear species found across Eurasia Eurasia (, ) is the largest continental area on Earth, comprising all of Europe and Asia. Primarily in the Northern Hemisphere, Northern and Eastern Hemisp ...
(), the ''pí'' () and ''xiū'' () (which later combined to form the mythical Pixiu), the ferocious ''chū'' (), and the tiger (). Huangdi is sometimes said to have been the fruit of extraordinary birth, as his mother
Fubao Fubao (), a woman from the Youjiao clan, was, according to Chinese mythology sources, the mother-in-law of the inventor of silk, Leizu; mother of Huang Di the Yellow Emperor; and, wife of Shaodian. However, the mythological genealogy varies. Fubao i ...
conceived him as she was aroused, while walking in the country, by a lightning bolt from the
Big Dipper The Big Dipper (American English, US, Canadian English, Canada) or the Plough (British English, UK, Hiberno-English, Ireland) is a large asterism (astronomy), asterism consisting of seven bright stars of the constellation Ursa Major; six of them ...
. She delivered her son on the mount of Shou (Longevity) or mount Xuanyuan, after which he was named.


Achievements

In traditional Chinese accounts, the Yellow Emperor is credited with improving the livelihood of the nomadic hunters of his tribe. He teaches them how to build shelters, tame wild animals, and grow the
Five Grains The Five Grains or Cereals () are a grouping (or set of groupings) of five farm A farm (also called an Agriculture, agricultural holding) is an area of land that is devoted primarily to Agriculture, agricultural processes with the primary ...
, although other accounts credit
Shennong Shennong (), variously translated as "Divine Farmer" or "Divine Husbandman", born Jiang Shinian (), was a mythological Chinese sovereign, Chinese ruler known as the first Yan Emperor who has become a deity in Chinese folk religion, Chinese an ...
with the last. He invents carts, boats, and clothing. Other inventions credited to the emperor include the Chinese diadem (), throne rooms (), the bow sling, early
Chinese astronomy Astronomy in China has a long history stretching from the Shang dynasty, being refined over a period of more than 3,000 years. The Ancient China, ancient Chinese people have identified stars from 1300 BCE, as Chinese star names later categoriz ...
, the
Chinese calendar The traditional Chinese calendar (also known as the Agricultural Calendar 曆; 农历; ''Nónglì''; 'farming calendar' Former Calendar 曆; 旧历; ''Jiùlì'' Traditional Calendar 曆; 老历; ''Lǎolì'', is a lunisolar calendar ...
, math calculations, code of sound laws (),. and
cuju ''Cuju'' or ''Ts'u-chü'' (蹴鞠) is an ancient Chinese football game. Cuju is the earliest known recorded game of football. It is a competitive game that involves kicking a ball through an opening into a net without the use of hands. Descriptio ...
, an early Chinese version of football. He is also sometimes said to have been partially responsible for the invention of the ''guqin'' zither, although others credit the Yan Emperor with inventing instruments for Ling Lun's compositions. In traditional accounts, he also goads the historian Cangjie into creating the first
Chinese character Chinese characters () are logograms developed for the Written Chinese, writing of Chinese. In addition, they have been adapted to write other East Asian languages, and remain a key component of the Japanese writing system where they are k ...
writing system, the
Oracle bone script Oracle bone script () is an ancient form of Chinese characters that were engraved on oracle bonesanimal bones or Turtle shell#Plastron, turtle plastrons used in pyromancy, pyromantic divination. Oracle bone script was used in the late 2nd millen ...
, and his principal wife
Leizu Leizu (), also known as Xi Ling-shi (, Wade–Giles Hsi Ling-shih), was a legendary Chinese empress and wife of the Yellow Emperor. According to tradition, she discovered sericulture, and invented the silk Silk is a natural fiber, nat ...
invents
sericulture Sericulture, or silk farming, is the cultivation of silkworm The domestic silk moth (''Bombyx mori''), is an insect from the moth family (biology), family Bombycidae. It is the closest relative of ''Bombyx mandarina'', the wild silk moth ...
and teaches his people how to weave silk and dye clothes. At one point in his reign the Yellow Emperor allegedly visited the mythical East sea and met a talking beast called the
Bai Ze Bái Zé (), or in Japanese language, Japanese is a mythical cow-like beast from Chinese legend. Its name literally means "white marsh". The ''Bái Zé'' was encountered by the Yellow Emperor or ''Huáng Dì'' while he was on patrol in the east. ...
who taught him the knowledge of all supernatural creatures.iFeng.com
"The traitor Bai Ze"
; from . Retrieved on 2010-09-04.
. This beast explained to him there were 11,522 (or 1,522) kinds of supernatural creatures.


Battles

The Yellow Emperor and the
Yan Emperor The Yan Emperor () or the Flame Emperor was a legendary ancient Chinese ruler in pre-dynastic times. Modern scholarship has identified the Sheep's Head Mountains (''Yángtóu Shān'') just north of Baoji in Shaanxi Province as his homeland and ...
were both leaders of a tribe or a combination of two tribes near the
Yellow River The Yellow River or Huang He (Chinese: , Standard Beijing Mandarin, Mandarin: ''Huáng hé'' ) is the second-longest river in China, after the Yangtze River, and the List of rivers by length, sixth-longest river system in the world at th ...
. The Yan Emperor hailed from a different area around the Jiang River, which a geographical work called the '' Shuijingzhu'' identified as a stream near Qishan in what was the Zhou homeland before they defeated the Shang. Both emperors lived in a time of warfare.. The Yan Emperor proving unable to control the disorder within his realm, the Yellow Emperor took up arms to establish his domination over various warring factions. According to traditional accounts, the Yan Emperor meets the force of the " Nine Li" () under their bronze-headed leader, Chi You, and his 81 horned and four-eyed brothers. and suffers a decisive defeat. He flees to Zhuolu and begs the Yellow Emperor for help. During the ensuing
Battle of Zhuolu The Battle of Zhuolu () was the second battle in the history of China as recorded in the ''Records of the Grand Historian'', fought between the Yanhuang tribes led by the legendary Yellow Emperor and the Jiuli tribes led by Chiyou. The battle wa ...
the Yellow Emperor employs his tamed animals and Chi You darkens the sky by breathing out a thick fog. This leads the emperor to develop the
south-pointing chariot The south-pointing chariot (or carriage) was an ancient Chinese two-wheeled vehicle that carried a movable pointer to indicate the south, no matter how the chariot turned. Usually, the pointer took the form of a doll or figure with an outstretch ...
, which he uses to lead his army out of the miasma. He next calls upon the drought demon Nüba to dispel Chi You's storm. He then destroys the Nine Li and defeats Chi You. Later he engages in battle with the Yan Emperor, defeating him at Banquan and replacing him as the primary ruler.


Death

The Yellow Emperor was said to have lived for over a hundred years before meeting a phoenix and a
qilin The qilin (; ) is a Legendary creature, legendary hooved Chimera (mythology), chimerical creature that appears in Chinese mythology, and is said to appear with the imminent arrival or passing of a xian (Taoism), sage or illustrious ruler. Qili ...
and then dying. Two tombs were built in
Shaanxi Shaanxi (alternatively Shensi, see #Name, § Name) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of China. Officially part of Northwest China, it borders the province-level divisions of Shanxi (NE, E), Henan (E), Hubei (SE), Chongqing (S), Sichu ...
within the
Mausoleum of the Yellow Emperor The Mausoleum of the Yellow Emperor () is the alleged burial site of the legendary Yellow Emperor The Yellow Emperor, also known as the Yellow Thearch or by his Chinese name Huangdi (), is a deity (''Shen (Chinese religion), shen'') in Chine ...
, in addition to others in
Henan Henan (; or ; ; Chinese postal romanization, alternatively Honan) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of China, in the Central China, central part of the country. Henan is often referred to as Zhongyuan or Zhongzhou (), which literall ...
, Hebei and
Gansu Gansu (, ; Chinese postal romanization, alternately romanized as Kansu) is a provinces of China, province in Northwest China. Its capital and largest city is Lanzhou, in the southeast part of the province. The seventh-largest administrative dis ...
. Modern-day Chinese people sometimes refer to themselves as the " Descendants of Yan and Yellow Emperor", although non-Han minority groups in China may have their own myths or not count as descendants of the emperor.


Meaning as a deity


Symbol of the centre of the universe

As the Yellow Deity with Four Faces ( Huángdì Sìmiàn) he represents the centre of the universe and vision of the unity which controls the four directions. It is explained in the '' Huangdi Sijing'' ("Four Scriptures of the Yellow Emperor") that regulating "heart within brings order outside". In order to reign one must "reduce himself" abandoning emotions, "drying up like a corpse", never allowing oneself to be carried away, as according to the myth the Yellow Emperor himself did during his three years of refuge on Mount Bowang in order to find himself. This practice creates an internal void where all the vital forces of creation gather, and the more indeterminate they remain and the more powerful they will be. It is from this centre that equilibrium and harmony emanate, equilibrium of the vital organs which becomes harmony between the person and the environment. As sovereign of the centre, the Yellow Emperor is the very image of the concentration or re-centering of the self. By self-control, taking charge of his own body one becomes powerful outside. The centre is also the vital point in the microcosm by means of which the internal universe viewed as an altar is created. The body is a universe, and by going into himself and by incorporating the fundamental structures of the universe, the sage will gain access to the gates of Heaven, the unique point where communication between Heaven, Earth and Man can occur. The centre is the convergence of within and outside, the contraction of chaos on the point which is equidistant from all directions. It is the place which is no place, where all creation is born and dies. The Great Deity of the Central Peak ( ''Zhōngyuèdàdì'') is another epithet representing Huangdi as the hub of creation, the ''
axis mundi In astronomy, axis mundi is the Latin term for the Axial tilt, axis of Earth between the celestial poles. In a geocentric coordinate system, this is the axis of rotation of the celestial sphere. Consequently, in ancient Greco-Roman astronom ...
'' (which in Chinese mythology is
Kunlun The Kunlun Mountains ( zh, s=昆仑山, t=崑崙山, p=Kūnlún Shān, ; ug, كۇئېنلۇن تاغ تىزمىسى / قۇرۇم تاغ تىزمىسى ) constitute one of the longest mountain chains in Asia, extending for more than . In the bro ...
) that is the manifestation of the divine order in physical reality, that opens to immortality.


As ancestor

Throughout history, several sovereigns and dynasties claimed (or were claimed) to descend from the Yellow Emperor. Sima Qian's ''
Shiji ''Records of the Grand Historian'', also known by its Chinese name ''Shiji'', is a monumental history of China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600– ...
'' presented Huangdi as ancestor of the two legendary rulers Yao and Shun, and traced various lines of descent from Huangdi to the founders of the Xia,
Shang The Shang dynasty (), also known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese royal dynasty founded by Tang of Shang Cheng Tang (), personal name Zi Lü (), recorded on oracle bones as Da Yi (大乙), was the first King of China, king of the Sha ...
, and Zhou dynasties. He claimed that
Liu Bang Emperor Gaozu of Han (256 – 1 June 195 BC), born Liu Bang () with courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in ...
, the first emperor of the
Han dynasty The Han dynasty (, ; ) was an imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 9 AD, 25–220 AD), established by Emperor Gaozu of Han, Liu Bang (Emperor Gao) and ruled by the House of Liu. The dynasty was preceded by the short-lived Qin dynasty (22 ...
, was a descendant of Huangdi. He believed that the ruling house of the
Qin dynasty The Qin dynasty ( ; zh, c=秦朝, p=Qín cháo, w=), or Ch'in dynasty in Wade–Giles romanization ( zh, c=, p=, w=Ch'in ch'ao), was the first dynasty of Imperial China. Named for its heartland in Qin state (modern Gansu Gansu (, ; ...
was originated also from the Yellow Emperor, but by stating that
Qin Shihuang Qin Shi Huang (, ; 259–210 BC) was the founder of the Qin dynasty The Qin dynasty ( ; zh, c=秦朝, p=Qín cháo, w=), or Ch'in dynasty in Wade–Giles romanization ( zh, c=, p=, w=Ch'in ch'ao), was the first dynasty of Imperi ...
was in fact the child of Qin chancellor
Lü Buwei Lü Buwei (291–235 BCE) was a Chinese merchant and politician of the Qin state during the Warring States period The Warring States period () was an era in History of China#Ancient China, ancient Chinese history characterized by warfare ...
, he perhaps meant to leave the First Emperor out of Huangdi's descent. Claiming descent from illustrious ancestors remained a common tool of political legitimacy in the following ages.
Wang Mang Wang Mang () (c. 45 – 6 October 23 CE), courtesy name Jujun (), was the founder and the only emperor of the short-lived Chinese Xin dynasty. He was originally an official and consort kin of the Han dynasty The Han dynast ...
(c. 45 BC – 23 AD), of the short-lived
Xin dynasty The Xin dynasty (; ), also known as Xin Mang () in Chinese historiography, was a short-lived Dynasties in Chinese history, Chinese imperial dynasty which lasted from 9 to 23 AD, established by the Han dynasty consort kin Wang Mang, who usurped the ...
, claimed to descend from the Yellow Emperor in order to justify his overthrow of the Han. As he announced in January of 9 AD: "I possess no virtue, utI rely upon the fact that] I am a descendant of my august original ancestor, the Yellow Emperor..." About two hundred years later a ritual specialist named Dong Ba , who worked for at the court of the
Cao Wei Wei (Hanzi: 魏; pinyin: ''Wèi'' < Middle Chinese: *''ŋjweiC'' < Eastern Han Chinese: *''ŋuiC'') (220–266), known as Cao Wei or Former Wei in historiography, ...
, which had recently succeeded the Han, promoted the idea that the Cao family was descended from Huangdi via Emperor
Zhuanxu Zhuanxu ( Chinese:  trad. , simp. , pinyin Hanyu Pinyin (), often shortened to just pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin Chinese in China, and to some extent, in Singapore and ...
. During the
Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; zh, t= ), or Tang Empire, was an Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907 AD, with an Zhou dynasty (690–705), interregnum between 690 and 705. It was preceded by the Sui dyn ...
, non-Han rulers also claimed descent from the Yellow Emperor, for individual and national prestige, as well as to connect themselves to the Tang. Most Chinese noble families also claimed descent from Huangdi. This practice was well established in Tang and Song times, when hundreds of clans claimed such descent. The main support for this theory – as recorded in the ''
Tongdian The ''Tongdian'' () is a Chinese institutional history and encyclopedia text. It covers a panoply of topics from high antiquity through the year 756, whereas a quarter of the book focuses on the Tang Dynasty. The book was written by Du You from 766 ...
'' (801 AD) and the '' Tongzhi'' (mid 12th century) – was the ''Shiji''s statement that Huangdi's 25 sons were given 12 different surnames, and that these surnames had diversified into all Chinese surnames. After
Emperor Zhenzong Emperor Zhenzong of Song (23 December 968 – 23 March 1022), personal name Zhao Heng, was the third emperor of the Song dynasty of China. He reigned from 997 to his death in 1022. His personal name was originally Zhao Dechang, but was changed ...
(r. 997–1022) of the Song dynasty dreamed of a figure he was told was the Yellow Emperor, the Song imperial family started to claim Huangdi as its first ancestor. A number of
overseas Chinese Overseas Chinese () refers to people of Chinese people, Chinese birth or ethnicity who reside outside Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. As of 2011, there were over 40.3 million overseas Chinese. Terminology () or ''Hoan-kheh'' () ...
clans that keep a genealogy also trace their family ultimately to Huangdi, explaining their different surnames as name changes claimed to have derived from the fourteen surnames of Huangdi's descendants. Many Chinese clans, both overseas and in China, claim Huangdi as their ancestor to reinforce their sense of being Chinese. Gun, Yu, Zhuanxu, Zhong, Li, Shujun, and Yuqiang are various emperors, gods, and heroes whose ancestor was also supposed to be Huangdi. The Huantou, Miaomin, and
Quanrong The Quanrong () or Dog Xirong, Rong were an ethnic group, classified by the ancient Chinese as "Qiang (historical people), Qiang", active in the northwestern part of China during and after the Zhou dynasty (1046–221 BCE). Their language or languag ...
peoples were said to be descended from Huangdi.


Traditional dates

Although the traditional
Chinese calendar The traditional Chinese calendar (also known as the Agricultural Calendar 曆; 农历; ''Nónglì''; 'farming calendar' Former Calendar 曆; 旧历; ''Jiùlì'' Traditional Calendar 曆; 老历; ''Lǎolì'', is a lunisolar calendar ...
did not mark years continuously, some Han-dynasty astronomers tried to determine the years of the life and reign of the Yellow Emperor. In 78 BC, under the reign of
Emperor Zhao of Han Emperor Zhao of Han (Liu Fuling 劉弗陵; 94 BC – 5 June 74 BC) was the emperor An emperor (from la, imperator, via fro, empereor) is a monarch, and usually the sovereignty, sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial rea ...
, an official called Zhang Shouwang () calculated that 6,000 years had passed since the time of Huangdi; the court refused his proposal for reform, countering that only 3,629 years had elapsed. In the
proleptic Julian calendar The proleptic Julian calendar is produced by extending the Julian calendar The Julian calendar, proposed by Roman consul Julius Caesar in 46 BC, was a reform of the Roman calendar. It took effect on , by edict. It was designed with the a ...
, the court's calculations would have placed the Yellow Emperor in the late 38th century BC rather than in the 27th century BC that is conventional nowadays. During their Jesuit missions in China in the seventeenth century, the
Jesuits The Society of Jesus ( la, Societas Iesu; abbreviation: SJ), also known as the Jesuits (; la, Iesuitæ), is a religious order (Catholic), religious order of clerics regular of pontifical right for men in the Catholic Church headquartered in Rom ...
tried to determine what year should be considered the
epoch In chronology and periodization, an epoch or reference epoch is an instant in time chosen as the origin of a particular calendar era A calendar era is the period of time elapsed since one ''epoch'' of a calendar and, if it exists, before the ...
of the Chinese calendar. In his ''Sinicae historiae decas prima'' (first published in
Munich Munich ( ; german: München ; bar, Minga ) is the capital and most populous city of the States of Germany, German state of Bavaria. With a population of 1,558,395 inhabitants as of 31 July 2020, it is the List of cities in Germany by popu ...
in 1658),
Martino Martini Martino Martini () (20 September 1614 – 6 June 1661), born and raised in Trento (Prince-Bishopric of the Holy Roman Empire), was a Jesuit China missions, Jesuit missionary. As cartographer and historian, he mainly worked on ancient China, Impe ...
(1614–1661) dated the royal ascension of Huangdi to 2697 BC, but started the Chinese calendar with the reign of
Fuxi Fuxi or Fu Hsi (伏羲 ~ 伏犧 ~ 伏戲) is a culture hero in Chinese legend and Chinese mythology, mythology, credited along with his sister and wife Nüwa with List of protoplasts, creating humanity and the invention of music, hunting, fishin ...
, which he claimed started in 2952 BCE. Philippe Couplet's (1623–1693) "Chronological table of Chinese monarchs" (''Tabula chronologica monarchiae sinicae''; 1686) also gave the same date for the Yellow Emperor. The Jesuits' dates provoked great interest in Europe, where they were used for comparisons with Biblical chronology. Modern Chinese chronology has generally accepted Martini's dates, except that it usually places the reign of Huangdi in 2698 BC (see next paragraph) and omits Huangdi's predecessors Fuxi and
Shennong Shennong (), variously translated as "Divine Farmer" or "Divine Husbandman", born Jiang Shinian (), was a mythological Chinese sovereign, Chinese ruler known as the first Yan Emperor who has become a deity in Chinese folk religion, Chinese an ...
, who are considered "too legendary to include." Helmer Aslaksen, a mathematician who teaches at the
National University of Singapore The National University of Singapore (NUS) is a national university, national Public university, public research university in Singapore. Founded in 1905 as the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, Straits Settlements and Federated Malay States Gov ...
and specializes in the Chinese calendar, explains that those who use 2698 BC as a first year probably do so because they want to have "a year 0 as the starting point", or because "they assume that the Yellow Emperor started his year with the Winter solstice of 2698 BC", hence the difference with the year 2697 BC calculated by the Jesuits. Starting in 1903, radical publications started using the projected date of birth of the Yellow Emperor as the first year of the
Chinese calendar The traditional Chinese calendar (also known as the Agricultural Calendar 曆; 农历; ''Nónglì''; 'farming calendar' Former Calendar 曆; 旧历; ''Jiùlì'' Traditional Calendar 曆; 老历; ''Lǎolì'', is a lunisolar calendar ...
. Different newspapers and magazines proposed different dates. ''Jiangsu'', for example counted 1905 as year 4396 (making 2491 BC the first year of the Chinese calendar), whereas the ''Minbao'' (the organ of the
Tongmenghui The Tongmenghui of China (or T'ung-meng Hui, variously translated as Chinese United League, United League, Chinese Revolutionary Alliance, Chinese Alliance, United Allegiance Society, ) was a secret society and Resistance movement, underground ...
) reckoned 1905 as 4603 (first year: 2698 BC). Liu Shipei (1884–1919) created the Yellow Emperor Calendar to show the unbroken continuity of the Han race and Han culture from earliest times. There is no evidence that this calendar was used before the 20th century. Liu's calendar started with the birth of the Yellow Emperor, which was reckoned to be 2711 BC. When
Sun Yat-sen Sun Yat-sen (; also known by Names of Sun Yat-sen, several other names; 12 November 1866 – 12 March 1925)Singtao daily. Saturday edition. 23 October 2010. section A18. Sun Yat-sen Xinhai revolution 100th anniversary edition . was a Chinese ...
declared the foundation of the
Republic of China Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a Country, country in East Asia, at the junction of the East China Sea, East and South China Seas in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, with the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the n ...
on January 2, 1912, he decreed that this was the 12th day of the 11th month of year 4609 (epoch: 2698 BCE), but that the state would now be using the solar calendar and count 1912 as the first year of the Republic. Chronological tables published in the 1938 edition of the ''
Cihai The ''Cihai'' is a large-scale Chinese dictionary, dictionary and Chinese encyclopedia, encyclopedia of Standard Mandarin, Standard Mandarin Chinese. The Zhonghua Book Company published the first ''Cihai'' edition in 1938, and the Shanghai Lexicog ...
'' () dictionary followed Sun Yat-sen in using 2698 as the year of Huangdi's accession; this chronology is now "widely reproduced, with little variation."


Cultural references

* The emperor appears as an ''ancestor hero'' in the
strategy game A strategy game or strategic game is a game (e.g. a board game) in which the players' coercion, uncoerced, and often autonomous, decision-making skills have a high significance in determining the outcome. Almost all strategy games require interna ...
'' Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom'' made by
Sierra Entertainment Sierra Entertainment, Inc. (formerly On-Line Systems and Sierra On-Line, Inc.) was an American video game developer and Video game publisher, publisher founded in 1979 by Ken Williams (game developer), Ken and Roberta Williams. The company is k ...
. In the game, he is a patron of acupuncturist and silk weaver, and has the skills needed for leading men into battle, especially the Chariot-Fort soldiers. * The emperor serves as the hero in
Jorge Luis Borges Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo (; ; 24 August 1899 – 14 June 1986) was an Argentine short-story writer, essayist, poet and translator, as well as a key figure in Spanish literature, Spanish-language and international literatur ...
's story, "The Fauna of the Mirror". British fantasy writer China Miéville used this story as the basis for his novella '' The Tain'', which describes a post-apocalyptic London. "The Tain" was included in Miéville's short-story collection "Looking For Jake" (2005). *The popular Chinese
role-playing video game A role-playing video game (commonly referred to as simply a role-playing game or RPG, as well as a computer role-playing game or CRPG) is a video game genre A video game genre is an informal classification of a video game based on how it i ...
series for the PC, '' Xuanyuan Jian'', revolves around the legendary sword used by the emperor. * The emperor is an important NPC in the
action RPG An action role-playing game (often abbreviated action RPG or ARPG) is a subgenre of video games that combines core elements from both the action game and role-playing video game, role-playing genre. Definition The games emphasize Real-time ...
''
Titan Quest ''Titan Quest'' is an action role-playing game, action role playing hack and slash video game developed by Iron Lore Entertainment for Microsoft Windows. It was published by THQ in 2006. It was released on Steam (service), Steam in 2007, and la ...
'', The player must reach the emperor to learn the truth about
Typhon Typhon (; grc, Τυφῶν, Typhôn, ), also Typhoeus (; grc, Τυφωεύς, Typhōeús, label=none), Typhaon ( grc, Τυφάων, Typháōn, label=none) or Typhos ( grc, Τυφώς, Typhṓs, label=none), was a monstrous serpentine giant an ...
's imprisonment. He also reveals a bit of information about the war between the gods and the titans, while also revealing that he has been following the players actions since the beginning of the
Silk Road The Silk Road () was a network of Eurasia Eurasia (, ) is the largest continental area on Earth, comprising all of Europe and Asia. Primarily in the Northern Hemisphere, Northern and Eastern Hemispheres, it spans from the British Isles a ...
. * A 2016 Chinese drama film about the story of the Yellow Emperor is titled "Xuan Yuan: The Great Emperor" (). (2016)
/ref> * In the Shin Megami Tensei games, Huang Di is a summonable ally. He's created in various means depending on which game he is in.


See also

*
Chinese folk religion Chinese folk religion, also known as Chinese popular religion comprehends a range of traditional religious practices of Han Chinese, including the Chinese diaspora. Vivienne Wee described it as "an empty bowl, which can variously be filled ...
*
Chinese theology Chinese theology, which comes in different interpretations according to the Chinese classics, classic texts and the Chinese folk religion, common religion, and specifically Confucianism, Confucian, Taoism, Taoist and other Chinese philosophy, ph ...
* Emperors Yan and Huang (monument) * Jiutian Xuannü, goddess of war, sex, and longevity as well as teacher of the Yellow Emperor * Simianshen *
Tianxia ''Tianxia'' (), literally meaning "(all) under Tian, Heaven", is a Chinese language, Chinese term for a historical Culture of China, Chinese cultural concept that denoted either the entire geographical world or the metaphysical realm of mortal ...
* Xuanyuanism *
Jade Emperor The Jade Emperor or Yudi ( or , ') in Chinese culture Chinese culture () is one of the world's oldest cultures, originating thousands of years ago. The culture prevails across a large geographical region in East Asia and is extremely div ...


Notes


References


Citations


Sources

; Works cited * * *. *, 0-8018-6183-7. * *. *, 0-674-04808-3. *. *, 0-472-06735-4. * *. * * * (hardback); (paperback). * * * *. * * *. *. *. * *. *. * *. * *. * *; 0-7914-0077-8. *. * *. * * * (hardback), (paperback). * *. *. *. *. * *. *. *. * *. *. *. *, 0-7914-5270-0. *. * *. * * *. *. *. * * * *. *. *. * * *. * *. * *


Further reading

* *. *. * . * . * *. *. *. *. *. {{Authority control Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors Guqin players People from Qufu Health gods Saturnian deities Legendary progenitors Founding monarchs Wufang Shangdi