Yellow Emperor

Yellow Emperor

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Huangdi, or the Yellow Emperor, is a legendary Chinese sovereign and cultural hero who is considered in Chinese mythology to be the ancestor of all Han Chinese. One of the legendary Five Emperors, it was written in the "Shiji" by historian Sima Qian (145 BC-90 BC) that Huangdi reigned from 2497 BC to 2398 BC. He emerged as a chief deity of Taoism during the Han Dynasty (202 BC-220 AD). The legend of his victory in the war against Emperor Chi You at the Battle of Zhuolu is seen as the establishment of the Han Chinese nationality.

Among his many accomplishments, Huangdi has been credited with the invention of the principles of Traditional Chinese medicine. The "Huangdi Neijing" (黄帝内經 "Inner Canon of Huangdi") was supposedly composed in collaboration with his physician Qibo. However, modern historiographers generally consider it to have been compiled from ancient sources by a scholar living between the Zhou and Han dynasties, more than 2,000 years later.

His interest in natural health and preventing and treating diseases, according to historical sources, meant he lived to the age of 100, and attained immortality after his physical death.


In the legend, his wife Lúo Zǔ taught the Chinese how to weave the silk from silkworms, and his historian Cāng Jié created the first Chinese characters.

His conception was supposed to have been signaled by a thunderclap on a clear day by the Heavens.

Legend says that Huangdi became the leader of his tribe which bore the totem of a bear. His tribe went to war with a neighboring tribe bearing the totem of a bull, headed by Yandi. Huangdi, through his superior military and leadership skills won the war and subdued Yandi's tribe. The two tribes united and became one. Legend then says that the Chinese civilization began with these two tribes.

Huangdi's people were then threatened by a tribe under the leadership of Chi You, who was said to have magical powers and had 81 brothers, each having 4 eyes and 8 arms wielding terrible sharp weapons in every hand. Huangdi called upon 8 neighboring tribes to join forces with him and sent the combined army to meet Chi You and his brothers. The two great armies fought for days without a clear winner. Just as Huangdi's army began to turn the tide of battle, Chi You breathed out a thick fog and obscured the sunlight. Huangdi's army fell into disarray and could not find its way out of the battlefield. At this critical moment, Huangdi invented the South Pointing Chariot, and ordered its construction on the battlefield. With the South Pointing Chariot, Huangdi was able to lead his army out of the fog. Chi You then conjured up a heavy storm. Huangdi then called upon the gods who blew away the storm clouds and cleared the battlefield. Huangdi then was able to defeat Chi You and his tribe once and for all.

With this great victory, Huangdi not only safeguarded his own tribe, but the tribes of his allies. The 9 Tribes joined together as one tribe under the leadership of Huangdi.

Huangdi lived to 100 years of age. He was said to have had 25 children, 14 of whom were sons. Of these 14 sons, 12 chose last names for themselves. It is also said that all the noble families of the first 3 dynasties of China, Xia, Shang, and Zhou were direct descendants of Huangdi.

When Huangdi had lived to 100 years of age, he arranged his worldly affairs with his ministers, and prepared for his journey to the Heavens. One version said a Dragon came down from the Heaven and took Huangdi away. Another version said Huangdi himself turned into half-man and half Dragon and flew away.

The South Pointing Chariot was a 2 wheeled war chariot that had a pole in the center of the carriage. A small figurine stood on top of the pole. A set of gears connected the 2 wheels to the pole, so that no matter which way the chariot turned, the figurine on the pole always pointed at a preset direction, usually South. The South Pointing Chariot did not require magnetism to work, and in models was depicted as the earliest form of the differential gearing system as found in modern automobile transmission systems.

He is also said to have played a part in the creation of the Guqin, together with Fuxi and Shennong, and to have invented the earliest form of the Chinese calendar, and its current sexagenary cycles are counted based on his reign.

Huang Di captured Bai Ze atop Mount Dongwang. The beast described to him all the 11,520 types of monsters, shapeshifters, demons, and spirits in the world. Huang Di's retainer recorded this in pictures, which later became the book "Bai Ze Tu", which no longer exists. [ [ Haku-taku or Bai Ze] ]

In legend, Ling Lun gave the emperor flutes tuned to the sounds of birds, which is said to be the foundation of Chinese traditional music.

Religious views

Huangdi is an important figure in Chinese religions, particularly Taoism and Confucianism.He introduced the earliest form of martial arts into China, because he was also good in medicine, and he knew that the art was beneficial for both good health and self-defense.Ye Shuxian(叶舒宪) associated the Yellow Emperor with the bear legends among northeast Asia people and the Dangun legend. [《龙图腾:中国祖先神话探源》, 上海文艺出版社, edition July 2007]


One explanation is that Huang Di was euhemerized from a mythical god during the early Zhou Dynasty into a legendary emperor during the late Zhou dynasty—his legendary deeds embellished along the way.

Popular culture

*Huang Di appears as a god in the strategy game made by Sierra Entertainment, now a division of Vivendi. In the game he is a patron of hunting and has the skills needed for leading men into battle.

*There have been TV dramas made in mainland China depicting the life of Huang Di. However, their historical accuracy is questionable. They are semi-fictional because their focus is mainly on martial arts, Wuxia and drama.

*Huangdi serves as the hero in Jorge Luis Borges' 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 recently included in Miéville's short story collection "Looking For Jake."

*The popular Chinese RPG series for PC, Xuanyuan Jian, revolves around the legendary sword used by Huang Di.



* [ Huangdi]

See also

* Emperor of China
* Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors
* The tomb of Yellow Emperor
* Descendants of Yan & Yellow Emperors (Yan Huang Zi Sun; Chinese: 炎黃子孫)
* Chinese folk religion

External links

* [ Huang Clan Genealogy from the Yellow Emperor]

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