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Red Emperor of China

8 September 2006

In the beginning, there were three Divine Kings and five Legendry Emperors in the East.

According to Book of Latitude (Weishu 纬书) of Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220AD), three Divine Kings are, naturally, the divine beings, and they were King of Heaven (天皇), King of Earth (地皇) and King of Man (人皇) respectively.

But in an alternative Daoist version, there were actually three groups of Divine Kings, reflecting the change or the evolution of the beings.

The first group vaguely assumed human shape; The second group had a clear human face but a dragon or snake body; In the latest group, King of Heaven God Fuxi (伏羲) was credited for formulating Chinese written characters; King of Earth Goddess Nuwa (女娲) is said to be the mother of all mothers; and King of Man Shennong (神农) initiated Chinese civilisation through establishing the farming industry to end the animal hunting business.

As for the Five Legendry Emperors, there are more than two versions, but the following assumptions appear to be the most popular:

  • Green Emperor (青帝太昊 with Wood as his essence) in the east;

  • Red Emperor (赤帝炎帝 with Fire as his essence) in the south;

  • White Emperor (白帝少昊 with metal as his essence) in the west;

  • Black Emperor (玄帝颛顼 with Water as his essence) in the north;

  • Yellow Emperor (黄帝轩辕 with Earth as his essence) in the centre.

Among the Five Emperors, Red Emperor and Yellow Emperor were acting like yin-yang due forces, both opposing and complimenting each other. Together they worked as a great team on laying the foundation of Chinese culture and Chinese nation. Today Chinese Han people all over the world commonly view themselves as the descendants of the Red and Yellow Emperors (炎黄子孙).

Red Emperor’s contributions to the Chinese civilisation are multi-disciplinary. A genius engineer and technician as he was said to be, he invented farming tools and originated porcelain crafts. On top of that, he was also the first drug manufacturer and pharmacist in the Chinese herbal medicine business. And what’s great about him is that he developed his wonder drugs without animal testing. He simply tested on himself.

On September 7, three thousand Chinese in mainland and from overseas gathered at the legendary home town of Red Emperor, Baoji City (宝鸡市), in central China’s Shaanxi Province (陕西省), commemorating the great ancestor of the Chinese nation. The ritual was observed by 25 thousand people.


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