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Title: Shaohao  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors, Yíng, Yellow Emperor, Family tree of ancient Chinese emperors, Zhuanxu
Collection: 26Th-Century Bc Rulers, Chinese Mythology, People from Qufu
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


In the Temple of Shaohao, at his supposed grave site (Qufu, Shandong)

Shaohao (少昊), also known as Shao Hao, Jin Tian or Xuanxiao, was a Chinese emperor in 2600 BC. According to some traditions (for example the Book of Documents), he is a member of the Five Emperors.

Legend says that his mother, a weaver goddess, was a beautiful fairy named Huang'e who fell in love with the planet Venus while drifting along the Milky Way. The two enjoyed many intimate nights together on her raft and they created a son. She soon gave birth to Shaohao, who grew up to be a handsome young man with a lot of potential. His great uncle, the Yellow Emperor, was so impressed with him that he named him god of the Western Heavens.

The myth says that Shaohao created a kingdom in the five mountains of the Eastern Paradise that was inhabited by different types of birds. As the ruler of this bureaucratic land, he captured the identity of a vulture. Other birds worked below him, such as a phoenix as his Lord Chancellor, a hawk that delegated the law, and a pigeon that was in charge of education. He chose the four seasons of the year to watch over the remaining birds.

A stone-faced pyramid at the Shaohao Tomb near Qufu

Although his kingdom was successful for many years, he moved back to the west and left his kingdom of birds to his son Chong. With a different son, Ru Shou, he made his home on Changliu Mountain, where he could rule over the Western Heavens. In union as father and son, they were responsible for the daily setting of the sun. In addition, Shaohao was thought to have introduced China to the twenty-five string lute.

Apart from legends, Shaohao is generally considered the son of the Yellow Emperor.[1] He was the leader of the Dongyi, where he shifted their capital to Qufu, Shandong. Ruling for eighty-four years, he was succeeded by his nephew Zhuanxu.

According to the Records of the Grand Historian, there was no emperor (Chinese: ) between the Yellow Emperor and Zhuanxu; however, Shaohao is mentioned as a person living between the two who was fretting over a dishonest son. He is usually identified as Xuanxiao (玄囂), the oldest son of the Yellow Emperor found earlier in the text. That would identify the dishonest son as Jiaoji (蟜極), Xuanxiao's only known offspring, who was also passed over as emperor. Jiaoji's son, Ku, and grandsons (Zhi and Yao) did become emperors though.

Shaohao's tomb, most likely built during the Song dynasty in the form of a large pyramid, is traditionally located in present-day Jiuxian ("old prefecture") village, on the eastern outskirts of Qufu.


  1. ^ Patricia Buckley Ebrey (2003). Women and the family in Chinese history. Volume 2 of Critical Asian scholarship (illustrated ed.). Psychology Press. p. 171.  
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Yellow Emperor
Emperor of China
c. 2597 BC – c. 2514 BC
Succeeded by
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