Zhuanxu (simplified Chinese: 颛顼; traditional Chinese: 顓頊; pinyin: Zhuānxū), also known as Gaoyang (高陽), was a mythological emperor of ancient China.

Personal information

The Yellow Emperor (Huangdi) had a son, Changyi, with his wife Leizu, and Changyi was the father of Zhuanxu. Zhuanxu's uncles and his father, the sons of Huangdi, were bypassed and Zhuanxu was selected as heir to Huangdi. Zhuanxu defeated the ruler Gonggong. Gonggong's ancestor was Emperor Yan.


He made contributions to a unified calendar, astrology, religion reforms to oppose shamanism, upheld the patriarchal (as opposed to the previous matriarchal) system, and forbade close-kin marriage. Zhuanxu is held by many to be one of the Five Emperors.

Zhuanxu was succeeded by his cousin's son, Ku. In the Shiji, he criticized one of his sons for being a dullard. Since only two sons were named, it might have been Gun, father of Yu the Great or Qiongchan, the ancestor of Shun. Yao had also criticized Gun for being incompetent and ruinous. The Shiji labelled Qiongchan an insignificant commoner though it does not mention how he fell from grace. He also had eight unnamed sons of good repute that later worked for Shun.

According to the Wei Shu and Tung Pa, the Cao family of cao wei were descended from Huangdi via Emperor Zhuanxu, from which the Cao family originated. They were of the same lineage as to Emperor Shun. Another account says that the Cao family was descended from Shun. This account was attacked by Chiang Chi who claimed it was people of the Tian 田 surname who were descended from Shun and not the Cao. He also claimed (Gui) Kuei was Shun's family name.

In the Chinese ritual and calendar system

Since Zhuan Xu was claimed to be a forefather of the royal Qin house, his name was taken for inauguration of the new calendar system by the First Emperor.

In mythology

Zhuanxu is also mentioned as a Polar Star god and father of Taowu "the Block".

Last update 15-06-2012

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