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Fu Xi as imagined by 13th century artist Ma Lin.

Fu Xi or Fu Hsi (Chinese: 伏羲; Pinyin: fúxī; aka Paoxi (Simplified Chinese: 庖牺; Traditional Chinese: 庖犧; Pinyin: páoxī), mid 29th century BCE, was the first of the Three Sovereigns (三皇 sānhuáng) of ancient China. He is a culture hero reputed to be the inventor of writing, fishing and trapping.

Early life

Fu Xi was born on the lower-middle reaches of the Yellow River in a place called Chengji (possibly modern Lantian, Shaanxi province or Tianshui, Gansu province).[1]

Creation legend

According to legend, the land was swept by a great flood and only Fu Xi and his sister Nüwa survived. They retired to Kunlun Mountain where they prayed for a sign from the Emperor of Heaven. The divine being approved their union and the siblings set about procreating the human race. It was said that in order to speed up the procreation of humans, Fu Xi and Nüwa found an additional way by using clay to create human figures, and with the power divine being entrusted to them, they made the clay figures to come alive.[1] Fu Xi then came to rule over his descendants, although reports of his long reign vary between sources from 115 years (2852–2737 BCE) to 116 years (2952–2836 BCE).


He lived for 197 years altogether and died at a place called Chen (modern Huaiyang, Henan) where his mausoleum can still be found and visited as a tourist attraction.[1]

Social importance

On one of the columns of the Fu Xi Temple in Henan Province, the following couplet describes Fu Xi's importance: "Among the three primogenitors of Hua-Xia civilization, Fu Xi in Huaiyang Country ranks first.[1] During the time of his predecessor Nüwa (who according to some sources was also his wife and/or sister), society was matriarchal and primitive. Childbirth was seen to be miraculous not requiring the participation of the male and children only knew their mothers. As the reproductive process became better understood ancient Chinese society moved towards a patriarchal system and Fu Xi assumed primary importance.[1]

In the beginning there was as yet no moral or social order. Men knew their mothers only, not their fathers. When hungry, they searched for food; when satisfied, they threw away the remnants. They devoured their food hide and hair, drank the blood, and clad themselves in skins and rushes. Then came Fu Xi and looked upward and contemplated the images in the heavens, and looked downward and contemplated the occurrences on earth. He united man and wife, regulated the five stages of change, and laid down the laws of humanity. He devised the eight trigrams, in order to gain mastery over the world.

Ban Gu, Baihu tongyi[2]

Fu Xi taught his subjects to cook, to fish with nets, and to hunt with weapons made of iron. He instituted marriage and offered the first open air sacrifices to heaven. A stone tablet, dated 160 CE shows Fu Xi with Nüwa.

Traditionally, Fu Xi is considered the originator of the I Ching (also known as the Yi Jing or Zhou Yi), which work is attributed to his reading of the He Map (or the Yellow River Map). According to this tradition, Fu Xi had the arrangement of the trigrams (八卦 bāgùa) of the I Ching revealed to him supernaturally. This arrangement precedes the compilation of the I Ching during the Zhou dynasty. He is said to have discovered the arrangement in markings on the back of a mythical dragon-horse (sometimes said to be a turtle) that emerged from the river Luo. This discovery is said to have been the origin of calligraphy. Fu Xi is also credited with the invention of the Guqin, together with Shennong and Huangdi.

The Figurists viewed Fu Xi as Enoch, the Biblical patriarch. However, the stories contradict each other. According to Mirza Tahir Ahmad, the fourth Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, all Chinese religions are derived from the teachings of Fu Xi.[3]

Modern references

  • Fu Xi made an appearance in the second part of the Hong Kong television series My Date with a Vampire 3. In it, he is also called Ren Wang, or the King of Humanity, with a magical bow and arrow as his weapons. He was sent down from heaven and it is on him whom Nüwa based her creation, humanity. Within the show Nüwa and Fuxi are not married.
  • Fu Xi and his wife/sister Nüwa appear as unlockable characters in the video game Dynasty Warriors 3. Both were portrayed to be disguised as simple humans, but they later return in the sequel of Warriors Orochi, where they received a design more like that of the deities in the game. In Warriors Orochi 2, Fu Xi assists Shima Sakon in saving the Yellow Turbans and Naoe Kanetsugu. He tests Sakon out and later joins his cause, believing he is the chosen one to end Orochi X. He later assists Shima Sakon and the Takeda clan in defeating Orochi at Sekigahara.
  • Fu Xi is featured in the "Conversation on Information Technology over 5000 Years" sculptural panels at the Norwalk Community College Center for Information Technology, near New Haven, Connecticut. They were sculpted by the facility's architect, Barry Svigals.
  • He appears (as Fu-Hsi) on a mural on a wall in Peterborough, East Anglia, England.
  • In the manga Hoshin Engi, he is referenced as Fukki, one of the important characters to appear near the end of the storyline.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Worshiping the Three Sage Kings and Five Virtuous Emperors - The Imperial Temple of Emperors of Successive Dynasties in Beijing. Beijing: Foreign Language Press. 2007. ISBN 978-7-119-04635-8. 
  2. Wilhelm, Richard; Baines, Cary F. (1967). I Ching. 
  3. Taoism
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Fu Xi. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.