History for Kids >> Ancient China
The Three Sovereigns and the Five Emperors
Chinese mythology tells us about the first legendary rulers of Ancient China. These wise men and demigods ruled long before the first Chinese dynasty.
The Three Sovereigns were powerful demigods who lived to be very old and brought peace and prosperity to the land during their rule.
- Fu Xi - Fu Xi was said to have invented fishing, trapping, and writing. His sister was Nuwa. It was Fu Xi and Nuwa who crafted the first humans out of clay.
- Nuwa - Nuwa was the sister of Fu Xi. She helped him to create humans and also repaired the wall of heaven.
- Shennong - Shennong's name means "Divine Farmer". He brought the knowledge of agriculture to the Chinese people. He invented the plow, axe, hoe, irrigation, and the Chinese calendar.
The Five Emperors were perfect kings who ruled wisely and with honor. The most famous of the Five Emperors was the Yellow Emperor. He ruled for 100 years and brought about the start of the Chinese civilization. In addition to the Yellow Emperor were Zhuanzu, Emperor Ku, Emperor Yao, and Shun.
The Yellow Emperor by Unknown
The greatest creature in Chinese mythology is the legendary dragon. The dragon is a long snake-like creature with four legs each with long and dangerous claws. Some dragons are drawn with small wings, but they all have the magical power to fly. Dragons were thought to have power over water and the weather. They can control storms, tornadoes, the ocean, and floods.
The dragon was the symbol of the emperor. His throne was even called the Dragon Throne. It is said that the Yellow Emperor turned into a dragon and flew to heaven when he died.
Chinese Dragon by Tsange
Legend of the New Year
The legend of the Chinese New Year began in a small village many thousands of years ago. Each winter a monster named Nian would enter the village and attack the people. The villagers were scared and didn't know what to do. Then one year a wise old man figured out a plan. The next time Nian appeared the people used fireworks and drums to make a lot of noise. These noises scared off the monster and it fled into the hills.
The people of the village celebrated the day that they freed themselves from the monster. Each year they would light fireworks and celebrate their victory. This day became the start of the Spring Festival and the Chinese New Year.
Interesting Facts about Chinese Mythology
- Only the emperor could wear clothes that had pictures of the dragon.
- Nian was said to have the body of a bull and the head of a lion.
- Sometimes the Yellow Emperor was considered one of the Three Sovereigns.
- The Three Sovereigns are also known as the Three August Ones.
- Some records show that the Three Sovereigns each ruled for over 10,000 years.
- It was the Yellow Emperor's wife, Leizu, who taught the Chinese how to make silk from silkworms.
- Emperor Yao was said to have been morally perfect and served as the example of how all future Chinese emperors should behave.
For more information on the civilization of Ancient China:
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