3 Sovereigns and 5 Emperors

Xia Dynasty 2070-1600 BCE

Shang Dynasty 1600-1046 BCE

Zhou Dynasty 1122-256 BCE

Western Zhou

Eastern Zhou

Spring and Autumn Period

Warring States Period



Qin Dynasty 221 BCE-206 BCE

Han Dynasty 206 BCE-220 CE

Western Han

Xin Dynasty

Eastern Han

Three Kingdoms 220-280

Wei, Shu & Wu

Jin Dynasty 265-420

Western Jin

Eastern Jin

16 Kingdoms 304-439

Southern & Northern Dynasties 420-589

Sui Dynasty 581-619

Tang Dynasty 618-907

5 Dynasties &

10 Kingdoms 907-960

Liao Dynasty 907-1125

Song Dynasty 960-1279

Northern Song

W. Xia Dyn.

Southern Song

Jin Dyn.

Yuan Dynasty 1271-1368

Ming Dynasty 1368-1644

Qing Dynasty 1644-1911

The Three Sovereigns

The Three Sovereigns, sometimes known as the Three August Ones, were said to be god-kings or demigods who used their magical powers to improve the lives of their people. Because of their lofty virtue they lived to a great age and ruled over a period of great peace.

The Three Sovereigns are ascribed various identities in different Chinese historical texts. The Records of the Grand Historian by Sima Qian states that they were:
* The Heavenly Sovereign;
* The Earthly Sovereign;
* The Human Sovereign.

The Yundou shu and Yuanming bao identify them as:
* Fuxi;
* Nüwa;
* Shennong.

Fuxi and Nüwa are respectively the god and goddess husband and wife credited with being the ancestors of humankind after a devastating flood. The invention of the Primal Arrangement of the Eight Trigrams (Xian Tian Ba Gua) is attributed to Fuxi. Shennong invented farming and was the first to use herbs for medical purposes.

The I Ching, starts like this: "In the old times of King Fuxi's regime, he observed sky and the stars when he looks upwards, and researched the earth when he looks downwards, and watched the birds and beasts to see how they live in their environment. He took examples from nearby and far away, and then made 8 Yin Yang signs to simulate the rules of universe. After Fuxi died, Shennong rises. He made Plow and teach people how to raise crops and fishing. He invented money and market for the exchange of goods."

The Shangshu dazhuan and Baihu tongyi replace Nüwa with Suire, the inventor of fire. The Diwang shiji replaces Nüwa with the Yellow Emperor, the supposed ancestor of all Han Chinese people.

The Pure One, the Supreme God-King and Creator

The Yellow Emperor, the Earthly Sovereign