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An ancient painting of Nuwa and Fuxi unearthed in Xinjiang.

Fu Xi or Fu Hsi (Chinese: 伏羲pinyin: fúxī; aka Paoxi (simplified Chinese: 庖牺traditional Chinese: 庖犧pinyin: páoxī)), mid 2800s 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. However Cangjie is also said to have invented writing.



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

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 descendents although reports of his long reign vary between sources from 115 years (BCE 2852–2737) to 116 years (BCE 2952–2836).

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

Fu Xi, with the 8 trigrams and a turtle, as imagined by the Song painter Ma Lin

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 AD 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 also said to have been the origin of calligraphy.

Fu Xi is also credited with the invention of the Guqin, together with Shennong and Huang Di.

According to the Figurists Fu Xi was really Enoch, the biblical patriarch. However, the stories contradict each other.

Modern References

Fu Xi as he appears in Koei's Warriors Orochi 2 .
  • Fu Xi made an appearance in the second part of 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 disguising as simple humans, but they later return in the sequel of Warriors Orochi, where they received a design closer to deities. In Warriors Orohi 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.
Fu Xi on a mural in Peterborough
  • In manga Hoshin Engi, he is referenced as Fukki, one of the important characters to appear near the end of the storyline.

See also

Sources, references, external links, quotations

  1. ^ a b c d e Worshiping the Three Sage Kings and Five Virtuous Emperors - The Imperial Temple of Emperors of Successive Dynasties in Beijing. Beijing: Foreign Language Press. ISBN 978-7-119-04635-8.  
  2. ^ Wilhelm, Richard; Baines, Cary F. (1967). I Ching.  
Fu Xi
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Mythological Emperor of China
c 2800 BCE – 2737 BCE
Succeeded by


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