The Three Immortals, or the Three Sovereigns, were mythological rulers or deities in ancient China. They are referred to as the “Three Sovereigns and the Five Emperors” in various ancient texts, the oldest dating being 94 BC. (“Records of the Great Historian”, real name Shiji, Khan dynasty).
There are several variations of names in the titles “Three Sovereigns” and “Five Emperors”, but in this text from 94 BC. The three sovereigns are listed as follows: “Heavenly Sovereign or Fu Xi,”, “Earth Sovereign or Nuwa” “and” Human Sovereign or Shen Nun” (Shennong ). In another text, which the following myths interpret as “Sovereign Series 帝王 世系” (undated), Fu Xi, Shen Nung, and the Yellow Emperor (Huangdi) are listed for the Three Sovereigns.


The Chinese worship the great civilization of three immortals who closely monitor the needs of the people. These three immortals are Fuxi, Shen Nun and Huangdi, who are at the heart of building this great civilization.

Fuxi was the husband of Nuwa, the dragon goddess who created the first humans from clay. Like her, he had a dragon body and a human head. Fuxi was said to know so much that he could create an entire civilization on his own. Many of his discoveries were inspired by the nature around him. He was the first to give people fire by watching the fires in the forests, he was inspired and with his knowledge he could give this skill. In this way he helped people to prepare and heat food, as well as to warm themselves on cold nights and winter days.

Another invention of Fuxi was the fishing net. He watched the spider build its web and was inspired by it and made the first fishing net. He gave it to people to get food from rivers and seas.

The two discoveries, the net and the fire, made Fuxi realize the importance of nature. From it all kinds of raw materials and ways of survival and life could be found. Like the sky: it could tell if it would rain or be sunny, and the earth could tell if it would be fertile and what could grow from it when properly cultivated. He was heavily inspired by all the knowledge of the forces of nature that he was the first to create the first writing system in China.

The eight trigrams (ba gua) was the name of this system. Trigrams were a series of symbols consisting of three dashes drawn in different combinations. Some claim that Fuxi was inspired by the eight winds, but perhaps the truest thing was that he wanted to preserve the knowledge of nature: a sign of heaven, earth, water, fire, mountains, storm, wind, and swamp.

At the heart of the writing system were the eight symbols, so it became more and more complex and evolved, until finally people could write everything from the world around them. People even gave them magical power, and on this system they made predictions for the future.

Fuxi draws and thinks over the trigram, Guo Xu, Ming Dynasty

Shennong/Shen Nun

People followed Fuxi’s example of observing nature. This provided them with edible plants and drinking water, but they did not always find the right plants to eat. And so they sometimes rubbed and died, at best the plants did not taste good.

Shen Nun (in Japanese Shinno) tastes herbs to understand their properties; Japanese painting from the 19th century.

Shennong , the god of agriculture, intervened and helped solve this problem. He directed them to certain grains that could be sown and harvested, explained to them the different types of soils: fertile, barren, well drained, too moist or dry, so that they could better judge whether they were suitable for plant growing. Thus the food dies were reduced, and people began to become better and better farmers, and agriculture as a whole became a good food for them. Settlements in China became wealthy and their numbers increased significantly.

Shen Nun did not yield to the knowledge of nature from Fuxi himself. Over time, people consulted Shen Nun about plant species that were suitable for collecting, growing, and diversifying food. They stopped eating unfamiliar plants, except when they consulted him about their suitability.

In turn, Shen Nun decided to try all plant species in China. He understood who are harmless, who are not; which are bitter or sweet; which are edible. In this endeavor, Shen Nun was not afraid to be poisoned in the experiments, as he was immortal and could not be killed by poisonous plants, but once, due to the great variety, he fell ill seventy times in one day.

The collected knowledge, God gave to the people. Thus, they gained knowledge about herbs and plants, and began to eat healthy and varied. They knew which fruits were picked during which seasons, which vegetables, roots and leaves to take and prepare.

Shen Nun noticed that all this was too laborious, and to help them once again, he gave them an invention – the plow. Thus, agricultural work was facilitated in plowing and sowing various kinds of fruits and vegetables, and in feeding thanks to all the knowledge of Shen Nun foods.


Huangdi, also known as the Yellow Emperor, was the last of the three mythical bearers of civilization in China. This was the first emperor of a united China, and legend has it that he was called the Yellow Emperor because of the symbolism of the color yellow, which is associated with the earth as a natural element. Huangdi, however, was born as a human being, unlike Fuxi and Shen Nun, who were born as gods.

However, his birth began with a miracle – his mother became pregnant when she saw lightning strike a star, and Huangdi was born twenty months later. As he grew older, he marked a life of battles with numerous enemies in a series of heavy wars, but eventually imposed his rule over all of China.

Huangdi / Yellow Emperor Wood Stamp, Tang Dynasty, 618-907

As he was born by a miracle, so it was as if his rule was marked by all sorts of miracles. Such as strange inventions by his court scientists, one of which was to observe the moon and stars, and hence the creation of the first Chinese time and calendar counting system. The country is thriving, and the crafts of pottery and woodcarving are reaching perfection. For millennia, Huangdi was mentioned as the father of Chinese civilization.

He ruled the country for about a century and died about one hundred and eleven years of age. A dragon carried the body after his death, which flew into the sky and disappeared into the distance away from the sight of his subordinates. There was no doubt that Heaven had taken him and made him a deity. The first man became immortal.