A colorful ceremony honors the prehistoric Yellow Emperor, known as the “forefather of all Chinese”

“It was solemn, transcendent, and powerful, and it made me feel proud to be Chinese,” said Ji Deqiang, an attendee at the twice-annual Grand Worship Ceremony of the Xuanyuan Yellow Emperor in Xiandu, Zhejiang province—“especially,” he added, “since the Emperor’s surname was also Ji.”

Known as the father of Chinese civilization, Xuanyuan, or the Yellow Emperor, is a mythical ruler said to have invented animal husbandry and united the warring tribes in what eventually became today’s China. Throughout history, emperors, nobles, and ordinary families alike vied to be acknowledged as direct descendants of the prehistoric patriarch, but his cult fell out of favor after the PRC’s founding.

Since the 1980s, the Emperor’s image has been gradually revived to create a symbol of common heritage among mainland, Taiwanese, and overseas Chinese through half a dozen folk celebrations staged across China. Usually held around the Qingming “Tomb Sweeping” Festival in spring, these festivals commemorate many achievements of the sage ruler whose legend has been handed down over thousands of years.

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Gopa Biswas Caesar is a contributing writer at The World of Chinese.

author Hatty Liu

Hatty Liu is the managing editor of The World of Chinese, and an award-winning communications researcher. Born in China, and raised in China, Canada, and the US, she leverages her cross-cultural identity to create more empathetic knowledge across national boundaries.

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