Han Zigao

Han Zigao (Chinese: 韩子高; pinyin: Hán Zi Gāo) (538-567), formerly known as Han Manzi (韓蠻子), was a Chinese general. He is recorded in history for his beauty and for being the favorite lover of Emperor Wen of Chen.[1]

Han Zigao
Han Manzi

Died567 (aged 28–29)
  • Han Yanqing (father)


Han Zigao was born as Han Manzi (韓蠻子) in 538. He was born in Jingshi Jiankang (now Nanjing, Jiangsu). His father, Han Yanqing, was a farmer. He was well known because of his beauty even from a young age; it was said that he was good-looking like a 'beautiful girl'. Living during war times he experienced many dangerous situations, however on many occasions, when soldiers approached him they saw his beauty and could not bring themselves to hurt him.[1][2]

Around 554, when he was 16-years-old, he met the future Emperor Wen of Chen, by then only a general. Chen was deeply attracted to Han Zigao's breath-taking beauty and urged him to go with him, promising the boy a life of wealth.[1][3] After entering Chen's service, the last gave him a new name, Zigao, and made him his personal assistant. Not long after, Han Zigao became his favorite lover.[3]

The two pixiu statues outside Emperor Chen's tomb, believed to represent Emperor Chen and Han Zigao.

Chen was a short-tempered person, but it was said that every time he became angry, he would look at Han Zigao and calm down. Han learnt military skills quickly and became Chen's right-hand man. One day, Chen promised to Han: "people say I am destined to be an Emperor, if it comes true, you will become my queen."[1] Chen became an Emperor in 559, but he was unable to keep his promise, and instead he made him a general. Han Zigao spent all his time with Chen until he died in 566.[3] Less than a year after Chen's death, Han Zigao plotted with the official Dao Zhongju against Chen's younger brother and future emperor Chen Xu, who's power in the imperial court began to worry some officials. The plot was however exposed and Han was forced to commit suicide as punishment.

Outside the tomb of Chen, discovered in 2013,[4] two statues of pixiu were found, different from the usual male and female design, since both of them are male.[1] Female counterpart of this mythological species are known as bìxié; the only difference being that the females have a pair of horns on their heads.[5]

In popular cultureEdit

He was first recorded in Book of Chen, the official history of the Chen dynasty.[6]

A web film based on Han Zigao's story, Han Zi Gao - The Male Queen, was released in 2016. The film was directed by Li Jinlun and stars Wang Yichen and Shao Shuai as Han Zigao and Chen, respectively.[7]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e "Pretty men in history". The World of Chinese. Retrieved June 4, 2019.
  2. ^ Gascoigne, Bamber (2003). The dynasties of China: A history. Carroll & Graf Publishers. New York. ISBN 978-0786712199.
  3. ^ a b c "韩子高". Todayon History. Retrieved June 4, 2019.
  4. ^ "Protests halt excavation on ancient mausoleum". China.org. Retrieved June 5, 2019.
  5. ^ Bates, Roy (2008). "Chapter 7". 29 Chinese Mysteries. Beijing, China: TuDragon Books, Ltd. pp. 46–52.
  6. ^ Chaussende, Damien (2015). "Chen shu 陳書". In Dien, Albert E; Chennault, Cynthia Louise; Knapp, Keith Nathaniel; Berkowitz, Alan J (eds.). Early Medieval Chinese Texts: A Bibliographical Guide. Berkeley: Institute of East Asian Studies University of California. pp. 44–47.
  7. ^ "韩子高 (2016)". Baidu Baike. Retrieved June 4, 2019.