Liu Taigong

Liu Taigong (Chinese:劉太公), personal name Liu Tuan (Chinese:劉煓), was the father of Liu Bang (Emperor Gaozu of Han).

Liu Taigong
Born282 BC
Feng (present-day Feng County, Jiangsu)
Died197 BC (aged 85)
SpouseWang Hanshi
Lady Li
IssueLiu Bo
Liu Xi
Emperor Gaozu
Liu Jiao
Empress Zhao'ai
FatherLiu Ren


Not much is recorded about Taigong historically. He was born and likely lived his early life in present-day Feng County, Jiangsu. His personal name is not known. Some historical sources says his name is Liu Zhijia (Chinese:劉執嘉), although this name is likely chosen after Liu Bang became Emperor. He likely came from a humble, rural background.

After Taigong's son Liu Bang became emperor, Liu Bang continued to visit his father once a week. However, upon hearing from an advisor that it was no longer appropriate for Taigong to "receive" his son, as Taigong was technically one of his subjects, Taigong began to greet his son in deprecatory fashion, honoring the latter's status as emperor. Upon learning the reason behind his father's actions, Liu Bang honored Taigong with the title Taishang Huang after Liu Bang declared himself emperor. The title nominally elevated Liu's status in court protocol as to remain consistent with Confucian norms of filial piety.

Taigong died at a palace in the city of Yueyang in 197 BC.

He is entombed in present-day Lintong District, Xi'an.

The "Tomb of the Grand Emperor of Han" (漢太上皇陵), in Xi'an, Shaanxi


Consorts and Issue:

  • Wang Hanshi (王含始), also known as Liu Ao (劉媪, "Old woman Liu"), posthumously honored as Empress Zhaoling (昭靈皇后)
    • Liu Bo, Prince Wu'ai (武哀王 劉伯; b. 262 BC), first son
    • Liu Xi, Prince Qing of Wu (吳頃王 劉喜; 260–193 BC), second son
    • Empress Zhao'ai (昭哀皇后)
    • Liu Bang, Emperor Gao (高皇帝 劉邦; 256–195 BC), third son
  • Retired Empress, of the Li clan (太上皇后 李氏), formerly a concubine
    • Liu Jiao, Prince Yuan of Chu (楚元王 劉交; d. 179 BC), fourth son


Liu Qing
Liu Ren
Liu Taigong (282–197 BC)


Honorary titles
New title Retired Emperor of China
201 BC – 197 BC
Title next held by
Emperor Hui of Jin