San Miao


San Miao is the name of the tribe from the Yellow Emperor to Yao Shun Yu era in the ancient Chinese legend. It is also called “You Miao”. It was mainly distributed between Dongting Lake (present-day northern Hunan) and Pengli Lake (present-day Poyang Lake in Jiangxi), that is, south of the middle reaches of the Yangtze River.

Archaeological Discoveries of Sanmiao
Historical Records

It is recorded in “The Records of the Grand Historian, Volume I – The First Book of the Five Emperors” that “when Huan Dou told Gong Gong Gong, Yao said no and tried the Gong Gong division, Gong Gong was really obnoxious. The four Father Father to cure the flood, Yao thought not, Yue strong please try it, try it and no success, so the people inconvenience. Three Miao in Jianghuai, Jingzhou number of chaos, so Shun returned to the emperor, please flow Gong Gong in You Ling, to change the northern Di; release Huan Dou in Chong Shan, to change the southern barbarians; move three Miao in three dangerous, to change the Western Rong; put Jiu Ji in Yu Mountain, to change the Eastern barbarians: four sins and the world salty.”

Here is a translation of Xie Huiquan and Zhang Deping: “Huan Dou had recommended Gong Gong, Yao said ‘no’, but Huan Dou still tried him as a worker, Gong Gong really indulged in evil and seclusion. Jiu Jiu was recommended by Si Yue to cure the flood, Yao said ‘no’, but Si Yue insisted to try, but after trying it, it did not work, so all the officials thought it was not suitable. The three Miao were in rebellion in the river and Huai valley and Jingzhou area many times. At that time, Shun came back from his tour and reported to Emperor Yao, requesting that Gong Gong be exiled to You Ling to turn it into Northern Di; Huan Dou be exiled to Chong Shan to turn it into Southern Barbarian; San Miao be relocated to Great San Dangerous Mountain to turn it into Western Rong; and Jiu Ji be exiled to Yu Shan to turn it into Eastern Yi. After punishing these four sinners, the whole world was convinced.” This may be the reason why Sanmiao was relocated, and is one of the historical accounts of Sanmiao.

Legend says

In the time of Yao, the three Miao were in rebellion, so Yao sent troops to conquer them and fought in Danshui, defeating the three Miao. In the time of Yu, San Miao defied him and Yu fought a great battle with San Miao that lasted 70 days, and San Miao disappeared from historical records. Since then, the activities of San Miao are no longer found in historical records.

The Six Towers says: “Yao fought the Miao at Danshui”, while the Lü Shi Chunqiu – Zhaoxu says: “Yao fought Danshui to subdue the southern barbarians”. Some scholars believe that the three Miao in the ancient books were originally in the north and had nothing to do with the southwestern minorities of later times.


In Jiangxi Province, south of the Yangtze River, there have been many families with the surname Gui since the Han Dynasty to the Tang Dynasty, and according to the testimony of scholars, they may be descendants of the Sanmiao. It is said on the “Qianfu Theory” written by Wang Fu, a scholar of the Eastern Han Dynasty, that “the Gui, after the Sanmiao”, means exactly that.

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