Sun Hanhua
Fuchun County, Yangzhou, Eastern Wu
Mount Maoshan, Eastern Wu (legendary)
ParentSun Xi (father)
DynastyEastern Wu
TempleMaoshan Chongxi Temple
Senior posting
Period in officeThree Kingdoms period
  • Chen Shijing, various others
PostTaoist Practitioner

Sun Hanhua (孫寒華, birth and death dates unknown) was a female Taoist during the Three Kingdoms period in the state of Eastern Wu, which was located in present-day China. She hailed from Fuchun County in Yangzhou, Wu Commandery. Her grandfather was Sun Ben, a distant cousin of Sun Quan (the founder of Eastern Wu) while her father was Sun Xi.[1] She was said to have been a disciple of Du Qi.[2]

Sun Hanhua, a historical figure whose life is primarily enshrouded in the annals of Taoist legends, has garnered mention in various historical accounts. Notably, her presence is conspicuously absent from the canonical "Records of the Three Kingdoms," a foundational historical text. Instead, her narrative has been pieced together from alternative historical records and the rich tapestry of legends surrounding her life as a Taoist practitioner. These narratives collectively illuminate her legacy and contribution to the historical milieu of Eastern Wu during the Three Kingdoms era. Some of the mentions say that Hualao Mountain is where the granddaughter of the founder of the state of Wu achieved immortality, that granddaughter would be Sun Hanhua..[3]


In her youth, Sun Hanhua shared a deep affection with Li Du, who held the position of the Commandant of Trustworthiness. The two of them eloped to Jian'an (modern-day Jianning County, Fujian), seeking refuge with Zhang Yi, a relative of Li Du, to escape from the turmoil. After the situation had settled, they chose to live in seclusion on Mount Maoshan.

As Li Du honed his skills in Taoist arts under the guidance of Jie Yan, Sun Hanhua, along with Chen Shijing, became disciples of Li Du and learned the ways of Taoism from him. Sun Hanhua was said to have retained her youthful appearance thanks to a technique called the "Xuanbai Method." This method, which involved the circulation of dark energy within the mud pellet, white energy within the heart, and yellow energy within the navel throughout the body from dawn until noon, allowed her to maintain her youthful appearance. As the "Xuanbai Method" prohibited sexual relations, Sun Hanhua abstained from such activities even when alone with Li Du.[4]

Sun Hanhua and her fellow disciples sometimes descended from the mountains to trade for clothing and food in nearby villages, but people were completely unaware of their true identities. It is said that Sun Hanhua traveled through various mountains of Wu for over a decade and eventually ascended into the sky from Huahua Mountain, becoming an immortal.[5]

Sun Hanhua, Zhang Jiangzi (sister of Zhang Ji), Li Huigu (wife of Xiahou Xuan), Shi Shunü (daughter of Zhu Ji), and Zheng Tiansheng (mother of Deng Zhi) were all renowned female Taoists known for their virtuous deeds during that era.

Xuanbai Method

The Xuanbai Method involved circulating dark energy within a mud pellet, white energy within the heart, and yellow energy within the navel throughout the body from dawn until noon. By understanding white to protect black and black to protect white, this technique was believed to achieve eternal life and the elimination of all malevolent forces. Taboos included consuming the meat of the six domestic animals (horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, dogs, and chickens) and the five pungent vegetables (onions, garlic chives, garlic, hot leeks, and peppers). Additionally, it was forbidden to share a sleeping space with family members or engage in sexual relations.[3]

Notable mentions

  1. ^ Sun Xi may also be identified as the son of Sun Ben, which is another name for Sun Quan. In "Zhen Gao, Volume Thirteen," it is noted that Sun Hanhua was the daughter of Sun Ben, also known as Sun Xi, who was the son of Sun Quan, the King of Shanyin. The discrepancy in names might be attributed to a nickname. Sun Quan had four sons, none of whom were named Sun Xi, and only Sun Lin, Sun An, Sun Xi, and Sun Ji are recorded. Sun Xi might have been an alternative name, or it could be a reference to a royal title.
  2. ^ In the "Yunji Qiqian," Du Qi is described as a native of Jingzhao (modern-day Xi'an), who crossed the Yangtze River to join Sun Ce and later served Sun Quan as the Commandant of Trustworthiness. In the second year of the Huangwu era (AD 223), he began studying Taoist arts under Jie Yan and excelled at the Huangbai Method, allowing him to become adept at concealing his presence. He eventually took up residence east of Maoshan Mountain, and while he lived with his disciples, they engaged in woodcutting and mountain trading, with the outside world remaining unaware of their activities.
  3. ^ a b "Hongzhi Jurong County Records" mention: "Hualao Mountain, in front of Maoshan Chongxi Temple, was once a place where Wu Emperor's granddaughter, Sun Hanhua, practiced cultivation and ascended into the sky, hence its name."
  4. ^ The "Zhen Gao" notes that Du Qi had two disciples, one of whom was Sun Hanhua. In her early days, Sun Hanhua initially fled to Jian'an but later returned to Maoshan Mountain. After learning the Huangbai Method, she retained a youthful appearance. Even now, the master and disciple remain together. The Huangbai Method strictly prohibits sexual activity, which Sun Hanhua abstained from after becoming a disciple.
  5. ^ "Yunji Qiqian" states: Sun Hanhua, a native of Wu, was the daughter of Sun Xi. Her master was Du Qi, who taught her the Xuanbai Method. Over the years, her appearance gradually diminished, and she traveled through various mountains of Wu and Yue for more than a decade before attaining the way of immortality and ascending.