The Red Eyebrows and The Yellow Turbans

Posted: July 6, 2016 in Articles
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What would you think of a band named “The Red Eyebrows” or perhaps “The Yellow Turbans”? Personally, those names don’t seem optimal to me, but some people might disagree. Especially if they liked ancient Chinese history!

Yes, believe it or not, the Red Eyebrows was the name given to one of the first secret societies in Chinese history. The group was formed around AD 11 in the days of Wang Mang of the Xin Dynasty. Wang Mang had just taken the throne from the old Han dynasty, which had already survived for 197 years and would eventually get the throne (again). The Han Dynasty made many changes to how China’s economy worked, and Wang Mang essentially reversed everything, which was bound to result in confusion and annoyance. It did.

Two years after Wang Mang took the throne and made everyone unhappy, bandits thrived and natural disasters abounded. Eventually, the Red Eyebrows appeared and fought Wang Mang’s men who were trying to enforce the laws. Since they didn’t have uniforms, they painted their foreheads red. In AD 23, Wang Mang left his throne to the old Han Dynasty due to all the flooding, drought, famine, bandits, and, of course, the Red Eyebrows.

Later, around AD 179, the Han Dynasty was still in power, and things had, again, gone awry. Another group of people called the Yellow Turbans began to fight for the people of China. This group had a leader named Chang Chueh who said that he could use magic to render his soldiers unable to wound. It gathered people to his side, whether or not it was true. The Yellow Turban rebellion escalated until finally, in 220, the Chinese kingdom under the Han Dynasty split into the three separate kingdoms. The Han Dynasty had lasted for 426 years, but for the next three centuries, there was nothing but endless fighting in its old territory.


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