Kai Tian Axe 开天斧.png

As the story goes, in the beginning, Pan Gu (盘古 pán gǔ) was born in the Primordial Universe where he laid for 18,000 years before waking up surrounded by nothing but absolute chaos. As he felt around blindly his hand found an axe and with one giant swing he separated yin and yang (阴阳 yīn yáng) and the chaos gave way to order, with yin floating up and creating the Heavens (天 tiān), and yang falling down to create the Earth (地 dì).

This story was first recorded in the book "Three Five Historic Records"1 (三五历纪 sān wǔ lì jì) which is thought to have been written between 220–265 ADE, though the fable itself is believed to predate the book by thousands of years.  

1 "Three Five" refers to the "Three August Ones and Five Emperors" (三皇五帝 sān huáng wǔ dì) or the "Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors." These were two groups of mythological rulers or deities in ancient China. The Three Sovereigns lived and ruled before the Five Emperors, each of whom have been assigned dates over an 800 year period from circa 2852 BCE to 2070 BCE. 

In the story "Pan Gu Separates the Sky/Heavens from the Earth" (盘古开天辟地 pán gǔ kāi tiān pì dì), the axe is referred to as the 开天斧 which literally translates to "Open Sky/Heavens Axe." Perhaps a better - but longer winded - translation would be something along the lines of "the Axe that Opened up the Heavens." But the nature of the story begs the question, "where did the axe come from?" To which there are a few schools of thought:

Kai Tian Axe 开天斧 (kāi tiān fǔ)
Status: Legendary Weapon
Gender: NA
Pronunciation: (audio file coming soon)
Best known for: Used by Pan Gu to Split Yin and Yang

Do you have any questions or feedback regarding this content? Get in touch and let me know, I'll get back to you as soon as I can.


All images shown on this website are watermarked for a reason, they are original art work created by the artist shown at the bottom of each image, and are the property of www.chinabeastsandlegends.com. All right reserved. Should you wish to use these images, commerically or otherwise, please contact me.


In addition, all content shown on this website was painstakingly researched and though much of this information is already in the public domain, all of it has been translated and/or interperated by myself and has taken countless hours to create. If you wish to re-use any content, please contact me first and request persmission. Please do not steal.

Home > Collection > Kai Tian Fu

One version of the story states that Pan Gu was born with the axe; an innate and natural treasure2.

2 Another example of a deity that was born with a treasure is Ne Zha (哪吒 né zhā). He was born wearing a golden bracelet on one arm, wrapped in a red sash. Those two treasures were the Universe Ring (乾坤圈 qián kūn quān) and the Armillary Sash (混天绫 hùn tiān líng).

Another version states that one day, when Heaven and Earth had not yet been "opened," a mighty god appeared in the east wielding a great axe that could cut through mountains. With a single slash the axe split the Primordial Universe and yin and yang began to separate. 

And one more version claims that Pan Gu created the axe using one of his teeth. 

Though other versions may exist, these three are amongst the more common interpretations of the story. As for how the story ends for the axe, there are two main sayings; 1. Pan Gu placed the axe in a giant crescent shaped rock in Gu Liang Zhou (古梁州 gǔ liáng zhōu); and 2. Worried that Heaven and Earth would once again merge together, Pan Gu placed his giant axe in the ground which formed a pillar, called Bu Zhou Mountain (不周山 bù zhōu shān), to hold up the Heavens.