Royal Uncle Cao

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Cao Guojiu

The youngest of the Eight Immortals, Royal Uncle Cao or Cao Guojiu (pinyin: cáo guó jiù; Wade–Giles: Ts'ao Kuo-ch'iu) is named one of the following:

  • Cao Yi (曹佾 cáo yì) (courtesy name Gongbo (公伯 gōng bó))
  • Cao Jing (曹景 cáo jǐng)
  • Cao Jingxiu (曹景休 cáo jǐng xiū)
  • Cao You (曹友 cáo yǒu).

He was said to be the uncle of the Emperor of the Song Dynasty, being the younger brother of Empress Dowager Cao (曹太后 cáo tàihòu).

In historic records, there were several Emperor-consorts Caos in the Song Empire, but only one became empress: Cishengguangxian Empress (慈聖光獻皇后 cí shèng guāng xiàn huáng hoù) (1015–1079), the wife of the fourth Song emperor, Rénzōng (仁宗), none of whose children became an emperor.

However, this does not render the historical existence of the "Royal Uncle Cao" impossible as in pre-modern China, the address "uncle" also meant "brother-in-law". Sometimes specified as "Wife-uncle" (妻舅 qī jiù) or as a respect, "Little Uncle" (舅子 jiù zǐ). Císhèngguāngxiàn Empress did have a younger brother named Cao Yi in historical record. But the given name of Royal Uncle Cao being Yi as well could be a post hoc.

Cao Guojiu's younger brother Cao Jingzhi (曹景植 cáo jǐng zhí) was a bully, but no one dared to prosecute him because of his powerful connections, not even after he killed a person. Royal Uncle Cao was so overwhelmed by sadness and shame on his brother that he resigned his office and left home.


He is shown in the official's court dress with a jade tablet. Sometimes he holds castanets. His jade tablet can purify the environment. Royal Uncle Cao is considered the patron deity of actors.

Modern references[edit]

In the television show Jackie Chan Adventures, Cao was shown to be the Immortal who sealed away Tchang Zu, The Thunder Demon.

In another television show, Avatar: The Last Airbender, aspects of his life and physical appearance make him extraordinarily similar to the character Iroh.