Zhao Mo

Zhao Mo
Triệu Mạt

Zhao Mo's jade burial suit with red silk, on display in Guangzhou
King of Nam Việt
Reign 137–122 BC
Predecessor Zhao Tuo
Successor Zhao Yingqi
Full name
Chinese: ; pinyin: Zhao Mo; Vietnamese: Triệu Mạt;
Temple name
Chinese: ; pinyin: Zhào Wén Dì; Vietnamese: Triệu Văn Đế
Dynasty Nanyue

Zhao Mo (Chinese: 趙眜; Vietnamese: Triệu Mạt) was the second ruler of the kingdom of Nanyue. It included parts of southern China, as well as northern Vietnam. His capital was Panyu, modern Guangzhou. The culture of the kingdom encouraged assimilation between the native Yue and immigrant Chinese. Zhao Mo was a grandson of Zhao Tuo (who had outlived his sons). Compared to his grandfather, Zhao Mo was considered a weak king and allowed Nanyue to fall under the influence of China. (In traditional history, his political weakness is treated as a reflection of personal moral failing.) His rule began in 137 BC and ended with his death in 122 BC. In Chinese history, Nanyue is considered to be a Chinese kingdom. But in Vietnam, he is considered to be a ruler of the Triệu Dynasty and a king of Vietnam.


Records from this period were written in classical Chinese and are transliterated, typically into either pinyin (romanized Chinese) or into alphabetical Vietnamese. The given name transliterates as Zhao Mo in pinyin, but as Triệu Mạt in Vietnamese. Zhao/Triệu is a family name, so Zhao Mo's dynasty is referred to as the Triệu Dynasty. His temple name described him as the "literary emperor." (Chinese: ; pinyin: Zhào Wén Dì; Vietnamese: Triệu Văn Đế).

Seal of Zhao Mo. The inscription says: Chinese: ; pinyin: Wén Dì xíng xǐ; literally: "Seal of Emperor Wén [Văn]".

Zhao's name was recorded as Zhao Hu (Chinese: ) in the Records of the Grand Historian by Sima Qian. The name of Zhao Mo did not arise until the discovery of two jade seals belonging to the emperor that bore the name of Zhao Mo but not Zhao Hu. "Zhao Hu" may have been an error made by Sima Qian when he was writing his Records. There is also a theory that Zhao Mo and Zhao Hu were two separate rulers, and that Zhao Mo's reign was excluded from historical records because of its brief duration.[1][2]


View of the tomb of Zhao Mo from above

The tomb of Wen was discovered in 1983, 20 meters under Elephant Hill in Guangzhou on a construction site for a hotel, and has been excavated. The tomb measures 11 meters long and 12 meters wide. It is divided in seven parts, with a front chamber, east and west wing rooms, the main coffin chamber, east and west side rooms, and a back storage chamber. The tomb has yielded more than 1000 burial artifacts, and a chariot, gold and silver vessels, musical instruments, and human sacrifices were found (15 courtiers were buried alive with him to serve him in death). It is also the only tomb of the early Western Han Dynasty that has murals on its walls.

The tomb also yielded the oldest imperial seal discovered in a Chinese tomb: the seal, with the name "Zhao Mo", declared the royal corpse to be “Emperor Wen", indicating that he considered himself equal in rank to the Han ruler.

Đông Sơn bronze jars from the tomb

Alongside Chinese artifacts, pieces from the steppes, and Iranian and Hellenistic Central Asian regions have been found: a Persian silver box found in the tomb is the earliest imported product found to date in China. There were artifacts that were found in which belonged to the Đông Sơn culture of northern Vietnam.

The Museum of the Mausoleum of the Nanyue King, located in Jiefang road in Guangzhou, stands on the site of the tomb of Zhao Mo.

See also


  1. Melikian, Souren (8 June 2012). "Exhibition Rewrites the History of Han Civilization in China". New York Times.
  2. Sima, Qian; Watson, Burton (1993). Records of the Grand Historian: Han Dynasty II. Translation and commentary by Watson. Columbia University Press. p. 210. ISBN 978-0-231-08166-5.
Zhao Mo
Died: 122 BC
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Zhao Tuo
(Triệu Đà)
King of Nanyue
137 BC – 122 BC
Succeeded by
Zhao Yingqi
(Triệu Anh Tề)
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