Han Xian was from the Bobo Valley in Xihe commandery and former leader of the Bobo bandits 白波戝. He joined Dong Cheng and Yang Feng in a plot to attack Li Jue, but later turned against them. In the Bobo Valley resided a group of isolated Yellow Turbans, such as Gua Da.
In December, 195 A.D. Han Xian and other former leaders of the Bobo bandits, such as Li Le and Hu Cai, together with Qubei, the Worthy King of the West of the Southern Xiongnu were called upon by Dong Cheng and Yang Feng in a plot to attack Li Jue.
On December 24, 195 A.D., the Emperor Xian came to Caoyang, without shelter. This is when Dong Cheng and Yang Feng pretended to make peace with Li Jue. Then, Han Xian and the other former Bobo's came with their troops of several thousand horsemen. They joined Dong Cheng and Yang Feng in attacking Li Jue and his fellows, totally defeated them, and killed several thousand.
Being so succesful, Dong Cheng and the others wanted to do this more often and had another attempt two weeks later when the Emperor came out of Caoyang again, and went east.
Han Xian was part of the rear guard, but this time Li Jue attacked them and totally defeated them and they suffered great losses.
In 196 A.D., the second month, Han Xian attacked Dong Cheng. Han Xian forced Dong Cheng back to Yewang. Han Xian camped at Wenxi, while Hu Cai and Yang Feng decided to go to Wuxiang. Hu Cai wanted to attack Han Xian, but the Emperor told him not to.
On 15 June the Emperor sent a messenger to the camps of Yang Feng, Li Le and Han Xian, asking them to escort him to Luoyang. Yang Feng and the others obeyed the edict. Emperor Xian arrived in Wenxi on 14 July, but 5 days later, Han Xian and Yang Feng escorted the Emperor back to the east.
On 20 September Han Xian was made General-in-Chief, with authority as Colonel Director of Retainers. Han Xian often boasted about his achievements and this did not made him very popular among the others.
In 197 A.D. Han Xian joined Yuan Shu's forces to attack Lü Bu, but they were defeated and almost all soldiers were lost. Lü Bu then combined forces with Han Xian and Yang Feng. As an officer of Lü Bu he plundered several villages. When he and Yang Feng were plundering Xiapi, they fell low on supplies and wanted to leave to Jing province, but Lü Bu refused.
In secret, Yang Feng entered in negotiations with Liu Bei, Lü Bu's enemy, for a joint attack. Liu Bei pretended to agree, but when Yang Feng was invited into Pei, he was beheaded.
Now Han Xian was without Yang Feng and isolated. He tried to return to Bing province, with some horsemen, but was killed by Zhang Xuang, the prefect of Shuqiu.
- Bobo 白波 litterally means White Wave.
Fact vs. Fiction
- In the History of the Later Han and Zizhi tongjian Han Xian is never referred to as a Yellow Turban.
- Han Xian was a Bobo bandit from the Bobo Valley in Bing Province, just like Guo Da, but where Guo Da is also seen as being referred to as a Yellow Turban, Han Xian never is.
- Did not participate in the Yellow Turban Rebellion in 184 AD.
- de Crespigny, Rafe. A Biographical Dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms (23 - 220 AD). Leiden: BRILL, 2007.
- Fan Ye 范曄 (398–445). Hou Han shu 後漢書 “History of the Later Han”.