Shan Yu was a psychotic dictator and poet.
According to Derrial Book, Shan Yu "...fancied himself quite the warrior poet. Wrote volumes on war, torture, the limits of human endurance." Shepherd continues to tell Simon Tam that Shan Yu said, "Live with a man 40 years. Share his house, his meals. Speak on every subject. Then tie him up, and hold him over the volcano's edge. And on that day, you will finally meet the man."
Behind the scenesEdit
Shanyu, or Chanyu, was the title used by the rulers of the Xiongnu, a nomadic Altaic people. Thus Shan Yu may be named after Modu Shanyu the Hun, though he does not appear to be the same individual.
Shan Yu is also probably based on Shang Yang, the ancient Chinese philosopher and proponent of totalitarism, author of the "Book of Lord Shang".
In popular culture, Shan Yu is also the villain in the Disney movie Mulan.