Explore the Yellow Emperor's celestial ascent, innovative leadership, and the mythical landscapes of his enlightened reign.
The Yellow Emperor was born in the State of Xiong. His mother’s name was Haoshu, and because the Yellow Emperor was born on the day of Wu Ji, he was called the King of Earth Virtue. There were auspicious signs with the high hanging of the Yellow Star at that time. The Yellow Emperor examined and established a calendar for chronology and began creating writing. He ascended to the position of the Heavenly Emperor, wearing the imperial crown and robes, and brought great order to the world. His ceremonial attire featured a pattern of dragons, giving rise to the later “Ode to the Gun Dragon.” Xuanyuan, the Yellow Emperor, transformed bamboo rafts into boats, causing fish in the water to swim and leap energetically, while the seas became calm. Boating on the river, he obtained the precious jade disc, which symbolized auspiciousness. Herds of horses, symbolizing good fortune, neighed, and chariots, bearing auspicious signs, spread throughout the countryside. The Yellow Emperor instructed musicians to play the jade-made pitch pipe to tune musical notes, adjusted the astronomical observatory known as the Hun Tian Instrument, and entrusted the four historians—Ju Sòng, Cāng Xié, Lì Shǒu, and Kǒng Jiǎ—with the management of books and records. He appointed virtuous scholars who possessed nine exemplary virtues to govern the realm. These nine virtues included filial piety, kindness, culture, trustworthiness, eloquence, loyalty, respect, courage, and righteousness. They were tasked with observing the heavens, examining the earth, and conducting rituals to worship the gods. They were known as virtuous ministers possessing these nine noble qualities.
As the warm breeze blew, enlightened immortals gathered in the Heavenly Court. This led the Yellow Emperor to grow weary of worldly life on Earth. He achieved enlightenment and became an immortal on Kun Tai Mountain, leaving behind his hat, precious sword, accessories, and shoes in the mortal realm. Kun Tai was the most treacherous place in Dinghu Mountain, and there, beneath its perilous peaks, the Yellow Emperor constructed halls. He traveled on clouds and rode dragons. The distant realm of immortals remained separate, and to this day, people come to Dinghu Mountain to pay homage and offer sacrifices to the Yellow Emperor. During the Yellow Emperor’s reign, he used the miraculous metal copper to create various objects, inscribing them with inscriptions. After the Yellow Emperor ascended to immortality, his ministers examined these inscriptions, which were ancient scripts. Many of them had disappeared, been obliterated, or were incomplete. Every object crafted by the Yellow Emperor was marked with inscriptions detailing the era and specific time of its creation. These inscriptions were simple in style. The Yellow Emperor decreed that vassals and ministers receive education in virtue. He initially had them arrange jade on seats made of fragrant grass, lit incense made of agarwood and elm wood, crushed various treasures into fragments, mixed them with the gum of agarwood and elm wood to form a paste, and applied it to the ground. This was done to distinguish ranks and statuses, as well as differentiate between the Han ethnic group and minority ethnic groups. This event is recorded in the “Feng Shan Ji” (Records of the Feng and Shan Sacrifices).
The Yellow Emperor instructed his ministers to carry book satchels on their backs, and Changbo to carry his precious sword. They embarked on morning expeditions in the drifting sands of Huan Mountain, returning to the waterside to the south in the evenings. They traveled thousands of miles before taking a breath. The drifting sands of Huan Mountain were like fine, light sand and stepping on it would cause one to sink, making it difficult to gauge its depth. The fine sand kicked up by strong winds resembled smoke and contained many divine dragons, fish, and turtles that could fly. There were also deep green stone lotus flowers. These lotus flowers had sturdy yet lightweight forms, and their leaves swayed with the wind, covering the sand ripples. Each stem of the stone lotus had a hundred leaves, and they only bloomed once every thousand years. This place was also known as “Shalan,” referring to the sand waves formed by the blowing sand and wind. It is said that the immortal Ning Feng died after consuming the flying fish from the sand, but he was reincarnated two hundred years later. Therefore, Mr. Ning, while traversing the sandy sea, composed a seven-character poem praising this place, saying: “The lotus flower blooms brightly once in a thousand years, the flying fish die for a hundred years, then revive.” This verse refers to the flowers and fish in this place.
軒轅出自有熊之國。母曰昊樞，以戊己之日生，故以土德稱王也。時有黃星之祥。考定歷紀，始造書契。服冕垂衣，故有袞龍之頌。變乘桴以造舟楫，水物為之祥踴，滄海為之恬波。泛河沉璧，有澤馬群鳴，山車滿野。吹玉律，正璇衡。置四史以主圖籍，使九行之士以統萬國。九行者，孝、慈、文、信、言、忠、恭、勇、義。以觀天地，以祠萬靈，亦為九德之臣。薰風至，真人集，乃厭世於昆台之上，留其冠、劍、佩、舄焉。昆台者，鼎湖之極峻處也，立館於其下。帝乘雲龍而遊。殊鄉絕域，至今望而祭焉。帝以神金鑄器，皆銘題。及升遐後，群臣觀其銘，皆上古之字，多磨滅缺落。凡所造建，鹹刊記其年時，辭跡皆質。詔使百闢群臣受德教者，先列珪玉於蘭蒲席上，燃沉榆之香，舂雜寶為屑，以沉榆之膠和之為泥，以塗地，分別尊卑華戎之位也。 【 事出《封禪記》。】 帝使風後負書，常伯荷劍，旦遊洹流，夕歸陰浦，行萬里而一息。洹流如沙塵，足踐則陷，其深難測。大風吹沙如霧，中多神龍魚鱉，皆能飛翔。有石蕖青色，堅而甚輕，從風靡靡，覆其波上，一莖百葉，千年一花。其地一名“沙瀾”，言沙湧起而成波瀾也。仙人寧封食飛魚而死，二百年更生，故寧先生遊沙海七言頌云：“青蕖灼爍千載舒，百齡暫死餌飛魚。”則此花此魚也。