Mysteries of the Yellow Emperor
A "Fifth Ancient Civilization"?
It is a very significant discovery. We may be closer to solving the enigma of the "Yellow Emperor," Huang-ti (27th century B.C.), who, it is said, lived in those misty reaches of time before the Shang dynasty.
In the Beginning
Around the 4th or 3rd millennium B.C., in the New Stone Age, great changes occurred in the lives of the ancient Chinese. Larger numbers of people began living together at settled places, cultivating land, and domesticating animals. These people made polished stone tools and built shelters in pit dwellings and beehive huts that were covered with reed roofs. Such villages were found mostly in the area of the great bend of the Huang He on the North China Plain. Despite its severe winters, this area was well suited to agriculture. In fact, it closely resembled the other cradles of ancient civilizations, such as the valley of the Nile in Egypt. As we will see, this is an important fact, because there are other striking similarities between the ancient civilizations.
According to Chinese tradition, the Chinese people originated in the Huang He (Hwang Ho or Yellow River) valley. The legends tell of a creator, P'an Ku, who was succeeded by a series of heavenly, terrestrial, and human sovereigns. Rice was grown in eastern China circa 5500 B.C., and about five centuries later an agricultural society developed in the Huang He valley.
The Emperor's legacy
Like other ancient peoples, the Chinese developed unique attributes. Their form of writing, developed by 2000 B.C., was a complex system of picture writing using forms called ideograms, pictograms, and phonograms. Such early forms of Chinese became known through the discovery by archaeologists of oracle bones, which were bones with writings inscribed on them. They were used for fortune-telling and record keeping in ancient China. In 1899 a small group of Chinese scholars and antiquarians collected quantities of inscribed bones from the fields around Hsiao T'un. Five years passed before enough symbols could be deciphered to reveal the true nature of the "dragon bones." They were a record of a people who called themselves Shang, and ruled lands surrounding Anyang some four thousand years ago. The objects embedded in the fields of Hsiao T'un came not from dragons but from tortoises and cattle. Shang kings desired to glimpse into the future, and their diviners inscribed the royal inquiries on a carefully scraped and polished tortoise shell or ox blade or leg bone.
Years later the People's Republic of China archaeologists uncovered thousands more Shang oracle bones. Corps of learned people created a whole new branch of linguistic study, Jia gu shu, the study of shell and bone writing. As scholars pored over the writings of ancient diviners, they reached a provocative conclusion: Shang writing was not the oldest Chinese writing, not by a thousand years at least. The characters used then were already so sophisticated that they undoubtedly had many centuries of development behind them. Very little is known pre-Shang writing.
The Shang Dynasty (1766-1122 B.C.) is the first documented era of ancient China. The highly developed hierarchy consisted of a king, nobles, commoners, and slaves. The capital city was Anyang, in north Henan Province. Some scholars have suggested that travelers from Mesopotamia and from Southeast Asia brought agricultural methods to China, which stimulated the growth of ancient Chinese civilization. If so, there may be a direct connection with Sumer. The Shang peoples were known for their use of jade, bronze, horse-drawn chariots, ancestor worship, and highly organized armies. A significant aspect of China is its long cultural and national history. The Chinese people have shared a common culture longer than any other group on Earth. The Chinese writing system dates back almost 4,000 years.
Many cultures identify a sacred being as the creator of writing. In Egypt, the honor was shared by Thoth and Isis, while the ancient Greeks thanked Hermes for their writing words. The Yellow Emperor was a highly gifted "Son of Heaven." Legend goes that he was the inventor of many things such as making clothes, manufacturing boats and vehicles, building houses and palaces, etc. He also had his court officials Lun Ling make musical instruments, Da Nao compile the Heavenly Stems and the Earthly Branches (The 10 Heavenly Stems and 12 Earthly Branches are used in combination to designate years, months, days and hours), and Ts'ang Chieh invent the Chinese characters. Thus, the Chinese tradition attributes the invention of writing to Ts'ang Chieh, a minister of the heroic "Yellow Emperor," Huang-ti.
When men first learned to write, "all spirits cried in agony, as the innermost secrets of nature were thus revealed."
Under Huang-ti's rule, his ministers, Tai-mao and Li-shou devised a sexigesimal based number system and corresponding arithmetic. The Chinese believed that numbers had philosophical and metaphysical properties. The Chinese used numbers "to achieve spiritual harmony with the cosmos." They believed Man's "existence depended upon numerically specified actions and obligations."
In Love and War
The knowledge of the four useful branches of military knowledge concerned with (1) mountains, (2) rivers, (3) marshes, and (4) plains; and enabled the Yellow Emperor to vanquish four several sovereigns (Napoleon had similar beliefs about the art of war). Ancient Chinese writings confirm that the Yellow Emperor was responsible for the invention of warfare.
In the LIU T'AO it is mentioned that Huang-ti "fought seventy battles and pacified the Empire." Ts'ao Kung's explanation is, that the Yellow Emperor was the first to institute the feudal system of vassals princes, each of whom (to the number of four) originally bore the title of Emperor. Li Ch'uan tells us that the art of war originated under Huang-ti, who received it from his Minister Feng.
Huang-ti, or the Yellow Emperor, is referred to as the "Originator of the Chinese Culture," and all people of the Chinese race regard themselves as descendants of Yan Di and Huan-ti.
With the original surname of Gongsun (later changed to Ji) and another name Youxiong Shi, Huang-ti was also known as Xuanyuan Shi as he lived at the Xuanyuan Hill. A clan leader towards the end of China's primitive society, Huang-ti Di was the full brother of Yan Di with whom he shared the country. He formed an alliance with Yan Di in later years against the invasion of Chiyou, the chieftain of the Jiuli Tribe. A decisive battle was fought at Zhuolu in the northwest of the present Hebei Province. Legend goes that at the beginning of the battle, Chiyou sneezed out a thick fog all over the place which lasted three days, and the soldiers of Huang-ti could not tell their directions. Fortunately Huang-ti led his men out of the fog by the "compass chariot" he had invented and won complete victory.
The alliance of Huang-ti and Yan Di split after Chiyou was defeated because, it was said, Yan Di intended to infringe upon the various tribes and seize the leading position of the alliance while the chieftains of the tribes preferred to obey Huang-ti. As a result the two leaders fought at Banquan. After three fierce battles, Huang-ti won victory and was made the "Son of Heaven" by the tribe chieftains.
Strict and impartial, Huang Di was able to get rid of the evil for the people. It was said that Gu, son of the God of Mount Zhongshan named Zhulong, murdered another god at Mount Kunlun in collaboration with a deity called Qinpi. The Yellow Emperor was indignant at their atrocity and immediately had them killed.
Lao Tse (or Lao Tzu) and Huang-ti
What was the association between an emperor long gone and the court librarian who founded Taoism? Although deeply rooted in Chinese history Taoism is a way of life rather than a religion. It's essence being strongly based on Lao Tzu's (570?-490? B.C.) writings called the Tao Te Ching. The book is separated into two parts: the first is the "book of the way," the second is the "book of virtue." He believed that a harmony existed between Heaven and Earth and that it could be found by anyone, at anytime -- all they needed to do was follow the natural flow of nature called the Tao or "the Way." His basic teaching was that the Tao could not be spoken of, for words cannot describe the infinite Universe.
Alongside the development of Taoism as a philosophy another more strictly religious interpretation of Taoism was evolving. This "religious" Taoism had its own temples, priests, rites and symbolic images. Lao Tzu was venerated as a "saint" and imperial sacrifices were made to him. It drew strongly upon the ideas of yin-yang and of the "Five Agents" (metal, wood, water, fire and earth).
During this time there began to develop a pantheon of Taoist deities that were often venerated as gods. So prominent were astrology, alchemy and divination in this stream of Taoism that it had veered away from philosophy to occultism. This movement was sometimes known as Huang-Lao after the legendary Yellow Emperor, Huang-ti and Lao Tzu.
From this form of Taoism emerged very strong alchemical currents as Taoist practitioners (much like Western mystics a millennium later) at the court of Shih Huang-ti of the Qin (Ch'in) dynasty (221-207 B.C.) tried to cultivate powers that would transform base metals to gold, and hence would serve as a metonym for the transformation of human qualities to the transcendent. These practitioners were also acclaimed as spirit mediums and experts in levitation.
Was the knowledge of strange powers given to Lao Tzu by those who held the legacy of the Yellow Emperor? Or did the Emperor himself give this knowledge to Lao Tzu?
The "Yellow Emperor" was a rather interesting entity. I intentionally avoid calling him a human being, not because I seek to offend the Chinese people, but because the information I had collected about Huang-ti (albeit scarce) convinces me otherwise.
The ancient Chinese records mention amazing, wise and humane (humane, not human-P.S.) beings, the" Sons of Heaven" (this term became emperors' title much later), who had done so much for the then savage dwellers of the Huang He River valley. Before the "Sons of Heaven" appeared on Earth, familiar celestial phenomena preceded all such appearances. Before Huang-ti was born there occurred " a radiance from the great star Chi and the Dipper Constellation (Ursa Major)."
A very ancient, pre-Buddhist religion of Tibet ("bon") described how a mighty "Friend of virtue and kindness" had appeared on Earth: "...Egg, created by magical forces of gods Sa and Bal, exited under the action of its own weight from the divine bosom of empty sky. The shell became a defensive armor. The casing defended like amour, and that which is White became a source of strength for heroes. The inner casing became a stronghold for those who had dwelt in it... From the very center of the Egg came a human being, Possessor of magic force...
Of all the "Sons of Heaven" it was Huang-ti who had left the "largest footprint" in the Chinese mythology. He first made his appearance in the Huang He River basin.
Huang-ti was very different from other ancient heroes. He did not enlighten people, did not demand worship. Huang-ti and his helpers were amazingly rational beings. Of course, they did teach the natives all kinds of useful sciences, including the acupuncture. However, most important for them were their own affairs. And such affairs were dominated by the creation of complex, and alas, incomprehensible (at least, to us) apparatuses and contrivances.
According to Mr. Krapiva the Biography of Huang-ti was based on mysterious legends. What did the ancient scribes mean by "following the Moon?" What drove Huang-ti establish some connection between his "mirrors" and Moon? There is even a more curious detail uncovered by Krapiva. "Account of Wonders" (sixth century B.C.E) contained the following story: People of the Mirror Lake tell that where Huang-ti cast his mirrors, there remains a stone that polished them. Creepers (creeping grass-P.S.) does not grow on that stone. Lao Tzu lived in that age: did he see the stone in question?
Huang-ti and most of his assistants operated in the Northern China. It was there that the Chinese civilization subsequently developed. The south of China was developed by entities whose exact nature is not easily determined: were they living organisms? independent mechanisms? or mechanisms, controlled by living creatures? Ancient sources name them "Chi Yu and his brothers." Obviously, they were quite identical. Perhaps the discovery of the "fifth civilization" site at Chengdu, and subsequent excavations will shed some light on those who "developed the South." Krapiva was able to collect some information about Chi Yu.
Just like Huang-ti, Chi Yu had four eyes (at least, considered as such), six arms, or manipulators. The strangest of all was Chi Yu's head: it was made from copper and had a metallic forehead, and some tridents in place of ears. According to the local legends, the metallic head was cut off the body (with all appropriate safeguards), and buried separately. Years later this head continued to emit heat. On occasions a reddish steam-like cloud would come from the burial site: the locals worshiped it ("Five books of Huang-ti").
Chi Yu was able to move in the rugged areas, and could even fly (for short periods of time). His (or its) taste for food was quite impressive: all sources suggest that the creature ate "stones and sand": this way it obtained energy that was necessary for the creature's movements. Were Chi Yu and "his" brothers living creatures? Krapiva thinks that were complex autonomous mechanisms, akin to robots. Actually but one of the creatures would have to be controlled by an intelligent life form, but the natives considered them all as living creatures.
Huang-ti ruled the land for one hundred years, but his life span was much greater: some sources suggest that he lived for three hundred years. Where he spent the rest of his days, and what activities he was engaged in, is open to speculation. There are Tao sources who state unambiguously that after one hundred years of his "rule" Huang-ti returned to his home star, "ascended the heavens, and became the ruler of the Great Infinite, again turning into the star Syuan Yuan." The same star that his "tripods" had pointed at. An ancient Chinese drawing of the Syuan Yuan constellation has been identified by modern astronomers as that of the Leo constellation. Its brightest star is (Alpha Leo), Regulus. We do not know much about this star; we do know that there are very few similarities between our Sun and Regulus. But there is a very curious similarity: there exists, in the Regulus star system, a radio source that emits signals in metric wave bands. In our Solar system there is also such a source: Earth.
The Essence of Thunder
Huang-ti, "having possessed the essence of thunder" was able to move through space at enormous velocities. He had a "dragon," Changhuan, used by Huang-ti to ascend to Sun. One ancient writing mentioned that this marvelous means of transportation "originates in the land where suns are born," and is very old, over three thousand years. But most significant is the notion that the enormous speed has an effect on the movement of Time, and staves off the aging process of human organism. Biography of Huang-ti states that a "changhuan" covers myriads of miles in a day, and that human who "rides" it can reach an age of two thousand years.
Regulus (Alpha Leo)
Regulus, the 25th brightest star in the sky, means "prince." It has other names: Cor Leonis ("heart of a lion"); Rex; Al Kalb al Asad; Kabeleced. The origin of the name for the constellation where Regulus resides is also of interest to us.
Leo is the Nemean Lion from the Moon who was sent by Hera to slay Hercules. As Hercules first labor, he killed the lion by strangling it with his bare hands. Legend says that the lion had a hide that could not punctured by iron, bronze or stone. Since he couldn't reason with the ferocious beast, Hercules strangled it to death and the local people were very grateful. Hercules wore the skin, which made him invincible. When Hercules died, the lion was returned to the celestial heavens with Hercules. Did the myths of ancient Greeks originate in China, and the "dragon" become a "lion?" The Chaldeans associated Leo with the sun since it is in the sky during the summer solstice (although this is no longer true, due to the precession of the Earth's axis). Since Nile floods around this time, the ancient Egyptians worshiped the celestial lion.
Leo to the Egyptians, was the place the Sun rose after creation (near Denebola) and so was called Domicilium Solis, the badge of fire and heat, or the House of the Sun.
What secrets will be uncovered by Chinese and Japanese archaeologists? Will the discoveries lead us to the evidence we humans have so longed for, the evidence that ages ago we were not the only intelligent life form on Earth?
(c) Copyright 1997 Paul Stonehill