Chin-nung invented the plough, and in one day discovered seventy poisonous plants and as many antidotes. Under Hoang-ti the calendar was regulated, roads were constructed, vessels were built, and the title of Ti, or Emperor, was first assumed. Hoang-ti means "Yellow Emperor," and became a favorite name with the founders of later dynasties.
But Hoang-ti had been gathered unto his fathers for thrice ten hundred years before that man was born destined by the Master of Heaven to become the Porcelain-God. And his divine ghost, ever hovering above the smoking and the toiling of the potteries, still gives power to the thought of the shaper, grace to the genius of the designer, luminosity to the touch of the enamellist.
This had its influence on the musical system of the Chinese, according to one of their legends. After the invention of music, the formation of various instruments, and the composition of many songs, all due to more or less mythical emperors, Hoang-Ti, who reigned about the year 2600 B. C., decided to have the art scientifically investigated and its rules formulated.
Other stories to the same effect are told. They are very likely exaggerated, but there is good reason to believe that the literary class of China were obstinate to the verge of martyrdom in maintaining the facts and traditions of the past, and that death signified to them less than dishonor. We shall see a striking instance of this in the story of Hoang-ti, the burner of the books.
They acknowledged but slight allegiance to the imperial government, and for centuries the country was distracted by internal warfare, until the great Hoang-ti, whose story we have yet to tell, overthrew feudalism, and for the first time united all China into a single empire.
At all events, we read in Pere Du Halde's Description de la Chine, that sometime in or about the year 2635 B.C. the great Emperor Hoang-ti, having lost his way in a fog whilst pursuing the rebellious Prince Tchiyeou on the plains of Tchou-lou, constructed a chariot which showed the cardinal points, thus enabling him to overtake and put the prince to death.
In the year 246 B.C. came to the throne of China the most famous of all the monarchs of that ancient empire, the celebrated Hoangti, Tsin Chi Hoang-ti, or "first sovereign emperor of the Tsins," to give him his full title. Various stories are told by Chinese historians of the origin of this great monarch, they denying that he was of royal blood.
Before his time indeed the Spirit of the Furnace had being; had issued from the Infinite Vitality; had become manifest as an emanation of the Supreme Tao. For Hoang-ti, nearly five thousand years ago, taught men to make good vessels of baked clay; and in his time all potters had learned to know the God of Oven-fires, and turned their wheels to the murmuring of prayer.