The earliest remaining text from China that mentions alchemy dates from 133 BC. In this text, the alchemist Li Shaojun suggested to Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty that he should follow the example of the mythical Yellow Emperor, who was said to have performed an alchemical method at the beginning of human history.

Li Shaojun said that the emperor should perform offerings to an alchemical stove in order to summon supernatural beings, in whose presence cinnabar would transmute itself into gold. Eating and drinking from cups and dishes made of that gold would prolong the emperor’s life and enable him to meet the Immortals. Then, after performing a ritual, the emperor would obtain immortality. We read:

'By making offerings to the stove, one can summon the supernatural beings (wu). If one summons them, cinnabar can be transmuted into gold. When gold has been produced and made into vessels for eating and drinking, one can prolong one’s life. If one’s life is prolonged, one will be able to meet the immortals of the Penglai Island in the midst of the sea. When one has seen them and has performed the Feng and Shan ceremonies, one will never die. The Yellow Emperor did just so. Thereupon the emperor for the first time personally made offerings to the stove. He sent several fangshi to the sea to search for Penglai and for those like Master Anqi, and also occupied himself with the transmutation of cinnabar and other substances into gold.

"The Great World History Book"


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