Cinnabar House and Cauldrons
Cinnabar House and Cauldrons ( 丹房鼎器 Danfang Dingqi ) are experimental instruments Daoists use to refine the golden elixir. In order to ensure the effectiveness of the refining process, outer alchemy experts designed many instruments, such as altars, stoves, kitchen ranges, cauldrons, kettles, boilers and jars, etc. In a narrow sense, Cinnabar House and Cauldrons refer to vessels for medicine, gold, and silver in outer alchemy. In a general sense, the term also refers to altars and stoves. In the alchemical process, cauldrons are especially important, for they are the containers for burning and heating. In terms of the materials, cauldrons are made of gold, silver, brass, iron, porcelain, earth, etc. In terms of shapes, bottles, kettles, pots, and basins all can function as cauldrons. Cauldrons have many other names, such as cabinets ( 匱 Kui ), divine chambers ( 神室 Shenshi ), and chaos ( 混沌 Hundun ). Their structures may appear like a column,a gourd and a crucible. In history, the most frequently used cauldrons were the upper-lower cauldrons ( 上下鼎 Shangxia Ding ), which are composed of two cauldrons: the upper one and the lower one. For example, Tao Hongjing, a famous alchemist in the Southern and Northern Dynasties, used two-layered clay kettles while Sun Simiao of Tang used two separatable basins. The manufacturing process and the sizes of upper-lower cauldrons were very strict. Generally speaking, they were 12 inches in perimeter, corresponding to the 12 months and the 12 key hexagrams, and 8 inches in length to correspond to the eight solar terms. The correspondence between cauldrons with heaven and earth embodies the ancient spirit of symbolism.
Closely connected with the cauldrons are the stoves, which, as the most important heating equipment, are also called cinnabar stoves ( 丹爐 Danlu ). Cinnabar stoves are classified into Yin and Yang stoves according to their functions. Those heated with fierce fire are Yang stoves ( 陽爐 Yanglu ) and those with slow fire are Yin stoves ( 陰爐 Yinlu ). Cinnabar stoves are of many forms, such as the Jiji stove, the Weiji stove, the Eight-trigram stove ( 八卦爐 Bagua Lu ), the Hundred-hole stove ( 百眼爐 Baiyan Lu ), the Crescent-moon stove ( 偃月爐 Yanyue Lu ), the Chrysanthemum stove ( 菊花爐 Juhua Lu ), etc. The combination of stoves and cauldrons makes it possible to refine the elixir.