The name Yantai (lit. “Smoke Tower”) derives from the watchtowers constructed on Mount Qi in 1398 under the reign of the Hongwu Emperor of the Ming dynasty. The towers were used to light signal fires and send smoke signals, called langyan from their supposed use of wolf dung for fuel. At the time, the area was troubled by the “Dwarf Pirates” (Wokou), initially raiders from the warring states in Japan but later principally disaffected Chinese. It was also formerly romanized as Yen-tai.