Sacred Mountains of China

Sacred Mountains of China

The Sacred Mountains of China are divided into two groups associated with Taoism and Buddhism. The group associated with Taoism is known as the "Five Great Mountains" (五嶽/五岳 Wǔyuè), whereas the group associated with Buddhism is referred to as the "Four Sacred Mountains of Buddhism" (四大佛教名山/四大佛教名山 Sìdà Fójiào Míngshān).

The sacred mountains of both groups have been important destinations for pilgrimage, the Chinese expression for pilgrimage (朝聖/朝圣 cháoshèng) is a shortened version of an expression which means literally "paying respect to a holy mountain" (朝拜聖山/朝拜圣山 cháobài shèng shān).

The Five Great Mountains

The Taoist "Five Great Mountains" are arranged according to the five cardinal directions of Chinese geomancy, which includes the center as a direction:
* east: Tài Shān (泰山/泰山, literally "Leading Peaceful Mountain"), Shāndōng, 1,545 m
* west: Huà Shān (華山/华山, literally "Splendid Mountain"), Shănxī, 1,997 m
* south: (Nán) Héng Shān (衡山/衡山, literally "Balancing Mountain"), Húnán, 1,290 m
* north: (Běi) Héng Shān (恆山/恒山, literally "Permanent Mountain"), Shānxī, 2,017 m
* center: Sōng Shān (嵩山/嵩山, literally "Lofty Mountain"), Hénán, 1,494 m

Alternatively, these mountains are sometimes referred to by the respective directions, i.e., as the "Northern Great Mountain" (北嶽/北岳 Běi Yuè), "Southern Great Mountain" (南嶽/南岳 Nán Yuè), "Eastern Great Mountain" (東嶽/东岳 Dōng Yuè), "Western Great Mountain" (西嶽/西岳 Xī Yuè), and "Central Great Mountain" (中嶽/中岳 Zhōng Yuè).

According to Chinese mythology, the "Five Great Mountains" originated from the limbs and the head of Pangu (盤古/盘古 Pángǔ), the first being and creator of the world. Because of its eastern location, Mount Tài is associated with the rising sun which signifies birth and renewal. Due to this interpretation, it is often regarded as the most sacred of the "Five Great Mountains". In accordance with its special position, Mount Tài is believed to have been formed out of Pangu's head.

The Four Sacred Mountains of Buddhism in China

The Buddhist "Four Sacred Mountains" are:
* Wǔtái Shān (五臺山/五台山,literally "Five-Terrace (Plateau) Mountain"), Shānxī, 3,058 m
* Éméi Shān (峨眉山/峨眉山,literally "Delicate-Eyebrow Mountain"), Sìchuān, 3,099 m
* Jiǔhuá Shān (九華山/九华山, literally "Nine-Glories Mountain"), Ānhuī, 1,341 m
* Pǔtuó Shān (普陀山/普陀山, literally "Potalaka (Potala) Mountain"), Zhèjiāng, 284 m

ee also

Other mountains with spiritual/religious significance in China are:
*Wudang Mountains (Wǔdāng Shān)

External links

* [ China's famous mountains] - (Chinese website)
* []
* []
* [ Google Earth Map of both Five and Four Sacred Mountains KMZ File]
* [ Religion and the environment in China, 中国的宗教与环境 - chinadialogue article, why the five sacred mountains survive in a good ecological state]

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