Saturday, September 13, 2008

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'' , whereas the group associated with Buddhism is referred to as the ''Four Sacred Mountains of Buddhism'' .

The sacred mountains of both groups have been important destinations for pilgrimage, the Chinese expression for pilgrimage is a shortened version of an expression which means literally ''"paying respect to a holy mountain"'' .

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: , , 1,545 m
* west: , , 1,997 m
* south: , , 1,290 m
* north: , , 2,017 m
* center: , , 1,494 m

Alternatively, these mountains are sometimes referred to by the respective directions, i.e., as the "Northern Great Mountain" , "Southern Great Mountain" , "Eastern Great Mountain" , "Western Great Mountain" , and "Central Great Mountain" .

According to Chinese mythology, the ''Five Great Mountains'' originated from the limbs and the head of Pangu , 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:

* , , 3,058 m
* , , 3,099 m
* , , 1,341 m
* , , 284 m

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