Mount Tai: The Holy Mountain of China

Mount Tai, located in Tai’an City, Shandong Province, is 1,545 meters above sea level. As a symbol of loftiness and grandeur, Mount Tai ranks first in China’s five great mountains and enjoys the reputation of being “No.1 Mountain on earth”.

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Mount Tai, which means large mountain in Chinese, is the symbol of the Chinese nation, the epitome of the Eastern civilization, and the birthplace of the theory that man is an integral part of nature. Legend has it that after Pan Gu separated heaven and earth, the parts of his body became all things on earth and his head is Mount Tai. Hence the saying: Mount Tai is the summit where heaven and earth meet.

The Chinese history over the past ages has made Mount Tai overweening of the five great mountains. In the pre-Qin period, 72 emperors came to Mount Tai to hold the ancient rites to worship heaven and earth. After the Qin Dynasty, 12 emperors came to Mount Tai to pay homage to heaven and earth, leaving a large number of cultural relics and forming the unique culture of worshipping heaven and earth with the emperor officiating. Over the past 2,000 years, emperors journeyed here to pray to heaven, the broad masses of the people have paid homage to the mountain, and scholars have left many poems and inscriptions praising its charm, making it a cultural mountain or the emperor mountain. Mount Tai enjoys the reputation of being the “epitome of the Chinese cultural history”, and the spiritual homeland of the Chinese nation.

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If Mount Tai is a part of the epitome of the Chinese culture, the stone carvings in the mountains are an exotic flower in the Chinese cultural history. As a matter of fact, Mount Tai is a warehouse of excellent calligraphic works of China. The emperors of the past ages journeyed here to pay homage to heaven and earth; the representative of the Confucian school preached Confucianism in the mountain; and the cultural celebrities climbed the mountain to appreciate the beautiful scenery, leaving a great number of various tablets, Cliffside inscriptions, couplets hung on the columns of a hall and stone carvings. Mount Tai ranks first in cliff-face inscriptions among all the famous mountains in China. The stone engravings in Mount Tai trace their history back to ancient times. In the 2,000-over years from the Qin and Han dynasties to the founding of the People’s Republic of China, rare stone engravings of each dynasty can be discovered here. Now Mount Tai has over 1,800 stone engravings, including 800 tablets and over 1,000 cliffside inscriptions. Some of them are long articles with several thousand words, and some have only one word; some are tall and magnificent tablets, and some are small in size; and some are meticulously carved, and some are bold and rough. Hence Mount Tai is the most magnificent natural calligraphy exhibition of China.

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Mount Tai is also represented by its ancient architecture, which mainly displays the architecture style of the Ming and Qing dynasties. The ancient architectural structures in Mount Tai integrate paintings, carvings, stone rocks and trees, becoming the examples of ancient Chinese culture, preserving a huge three-dimensional painting, and recording the order of sacrificial rites of worshipping heaven and earth in ancient China. With their unusual artistic images, the buildings in Mount Tai coordinate and strengthen natural beauty, and represent the natural environment. The Bixia (Blue Sunlight) Shrine at the summit, which was constructed in the Song Dynasty, is a model structure on a high mountain, featuring a well-knit design and copper tiles. The most prominent characteristic of the ancient architectural structures in Mount Tai is the clever use of the geographical environment, such as the South Gate to the Heaven, which vividly displays the artistic integration of the natural environment and a man-built gate. You can also appreciate well-preserved painted sculptures and murals in the ancient buildings.

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Except for the profound cultural connotations, Mount Tai is a natural mountain park known for its beautiful scenery. It presents different appealing scenery in each season. Mount Tai is covered with green trees and grasses and colorful flowers in spring; it is veiled in clouds and mist in summer, with a myriad scenes; the red leaves add radiance and beauty to the green mountain and gleaming waters in autumn; and the mountain dances like a silver snake, and pine and cypress trees are covered by white snow in winter.

In a word, Mount Tai has run through the whole process of the existence and development of the Chinese nation, which is matchless of any other mountains in the world.

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