Mt. Wudang

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Mt. Wudang, also known as Mt. Taihe and the Mountain of Mystery ( 玄嶽 Xuanyue ), is located in Danjiangkou City, Hubei Province. Adjoining the Qinling Mountains in the west and Shennongjia in the south, it stretches over 800 li and consists of 72 peaks, 36 cliffs and 24 valleys. With its magnificent temples, the mountain attracts endless pilgrims. It is a famous Daoist sacred site in China.

Mt. Wudang has a very long history in connection with Daoism. It is recorded that Xie Yun and Yi Gui of the Jin dynasty, Liu Qiu of the Southern Dynasties and Yao Jian of the Tang dynasty all entered the mountain to practice Dao. Temples such as Wulong Shrine, Taiyi Temple and Yanchang Temple had been built by the Tang dynasty. Both the imperial families of the Song and Yuan dynasties believed in the spirit of The Perfect Warrior ( 真武 Zhenwu ) of the north. As a result, Wudang Daoism, whose major belief is that of the Perfect Warrior, became prosperous gradually during these two dynasties. The celebrated Daoist priest of the Five Dynasties, Chen Tuan, was once a hermit at Jiushi Cliff, Mt. Wudang, where he Abstained from Grains ( 辟谷 Pigu ) and Refined The Vital Breath ( 煉氣 Lianqi ) for more than 20 years. At the beginning of the Ming dynasty, the famous Daoist, Zhang Sanfeng, lived on the mountain in seclusion. At that time, all the temples on Mt. Wudang were destroyed in wars. Zhang Sanfeng said to others, "This mountain is bound to thrive someday." As things turned out, after Zhu Di, king of Yan, rose in revolt as a military governor of the northern outlying prefectures and usurped the throne from his niece, Emperor Jianwen claimed that he had been assisted by the Perfect Warrior in the "pacification" campaigns and so set up temples in large scale on Mt. Wudang, the sacred place of the latter. Emperor Chengzu sent Longping Marquis Zhang Xin, leading over 200,000 soldiers and artisans, to complete 8 "gong", 2 "guan", 36 "antang" and 72 "yanmiao". In addition, they built 39 bridges, 12 pavilions and the 70-odd-kilometer-long path leading from the piedmont to the peak. Mt. Wudang at that time had the grandest temples and largest Daoist communities of the country. It was honored as "the first famous mountain under heaven". After more than 500 years, several of the buildings were damaged throughout the ages. Only the six temples (gong) of Zixiao, Taihe, Jindian, Nanyan, Yuzhen and Yuxu, the two temples (guan) of Fuzhen and Yuanhe, and buildings such as Mozhen Well and Xuanyue Gate still remain in existence.

Main Temples

The Zixiao Temple

It is the largest and most intact temple of those extant on Mt. Wudang. The temple was built in the 11th Yongle year of the Ming dynasty (1413). There are altogether four lines of the building, namely the Longhu Temple, the Shifang Temple, the Zixiao Temple and the Fumu Temple, respectively. Worshiped in the Longhu Temple are sculptures of the two divine generals, the Black Dragon ( 青龍 Qinglong ) and the White Tiger ( 白虎 Baihu ), and worshiped in the Shifang Temple is the statue of the Numinous Official ( 靈官 Lingguan ). The Zixiao Temple (dian), the main hall of the Zixiao Temple (gong), enshrines the copper gold-plated statues of the Perfect Warrior made by imperial order in the Ming dynasty, including those of the old, middle-aged and young Perfect Warrior dressed either as a civil or military official. Still worshiped on the left and right of the temple are his 28 full-sized statues. There are two lanterns decorated with dragons, phoenixes, peacocks, flowers and leaves, which denote "the iron tree blossoms". They are only seen in China and have been recognized as national treasures. Worshiped in the Fumu Temple are the parents of the Great Perfect Warrior Emperor ( 真武大帝 Zhenwu Dadi ), i.e., Emperor Mingzhen and Empress Shansheng of the Jingle Kingdom.

The Taihe Temple

Initially built in the 14th Yongle year of the Ming dynasty (1416), when there were altogether 78 rooms, it was then enlarged into 520 rooms during the Jiajing years. Today only the Main Temple, the Chaobai Temple, the Zhonggu Tower and the Tong Temple still exist. The Main Temple is just the Taihe temple, where the copper statue of the Great Perfect Warrior Emperor is worshiped.

The Jindian Temple

Located on the peak of the Tianzhu Hill, it shines brilliantly in the sunshine. This temple and the icons, incense burner tables and offering appliances, which weigh about 90 tons, were first made in Beijing and then transported to Mt. Wudang. The temple, made in copper, plated in gold and made to resemble wood, is 5.5 meters high, 5.8 meters wide and 4.2 meters deep. Worshiped on the throne in the center of the temple is a copper, gold-plated statue of the Great Perfect Warrior Emperor, which is 1.8 meters high and weighs about 10 tons. Below the spirit seat are a tortoise and a snake, the latter winding its body around the former and the two raising heads to look at each other. Mt. Wudang has already been recognized by UNESCO as a "World Culture Heritage."


Address: Danjiangkou City, Hubei Province, China Traveling route: Go to Wuhan by air or by train, then to Liuliping by train, and then to Mt. Wudang by bus. Tel: 86-719-5667190