November 18, 2006 at 12:01 am #19250
BEIJING, Nov. 13 — Before they were jointly crowned as a world geopark by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in September, the Wangwu and Daimei mountains in Central China’s Henan Province were not well-known to most Chinese.
In fact, very few people know that the two have witnessed the 5,000-year history of the Chinese nation and possess a geological structure that could date back to 1.2 billion years ago.
According to ancient literature, Wangwu Mountain is the birthplace of the Han Chinese nationality and Taoism, and also the setting for the well-known fable “Foolish Old Man Moving Mountains” written by a philosopher about 2,200 years ago.
Birthplace of Chinese nation
The 1,715-meter-high Heavenly Peak of Wangwu Mountain is where the legendary Chinese sovereign and cultural hero, the Yellow Emperor, established the Han Chinese nationality, according to popular folklore.
The Yellow Emperor was said to have unsuccessfully engaged in war nine times with the eastern Emperor Chi You. He later built a temple on the Heavenly Peak, offered sacrifices to heaven, and finally won the war and united all the tribes. The emperor’s westward retreat in the war against Chi You at the Battle of Zhuolu is seen as the establishment of the Han Chinese nationality.
After uniting the country successfully, the Yellow Emperor continued to offer sacrifices to heaven on the 15th day of the eighth month in lunar calendar.
This pioneered the sacrifices to heaven at the Heavenly Peak of Wangwu Mountains by emperors of later dynasties.
The Temple of Heaven in Beijing, built in 1420 by emperors of the Ming Dynasty, is said to be inspired by the Heavenly Peak.
Even today, performances recreating the sacrificial ceremony are held daily, although some scholars believed the existence of the Yellow Emperor, who legendarily reigned ancient China from 2697 B.C. to 2597 B.C., is questionable or even apocryphal.
Holy site of Taoism
Taoism, a philosophy and system of religion in ancient China, is developed from the thoughts of the Yellow Emperor and Laozi, a philosopher lived in the Spring and Autumn Period (770 B.C. – 476 B.C.).
It is said that Laozi once went into religious discipline in the mountain and left a pond for making pills for longevity. The site of Laozi’s pond can still be found in Wangwu Mountain today.
After the Sui and Tang dynasties, Taoism was revered as the State religion. Emperors ordered Taoist temples to be set up all around the country, thus laying a foundation for Taoism to flourish in China.
As the Taoists took nature and simplicity as their principle and IMMORTALITY their goal, Wangwu Mountain, the cradle of Taoism and home to more than 200 different species of herbal medicine, became the holy site for Taoists for centuries. They collected medicinal plants and tried to make pills of immortality on this sacred mountain.
Legend of Foolish Old Man
The legend of “Foolish Old Man Moving Mountains” became popular among Chinese after Chairman Mao made a historic speech in 1945 with the same title.
Mao used “mountains” as a metaphor for imperialism and feudalism which block the Chinese people from founding a bright and brand new country.
The legend, written in “Liezi” during the Warring States Period (B.C. 475 – B.C. 221), was listed in primary school textbooks after 1949 as an analogy of the Chinese people’s unwavering determination.
The story is about Yugong, whose name literally means “foolish old man,” who lived in northern China between two enormous mountains, the Wangwu and Taihang mountains that rose hundreds of meters high.
Yugong often complained about the two mountains that blocked his view. Eventually, he decided to flatten the mountains in a morning just before his 100th birthday.
Yugong told those who laughed at him, “It is true that one day before long I will die. But my sons live on and have produced grandsons who produce great-grandsons, and those great-grandsons will produce great-great-grandsons, and on and on, without end. Those mountains will never grow, so sooner or later we will succeed.”
After hearing about this, the king of the gods ordered his sons to carry away the mountains, so Yugong was satisfied.
Even today, you can find statues commemorating the venerable old man and his spirit.
(Source: Shenzhen Daily)
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.