Assessment of the World Heritage Committee
In the 1st century, the first Buddhist temple of China was completed on the top of the scenic Mt. Emei. As other temples were gradually built on this mountain, Mt. Emei became one of the most sacred Buddhist places. Now, many centuries have passed, and a lot of cultural assets have massed on Mt. Emei. Of them, the most renowned is the Leshan Giant Buddha which was carved in the 8th century out of a giant mountain rock. The Buddha seems to be overlooking the spot where three rivers meet. With a body height of 71 meters, the Leshan Buddha is the largest Buddha statue in the world. Mt. Emei is also renowned in the world for its abundant plant species. From subtropical plants to sub-alpine coniferous forests, the plant resources on Mt. Emei are plentiful. The age of some trees has exceeded 1,000 years.
Chinese name: E Mei Shan He Le Shan Da Fo
English name: Mt. Emei and Leshan Giant Buddha
Based on the standards C(IV)(VI) and N(IV) for selecting cultural and natural heritage, Mt. Emei and Leshan Giant Buddha in Chengde were listed in the World Heritage List.
Mt. Emei and Leshan Giant Buddha
Mt. Emei is also called the “Bright Light Mountain.” It is located in the transitional zone between the Sichuan Basin and the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in south-central Sichuan Province in western China. The altitude of the “Ten Thousand Buddha Summit,” the highest peak of Mt. Emei, is 3,099 meters. Mt. Emei enjoys a good reputation in the world for its beautiful natural sceneries and mysterious Buddhist characteristics. The beautiful landscapes and the centuries-old historical and cultural contents harmonized with each other giving Mt. Emei the title of “the Most Elegant Mountain in the World.”
Mt. Emei is located in an area where many natural elements mix together. The area has complicated biological catalogs and abundant species, especially unique species. The area preserves a complete subtropical vegetation system, and 87 percent of the area is covered by forests. Mt. Emei is home to 242 higher families and over 3,200 higher plant species, accounting for about 10 percent of China’s total plant species. Of them, over 100 species grow only on Mt. Emei or were discovered there, and many of the species were also named after Mt. Emei. Furthermore, Mt. Emei is also the habitat of many animal species, and so far, over 2,300 animal species have been discovered. Mt. Emei is a very important and significant place for studying the world’s biological catalogs.
Mt. Emei is one of “the Four Renowned Buddhist Mountains of China.” Buddhism and its numerous temples built there have brought the mountain a lot of mysterious elements. Religious culture, especially Buddhist culture, is the main part of Mt. Emei’s historical culture, and the buildings, statues, instruments, ceremonies, music and paintings of Mt. Emei all have strong religious culture characteristics. There are many temples standing on Mt. Emei, of which, the most renowned are the “Eight Great Temples on the Golden Top” including the Baoguo Temple and Wannian Temple.
The Leshan Giant Buddha is located on the Xiluan Peak on the eastern side of Mt. Emei, and was called the “Giant Maitreya” and “Jiading Buddha” in ancient times. The carving of the Buddha statue started in the Kangyuan first year (713) and took 99 years in total. The Buddha leans on the mountain and faces the rivers, and is the largest cliff statue in the current world. It is usually described as “the mountain is a Buddha; the Buddha is a mountain.” The Buddha is a sitting Maitreya Buddha facing west. It is 71 meters high and has a very calm expression on its face. The carving is delicate, the outline is natural and smooth, the body proportion is proper, and the entire statue looks splendid. It reflects the magnificence of the prosperous Tang Dynasty culture. On the southern and northern walls of the Buddha, there are also over 90 stone statues from the Tang Dynasty, and many of them are excellent works.
Reasons for applying to the World Heritage List
Due to its special geographic location, Mt. Emei (including the Leshan Giant Buddha) has majestic, elegant and fantastic natural sceneries, typical landforms, and a well-preserved ecological environment. In particular, since it is located in a transitional area between biological systems, it owns abundant animal and plant resources including many rare and endangered species which all have clear regional characteristics. During the past 2,000 years, numerous cultural assets, especially the cultural assets with Buddha characteristics, have been created and massed on the mountain. The natural and cultural heritage has a very high value in the realms such as history, aesthetics, scientific research, popular science, and tourism, and is the commonwealth of the entire human race.
(1) The status of Mt. Emei among China’s renowned mountains
Mt. Emei, which enjoys a high reputation in the world for its beautiful natural sceneries and dense Buddhist atmosphere, is a very outstanding among China’s renowned mountains for its “majestic, elegant and mysterious” characteristics.
I. Majestic: The huge body and rough characteristics makes it extremely majestic. Mt. Emei stands upright in the southwestern edge of the Sichuan Basin. The altitude of its highest peak, the “Ten Thousand Buddha Summit,” is 3,099 meters, and the height difference between its top and foot is 2,600 meters, which is 1,000 meters longer than that of Mt. Taishan, the highest mountain of the Five Renowned Mountains of China. Therefore, Mt. Emei used to be called “the Mountain Surpassing the Five Renowned Mountains.” Pointing straight to the sky, the three main peaks stand upright together and look extremely splendid. Standing on the Golden Top and looking forward, you will see tremendous mountains and cloud seas which will make you feel like you are in a dream.
II. Elegant: Mt. Emei is located in an area where many natural elements mix together. It has a clear vertical plant spectrum and abundant plant species, and 87 percent of its area is covered by forests. On the mountain, the peaks and ridges are diverse and they have very beautiful and smooth outlines. The forests are thrifty and vigorous, and the sceneries are wonderful and colorful. Mt. Emei has the best and thriftiest vegetation sceneries among all the renowned mountains of China.
III. Mysterious: Mt. Emei is a sacred Buddhist sanctuary, and the strong Buddhist cultural elements make it a mysterious mountain with a dense religious atmosphere. After being portrayed in dramas, poems, music, paintings and Kung Fu, this Buddhism kingdom has become even more mysterious and illusive. In the long history, the Buddhist culture, temple buildings and natural landscapes of Mt. Emei have delicately mixed together, which makes it unique among China’s renowned mountains. The wonderful natural phenomena of Mt. Emei such as the cloud seas, sunrise, Buddha light, sacred lamp, sunrise and sunset glows, as well as the Floating Cloud of Leidong, Morning Rain of Hongchun, Bright Snow of Daping and the Drizzle are all amazing and awesome. They are the best sceneries among China’s renowned mountains.
The majestic, elegant and mysterious natural sceneries and the centuries-old historical and cultural contents harmonized with each other and gives Mt. Emei the title of “the Most Elegant Mountain in the World.”
(2) Mt. Emei has unique geological characteristics
Mt. Emei has preserved a relatively complete sedimentary stratum from the Precambrian period, providing precious geological data for the biological evolution research of the earth's crust. The intrusive rock and volcanic rock generated by the intrusion and eruption of magma have provided typical examples for the research of the mechanism of the upper mantle, the tension fracture of the lithosphere and crustal transformation. The complex structural deformation of crust caused by the Yanshan Movement and the Himalayan Movement has provided sufficient basis for researching the surface structure of the crust.
Meanwhile, the Neotectonics, which caused the magnificent and spectacular geological structure of Mt. Emei and the typical and multiple modern landscapes, provided the prerequisites for biological reproduction and breeding, as well as the establishment of peculiar middle and high mountain ecological kingdoms. The background and conditions have formed an organic whole, creating the aesthetic image and scientific content of Mt. Emei and its special and dominant status in the world's mountain landscapes.