Evaluation of the World Heritage Committee:
The solemn and sacred Mount Tai had been worshipped by emperors for 2,000 years, and its cultural and natural landscapes have been integrated perfectly. Mount Tai has been the spiritual source of Chinese artists and scholars, as well as a symbol of ancient Chinese civilization and faith.
Chinese name: Tai Shan
English name: Mount Tai
Approval date: December 1987
Category: Natural and cultural heritage
Selection criteria: According to cultural and natural heritage selection criteria C(I)(II)(III)(IV)(V)(VI) and N(III), Mount Tai was included in the “World Heritage List.”
With the main peak as its center at about 1,545 meters above sea level, Mount Tai looks imposing and majestic. It is hailed as "the first of five mountains" and "the first mountain under the heavens." The radial Mount Tai is the integration of natural and cultural landscapes. It is tall and majestic, and its southern slope is especially steep, with a towering main peak and overlapped mountain bodies. It is characterized by peculiar, precipitous, but beautiful natural landscapes. The basic layout of its cultural landscape is from the Sheshou Mountain and Haoli Mountain in southwestern Tai'an city to the Peak of the Heavenly Emperor, forming three worlds, "the netherworld," "man's world" and "the heavenly world." The Dai Temple is the main building at the center of Tai'an City at the foot of Mount Tai, and linked with Tongtian Street in the front and the winding mountain path in the back, so the mountain and the city are integrated. Climbing step by step from the Dai Temple, tourists will enter the "heavenly world" from the "man's world."
Since ancient times, the Chinese people have been worshipping Mount Tai, with sayings such as, "If Mount Taishan is at peace, then the entire world is at peace." According to legends, 72 emperors had visited Mount Tai for hunting and performing sacrifices. Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty, had been caught in rain when he climbed the mountain, and found shelter under a pine tree, which was later named the Wudafu Pine. Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty had climbed Mount Tai eight times and exclaimed it as "tall, deep, spectacular and celebrated." Many emperors in ancient times had made sacrifices to heaven and earth on Mount Tai, built temples and inscriptions on stone tablets. The ancient literati admired the mountain enormously and wrote many poems and articles during or after their visits there. The mountain has more than 20 ancient buildings and over 2,200 inscribed stone tablets.
Mount Tai is famous for its magnificent scenery. The peaks over peaks, pines and rocks, as well as the changes of the clouds all make it look imposing but bright and beautiful, and solemn but magical.
The sunrise is just one of the marvelous spectacles on Mount Tai and also an important symbol of the mountain. Every morning or evening the peak in coved in a thick mist, so when standing at the top of the mountain, tourists can see a colorful halo with a blue inner ring and a red outer ring on the ethereal vesture of the mist. The colorful halo will shine down upon the tourists or only their heads, looking like the halo on the head of a Buddha figure. Therefore, the colorful halo is called "the halo of Buddha" or "the halo of God." The "halo of Buddha" on Mount Tai is a light diffraction phenomenon, and its appearance is conditional. According to records, the "halo of Buddha" mostly appears in half sunshine and half fog between June and August every year and when the sunlight slants.
Mount Tai is also world-famous for its numerous stone inscriptions, among which, some were inscribed by emperors and some by distinguished people. These inscriptions were mostly elegantly worded and elaborately produced. There are currently 1,696 stone inscriptions on Mount Tai, inscribed on cliffs and on stone tablets. They are not only important data recordings about the history of Mount Tai, but also one of the wonderful scenery.
Value of the cultural heritage:
Mount Tai is one of the birthplaces of ancient culture in the Yellow River region. The Dafenkou culture at the southern foot of Mount Tai and the relics of the Longshan culture at the northern foot prove that the ancestors of the Chinese started living in the region around Mount Tai a long time ago. There are also the fossil remains of the Xintai people from 50,000 years ago and the fossil remains of the Yiyuan people from 400,000 years ago. The ruins of the 500-kilometer-long Great Wall along Mount Tai to the Yellow Sea constructed during the Warring States Period still exist today. Scenic spots related to Confucius at mountain include the Confucius Mountain Ascending Archway, the Watching State of Wu Archway, the Confucius Belittling World Spot, Confucius Temple, Zhanlu Tai, and the Tiger Ditch. Mount Tai, a sacred mountain and a treasure house of cultural heritage, is also known as the "First of the Five Sacred Mountains" and the "King of the Five Sacred Mountains," and the mountain was the symbol of state power in ancient times. Ancient emperors in China usually held sacred ceremonies and offered sacrifices to the heaven and earth at Mount Tai after taking the throne or during peace time.
A total of 72 emperors during the pre-Qin Dynasty offered sacrifices to heaven there, and emperors from the Qin Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty offered sacrifices there 27 times. Because many emperors made sacrifices there, and because of its grand and spectacular scenery, many ancient cultural scholars and artists wrote poems about Mount Tai, and hundreds of thousands of poems and inscribed stone tablets remain today. Poems such as "Qiulingge" written by Confucius, "Fengshanshu" written by Sima Qian, "Feilongpian" written by Cao Zhi, "Taishanyin" written by Li Bai, and "Looking at the Mount Tai" written by Du Fu are all famous poems handed down from ancient times. The mural paintings of the Song Dynasty at the Tiankuang Palace and the colored arhats' statues of the Song Dynasty at the Lingyan Temple are rare treasures. In addition, the inscribed stone tablets of Mount Tai are the agglomeration of Chinese calligraphy in various character styles and groups. Therefore, the mountain is considered as the exhibition hall of ancient Chinese calligraphy and the art of stone inscriptions. The rich cultural heritage on Mount Tai includes 97 intact ancient sites and 22 ancient architectural complexes (table 3), providing material evidence for the research of the history of ancient Chinese architecture.