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Special Edition 02/21/2015 World Heritage China Part 19- Mount Tai


02-22-2015 00:56 BJT



Mount Tai has a long history of popularizing religion. Buddhism was introduced to the Mount Tai during the mid-4th century AD. In AD 351, a monk named Lang Gong first established the Lang Gong Temple and Lingyan Temple at the northern foot Mount Tai. During the periods of the Wei, Jin, as well as the Northern and Southern dynasties, relatively large temples on Tai Mountain included the Jade Emperor Temple, Shenbao Temple and Puzhao Temple. The Buddhist classic "Diamond Sutra" was carved during the Northern Qi Dynasty in the famous Jingshiyu area of Mount Tai. During the Tang and Song dynasties, the Lingyan Temple was very popular among the people and Li Jifu, a top official of the Tang Dynasty, and he even called the Lingyan Temple one of the "four wonders" on earth.

There were monks living in the northern caves of Mount Tai as early as the Warring States Period. After the Qin and Han dynasties, a large number of temples were established there. Temples such as the Wangmuchi or Qunwang Temple, Lao Jun Temple, the Longquan Taoist Temple, Bixia Temple, Houshiwu Temple and the Yuanshi Tianzun Temple still exist today. The Wangmuchi Temple established before AD 220, has the longest history among all the temples and the Bixia Temple is the most influential. Mount Tai is the birthplace of the legend about the queen of heaven. The first Wangmuchi Temple was established as early as the Wei or Jin dynasty. The Wangmuchi Temple, also known as "Qunyu Temple" and the "abode of the immortals" in ancient times, was located to the east of Huanshan Road at the southern foot of Mount Tai. Verses written by Cao Zhi during the Warring States Period, and written by Li Bai during the Tang Dynasty all described the Wangmuchi Temple on Mount Tai.

Value in natural heritage

Stratum and physiognomy

Mount Tai was formed through the evolving process of various geologic ages from the Archaeozoic period to the Cenozoic period. The great mountain systems came into being through the movement of Mount Taishan. The movement of Yanshan Mountain laid the foundation of Mount Tai and the movement of the Himalayas created the magnificence and the general framework of Mount Taishan. In Mount Tai, there are abundant relics of crustal movement that have research value in geological sciences around the world. The Cambrian gneiss mass, which forms the base of the tableland in northern China, has a complete stratigraphic section and is rich in well-preserved fossils. As one of the most ancient rocks in the world, the complex Mount Tai was formed 2 billion years ago and is very important for the research on the division and comparison of the Archean stratum in eastern China and exploration into the history of the Archean period. In addition, there are typical limestone and sand-shale formations in the areas such as Zhangxia, Gushan and Chaomidian in the northwestern part of Mount Tai. They have been regarded as the standard division between the early and middle period of the Cambrian system and the place where a few species of palaeobios were first named.

In the southern part of Mount Tai, there are widespread fissure springs in the archaeozoic stratum, with spring water flowing from the top of the mountain to its piedmonts. The sweet and clear water is good for the heart and eyes, and has the effect of clearing away distress, moistening the intestines, and prolonging life. Therefore, the ancient people called it the “Sacred Water of Mount Tai.” In the northern part of Mount Tai, the limestone stratum in the upper and middle Cambrian and Ordovician periods slopes to the north while the ground water pours out springs here and there from the incision of the land ranging from Jinxiuchuan to the north. Ji’nan is a city of springs because there is spring water and willows in the yard of each family since the karst water on the northern edge of Mount Tai flows under the ground to the north, but is cut off by the gabbro in the stratum areas and rushes out in Ji’nan.

The physiognomy of Mount Tai consists of four types which are alluvial and diluvial tablelands, destructional and constructional hills, low mountains formed through tectonic denudation, and low-medium mountains with etching structures in a descending order. They have formed a landscape featuring a variety of topographies, with endless magnificent mountain peaks rising one higher than the other. Mount Tai is located at the side of the intersection between the north-south passageway on the North China Plain and the east-west passageway at the middle or lower reaches of the Yellow River. This plays a key role in expanding the influence of Mount Tai and promoting its culture.

Vegetations and ancient trees

Mount Tai is rich in biological resources and its vegetation coverage rate reaches 80 percent. Stepping upwards from the foot of the mountain, visitors can see deciduous forests, mixed forests of conifers and broad-leaved species, coniferous forests, as well as alpine shrubs and grass. The vertical zonation makes clear the distinction between different forests, and the vegetation landscape is different from each other. Mount Tai now has 989 species of spermatophytes belonging to 144 families, including 433 species of woody plants belonging to 72 families, 556 species of herbaceous plants belonging to 72 families, and 462 species of medicinal plants belonging to 111 families.

The ancient and famous trees on Mount Tai were all produced by nature and have a long history. According to the “Historical Records,” “There are many trees on Mount Tai, and nobody knows the exact number of tall trees that are too big for one person to get one’s arms around.” There are currently 34 species of trees with its total number standing at more than 10,000. These trees are closely connected with the historical and cultural development of Mount Tai and are also the symbol of ancient civilizations. The famous trees include the Hanbai Linghan, Guayin Fenghou, Tanghuai Baozi, Qingtan Qiansui, Liuchao Yixiang, Yipin Dafu, Wudafu Pine, Wangren Pine, Ginkgo of the Song Dynasty, and Chinese wisteria which is over 100 years old. These trees, which bore witness to Chinese history, have gone through all hardships and become a part of our precious heritage.

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