The historic Dengfeng monuments at “The Center of Heaven and Earth” were listed in the World Heritage List in 2010 under the standards C (III) (VI) for selecting cultural heritage.
Assessment of the World Heritage Committee: The historic Dengfeng monuments at “The Center of Heaven and Earth” are concentrations of China’s ancient civilization. They have extremely high historic, artistic and scientific value, and completely deserve to be listed as a world cultural heritage.
On August 1, 2010, Beijing Time, the 34th session of the World Heritage Committee made a resolution to add Henan Province’s historic Dengfeng monuments at “The Center of Heaven and Earth” in the world cultural heritage list. This indicates that the 39th ancient rarity of China has entered the world heritage catalogue and is under key protection.
In China’s traditional world view, China is the country at the “Center of Heaven and Earth,” and the “Center of Heaven and Earth” is located at the Central Plains, and the core of the Central Plains is Dengfeng City in Henan Province. Therefore, Dengfeng was the capital of many early dynasties in China and also their cultural center. China’s mainstream cultural branches including Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism all established their core bases in Dengfeng to spread their theories, and Dengfeng was also the center of astronomical observation. This historical background left Dengfeng a great amount of well-preserved cultural and memorial architectures, and the essence of them is the historic Dengfeng monuments at “The Center of Heaven and Earth.”
The historic Dengfeng monuments at “The Center of Heaven and Earth” consists of 11 outstanding architectural compounds of eight types, including the Three Palaces of the Han Dynasty, the Songyue Temple Pagoda, Zhongyue Temple, Architectural Complex of the Shaolin Temple (Changzhu Temple, Chuzu Temple and the Pagoda Forest), Huishan Temple, Songyang Academy, Zhou Gong Measurement Tower and the Dengfeng Star Observation Platform. Currently, the monuments contain 367 buildings which were constructed in the Eastern Han Dynasty, Northern Wei Dynasty, Tang Dynasty, Five Dynasties Period, Song Dynasty, Jin Dynasty, Yuan Dynasty, Ming Dynasty, Qing Dynasty, and the Republic of China period. According to building materials, the buildings can be divided into two types of the brick and stone buildings (254 buildings) and wooden-structure buildings (113 buildings). According to their functions, the buildings can be divided into four categories, ritual buildings (41 buildings), religious buildings (291 buildings), educational buildings (26 buildings) and scientific buildings (9 buildings). All of them make the 2,000-year-old architectural history of the Central Plains visual and clear.
This architectural complex refers to many realms including rituals, religion, education and science, and is an outstanding representative of China’s ancient architecture and an excellent model of originality and architectural shape and structure. It can fully reflect the amazing creativity of the human race. The buildings not only deeply affected the formation and development of other architecture of the same kind in China’s central regions, but also affected the rituals and religious architectural systems and even the cultural traditions of China and Asia. Many individual buildings were the outstanding representatives of the buildings of the same kind in their times, and currently are excellent examples and specimens for architectural design and construction technologies. These buildings had recorded the history of ancient Chinese sacrifice and worshipping culture and academy education, and are unique and vivid witnesses to the inheritance and development of these two extinct cultural traditions.
After an on-site investigation and evaluation, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) confirmed that Zhengzhou’s historic Dengfeng monuments at “The Center of Heaven and Earth” accord with the standards of authenticity and integrity and possess outstanding universal values. In the “Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage,” six standards were defined for selecting world cultural heritage, and as long as a place accords with one of the standards (the standard (VI) cannot be used alone), it would be qualified to be listed in the World Heritage List. Zhengzhou’s historic Dengfeng monuments at “The Center of Heaven and Earth” not only accord to the third standard (III) but also accord to the sixth standard (VI).