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World Cultural Landscape Heritage: Mount Wutai

Editor: zhenglimin 丨CCTV.com

07-08-2015 16:28 BJT

 

Origin of the name Mount Wutai

Most of those who have been to Mount Wutai usually visit the temple complex, which has a long history and large scale, and centers on Taihuai Town in Wutai County. In fact, the real Mount Wutai is five interconnected and beautiful peaks in Wutai County. The five peaks include the Wanghai Peak in the east, Guayue Peak in the west, Jinxiu Peak in the south, Yedou Peak in the north and Cuiyan Peak in the middle. As the altitudes of the five peaks are all above 3,000 meters, few people can reach the tops of the five peaks except some religious Buddhists who are capable of reaching the top to pay their respects to the Bodhisattva Manjusri. At the same time, because the temple complex of Taihuai Town is distributed among the five peaks, people generally regard they have been to Taihuai Town as they have been to Mount Wutai.

Mount Wutai used to be known as Zifu Mountain, and was also called Mount Wufeng Taoist Temple. Mount Wutai once was where monks practiced their religious. In 68 A.D. (the 11th year of the Yongping Period in the Eastern Han Dynasty), two high ranking Indian monks visited the mountain from the White Horse Temple in Luoyang and believed this area was where the Bodhisattva Manjusri taught Buddhism. They wanted to build temples to worship the Bodhisattva Manjusri, but Taoists who lived there did not agree. Finally, a competition between the Taoists and the two monks was staged by Emperor Liu Zhuang in Luoyang, and the two monks won. From then on, the Buddhists began to build Buddhist temples in Taihuai Town, and the first temple they built is today’s Xiantong Temple. Since then, the temples, which centered on Taihuai Town, were constructed and expanded in all dynasties with their total number once reaching more than 360, and over one hundred temples still exist today. Therefore, Mount Wutai ranks first among the four famous Buddhist Mountains with its long temple history and large-scale.

There was a rare-known story about why Mount Wufeng changed its name to Mount Wutai. According to legend, the climate in the ancient Mount Wufeng was very bad and it was very hot all year round. However the Manjusri, who was teaching Buddhism there, showed his sympathy for the local people and decided to save them. The Manjusri dressed up as a mendicant monk and went to the East China Sea to ask the Dragon King for help. He discovered a big bluestone at the gate of the Dragon Palace, which sent out cool breeze, and took it back. When the Manjusri put the big bluestone (the precious stone the Dragon King of the East China) at a valley in Mount Wufeng, the valley became a natural pasture with rich grass and cool weather. As a result, the valley was called Qingliang Valley. Local people constructed a temple in the valley and put the bluestone in the temple. Therefore, Mount Wufeng became known as Mount Qingliang.

Later, Emperor Yangjian of the Sui Dynasty heard this story and ordered his people to build temples at each top of the five peaks to enshrine the Manjusri. The enshrined Manjusri included the Intelligent Manjusri worshiped in the east peak, the Lion Manjusri worshiped in the west peak, the Wise Manjusri worshiped in the south peak, and the Spotless Manjusri worshiped in the north peak, and the Childish Manjusri worshiped in the middle peak. Visitors can watch the sunrise in the east peak, appreciate the bright moon in the west peak, look at pediment in the south peak and watch snow in the north peak. All of these are the origin of Mount Wutai.

Mount Wutai’s special activities

Driving ghosts

Driving ghosts, which usually begins around the 15th day of the sixth month on the lunar calendar, was derived from Tibet and is an important Buddhist activity held every year. The day before the event, lamas would read scripture, perform Buddhist dances, and “put down” ghosts at the Pusading Temple. On the 15th, more than 100 senior lamas would walk out of the Pusading Temple with the image of the Maitreya at the front, followed by the chair of the first lama and the horse of the second lama, as well as playing temple music. They would go to the Luohou Temple to dance for the Gods. On the 16th, the lamas would “chop ghosts” at the Pusading Temple. The first and second lama would wear clothes given to them by the emperor and other monks would dress up as the 28 regions with masks. They would form a circle and move their whole bodies around, hoping to dispel evil and welcome auspiciousness and stability.

Horse Trade Fair

The Horse Trade Fair would be held in June every year, and during this period, large-scale Buddhist activities, folk literary and artistic activities, and a horse and livestock trade fair would were held. The content of the activities are rich, including monks from different regions arranging Taoist rites and chanting in Taihuai County, filling Mount Wutai full of mystical religious color. Visitors can not only visit the temple complex on Mount Wutai, but can also appreciate local folk customs. Mount Wutai, which is one of the four famous Buddhist Mountains in China, has a flourishing morning assembly that began in ancient times. With the development of society, the morning assembly gradually changed and formed the Mount Wutai International Tourist Month, which offers an extensive platform for displaying the precious cultural relics in Mount Wutai.

Mount Wutai Buddhist Cultural Festival

Time: August 21 — September 21; Place: Mount Wutai in Xinzhou; Content: Mount Wutai is the Taoist rites of Manjusri, and attracts a large number of visitors and is surrounded by Buddhist sounds all year round. Furthermore, it has a dense religious ambience. Mount Wutai holds a large-scale tourist festival every year in August called the Mount Wutai Buddhist Cultural Festival. Many visitors and monks go there and hold Buddhist activities, and during the festival, large Buddhist and folk cultural and artistic activities will also be held.

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