Mount Hua — Precipitous Mountain and Root of Chinese Culture

Mount Hua in Shaanxi Province of China

Mount Hua in Shaanxi Province of China

 

What Is Mount Hua?

 

Mount Hua or Mount Huashan, also named Huashan Mountain, is believed the most precipitous mountain in China, and the root (originate area) of Chinese culture.

Meanwhile, it is also a sacred place of Taoism Religion, with many ancient Taoism buildings scattering.

Ancient Temples on Precipitous Peak of the Mount Hua

Ancient Temples on Precipitous Peak, Photo by Yang Wenzhong.

 

Important Data of Mount Hua.

 

  • Mount Huashan is in the Huayin City of Shaanxi Province;

 

  • It is around 148 square kilometers large;

 

  • The highest peak, the South Peak or Nanfeng, is 2155 meters above sea level;

 

  • Huashan has five main peaks, which formed a lotus flower shape;

 

  • There are over 20 ancient Taoism temples.

Painting of Peaks of Mount Hua by Tian Xuesen.

Painting of Lotus Flower Shaped Peaks of Huashan, by Tian Xuesen.

 

The Cultural Importance of Mount Hua.

 

  • Yellow Emperor or Huang Di (about 2717 BC — 2599 BC) held alliances in Huashan, to meet with other lords or some deities in mythical legends;

 

  • This area was the original place of important Neolithic Cultures, including Yangshao Culture (5000 BC — 3000 BC) and Hongshan Culture (4000 BC — 3000 BC);

Painted Pottery Basin of the Yangshao Culture

Painted Pottery Basin of the Yangshao Culture — National Museum of China (Photo by Dongmaiying)

  • Since Qin Shi Huang (259 BC — 210 BC), many emperors held a grand sacrificial ceremony there, but only at the foot of the mountains;

 

  • It is located near Xi'an (120 km to the east), which had been the capital city of Qin (221 BC — 207 BC), Han (202 BC — 220 AD), Sui (581 — 619), and Tang (618 — 907) dynasties. 

 

 

How Dangerous and Adventurous of Climbing Mount Hua?

 

Considering the important geographical and cultural significance, however, no emperors and very few scholars had climbed on top of the mountains in history. 

 

The most important reason is dangerous, precipitous peaks made it impossible for hiking the mountain. 

 

Until the Tang Dynasty (618 — 907), people started to build roadways in Huashan Mountains, though most were quite narrow and difficult to use. 

Today, besides taking cable cars, climbing to the top is still one of the most adventurous and dangerous hiking trails.

Narrow, Vertical Stone Stairs on Mount Hua

Narrow, Vertical Stone Stairs

 

Who and Why Built the Plank Walks on Mount Hua?

 

Taoist master He Zhizhen (1212 — 1299) built the plank roads using only wooden rafters and stone nails, to practice Taoism on the reclusive and mythical top. 

 

Today's Huashan Plank Walk are strengthened versions in recent decades.

 

The iron chains are added for visitors to hold onto, and the wooden planks are fastened and would be replaced regularly.

Plank Roads and Added Iron Chains on Cliffs of Mount Hua

Plank Roads and Added Iron Chains on Cliff Face of Huashan Mountain

 

Who Are the Main Deities of Mount Hua?

Mount Huashan has been believed as a wonderful place for many celestial beings to visit or live.

  • Xiyue the Great, or Xiyue Dadi, is in charge of wind, rain, river, lake, metal, and alchemy. 

  • Yellow Emperor, Taoism deity Taishang Laojun, and other immortals had visited or lived there, to do alchemy, meet with other deities, or practice Taoism. 

Pond Yangtianchi on Top of Mount Hua

Pond Yangtianchi on Top of the Mountain, Believed the Place that Deities Take Water to Do Alchemies. 
This Mythical Small Pond is Surrounded by Rocky Stones but Had Never Overflown nor Dried Up. 

 

Important Cultural Sites of Mount Hua.

 

Xiyue Temple

Firstly built in the year 134 BC, expanded and rebuilt several times later, for emperors to worship the Deity of Mount Huashan, Xiyue the Great.  

Today, inside this ancient building ensemble, many historical stone inscriptions, paintings, and other cultural relics praising the mountains are well preserved. 

Panoramic of Xiyue Temple at the Foot of Mount Hua

Panoramic of Xiyue Temple at the foot of Huashan Mountain, Photo by Wang Chuang. 

Chess Pavilion

This is believed the place where Emperor Taizu of Song (927 — 976) played Chinese chess with Taoism master Chen Tuan (871 — 989) and lost the mountain to him.

Chess Pavilion on a peak of Mount Hua

Chess Pavilion on A Peak, Photo by Tianxin Dazhong. 

Bridal Chamber

This stone cave in legend was the bridal chamber, where a hermit there and Princess Nongyu, daughter of King Mu of Qin (682 BC — 621 BC) got married.

 

Since then, this place has become representative of great love. 

Bridal Chamber on Mount Hua
 

Impressive Natural Scenic Views of Mount Hua.

Northern Peak of Mount Hua

North Peak

Eastern Peak of Mount Hua

East Peak

Sunset View of Mount Hua

Sunset View

Mount Hua in Winter, Photo by Tao Ming.

Huashan in Winter, Photo by Tao Ming.