top of page

Mount Tai — Holy Land of Politics and Worship in Chinese Culture

Mount Tai, also known as Mount Taishan or Taishan Mountain, stands among the most sacred places in Chinese history, where great emperors held holy worship ceremonies, considering the mountain as representative of the empire's stability and well-being.


In mythology and religion, it is believed to be the place that connects heaven and hell, immortal deities, and ghosts. 


Today, recognized as a UNESCO Mixed Natural and Cultural Heritage site, Mount Tai boasts stunningly beautiful natural scenery and houses valuable historical, cultural, and religious relics.

Mount Tai in Shandong Province of China

Mount Tai Facts and Important Data


  • Mount Taishan is located in the Tai'an City of Shandong Province, east of China.


  • It is around 426 square kilometers large.


  • Jade Emperor Peak, or Yuhuang Ding, the main peak, is 1532.7 meters high.


  • There are over 20 ancient building ensembles.


  • Thousands of stone inscriptions from different dynasties are scattered in the mountains. 

Ancient Building on Mount Tai

Importance of Mount Tai in Chinese Culture


Even though not being the highest nor grandest mountain in China, Mount Tai is the most sacred place in Chinese culture for different reasons. 

  • The area where the mountain is located was the original place of important Neolithic Cultures, including Dawenkou Culture (4500 BC — 2500 BC) and Longshan Culture (2500 BC — 2000 BC). 

Painted Pottery Jar of Dawenkou Culture

Painted Pottery Jar of Dawenkou Culture — Shandong Museum (Photo by Dongmaiying)

  • Of the Five Great Mountains, Mount Tai is on the east, where the sun rises.  

According to the Five Elements Theory, the east represents wood and spring, which means the origin, life, hope, and thriving.

  • It is the highest and holiest mountain in the States Qi and Lu, the hometowns of Confucius and Mencius, and the origin place of Confucianism

  • Mount Tai is the incarnation of the creation deity Pan Gu's head in ancient mythology. 

Sunrise in Mount Tai
  • In historical and folk legends, Mount Tai was believed to be the connection point of heaven and hell, deities and ghosts.

Many legends and relics say that after people departed, their souls would come to the mountain, and at the foot is a path to the world of ghosts. 

On top of the mountain are some sacred spots where immortal beings live or sometimes might show up. 

  • Many great emperors held Feng Shan, the most sacred and honorable worship ceremony in ancient Chinese culture, on Mount Tai. 

Panorama Painting of Mount Tai

Panorama Painting of Mount Tai

The Sacred Feng Shan Ceremony


In ancient Chinese culture, Feng Shan was the most sacred worship ceremony, held by outstanding emperors on Mount Tai, symbolizing that the holy heaven granted them the right to rule.

  • Feng is to build a circular sacrificial altar on top of the mountain to worship heaven and to inform the emperor's accomplishments.

  • Shan is to build a square altar on small hills around to worship the earth and pray for blessings. 

Peaks of Mount Tai

Moreover, there are strict standards for holding the Feng Shan ceremony:

  • The empire must be unified.

  • The emperor should have achieved exceptional accomplishments.

  • The country must be rich, prosperous, and stable.

  • The presence of auspicious signs is required. 

Trees and Cloud Sea on Top of the Mount Tai

Trees and Seas of Cloud on Top of the Taishan Mountain

Emperors who Held the Grand Feng Shan Ceremony

Throughout the faithful course of history, only six emperors have held the Feng Shan ceremony on Mount Tai. 

  • Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor in the history of China with unprecedented achievements, defeated the other six kingdoms, established the unified Qin Dynasty, and held the first Feng Shan ceremony in 219 BC.

Part of Inscription on Mount Tai Recorded Qin Shi Huang's Feng Shan, Wrote by Li Si the Prime Minister of the Qin Dynasty.

Part of Inscription Recorded Qin Shi Huang's Feng Shan Ceremony, Written by Li Si the Chancellor of the Qin Dynasty.

  • Emperor Wu of Han opened up the Silk Road, defeated the Xiongnu and vastly extended territory, promoted Confucianism as the dominant ideology, and held the Feng Shan ceremony six times since 110 BC. 

  • Emperor Gaozong of Tang and his queen Wu Zetian extended territory after perishing Western Turkic Khaganate, Baekje, and Goguryeo, brought people a prosperous reign, and held Feng Shan in the year 665.

  • Emperor Xuanzong of Tang brought his people one of the most prosperous eras in Chinese history, the Great Reign of Kaiyuan, and held Feng Shan in 726. 

Inscriptions on Mount Tai, Written by Emperor Xuanzong of Tang

Inscriptions Written by Emperor Xuanzong of Tang to Memorize his Grand Feng Shan Ceremony (the Gold Characters on the Right) on Mount Tai.

  • Emperor Zhenzong of Song brought people a stable and wealthy reign, signed a pact with the Liao Dynasty to pursue peace using money, and then held Feng Shan in 1008.


Afterward, many emperors offered sacrificial ceremonies there, but no one held the Feng Shan anymore. 

One of the most important reasons was that most people believed Emperor Zhenzong of Song was not qualified to hold this grand ceremony, and his activity made Feng Shan not as sacred anymore.

Jade Book that Emperor Zhenzong of Song Wrote for this Feng Shan Ceremony

Jade Book (Yu Ce) that Emperor Zhenzong of Song Wrote for this Feng Shan Ceremony — Taipei Palace Museum

Main Deities of Mount Tai


According to ancient myths and religious legends, Mount Tai is the residence of many deities: 

  • Dongyue the Great, or Dongyue Dadi, is in charge of everything's life and death. 

  • Bixia Yuanjun, Lady of Mount Tai, is one of the most influential goddesses in Chinese culture. She protects people's well-being, blesses the prayers of kind individuals, and rewards sincere couples with cute babies.

Today, many still pray to the deity to bestow them with a child they have longed for.

Figure of Bixia Yuanjun, the Deity of Mount Tai.

Important Cultural Sites of Mount Tai


Bixia Temple


Firstly built in 1008, the grandest ancient building ensemble on Mount Tai, to worship the deity Bixia Yuanjun.

Bixia Temple on Mount Tai

Bixia Temple Building Complex, Photo by Li Xing.

Eighteen Bends (Shibapan) and South Heavenly Gate (Nantian Men)


A tortuous walkway with over 1600 stone steps, the end on top is Nantian Men, believed to be the entrance to heaven in mythical legends.

Eighteen Bends (Shibapan) and South Heavenly Gate (Nantian Men) of Mount Tai.

Dai Temple

Dai Temple at the foot of the mountain is the largest ancient building ensemble in this area. 

Firstly constructed in the Han Dynasty (202 BC — 220 AD), it was the palace for emperors to worship and pray. 

Afterward, Dai Temple was reconstructed several times, preserving many valuable frescos and cultural relics. 

Today, it is one of the Four Greatest Representative Ancient Building Complexes in China, with the Forbidden City in Beijing, the Confucius Temple in Qufu, and the Imperial Mountain Resort in Chengde.

Dai Temple at the foot of Mount Tai

Impressive Natural Scenic Views of Mount Tai

Sunrise Scape on Top of Mount Tai, Photo from Official Site of Mout Tai.

Sunrise Scape on Top Peak, Photo from Official Site of Taishan.

Cloud Sea Scenery on Top of Mount Tai, Photo by Fan Zhixiang.

Cloud Sea Scenery, Photo by Fan Zhixiang.

Sunset Glow on Mount Tai, Photo from Official Site of Mount Tai.

Sunset Glow, Photo from Official Site of Taishan.

Peach Blossom Valley of Mount Tai

Peach Blossom Valley, Photo by Shenlanse Wendu.

bottom of page