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The Backbone of China

29 April 2007

Mt Hua (华山), at 2154.9 m, it is the tallest of the Five Great Mountains

Traditional Chinese culture views all things in the universe as inter-connected, and in Feng shui theory, there is a comparison between the physical formation of Earth and a human body. It refers to mountains as the spines, rivers the blood veins, soil the skin and plants the hair.

Following this notion, China is a tall and bony guy since mountains and plateaus cover about 65 percent of its total land area, with seven of the world’s twelve top high peaks (higher than 8000 metres) located in the country. As China's hillish terrains are mainly concentrated in the northwest with fertile watering land in the southeast, this lofty and skinny fella exposes his face and soft belly to the sun, which from the feng shui point of view, is an ideal geo-composition.

Normally when Chinese mention China’s natural landscape, they often refer to it as “Three Eminent Hills and Five Great Mountains” (三山五岳).

It is believed that the Three Hills Five Mountains are where the immortals reside, and Chinese sovereigns made it a routine to pay tribute to the higher beings dwelling on the high grounds of the Five Mountains who act as the in-house guardians of the nation.

While the Three Hills are said located somewhere in the East Sea with their exact geo-positions never positively determined, the Five Mountains in the five key directions of the country are viewed as five pillars popping up the sky. They represent the Five Agents respectively, and are described as each having a distinctive personality: in the east Mt Mighty (泰山Wood) sits majesty, in the west Mt Lotus (华山Metal) erects tall and upright, behind them in the north Mt Eternity (恒山Water) keeps pacing leisurely, and before them in the south Mt Balance (衡山Fire) is on the verge of taking off from the ground, while right in the middle, Mt Lofty (嵩山Earth) lies down meditating. (嵩山如卧, 泰山如坐,华山如立,恒山如行,衡山如飞.)

Three Eminent Hills:

  • Hill Penglai (蓬莱)
  • Hill Yingzhou (瀛州)
  • Hill Fangzhang (方丈)

Five Great Mountains:

  • Mt. Tai (泰山 Mt Mighty), east (东岳), Wood
  • Mt. Heng (衡山 Mt Balance), south (南岳), Fire
  • Mt. Hua (华山 Mt Lotus), west (西岳), Metal
  • Mt. Heng (恒山 Mt Eternity), north (北岳), Water
  • Mt. Song (嵩山 Mt Lofty), middle (中岳), Earth

Four Major Sacred Buddhist Mountain (四大佛山). :

  • Mt. Potuo (普陀山):Zhejiang Province (浙江), bodhisattva patron Guanyin (观音菩萨)
  • Mt. Jiuhua (九华山):Anhui Province (安徽), bodhisattva patron Dizang (地藏菩萨)
  • Mt. Wutai (五台山):Shanxi Province (山西) bodhisattvapatron Wenzhu (文殊菩萨)
  • Mt. Emei (峨眉山):Sichuan Province (四川), bodhisattva patron Poxian (普贤菩萨)

Four Major Sacred Daoist Mountains (四大道教名山):

  • Mt. Wudang (武当山): Hubei Province (湖北),
  • Mt. Dragon and Tiger (龙虎山): Jiangxi Province (江西),
  • Mt.Green Town (青城山): Sichuan Province (四川),
  • Mt. Reaching Clouds (齐云山): Anhui Province (安徽)

Chinese State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping and the Ministry of Construction recently released the new measurement results of the nineteen well-known mountains using the latest technologies.

  • Mt. Emei (峨眉山) 3079.3 m, Sichuan Province (四川)
  • Mt Wutai (五台山) 3061.1 m, Shanxi Province (山西)
  • Mt Hua (华山) 2154.9 m,Shananxi Province (陕西)
  • Mt. Heng (恒山 Mt. Eternity) 2016.1 m,Shanxi Province (山西)
  • Mt Huang (黄山) 1864.8米, AnhuiProvince (安徽)
  • Mt. Sanqing (三清山) 1819.9 m,Sichuan Province (四川)
  • Mt. Wudang (武当山) 1612.1 m,Hubei Province (湖北)
  • Mt. Jinggang (井冈山) 1597.6 m, JiangxiProvince (江西)
  • Mt Tai (泰山) 1532.7 m,Shandong Province (山东)
  • Mt. Song (嵩山) 1491.7 m,Henan Province (河南)
  • Mt. Lu (庐山) 1473.4 m,Jiangxi Province (江西)
  • Mt. Jiuhua (九华山Mt.) 1344.4 m,Anhui Province (安徽)
  • Mr Heng (衡山 Mt. Balance) 1300.2 m,Hunan Province (湖南)
  • Mt. Qingcheng (青城山) 1260.0 m,Sichuan Province (四川)
  • Mt. Lao (崂山) 1132.7 m,Shandong Province (山东)
  • Mt. Yandang (雁荡山) 1108.0 m,Zhejiang Province (浙江)
  • Mt. Yuntai (云台山) 624.4 m,Henan Province (河南)
  • Mt. Puto (普陀山) 286.3 m,Zhejiang Province (浙江)
  • Mt. Long Hu (龙虎山) 247.4 m,Jiangxi Province (江西)

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