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Mount Tai Shan

Listed under Sacred Spaces in Tai'an, China.

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Stairway to Heaven: Mount Tai Shan, One of China's four sacred Mountains.

Tai Shan is not merely the mountain home of the Gods, it is considered a deity itself and has been venerated by the Chinese as their most sacred peak since at least the 3rd millennium BC. The emperors of ancient China regarded Tai Shan as the actual son of the Emperor of Heaven, from whom they received their own authority to rule the people. The mountain functioned as a God who looked after the affairs of humans and who also acted as a communication channel for humans to speak to God. Seventy-two legendary emperors are said to have come to Tai Shan, but the first known evidence dates from a rock carving left on the mountain in 219 BC by Emperor Shih-huang, who is also remembered for having begun construction of the Great Wall. Historical record tells of the sometimes enormous retinues that would accompany an emperor on his pilgrimage to Tai Shan; lines of people might stretch from the bottom to the top of the mountain, a distance of over six miles. Besides royalty, artists and poets have also favored the holy peak. The walls lining the path up the mountain are covered with poems and tributes carved in stone, proclaiming the importance and beauty of the surroundings. Confucius and the poet Dufu both wrote poems expressing their respect, and legend tell that those who climb the mountain will live until they are one hundred years old.

More than 7000 steps lead to the summit and there are numerous temples, inns, small restaurants and shops for the millions of annual pilgrims. Two important temples are situated atop of the peak, the Temple of the Jade Emperor, and the Temple of the Princess of the Azure Clouds. The temple of the Princess is one of the most venerated places of pilgrimage for Chinese women and thousands make the long climb each day. Mothers whose daughters have been unable to conceive come to pray for grandchildren. Two attendant goddesses standing next to the Princess are miracle working images, one for curing eye ailments, the other for children' diseases.

More from Sacred Sites on Mount Tai Shan.

Written by  Martin Gray.

Other expert and press reviews

“Mount Taishan”

'The sacred Mount Tai ('shan' means 'mountain') was the object of an imperial cult for nearly 2,000 years, and the artistic masterpieces found there are in perfect harmony with the natural landscape. It has always been a source of inspiration for Chines… Read more...

Written by press. UNESCO

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Mount Taishan

Enveloped in tales of sacrifice and hauntings, Mount Taishan is considered the “First of the Five Sacred Mountains” in China’s Central Plains. Visited by dozens of emperors over thousands of years, this World Heritage site is decorated with examples of ancient Chinese architecture, art, and religious symbolism. Pilgrimages to the mountain’s numerous temples and relics have been taking place since 1000 BC, with the Dai Temple the most famous site to visit.

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