Mount Tai (Chinese: 泰山; pinyin: Tài Shān) is a mountain of
historical and cultural significance located north of the city of
Shandong province, China. The tallest peak is the Jade
Emperor Peak (simplified Chinese: 玉皇顶; traditional Chinese:
玉皇頂; pinyin: Yùhuáng Dǐng), which is commonly reported as
1,545 metres (5,069 ft) tall, but is described by the PRC
government as 1,532.7 metres (5,029 ft).
Mount Tai is known as the eastern mountain of the Five Great Mountains
of China. It is associated with sunrise, birth, and renewal, and is
often regarded the foremost of the five.
Mount Tai has been a place of
worship for at least 3,000 years and served as one of the most
important ceremonial centers of China during large portions of this
3 Natural significance
3.1 Physical features
4 Cultural significance
4.1 Deities associated to Mount Tai
4.1.1 Great Deity of Mount Tai
4.1.2 Bixia Yuanjun
4.1.3 Yanguang Nainai
4.1.4 Songzi Niangniang
4.1.5 Shi Gandang
4.2 Dai Miao
4.3 Shrine of the Blue Dawn
4.5 Other monuments
4.6 Other significant places
6 Cultural references
7 See also
9 External links
Jade Emperor Peak, the summit of Mount Tai
Mount Tai is located in western Shandong, just north of the city of
Tai'an and to the south of the provincial capital Jinan. It extends
from 150 to 1,545 metres (492 to 5,069 ft) above sea level and
covers an area of 426 square kilometres (164 sq mi) at its
Jade Emperor Peak is 1,532.7 metres (5,029 ft) above
sea level and located at 36° 16′N and 117° 6′E.
Traces of human presence at
Mount Tai date back to the Paleolithic
period. Human settlement of the area can be proven from the neolithic
period onwards. During this time, two cultures had emerged near the
Dawenkou culture to the south and the Longshan culture
to the north.
Xia Dynasty (c. 2070–1600 BC) the mountain was known
as Mount Dai (Chinese: 岱山; pinyin: Dài Shān) and lay within the
borders of Qingzhou, one of the Nine Provinces of ancient China.
Religious worship of
Mount Tai has a tradition dating back 3,000
years, from the time of the Shang (c. 1600–1046 BC) to the Qing
Dynasty (1644–1912). Over time, this worship evolved into an
official imperial rite and
Mount Tai became one of the principal
places where the emperor would pay homage to heaven (on the summit)
and earth (at the foot of the mountain) in the Feng (Chinese: 封;
pinyin: Fēng) and Shan (Chinese: 禪; pinyin: Shàn) sacrifices
respectively. The two sacrifices are often referred to together as the
Fengshan sacrifices (Chinese: 封禪; pinyin: Fēngshàn). Carving of
an inscription as part of the sacrifices marked the attainment of the
By the time of the
Zhou Dynasty (c. 1046–256 BC)
Mount Tai had become highly ritualized ceremonies in
which a local feudal lord would travel there to make sacrifices of
food and jade ritual items. These would then be arranged in a ritually
correct pattern before being buried on the mountain. In the Spring and
Autumn period (771–476 BC) the vassal states of Qi and Lu
Mount Tai to the north and south respectively, from where
their feudal lords both made independent sacrifices on Mount Tai.
According to Zhou ritual belief, the spirit of
Mount Tai would only
accept sacrifices offered by a feudal lord, leading
Confucius (in his
Analects 3.6) to criticize the ministers who offered state sacrifices
here after usurping power. In the ensuing Warring States period
(475–221 BC), to protect itself against invasion, the State of
Qi erected a 500 kilometres (310 mi) wall, the ruins of which are
still present today. The name
Tai'an of the neighboring city is
attributed to the saying "If
Mount Tai is stable, so is the entire
country" (both characters of Tai'an, "泰" and "安", have the
independent meaning of "peace").
In 219 BC, Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China, held a
ceremony on the summit and proclaimed the unity of his empire in a
well-known inscription. During the Han Dynasty
(206 BC–220 AD), the Feng and Shan sacrifices were
considered the highest of all sacrifices.
Rituals and sacrifices were conducted by the Sui.
Japan, India, the Persian court in exile, Goguryeo, Baekje, Silla, the
Turks, Khotan, the Khmer, and the
Umayyad Caliphate all had
representatives attending the Feng and Shan sacrifices held by Emperor
Gaozong of Tang in 666 at Mount Tai.
Mount Tai has been a
World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site since 1987. In 2003,
it attracted around 6 million visitors. A renovation project was
completed in late October 2005, which aimed at restoring cultural
relics and renovating damaged buildings of cultural significance.
Widely known for its special ceremonies and sacrifices,
Mount Tai has
seen visits by many poets and literary scholars who have traveled
there to gain inspiration. There are grandiose temples, many stone
inscriptions and stone tablets with the mountain playing an important
role in the development of both
Buddhism and Taoism.
The Immortal Bridge (Chinese: 仙人桥; pinyin: Xiānrén Qiáo), a
Mount Tai is a tilted fault-block mountain with height increasing from
the north to the south. It is the oldest example of a
paleo-metamorphic formation from the
Cambrian Period in eastern China.
Known as the Taishan Complex, this formation contains magnetized,
metamorphic, and sedimentary rock as well as intrusions of other
origins during the
Archean Era. The uplift of the region started in
Proterozoic Era; by the end of the Proterozoic, it had become part
of the continent.
Jade Emperor Peak, other distinctive rock formations are
the Heaven Candle Peak, the Fan Cliff, and the Rear Rock Basin.
Mount Tai lies in the zone of oriental deciduous forest; about 80% of
its area is covered with vegetation. The flora is known to comprise
almost 1,000 species. Some of the trees in the area are very old and
have cultural significance, such as the
Han Dynasty Cypresses, which
were planted by the Emperor Wu Di, the Tang Chinese Scholartree (about
1,300 years old), the Welcoming-Guest Pine (500 years old)
and the Fifth-Rank Pine, which was named originally by the Emperor Qin
Shi Huang, but was replanted about 250 years ago.
Mount Taishan rises abruptly from the vast plain of central Shandong,
and is naturally endowed with many scenic sites. Geologically, it is a
tilted fault-block mountain, higher to the south than north, and is
the oldest and most important example of the paleo-metamorphic system
representative of the
Cambrian Period in eastern China. Referred to as
the Taishan Complex, it comprises magnetized, metamorphic, sedimentary
rock and an intrusive mass of various origins that were formed in the
Archean Era 1700-2000 million years ago. Subsequently, in the
Proterozoic Era, the Taishan region began to rise, becoming part of
the continent by the end of the era. Uplift continued until the middle
of the Cenozoic Era. The gneiss which emerged in the Taishan region is
the foundation for all of North China.
Cambrian strata, fully emerged
in the north, are rich in fossils. Six streams flow from the summit,
their water renowned for its extremely low mineral content, slight
acidity (pH = 6.3) and relatively high oxygen content (6.4 milligrams
per liter (mg/l)).
The area falls within the warm temperate climatic zone. Meteorological
data is not available. The regular climate is molly to -2 degrees
Vegetation covers 79.9% of the area, which is densely wooded, but
information about its composition is lacking. The flora is diverse and
known to comprise 989 species, of which 433 species are woody and the
rest herbaceous. Medicinal plants total 462 species and include
multiflower knotweed, Taishan ginseng, Chinese gromwell and sealwort,
which are renowned throughout the country. Some trees are very old and
famous, notably the
Han Dynasty Cypresses (planted 2,100 years ago by
Emperor Wu Di of the Han Dynasty), 'Welcoming Guest Pine' (500 years
old) and 'Fifth Rank Pine' (named by Emperor
Qin Shi Huang
Qin Shi Huang of the Qin
There are over 200 species of animals in addition to 122 species of
birds, but precise details are lacking. Large-scaled fish Varicorhinus
macrolepis is found in running water at 300–800 m.
Temple complex at the top of Mount Tai
Sunrise viewed from Lu-Viewing Platform
Mount Tai is of key importance in Chinese religion, being the eastern
one of the five Sacred Mountains of China. According to historical
Mount Tai became a sacred place visited by emperors to offer
sacrifices and meditate in the
Zhou Dynasty before 1,000 BC. A total
of 72 emperors were recorded as visiting it. Writers also came to
acquire inspiration, to compose poems, write essays, paint and take
pictures. Hence, a great many cultural relics were left on the
Deities associated to Mount Tai
Great Deity of Mount Tai
The Great Deity of
Mount Tai (Chinese: 东岳大帝; pinyin: Dōngyuè
Dàdì) is the supreme god of Mount Tai. According to one mythological
tradition, he is a descendant of Pangu. According to other theologies,
he is the eastern one of the Five Manifestations of the Highest Deity
Bixia Yuanjun (Chinese: 碧霞元君; pinyin: Bìxiá Yuánjūn),
literally the "Goddess of the Blue Dawn", also known as the "Heavenly
Immortal Lady of Jade" (Chinese: 天仙玉女; pinyin: Tiānxian
Yùnǚ) or the "Lady of Mount Tai" (Chinese: 泰山娘娘; pinyin:
Tàishān Niangniang). According to some mythological accounts, she is
the daughter or the consort of the Great Deity of Mount Tai. Statues
of Bixia Yuanjun often depict her holding a tablet with the Big Dipper
as a symbol of her authority.
Yanguang Nainai (Chinese: 眼光奶奶; pinyin: Yǎnguāng Nǎinǎi)
is venerated as goddess of eyesight and often portrayed as an
attendant to Bixia Yuanjun.
Songzi Niangniang (Chinese: 送子娘娘; pinyin: Sòngzi Niangniang)
is seen as a goddess of fertility, like Yanguang Nainai, she is often
portrayed as an attendant to Bixia Yuanjun.
Shi Gandang (Chinese: 石敢当; pinyin: Shígǎndāng) is a spirit
sent down from
Mount Tai by Bixia Yuanjun to protect ordinary people
from evil spirits.
Dai Temple at Mount Tai
The Temple of the God of Mount Tai, known as the Dai Temple (Chinese:
岱庙; pinyin: Dàimiào), is the largest and most complete ancient
building complex in the area. It is located at the foot of Mount Tai
in the city of
Tai'an and covers an area of 96,000 square meters. The
temple was first built during the Qin Dynasty. Since the time of the
Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD), its design has been a replica of the
imperial palace, which makes it one out of three extant structures in
China with the features of an imperial palace (the other two are the
Forbidden City and the
Confucius Temple in Qufu). The temple has five
major halls and many small buildings. The centerpiece is the Palace of
Heavenly Blessings (Tian Kuang), built in 1008, during the reign of
the last Northern Song Emperor Huizong. The hall houses the mural
painting "The God of
Mount Tai Making a Journey", dated to the year
1009. The mural extends around the eastern, western and northern walls
of the hall and is 3.3 metres high and 62 metres long. The theme of
the painting is an inspection tour by the god. Next to the Palace of
Heavenly Blessings stand the Yaocan Pavilion and the entrance archway
as well as the Bronze Pavilion in the northeast corner. The Dai Temple
is surrounded by the 2,100‑year‑old
Han Dynasty cypresses. The
oldest surviving stair may be the 6000 granite steps to the top of the
The site contains a number of well-preserved steles from the Huizong
reign, some of which are mounted on bixi tortoises. There is a much
later, Qianlong era bixi-mounted stele as well.
Dongyue Temple at Mount Tai
Zengfu Temple at Mount Tai
Shrine of the Blue Dawn
The Shrine of the Blue Dawn (Chinese: 碧霞祠; pinyin: Bìxiá Cí),
near the top of the mountain is another grand building complex, a
special combination of metal components, wood, and bricks and stone
structures. It is dedicated to the goddess Bixia (Blue Dawn). From the
Taishan Temple to the Blue Dawn Temple there are numerous stone
tablets and inscriptions and ancient buildings on the way. Visitors
derive much pleasure from climbing Mount Taishan. From the red gate at
the foot of the mountain to the South Heaven Gate at the top are some
6,660 stone steps, which wind their way up the mountain slopes, each
step offering a different view.
The"Shibapan"(十八盘）means 18 levels stairs，which is the most
advantageous part of stairs in Mount Tai. A total of 1827 stone steps,
is one of the main signs Mount Tai. People always say:"
Mount Tai of
the majestic, all in Shibapan,
Mount Tai of the sublime, all in the
climb in!" Shibapan has three parts, the"Slow Eighteens"(紧十八),
the "Hard Eighteens"(慢十八）, and the " No slow no hard
Eighteens"（不紧不慢又十八）. The "Slow Eighteens" means this
period is easier to climb, and the"Hard Eighteens" means it is harder
to climb, which is interesting.
A flight of 7,200 total steps (including inner temple steps), with
6,293 Official Mountain Walkway Steps, lead up the East Peak of Mount
Tai, along its course, there are 11 gates, 14 archways, 14 kiosks, and
In total, there are 22 temples, 97 ruins, 819 stone tablets, and 1,018
cliff-side and stone inscriptions located on Mount Tai. These include
a Temple of the Jade King (Chinese: 玉皇庙; pinyin: Yùhuáng
Miào), a Temple of the Blue Deity (Chinese: 青帝宫; pinyin:
Qīngdì Gōng), a Temple of
Confucius (Chinese: 孔子庙; pinyin:
Kǒngzi Miào), a Temple of
Doumu (Chinese: 斗母宫; pinyin: Dòumǔ
Gōng) and the Puzhao Buddhist Temple (Chinese: 普照寺; pinyin:
Among the tablets and inscriptions on the top of Mount Tai, the
inscription that declares
Mount Tai the "Most Revered of the Five
Sacred Mountains" (simplified Chinese: 五岳独尊; traditional
Chinese: 五嶽獨尊; pinyin: Wǔyuè Dúzūn) on the "Sun Viewing
Peak" (Chinese: 日观峰; pinyin: Rìguān Fēng) is particularly
renown. It was written by a member of the
Aisin Gioro clan (Chinese:
爱新觉罗玉构; pinyin: Àixīn Juéluō Yùgòu) in 1907 and is
featured on the reverse side of the 5 yuan bill of the 5th series
renminbi banknotes. Another inscription marks the "Lu-Viewing
Platform" (Chinese: 瞻鲁台; pinyin: Zhānlǔ tái) from which
Confucius took in the view over his home state of Lu and then
pronounced "The world is small".
The Wordless Stela (Chinese: 无字碑; pinyin: Wúzì Bēi) stands in
front of the
Jade Emperor Temple. Legend has it that the emperor who
commissioned the stela was dissatisfied with the planned inscription
and decided to leave it blank instead.
Other significant places
Abandoning-Oneself Cliff (Chinese: 舍身崖; pinyin: Shěshēn Yá),
renamed Treasure Life Cliff (Chinese: 爱身崖; pinyin: Àishēn Yá)
in the Ming Dynasty
Sun Viewing Peak (Chinese: 日观峰; pinyin: Rìguān Fēng)
Moon Viewing Peak (Chinese: 月观峰; pinyin: Yuèguān Fēng)
Lu-Viewing Platform (Chinese: 瞻鲁台; pinyin: Zhānlǔ Tái)
Explore the Sea of Clouds Rock (Chinese: 探海石; pinyin: Tànhǎi
Rock inscriptions at Mount Tai
Visitors can reach the peak of
Mount Tai via a bus which terminates at
the Midway Gate to Heaven, from there a cable car connects to the
summit. Covering the same distance on foot takes from two and a half
to six hours. The supplies for the many vendors along the road to the
summit are carried up by porters either from the Midway Gate to Heaven
or all the way up from the foot of the mountain.
To climb up the mountain, one can take one of two routes. The more
popular east route starts from Taishan Arch. On the way up the 7,200
stone steps, the climber first passes the Ten Thousand Immortals Tower
(Wanxianlou), Arhat Cliff (Luohanya), and Palace to Goddess Dou Mu
(Doumugong). The climbing from the First Gate to Heaven (yi1 tian1
men2), the main entrance bordering on
Tai'an town, up the entire
mountain can take two and a half hours for the sprinting hiker to six
hours for the leisure pace. Reaching the Midway Gate to Heaven from
First Gate to Heaven is one hour at a sprint up to two and a half
hours leisurely. To the northeast of the Palace to Goddess Dou Mu is
Sutra Rock Valley in which the Buddhist Diamond Sutra was cut in
characters measuring fifty centimeters across believed to be inscribed
in the Northern Wei Dynasty. The west route, taken by fewer tourists,
is more scenic, but has less cultural heritage.
Climbing Mount Tai
The Chinese idiom "
Mount Tai & Big Dipper" (Chinese: 泰山北斗;
pinyin: Tàishān Bĕidŏu) is an epithet for a person of great
Another common Chinese idiom "有眼不識泰山" (literal translation
Has eyes but doesn't recognize Mount Tai), refers to an ignorant yet
According to ancient historian Sima Qian, he said "Though death
befalls all men alike, it may be weightier than
Mount Tai or lighter
than a feather."
Mao Zedong referred to this passage in the 20th
century: "To die for the people is weightier than Mount Tai, but to
work for the fascists and die for the exploiters and oppressors is
lighter than a feather."
Rage Against the Machine
Rage Against the Machine also referred to
the passage in the song "Year of the Boomerang": "So I'm goin' out
heavy sorta like Mount Tai."
Taishan (Mount Tai) is referenced extensively in Ezra Pound's "The
Cantos," especially the Pisan Cantos.
Mount Tai is shown on the reverse side of the 5 yuan bill of the 5th
series renminbi banknotes.
The 1987 album
Hold Your Fire
Hold Your Fire by Canadian progressive rock band Rush
contained the song "Tai Shan", referencing drummer/lyricist Neil
Peart's journey to Mount Tai.
Dai Miao is featured in Sid Meier's
Civilization IV as a religious
complex that can be built by a Great Prophet, thus establishing a holy
shrine dedicated to
Taoism in the Taoist holy city.
Tai Shan, some of its temples, and the
Jade Emperor are referenced and
visited in Dan Simmons' book The Rise of Endymion.
Mt. Tai is referenced as being the place of origin for the Taizan
Tenrōken (泰山天狼拳, "
Mt. Tai Celestial Wolf Fist") martial art
in Fist of the North Star, used by Yuria's elder brother, Ryuga.
List of World Heritage Sites in China
^ a b "Central and Eastern China, Taiwan and Korea" Peaklist.org.
Listed as "Tai Shan". Prominence based on an elevation of 1,545 m and
a col of 40 m. Retrieved 2011-11-19.
^ Yuan Xingzhong; Hong, Liu (2000). "Studies on the diversity of soil
animals in Taishan Mountain". Journal of Forestry Research. 11 (2):
109–113. doi:10.1007/BF02856685. Archived from the original (–
Scholar search) on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-06-04.
^ China Announced Elevation of 19 Well-known Mountains Archived
2014-01-21 at the Wayback Machine., China Institute of Geo-Environment
Monitoring, 19 May 2007. Accessed 4 June 2007.
^ "Mount Tai". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 31 January
^ "Introduction to Qingzhou (青州城市概況)" (in Chinese).
Qingzhou Government Website. Archived from the original on January 16,
2014. Retrieved January 13, 2014.
^ a b "Writing and Authority in Early China". google.com. Retrieved 31
^ Slingerland, Edward G. (Trans. & Ed.).
Confucius Analects: With
Selections from Traditional Commentaries. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett.
2003. ISBN 978-087220-635-9. Retrieved November 17, 2012. p.19.
^ John Lagerwey; Pengzhi Lü (30 October 2009). Early Chinese
Religion: The Period of Division (220-589 Ad). BRILL. pp. 84–.
^ Skaff 2012, pp. 146-7.
^ tai mountain
^ Photos from
Dai Miao (in Chinese)
^ "中国万花筒". google.com. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
^ "SERVE THE PEOPLE". marxists.org. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
^ "Rage Against The Machine Year Of Tha Boomerang lyrics" Archived
2012-10-31 at the Wayback Machine.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mount Tai.
Mount Tai travel guide from Wikivoyage
Tai Shan official website (in English)
"Tai Shan, China" on Peakbagger
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