Facing history and legend in the mountains

City Talk | 8 Mar 2016

I was honored to visit a fascinating place in the summer our ancient city of Xi'an and its most revered mountain range, Zhongnan.

When Chinese convey birthday greetings, they may wish someone has "wealth like the eastern seas and health like Nan Shan." For Zhongnan, also known as Nan Shan, symbolizes longevity and health.

The Zhongnan Mountains, also known as the Taiyi Mountains, are a branch of the Qin Mountains in Shaanxi.

The east-west range is one of the backbones of feng shui beliefs. Its highest is Mount Taibai at 3,767 meters the highest mountain in eastern China lying about 100 kilometers west of the ancient capital of Xi'an.

Other significant peaks in the range are Mount Hua (2,155m), Mount Li (1,302m) and Mount Maiji (1,742m).

In a previous column, I mentioned that the country's leaders are usually from mountainous areas while business leaders are from coastal regions.

Xi'an is the oldest of the four great ancient capitals of China, having served as the center of power under several of the most important dynasties in history, including Zhou, Qin, Han, Sui and Tang. It is the starting point of the Silk Road and home to the Terracotta Army of Emperor Qin Shi Huang.

Buddhist monks began living in these mountains following the introduction of the religion from India in the first millennium AD. They has been a popular dwelling- place for Taoist hermits since the Qin dynasty.

The Zhuanzhen sect, one of the largest branches of modern Taoism, was founded here by Song dynasty Taoist Wang Chongyang. What's more, the book Tao Te Ching was written here by Lao Tzu.

Historically this place also serves as a sabbatical venue for masters Lu Dongbin (Lu Ju) and Grandmaster Zhonglichuen.

Kerby Kuek has published 15 books on feng shui, inner alchemy, Taoism and metaphysics. He can be contacted at www.kerbykuek.com

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