An Dawei, Cao Ganghua: Mountain Culture Resources in Ancient Chinese Mountain Chronicles

The author is a member of the National Social Science Fund Major Project “Chinese Buddhist Local Chronicles Research and Database Construction (Multiple Volumes)”, a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Qing History, Renmin University of China; chief expert, professor at the Institute of Qing History, Renmin University of China

The engraved version of “Panshan Zhi” in the Palace of Wuying in the 20th year of Qianlong’s reign in the Qing Dynasty was collected by the National Library.Author/Photo courtesy

The ancient Chinese mountain culture has a long history and is a unique national culture of our country. China’s superior natural environment provided objective conditions for the formation of mountain culture. Mountains are not only natural material existence, but also the soil for the deep accumulation of excellent traditional Chinese culture, which contains rich cultural connotations. The cultural relics have reshaped the appearance of the mountain, making it an important cultural field and exerting a wide range of cultural effects. The history of famous mountains is preserved by Lai Zhi, and the mountain chronicles compiled continuously in the past dynasties are the main body of ancient Chinese mountain history books. They comprehensively, detailedly and systematically record the natural geography and human history of mountains and surrounding areas. First-hand materials.

History and Style of Ancient Chinese Mountain Records

Those who make mountain records are also those who make mountains. Mountain chronicles are a unique type of local chronicles in China. They are specialized chronicles that record the natural and human aspects of mountains in a certain style. They are also the most concentrated type of literature that preserves ancient Chinese mountain cultural heritage. Ancient Chinese mountain annals has a long history of compilation, which can be traced back to the “Shan Jing” written in the Warring States Period, which records the mountains in the pre-Qin period, as well as the rivers originating from these mountains and the resources of the nearby areas. During the Wei and Jin Dynasties, many mountain travel notes appeared, such as Shi Huiyuan’s “Lushan Jilue” in the Eastern Jin Dynasty, which can be regarded as the prototype of mountain records. The Tang Dynasty was the formation period of mountain annals. The extant Taoist Li Chongzhao’s “Nanyue Xiaolu”, Li Guiyi’s “Wangwushan Annals” and monk Shi Huixiang’s “Gu Qingliang Biography” etc. Since “Sui Shu·Jing Ji Zhi”, mountain records have been included in the history and geography category of traditional Chinese catalogues. During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the compilation of mountain annals entered a prosperous stage. Screening according to a stricter style, there are more than 300 kinds of ancient mountain chronicles, most of which were completed in the Ming and Qing Dynasties.

Mountain chronicles are different from travel notes, notes, map documents, and collections. First of all, there must be a certain style, such as Pingmu style, Gangmu style, Jibiography style, Jilu style, etc., showing a typed knowledge sequence based on categories, which is a systematic integration of mountain knowledge pedigree. Secondly, the chroniclers have a clear sense of history, and collect, comb and assess historical materials with a rigorous and prudent attitude towards history, which embodies the traditional Chinese historiography spirit of writing directly and verifying facts, and recording history faithfully. Compilers of chronicles not only extensively collect historical biography and religious documents, but also pay special attention to field investigations and interviews, trekking through mountains and rivers, interviewing mountain people, cliff carvings, and recording them by hand. Provincial capitals, prefectures and counties store the history of one side, and mountain records store the history of one mountain, preserving rich socio-economic, cultural, historical and geographical data. Thirdly, mountain chronicles, like other local chronicles, are a type of literature that has been continuously revised and rebuilt through successive dynasties. Usually, the book is not written by one person, and the imperial court and local officials, literati, scholars, monks and Taoists participated in the compilation extensively, which ensured the rich content and high document value of the annals. At the same time, bloggers with different identities have different values ​​and power discourses, which shape the knowledge production of mountains and the narrative of mountain history.

Mountain Records Contain Political and Cultural Connotations of Ancient Mountains

Mountains are the political and geographical space in ancient China. The formation of mountain culture originated from the worship of primitive natural mountains by ancient ancestors. “Shan Hai Jing” records that “the hill of Kunlun is the capital under the real emperor”. It is believed that the towering mountains are the closest to the sky and possess the spirituality of the gods. Therefore, the mountains are regarded as a bridge to communicate with gods and man, and to communicate with heaven and earth, reflecting the traditional value concept of “the unity of heaven and man” of the ancients. Mountain worship gradually changed from folk beliefs to official sacrifices in the pre-Qin period, and a complete system of mountain sacrifices was established in the Han Dynasty. “Hanshu·Jiaosizhi” records that in the first year of Shenjue (61 BC), Emperor Xuan of the Han Dynasty “made an imperial edict too often: “Fu Jianghai, the largest of all rivers, has no temples today. He ordered the temple officials to regard ritual as the age In order to pray for the prosperity of the world, we use the four seasons to commemorate the rivers, seas and Luoshui, and pray for a good year for the world. ‘Since there are common rituals for the five mountains and four deserts.’ Since then, the emperors of all dynasties have offered sacrifices to the famous mountains headed by the “Five Sacred Mountains”, embedding imperial power and national system elements in the mountain culture. Through mountain ceremonies, ancient rulers publicized the merits of governance, prayed for the prosperity of the country and the people’s peace and eternal imperial power, and endowed mountains with political significance. Using mountains to build a geographical model that governs the four directions of the world, highlighting the orthodox status of the regime.

From the perspective of the relationship between the state and religion, Buddhism and Taoism are the ideological tools used by the ancient Chinese court to manage the spiritual world of its subjects. The rulers of past dynasties fostered and utilized Buddhism and Taoism in the mountains and forests, venerated benevolence, visited the ceremony in person or sent ministers to set incense, played their social integration function, and maintained political rule and social stability. For example, the rulers of the Qing Dynasty supported the development of Tibetan Buddhism in Mount Wutai, using it to appease the Mongolian and Tibetan tribes, stabilize the border areas, and make it a link to promote multi-ethnic cultural exchanges.

The mountain annals of the past dynasties, such as Shengzhi, Tianzhang, Chenhan, Xundian, and Enxing, record the process of ancient emperors visiting rituals and building famous mountains, and include imperial poems and imperial edicts, which contain the political and cultural connotations of mountains. Ancient Chinese mountain annals were mainly compiled privately, but some of them were compiled by officials. For example, during the Qianlong period of the Qing Dynasty, the imperial court organized the compilation of the “Imperial Records of Qingliang Mountain” and “Imperial Records of Panshan Mountain”, which combined mountain narratives with the concept of “great unification”, aiming at the construction of imperial orthodoxy.

Mountain Records Contain the Religious and Cultural Connotations of Ancient Mountains

Mountains are the “sacred space” in the hearts of ancient Buddhist and Taoist believers. Ancient Chinese mountain culture contains rich religious content, and religious belief has a profound impact on the formation and development of Chinese mountain culture. Mountains and waters have the effect of purifying people’s hearts. The mountains are far away from the city, the forests and ravines are beautiful, and they are quiet and quiet, which helps monks and Taoists to concentrate on their practice. Therefore, ancient Chinese temples and Taoist temples are mostly built in famous mountains and scenic spots, forming the characteristics of Chinese religions in terms of geographical space distribution. . Believers sanctify the mountains and endow them with corresponding religious and cultural characters. The Taoist idea of ​​”a cave and a blessed place” made it a common practice for Taoists to go to the mountains to practice in the Eastern Han Dynasty. During the Wei and Jin Dynasties, Buddhism also developed in the direction of mountain forests, and mountains became the ancestral home and teaching base of various Buddhist sects. Since the Six Dynasties, Chinese traditional culture has formed a culture represented by the three ideological systems of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism. Most of the famous mountains in the world are inhabited by Buddhism and Taoism. The monks and Taoists opened up mountain roads and built various facilities, becoming the pioneers of mountain development and speeding up the development process of ancient mountainous areas. After the Tang and Song Dynasties, with the strengthening of the regionalization process in various regions, a group of famous Buddhist and Taoist mountains were formed to adapt to the cultural identity of different regions, especially represented by the “Four Famous Mountains of Buddhism” and “Four Famous Mountains of Taoism”. Longing for a religious holy place of worship.

Most of the mountain records compiled during the Tang, Song, Jin and Yuan dynasties are famous Buddhist and Taoist mountain records, which contain a strong religious color. Among the mountain annals compiled during the Ming and Qing dynasties, those featuring Buddhism and Taoism accounted for a considerable proportion. Most of these mountain chronicles were compiled by Buddhist and Taoist believers. They focus on describing mountain temples and extolling the deeds of eminent monks and Taoists. They focus on the sacred construction of the geographical space of mountains. secular society. Buddhist mountain chronicles and Taoist mountain chronicles are the products of the combination of local chronicles and religious beliefs in ancient China. The integration of mountain history and religious culture is the biggest feature of their content, and the unity of belief and historical facts is the biggest feature of their compilation.

The mountain chronicles extensively record the history of temple construction, architecture, precepts, industries, and the whereabouts of eminent monks and Taoists. The art and literature section includes a number of religious documents, which are historical materials that cannot be ignored in the study of religious history. Compared with the religious documents of Buddhism and Taoism, it has more specific and detailed records of religious dojos, religious figures and religious texts. Mountain records preserve the Buddhist and Taoist cultural heritage of ancient mountains and forests, and contain the religious and cultural connotations of mountains.

Mountain Records Contain the Social and Cultural Connotations of Ancient Mountains

Mountains are public cultural spaces in ancient society. Mountains played an important role in the social life of ancient China, enriching the spiritual world and life connotation of the ancients. In traditional Chinese culture, mountains are often compared to the virtue of a gentleman. “The Book of Songs·Xiaoya·Chejurisdiction” says that “Mountains look up to stop, scenery travel only”. “The Analects of Confucius Yong Ye” contains: “The Master said: those who know enjoy water, and those who are benevolent enjoy mountains.” From Boyi and Shuqi in the late Shang Dynasty and early Zhou Dynasty to the adherents in the early Qing Dynasty, hermits of all dynasties either escaped political persecution or were dissatisfied with social reality. Instead of cooperating with the rulers, he escaped to the mountains and forests, and pursued his ambition with chastity, showing the noble character and indifferent and peaceful temperament of Chinese scholars and officials who are not afraid of power.

After the Wei and Jin Dynasties, scholar-bureaucrats gradually awakened their aesthetic awareness of mountains and waters, lingering on the excellent natural and cultural landscapes of mountains, and chanting them in various inscriptions to express their aesthetic experience. Swimming in mountains and rivers was a great choice for leisure and entertainment of ancient literati. Beginning in the Tang Dynasty, many academies were established in secluded mountains and forests. Since then, scholar-bureaucrats gave lectures in the mountains, which has become a long-lasting cultural phenomenon. Mountains are the spiritual habitats of ancient literati and bureaucrats.

During the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties, the social influence and cultural radiation of famous mountains continued to expand, penetrated into the civil society, and affected the lives of the people. Ancestral temples, monasteries, and Taoist temples in the mountains attract surrounding people to worship, and they are public social and cultural spaces. Starting from the needs of real life, the general public went to the mountains to pray for rain, blessings, and disaster relief. Praying to mountains and participating in temple fairs have become part of people’s daily life. Cultural relics such as temples, scenic spots and historical sites, pavilions, Buddhist temples and Taoist temples in Shanyue Guangbu meet the various cultural needs of officials, people and common people, and are the cultural centers of various regions in ancient China.

The mountain chronicles are rich and detailed, and record in detail the deeds of famous sages and sages in the mountains, cultural relics and the real life of the surrounding people. The Art and Literature section widely collects documents related to Yishan, including poems, travel notes, inscriptions, tower inscriptions, memorials, public transfers, epitaphs, biography, letters, debates, prefaces, inscriptions, plaque couplets, quotations, folk Contracts, litigation documents, government trial notices, etc. There are not only literary works of scholar-officials praising famous mountains in various genres, but also a large number of official and private documents and archives. As a kind of local literature, mountain chronicles contain the social and cultural connotations of mountains, and are of high historical value for the study of regional socioeconomic and cultural history.

There are many maps at the beginning of the Ming and Qing mountain annals, which draw the geographical situation of a mountain in detail and meticulously, and highly generalize the shape of the Zhou mountain than the scale, and intuitively express the information of the terrain that is difficult to fully express in words. Indicating the path for people to climb mountains and visit scenic spots, it has both religious and cultural significance, historical value, practical value and aesthetic value. Landscape has rich aesthetic connotations in the cultural psychology of ancient Chinese literati and bureaucrats. Mountain chronicles that record the natural and cultural landscapes of mountains are in line with the aesthetic purport of literati. Reading mountain chronicles is a leisure choice for scholars in Ming and Qing Dynasties to experience the fun of “lying tour”.

Mountains are the backbone of China, with ideological significance, an important cohesive force in the historical development of the Chinese nation, and a profound connotation that symbolizes the great unity of the Chinese nation. Mountains are the place where ancient Chinese multiculturalism merged, and it is an important perspective to interpret the history of Chinese cultural development, which implies many clues to understand the development of ancient Chinese politics, religion, and society. Mountain culture is an important part of China’s excellent traditional culture, and mountain records are an important carrier and form of expression of ancient Chinese mountain culture. The continuous compilation of mountain chronicles reflects the historical and cultural identity of the chroniclers to the mountains, and preserves the cultural memory of the ancients on the mountains. A full study of ancient mountain annals is helpful to systematically elucidate Chinese mountain culture. At the same time, it can also provide reference for the scientific and rational development of tourism resources in mountain scenic spots in various places, and has high application value.

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