|The Qinling Mountains
Sacred Daoist Range of NW China,
South of Xian
my brief visit in August 2014
The Qín-lǐng 秦嶺 Mountains are a major range running west-to-east across all of southern Shaanxi
Province, just south of China's ancient Cháng-ān [長安; "Perpetual Peace"; today, Xian City], capital
of nearly a dozen dynasties including the Western Zhou, Qin, Western Han, Sui and Tang. They
begin west of Shaanxi in Gansu Province, and slowly disperse east of Shaanxi, after mighty Hua-shan.
These mountains have always been highly sacred to Daoism, collectively serving as the "Nan-shan"
(南山, Nam-san in Korean, South Mountain) of the capital region, like Seoul's Nam-san & Gwanak-san
and the famous Gyeongju Nam-san. For over 2000 years they have hosted many important Daoist
temples, shrines and hermit-masters, and for 1800 years they have been the base of great Buddhist
monasteries and masters. Today only a fraction of the sacred sites remain inhabited and in any way
religiously "active", although more than a few traditional hermits are still thought to dwell throughout.
The name: 秦 means the brief but crucial Qin Dynasty, first unified imperial Chinese state, 221-206
BCE; 嶺 means Ridge / Range. It is sometimes renderd as Qinling-shan 秦嶺山; it is Jinryeong in Korean.
This name should not be confused with Mt. Qingcheng-shan, also sacred to Daoism.
The most important sacred mountains and sites in the Qinling Mountains are,
from west to east:
Mt. Maiji-shan 麦积山, 1,742-meter summit, compact mountain with silk-road Buddhist grotto-carvings,
in Gansu Province far west of Xian.
Mt. Taibai-shan 太白山, Taebaek-san in Korean, the highest peaks of Qinling.
The Zhongnan-shan 終南山 region, the sub-range in the center of Qinling directly south of Xian and old
Chang-an -- in ancient times the most active holy area; its western area contains the Louguan-tai Daoist
temple-complex and the significant Daqing Pagoda on the northern foot, and also Mt. Jiaoyu-shan 蛟峪山
with Daoist Laojun-si 老君庙 [Ancient Lord Temple, Nogun-sa in Korean] and the Nanwutai Scenic Area;
its eastern section is centered on Mt. Cuihua-shan (now the Shaanxi Cuihua-shan National Geopark
陕西翠华山国家 地质公园售票处, the Jiawutai Scenic Area 嘉午台风景区 with Sanli Buddhist Temple
三里庙 and Qili Buddhist Temple 七里庙, and now the Geumseon-gwan Korean-Daoist temple.
Scenic Mt. Li-shan 骊山 / 驪山, 1,302 metres, west of Xian and NW of the Tomb of China's First Emperor
with the famous terracotta army -- a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.
Mt. Hua-shan 华山, 2,155 meters, the five-peaked "Flower Mountain" designated as the western peak
of the Five Great (Imperial) Mountains and still hosting many Daoist temples & shrines.
the highest summit
|western part of
These mighty mountains form the natural boundary between arid northern China and humid-fertile
southern China in the western sector of the traditional country area, and serve as watershed-divider
between the Wei River (north) and Han River (south). Still today, much of them are protected areas,
preserves of a wide variety of wild plant and animal species, some of which are quite rare.
Expressway G-30 and Provincial Highways S-107 and S-108 now bound the Qinling Mountains on
their north, establishing the border between them and the densely populated Wei River watershed
region, as-said one of the ancient centers of Chinese civilization that includes Chang-an. To their
west is the northern mountain-range of the Tibetan Plateau, which can be considered their "root"
in geomantic-topograpical terms. Today China's new Expressway G-65 and a main national train-
route run through right their center from Xian southward towards Chongqing and Chengdu cities.
the highest summit
|western part of
|"Escaping the Heat at Mount Li," painted by Yuan Jiang in the Ming Dynasty
|central region of the Qinling Mountain Range