Wudang Mountains

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UNESCO World Heritage Site
Ancient Building Complex in the Wudang Mountains
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
Wudangshan pic 2.jpg
Type Cultural
Criteria i, ii, vi
Reference 705
UNESCO region Asia
Inscription history
Inscription 1994 (18th Session)
Wudang Mountains is located in China
Wudang Mountains
Location of Wudang Mountains in China.
Wudang Mountains
Traditional Chinese 武當山
Simplified Chinese 武当山

The Wudang Mountains (simplified Chinese: 武当山; traditional Chinese: 武當山; pinyin: Wǔdāng Shān) consist of a small mountain range in the northwestern part of Hubei, China, just south of Shiyan. They are home to a famous complex of Taoist temples and monasteries associated with the god Xuan Wu. The Wudang Mountains are renowned for the practice of Taichi and Taoism as the Taoist counterpart to the Shaolin Monastery, which is affiliated with Chinese Chán Buddhism.


On Chinese maps, the name "Wudangshan" (Chinese: 武当山) is applied both to the entire mountain range (which runs east-west along the southern edge of the Han River, crossing several county-level divisions of Shiyan), and to the small group of peaks located within Wudangshan subdistrict of Danjiangkou, Shiyan. It is the latter specific area which is known as a Taoist center.[1]

Modern maps show the elevation of the highest of the peaks in the Wudang Shan "proper" as 1612 meters;[1][2] however, the entire Wudangshan range has somewhat higher elevations elsewhere.[1]

Some consider the Wudang Mountains to be a "branch" of the Daba Mountains range,[2] which is a major mountain system of the western Hubei, Shaanxi, Chongqing and Sichuan.


The Purple Cloud monastery at Wudang Mountains
The Gate of Yuan Wu at Wudang Mountains

For centuries, the mountains of Wudang have been known as an important centre of Taoism, especially famous for its Taoist versions of martial arts or Taichi.[3]

The first site of worship—the Five Dragons Temple—was constructed at the behest of Emperor Taizong of Tang.[4] Further structures were added during the Song and Yuan dynasties, while the largest complex on the mountain was built during the Ming dynasty (14th–17th centuries) as the Yongle Emperor claimed to enjoy the protection of the god Beidi or Xuan Wu.[4] Temples regularly had to be rebuild, and not all survived; the oldest extant structures are the Golden Hall and the Ancient Bronze Shrine, made in 1307.[4] Other noted structures include Nanyang Palace (built in 1285-1310 and extended in 1312), the stone-walled Forbidden City at the peak (built in 1419), and the Purple Cloud Temple (built in 1119-26, rebuilt in 1413 and extended in 1803-20).[4]

The monasteries such as the Wudang Garden were made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.[4]

On January 19, 2003, the 600-year-old Yuzhengong Palace at the Wudang Mountains was accidentally burned down by an employee of a martial arts school.[5] A fire broke out in the hall, reducing the three rooms that covered 200 square metres to ashes. A gold-plated statue of Zhang Sanfeng, which was usually housed in Yuzhengong, was moved to another building just before the fire, and so escaped destruction in the inferno.[3]

Association with martial arts

At the first national martial arts tournament organized by the Central Guoshu Institute in 1928, participants were separated into practitioners of Shaolin and Wudang styles. Styles considered to belong to the latter group - called Wudang chuan - are those with a strong element of Taoist neidan exercises. Typical examples of Wudang chuan are Taiji quan, Xing Yi Quan and Baguazhang. According to legend, Taijiquan was created by the Taoist hermit Zhang Sanfeng, who lived in the Wudang mountains.[6]

Wudangquan has been partly reformed to fit the PRC sport and health promotion program. The third biannual Traditional Wushu Festival was held in Wudang Mountains from October 28 to November 2, 2008.[7]


See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Road Atlas of Hubei (湖北省公路里程地图册; Hubei Sheng Gonglu Licheng Dituce), published by 中国地图出版社 SinoMaps Press, 2007, ISBN 978-7-5031-4380-9. Page 11 (Shiyan City), and the map of the Wudangshan world heritage area, within the back cover.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Atlas of World Heritage: China. Long River Press. 1 January 2005. pp. 99–100. ISBN 978-1-59265-060-6. Retrieved 9 August 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 Wang, Fang (May 11, 2004). "Pilgrimage to Wudang". Beijing Today. Retrieved 2008-04-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Ancient Building Complex in the Wudang Mountains
  5. "China's world heritage sites over-exploited". China Daily. December 22, 2006. Retrieved 2008-04-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Henning, Stanley (1994). "Ignorance, Legend and Taijiquan". Journal of the Chen Style Taijiquan Research Association of Hawaii. 2 (3).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 李. Every year in the autumn a new festival is organized as part of the yearly festival calendar., 鹏翔 (April 18, 2008). "第三届世界传统武术节将在湖北十堰举行". 新华社稿件. Retrieved 2008-04-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  • Pierre-Henry de Bruyn, Le Wudang Shan : Histoire des récits fondateurs, Paris, Les Indes savantes, 2010, 444 pp.

External links

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