Tibetan and Himalayan Library - THL

THL Title Text
Mongol Pilgrimages to Wutai Shan
Isabelle Charleux, National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS)
JIATS, no. 6 (December 2011), THL #T5712, pp. 275-326
Section 5 of 6 (pp. 299-310)

The Natural Numinous Features of the Wutai Shan Pilgrimage

The Caves

Figure 30: Cave where the Sixth Dalai Lama is believed to have meditated, Guanyin Dong. Photo by Isabelle Charleux.

Wutai Mountain boasts many natural features endowed with numinous power, especially caves, springs, ponds as well as the five peaks, which were no doubt as important to visit as monasteries. Visiting the caves seems to have been particularly important for Mongol pilgrims. Mountain caves are an essential component of Tibetan and Mongolian pilgrimage.114 Of the more than fifty natural features of Wutai Shan said to have sacred power (caves, springs, cliffs, peaks, curious rocks, and so forth) listed in the gazetteers, about thirty are caves. The Avalokiteśvara Cave (Guanyin Dong), located high up on a hill just north of South Terrace and very difficult to reach, was one of the favorite destinations for Mongols.115 The Sixth Dalai Lama Tsangyang GyatsoTshangs dbyangs rgya mtsho (1683-1706?) is believed to have meditated for six years in one of the Avalokiteśvara caves after his presumed death – many Mongols believed that he did not die near KokonorKöke Naγur en route to Beijing after he was deposed by the Qing in November 1706, but managed to give his escort the slip and started a new life, traveling as a beggar monk throughout East and South Asia, and finally settled in Alašan, where he stayed from 1716 and 1746 and built several monasteries.116 It [page 300] is also believed that Avalokiteśvara meditated there. A statue of the Sixth Dalai Lama could be seen in the Avalokiteśvara hall located just in front of the caves. Back home, the pilgrims would say “I meditated at the place where the Sixth Dalai Lama meditated.” According to his biography, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama also meditated in the cave of the Sixth Dalai Lama in 1908,117 and the small monastery still has the room where he lived. Infertile devotees also came to the Avalokiteśvara Cave hoping to be blessed with children, and Wutai Shan in general seems to have been an important destination for Mongols who wanted to have children.118 The Mongols and Tibetans also visited the ancient Sudhana’s Cave (Norzangnor bzang, Shancai, 善財, šuddana)119 where Rölpé DorjéRol pa’i rdo rje lived before the construction of Zhenhai Si. The Newark Museum’s appliqué of Mañjuśrī was made to be placed in that cave (see Figure 9).120

The most important cave for Mongol pilgrims was the Mother’s Cave (eke-yin aγui) or Mother’s Womb (eke-yin umai), known in Chinese as the Cave of the Mother of Buddhas (Fomu Dong), or the Cave of the Thousand Buddhas (Qianfo Dong, 千佛洞). It is located on a cliff on the northeast side of the Southern terrace, seven li west of the Baiyun Si. The official gazetteers say the cave was discovered in the Jiajing (嘉靖, r. 1522-66) period of the Ming dynasty (1522-67), when a monk named Daofang (道方, sixteenth century), walking there late at night, followed ten thousand dots of lights into the cave where he saw rows of jade Buddha images. Lost in the cave, he chanted the name of Guanyin, vowed to make a sacred image and the ten thousand lamps turned into a single light that guided him out.121

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Figure 31: Crowds of pilgrims waiting four hours to enter the Mother’s Cave, July 2007. Photo by Isabelle Charleux.
Figure 32: Board with diagrams and explanations at the entrance of the Mother’s Cave, July 2007. Photo by Isabelle Charleux.
Figure 33: Pilgrim being pushed into the narrow passage at the Mother’s Cave. 1846 Cifu Si map. Rubin Museum. Photo by Karl Debreczeny.

Surpisingly, the Mongol lore and practices concerning this cave bring to light a lived religion that is not documented by written sources. Ferdinand Lessing gives a full description of this cave according to his interviews with a Russian missionary in 1931 and, later, with the Mongolian Qalqa dignitary Diluwa Qutuγtu (1884-64), and was the first to highlight the ritual performed in the cave.122 Inside the cave is a hole, about three feet above the ground, with a diameter of ten to twelve inches. The pilgrims were advised to remove all excess clothing or even to undress completely.123 A Chinese monk, nicknamed by the Mongols “the midwife,” assisted the pilgrims and told them how to crawl in124 (today the hundreds of pilgrims queuing to enter the cave have plenty of time to study the board with diagrams and explanations on how to crawl through). The pilgrim would then find himself in a very narrow but widening passage, some three feet long and one foot high, that led into the inner chamber (the “matrix”), which allowed room for two people to stand. In its center was an altar bearing a stone statue of a deity, possibly Tārā or Guanyin, that the pilgrim had to worship. With the help of the “midwife,” the pilgrim would come back and been informed that he was within the womb of the Mother of Buddhas; and then that he had been reborn.125 The pilgrims had to pay a fee in order to enter the narrow passage, and [page 302] an additional “ransom” fee to leave the grotto. The “midwife” was said sometimes to leave devotees stuck and free them only after making a vow to make donations to the clergy. A similar description is given by the Chinese lay pilgrim Gao Henian in 1912.126 The earliest evidence of the womb-cave ritual can be seen on the 1846 Cifu Si map, where a man is seen pushing the behind of a pilgrim into the cave.

Figure 34: The Chinese monk who revived the Mother’s Cave in the late 1990s. Photo by Corneille Jest.

Up to now this cave has been particularly favored by Mongols and Tibetans: “it is said that Mongolians, famous for their fervent piety, invariably cry when they enter the inner chamber.”127 It is now also very popular among Han tourists who believe they can erase their sins, get rid of all the evils of their previous life – get rid of the charnel envelope and change bones (tuotai huangu, 脫胎換骨), obtain a second life, or even be reborn as a Buddha. They are told that the Cave of the Mother of Buddhas is the very body or womb of Śākyamuni’s mother and, as with Śākyamuni, they will be reborn out of her armpit. The stalactites are said to be women’s entrails.128 Modern pilgrims are very frightened by the experience; when they come out, exhausted and covered with dust, they really feel like children.129 Pilgrims are said to be transformed and regret their past sins. Three Chinese monks have lived in a hermitage on the slope since the early 2000s; one of them, Beiyue (悲月, twentieth century), has been restoring and reviving the place since 1996 and has collected one million yuan in donations to build a one-kilometer-long stone staircase leading to the cave.130 In July 2007, the Cave of the Mother of Buddhas was one of the most crowded places of Wutai Shan.

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As stressed by Lessing131 and Stein132 the womb-cave rituals are poorly documented in the official and clerical records, and clearly belong to popular beliefs and practices that were not considered worthy of attention by the pilgrimage guides. The Qingliang Shan zhi and the extended Qinding Qingliang Shan xin zhi, mention the discovery of Wutai Shan’s Fomu Cave in the 1560s, but say nothing about the womb cave and its rite.133 In his pilgrimage guide, Rölpé DorjéRol pa’i rdo rje retells Daofang’s discovery, and simply replaces Guanyin’s name by Mañjuśrī’s.134 Ono Katsutoshi and Hibino Takao do not mention it in their remarkable study of Wutai Shan monasteries and holy sites.135 Lessing, who bases his study of caves of initiatory rebirth on oral sources, qualifies this religious practice as “more or less secret.”136 Lessing’s teacher, the dorampardo rams pa lamabla ma Lozang ZangpoBlo bzang bzang po (twentieth century) “pretended never having heard about such an outrageous rite.”137 The silence of these erudite lamabla mas is surprising, because in other Esoteric Buddhist traditions such as in Cambodia or Japan, the womb-cave ritual is officially interpreted by Buddhist priests as being the womb-world maṇḑala (garbhadhātu maṇḑala) where the practitioner can reunite himself with Vairocana138 and be reborn in the sense of being newly endowed with esoteric knowledge and powers.139 Besides, Lessing and Stein have shown that the Mongol monks and important religious figures who visited Wutai Shan, such as the Diluwa Qutuγtu (1884-64) and the Fourth Jebcündamba Qutuγtu, were well aware of this kind of popular ritual. The Fourth Jebcündamba Qutuγtu, for instance, wrote a Tibetan inscription on a stele erected at the entrance of the cave.140

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The Womb Caves in Tibetan and Mongol Pilgrimages

Womb-caves – horizontal or vertical, natural or man-made – are a well-known type of holy cave found in the Tibetan cultural area. Modern scholars of Tibetan pilgrimage have described many examples of narrow caves or passages in Western Tibet (Mount Kailash), Central Tibet (GandenDga’ ldan Monastery; TerdromGter sgrom near Drigung Til’Bri gung mthil), AmdoA mdo (Amnyé MachenA myes rma chen), Nepal (Tarap in Dolpo, the Halase-​māratika caves in Eastern Nepal), and Bhutan.141 In Tibet, they are used for the ritual testing of one’s positive or negative karma. If the pilgrim succeeds in going through the narrow passage, he/she is ensured of the purification of his/her sins and a better rebirth, and is released from the terror of the intermediate state between death and rebirth (bardobar do). On the other hand, pilgrims with “bad karma” may get stuck. It is believed that the clefts and passages change size automatically to allow any morally suitable candidate to pass through, regardless of his or her actual body shape and size. At the same time the pilgrim who succeeds is ensured of having good karma, of being purified of all his/her sins, and of being reborn.

Tibetans refer to these passages as hell paths (nyellamdmyal lam), or narrow paths (tranglamphrang lam), and also say they represent the Gates of Hell (those who pass will escape from the hells) or the way leading to a Pure Land.142 These testing rituals can be performed in caves, in an opening between two rocks, or on a narrow natural stone bridge across a deep ravine.

By contrast, most of the narrow caves of Mongolia, Buryatia, and Tuva are dead ends that closely evoke a womb. The Mongolian terminology for these caves focuses on the Mother (womb, belly). For the Mongols, the womb-cave ritual is obviously a form of earth worship, of rebirth and fertility ritual: the Mongols revere Mother Earth as an important popular deity, and their word for mother (eke) frequently appears in the names given to natural features of the landscape (mother [eke] is homonymous with origin [eki]).143 In the Mongolian world, these caves are especially visited by childless couples or people wishing to help others who are childless, in order to obtain children, such as the womb-cave of the pilgrimage site of Alkanay near Chita, in Buryatia. The Buddhist aim of this ritual – to be reborn purified of one’s sins144 – obscures the more popular ones (obtain children, [page 305] benefit from the contact with the Earth goddess, being revitalized and healed with the earth’s magnetic energy, augment one’s fortune – kii mori).145

Figure 35: A Mongol pilgrim crawling in the womb-cave of Tövgön hiid, Bat Ölzii sum, Övörhangai Province, Mongolia. Photo by Don Croner.

While most of the Mongol womb-caves are located far from settlements, several monasteries were established close to womb-caves.146 Among them, we find the two main NyingmapaRnying ma pa monasteries of Mongolia and Inner Mongolia: Qamar-un Keyid (East Gobi) and the Monastery of Padmasambhava,147 linked to the great lamabla ma-poet Danjinrabjai (Danzan Rajvaa, 1803-56), the Fifth Noyan Qutuγtu.148

The Mongol fertility ritual and Earth-worship were therefore transplanted at Wutai Shan, in an old Chinese cave that perfectly matches the requirements of a womb and a narrow passage. Rolf Stein, in his extensive study of womb-caves throughout the Asian world (Tibet, Nepal, India, Cambodia, and Japan), believes that Wutai Shan’s Cave of the Mother of Buddhas is the only known example of a cave of initiatory rebirth in Han China. The Chinese (up until the twentieth century) did not develop rebirth symbolism and ritual around their caves.149 The Wutai Shan Mother’s womb cave therefore seems to be a typical Tibeto-Mongol pilgrimage characteristic transplanted upon the Chinese mountain.

Other Features of Tibetan Pilgrimages Present at Wutai Shan

Another type of cave that seems to be an extension of womb-caves is the tunnel cave leading to a distant place in a very short period of time. The Wutai Shan Mother’s womb cave is also described as a tunnel cave in a popular legend150 that [page 306] also echoes that of the Jin’gang Ku, with a hidden entrance, which is regarded as a paradise-cave where one remains inside, withdrawing completely from human society, and attains enlightenment or obtains various spiritual powers.151 The Vajra Cave participates in both the Tibetan and the Chinese pilgrimage traditions (see the Chinese Taoist grotto-heaven [dongtian, 洞天]).152 It was worshipped from the seventh century and recognized as the home of Mañjuśrī. Since the Tang or maybe the Song dynasty, the entrance has never opened again, but pilgrims could visit a man-made grotto as well as the Banruo Monastery (Banruo Si, 般若寺) that protected it. The Jin’gang Ku was one of the residences of the Zhangjia Qutuγtu before the construction of Zhenhai Si. The cave153 and the nearby ruined Pule Yuan are still important destinations for Mongol and Tibetan pilgrims.

A particular kind of tunnel-cave, the sea’s eye (haiyan, 海眼), connects with the sea and can cause flooding if not blocked by a stūpa. At Wutai Shan, the Zhenhai Si, “Monastery that Subdues the Ocean” – Luus-i Daruγsan Süme, “Monastery that Subdues the Water Spirit” in Mongolian – is said to have been built after a sea’s eye (haiyan) connecting with the Northern Sea caused sea water to flood an area of more than a hundred kilometers around. The hole was blocked by Mañjuśrī with a cooking-pot, and later a stūpa was built to seal it closed.154 The sea’s eye may reflect the complex subterranean water system under the mountain: the waters of Sanquan Si were said to connect with the Black Dragon Pool (Heilong Chi, 黑龍池) of the Northern Terrace;155 the water from Nārayāna Cave (Naluoyan, 那羅延) flows to Fuping to the south and Fanzhi to the west.156 A similar story is found in Beijing: on Qionghua Dao (Beihai Park), where the emperor Shunzhi built a White stūpa in 1651, a well called sea’s eye was said to communicate with the sea.157 These legends reflect the Tibetan lore about the origin of the KokonorKöke Naγur [page 307] Lake,158 as well as the Tibeto-Nepalese legend explaining the draining by Mañjuśrī of the lake that covered the Kathmandu Valley. In the Tibetan world, some caves are worshipped because their extended galleries, passages and underground rivers suggest access to the underworld of the Nāga.159

Figure 36: Footprints of Mañjuśrī, Zaoyu Pool. Photo by Isabelle Charleux.

When on a Tibetan pilgrimage to a natural site, the five senses are all brought into play. Tibetan pilgrimage “is about a direct (and observable) physical, sensory relationship of person and place through seeing (in both the sense of direct encounter and ‘reading’ and interpreting the landscape, and so forth), touching (by contacting the place), positioning (body in relation to place), consuming/tasting (by ingesting place substance), collecting (substances of the place), exchanging (place substance with personal substance/possessions), vocalizing (prayers addressed to the place or specific formulas), and even in some cases listening (for sounds produced by the place).”160 The womb-cave involves touching and positioning; the prostrations connect the whole body with the sacred ground. The pilgrims touch the stūpa and statues with their forehead, and vigorously massage with their hands Mañjuśrī’s footprint at the Zaoyu Chi.

The pilgrims – Mongol, Tibetan, and Chinese alike – also practiced “collecting” holy water. Wutai Shan boasts more than twenty sacred springs and ponds, such as the tasting spring trickling from the Avalokiteśvara Cave,161 the sacred water (foshui, 佛水) of the Pool Reflecting the Moonlight (Mingyue Chi, 明月池), or Guanhai Si, south-east of Zhenhai Si that pilgrims came to drink and collect during the sixth month festival,162 and the water of Baisha Quan of Zunsheng Si that cures a hundred different illnesses. The sacred water of the Banruo Spring (Banruo Quan, 般若泉) was used to bathe the statues on the eighth day of the fourth month, the festival of Śākyamuni’s birthday; it is said that the Manchu emperors and great lamabla mas only drank this water when they stayed at Wutai Shan. Pilgrims brought back home bottles of this water, which made a precious gift to their friends. At [page 308] Baishui Pond (Baishui Chi, 白水池), not far from Jin’gang Ku, the milky water was used to wash one’s eyes.163 The ice of Wannian Bing (萬年冰) called by the Mongols “the ice that never melts” was collected by Mongol pilgrims who would take away a piece “to work cures on their sick friends at home.”164

Figure 37: The sacred spring of the Pool Reflecting the Moonlight. Photo by Isabelle Charleux.
Figure 38: Monk from LabrangBla brang Monastery (AmdoA mdo) giving holy water to a pilgrim from AmdoA mdo, Puleyuan. Photo by Isabelle Charleux.

Pilgrims also collected earth and dust, for instance at the “Rock with a Bull’s Heart” (Niuxin Shi, 牛心石): the pilgrims rubbed the stone and collected the dust which served as a cure-all medicine;165 in a torrent above the Baiyun Si, sand found in a stone, called “śarīra-golden sand” (jinsha shelizi, 金沙舍利子) was collected and used as medicine.166 The bark of the sacred tree at the Wulang Miao is peeled to serve as medicine. Everything that grew on the mountain was filled with spiritual power, such as the miraculous grass, flowers and water of the excellent pastures of Dailuo Ding and Southern Terrace that attracted herders who came to fatten up or cure their animals before selling them.

Other common features of Tibetan sacred mountains found at Wutai Shan include the footprints and handprints of deities (a footprint of Mañjuśrī at Zaoyu Chi; Śākyamuni’s footprints at Tayuan Si; prints of Mañjuśrī’s hands and feet at Jin’gang Ku);167 legends about the submission of local deities trapped underground (Longquan Si, five hundred dragons subdued by Mañjuśrī on the mountain); the presence of many medicinal plants – however these are all shared by the entire Buddhist world.

Besides the visit to famous monasteries and lamabla mas, the Tibetan and Mongol pilgrims also performed Tibetan and Mongolian rituals and practices such as the womb cave ritual, and the collecting of natural products. They had visions of Tibetan deities or saints and added new legends and stories to the already [page 309] many-layered past of Wutai Shan. We do not know how and when these Tibetan and Mongolian features were brought to Wutai Shan, but we can assume that both the lamabla mas, overcoming their disdain for these popular practices to please and attract the Mongols and Tibetans, and the pilgrims themselves who already knew and practiced them in Tibetan and Mongolian pilgrimage sites, imported them to Wutai Shan. The high-ranking lamabla mas who traveled between Tibet, Wutai Shan, and Inner Mongolia probably played a role in this transmission. Rolf Stein thinks Mongolian lay people and monks who visited Wutai Shan may have imported the rebirth ritual from Wutai Shan to Mongolia.168 But the Mongolian womb-cave may have been used from time immemorial: the lamabla mas could have imported, from Tibet or from Wutai Shan a new interpretation of this practice. On the other hand, the transmission of this fertility ritual of Earth worship is more likely to have occurred from Mongolia to Wutai Shan.

Mongolian Pilgrimages Related to the Wutai Shan Pilgrimage

In order to understand how Tibetan and Mongolian practices were transplanted to Wutai Shan, it can be useful to mention some popular Mongol pilgrimages which are related to Wutai Shan. The Monastery of Padmasambhava in Inner Mongolia presents many of the characteristic features of Tibetan pilgrimage sites: legends about Padmasambhava who tamed the local deity and meditated in caves, a womb-cave, a tunnel-passage allegedly leading to Central Tibet in one day’s walk, visions of miracles, water and earth collecting.169 In addition, the Monastery of Padmasambhava’s womb-cave is known to be a “relative,” actually, the “daughter,” of Wutai Shan’s Mother’s Womb. A learned Tibetan historian, Nyima DorjéNyi ma rdo rje (twentieth century), told Raoul Birnbaum that “it is inappropriate to enter the mother cave [at Wutai Shan] if one previously has entered the daughter cave” [at Monastery of the Caves (aγui-yin süme, Agui Miao, 阿貴廟)?].170 It seems to be a question of precedence: one must visit the mother at Wutai Shan before visiting the Mongol “daughter.”

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Figure 39: Gilubar Monastery, Baγarin Left Banner, Chifeng Municipality, Inner Mongolia. Photo by Isabelle Charleux.

Gilubar Juu, a renowned pilgrimage site in Eastern Inner Mongolia during the Qing dynasty, was called “Little Wutai Shan.”171 Gilubar Juu was founded around 1770 by the Second Jamyang Zhepa’Jam dbyangs bzhad pa (1728-91) of LabrangBla brang Monastery in AmdoA mdo on the site of an old Liao dynasty rock monastery. Besides the three caves that still enshrine Liao dynasty images of Buddha and Bodhisattva, is an Eke-yin Umai, a “Mother’s Womb.”

Considering the success of Wutai Shan in the Qing dynasty, these local pilgrimages probably could not replace the great pilgrimage to Wutai Shan for Mongol laymen and monks. At present we do not know if these local pilgrimages first developed as a surrogate pilgrimage for Wutai Shan, or if they developed completely independently up to the time when a learned cleric saw correspondences and asserted a connection between the two. The Gilubar Juu could have just been called “Little Wutai Shan” because its festival attracted almost as many pilgrims as the Chinese mountain. Similarly, the Sine Usun Juu in Ordos (Otuγ Banner), founded in the late eighteenth century, was compared in local songs with Wutai Shan.172 A mountain in the Left Qaγucid Banner of Inner Mongolia was called Wutai Shan because several miracles happened there and it was recognized as a holy place.173 This would be comparable to the title of “the Tibet of China” given to Wutai Shan, or the “Tibet of the East” given to the Caγan Diyanci-yin Keyid, a major pilgrimage site in the Eastern Tümed Banner (now in Fuxin District, Liaoning Province). If lamabla mas wanted to promote a local pilgrimage and attract devout Mongols, it was in their interest to compare their monastery to Wutai Shan. In the same way, Mongol monastic guide-books naturally emphasize the holiness of a site by saying that worshipping this particular monastery is equivalent to worshipping all the other places.174


[114] Robert B. Ekvall, Religious Observances in Tibet: Patterns and Functions (Chicago & London: The University of Chicago Press, 1964), 241; Buffetrille, “Montagnes sacrées”; Caroline Humphrey, “Chiefly and Shamanist Landscapes in Mongolia,” in The Anthropology of Landscape: Perspectives on Place and Space, ed. Eric Hirsch, and Michael O’Hanlon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995), 135-162. On caves in Buddhist scriptures and traditions: Rolf Stein, Grottes-matrices et lieux saints de la déesse en Asie Orientale (Paris: École Française d’Extrême-Orient, 1988); Raoul Birnbaum, “Secret Halls of the Mountain Lords: the Caves of Wu-t’ai shan,” Cahiers d’Extrême-Asie 5 (Kyôto, 1989-1990): 118-20.
[115] Zhao Gaiping, and Hou Huiming, “Jian lun Qing dai qian qi de Wutai Shan Zang chuan fo jiao,” Xizang Minzu Xueyuan xuebao 1 (2006): 28-32. On this cave see also Birnbaum, “Secret Halls,” 134.
[116] Piotr Klafkowski, ed., The Secret Deliverance of the Sixth Dalai-Lama as Narrated by Dharmatāla (Wien: Viener Studien zur Tibetologie und Buddhismuskunde, Universität Wien, 1979); Michael Aris, Hidden Treasures and Secret Lives: A Study of Pemalingpa (1450-1521) and the Sixth Dalai Lama (1683-1706) (London & New York: Kegan Paul International, 1989).
[117] Quoted by Wei, Wutai Shan daoyou, 117-19.
[118] “Pour obtenir des enfants, les femmes qui en ont les moyens ont souvent recours à des pèlerinages, soit au Ou t’ai chan (Chansi), soit à un autre endroit de pèlerinage renommé…” (Mostaert, “Matériaux,” 292). A famous place to ask for children in Mongolia was the shrine of Isi Qatun (d. 1252) – Esi Qatun, the “Lady-mother,” Sorqaqtani Begi (d. 1252), Qubilai Qan’s (1215-1294) mother – in Ordos Vang Banner (Hidehiro Okada, “The Chakhar Shrine of Eshi Khatun,” in Aspects of Altaic Civilizations 3, ed. Denis Sinor [Bloomington: Indiana University, 1990: 176-86]).
[119] See Birnbaum, “Secret Halls,” 134-35.
[120] Reynolds, “A Sino-Mongolian,” 38.
[121] Laozang Danba (老藏丹巴, Lozang Tenpablo bzang bstan pa, 1632-84), Qingliang Shan xin zhi, 1694, reprint in 1701, 10 juan, in Qingliang Shan zhi san zhong, edited by Gugong bo wu yuan (Haikou shi: Hainan chubanshe, 2001), juan 2, 2a. Half a dozen similar modern stories are told by An Jianhua, “Bei Xin guyue du zhongsheng,” Wutai Shan yanjiu (2002, no. 2): 27; An Jianhua, “Chao bai Fomu Dong,” Wutai Shan yanjiu (2003, no. 2): 33. Most of them embellish and develop the Qingliang Shan xin zhi story.
[122] Ferdinand D. Lessing, “The Question of Nicodemus,” in Studia Altaica: Festschrift für N. Poppe (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1957), 95, 97.
[123] According to Lessing’s Russian informant (“The Question,” 95) and Gao (Ming Shan youfang, 119). Birnbaum (“Secret Halls,” 139, n. 71) finds this difficult to accept.
[124] See also a description of the cave and its ritual in Birnbaum, “Secret Halls,” 137-40.
[125] Birnbaum, “Secret Halls,” 139-40.
[126] Gao, Ming Shan youfang, 119-20.
[127] Birnbaum, “Secret Halls,” 138, n. 70.
[128] See Stein, Grottes-matrices, 10.
[129] Zhang Minghui, “Fomu Dong,” Haiyan-Petrel 3 (2005): 36; An, “Chao bai”; Zhang Guixiang, “Fomu Dong tan qi,” Wutai Shan yanjiu (1999, no. 1): 35-36; Zhang, “Fomu Dong,” and personal observations.
[130] See his biography: An, “Bei Xin.”
[131] Lessing, “The Question,” 95.
[132] Stein, Grottes-matrices, 5.
[133] Qinding Qingliang Shan xin zhi: expanded edition of Laozang Danba’s Qingliang Shan xin zhi, in 22 juan, compiled by imperial order of 1785, published in the palace in 1811, ed. Gugong bowuyuan (ed.), Qingliang Shan zhi san zhong, juan 9, 12a.
[134] Rol pa’i rdo rje, Ri bo dwangs bsil dkar chag mjugs ma tshang pa, text orally transmitted by Rol pa’i rdo rje, trans. into Chinese by Wen Jinyu, “Sheng di Qingliang Shan zhi,” Wutai Shan yanjiu (1990, no. 2): 10.
[135] Ono Katsutoshi and Hibino Takao, Godaishan (Tôkyô: Zayuhô Kankôkai, 1942).
[136] Lessing, “The Question,” 95.
[137] Lessing, “The Question,” 97. In Khövsgöl Aimag (Mongolia), the womb-cave ritual at Dayan Deerkh [Dayan Degereki] cave appeared as abhorrent to the local lamabla mas, who tried to contain and neutralize its power (G. P. Galdanova, L. N. Zhukovskaya, and G. N. Ochirova, “The Cult of Dayan Derkhe in Mongolia and Buryatia,” trans. by C. Humphrey, Journal of the Anglo-Mongolian Society 9, nos. 1-2 [1984]: 1-11; Humphrey, “Chiefly and Shamanist Landscapes,” 149-150).
[138] In Japan: Helen Hardacre, “The Cave and the Womb World,” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 10, nos. 2-3 (1983): 149-76.
[139] Francois Bizot, “La grotte de la naissance: Recherches sur le Bouddhisme Khmer II,” Bulletin de l’École Française d’Extrême-Orient 67 (1980): 221-69.
[140] This inscription is not to be seen anymore, but a damaged Mongolian inscription still stands on the site.
[141] See Stein, Grottes-matrices, 11-15; Ekvall, Religious Observances, 241; Buffetrille, “Montagnes sacrées,” 367-370; Huber, The Cult of Pure Crystal Mountain, 19; Corneille Jest (personal communication).
[142] Katia Buffetrille, “The Halase-Maratika Caves (Eastern Nepal): A Sacred Place Claimed by Both Hindus and Buddhists,” in Pondy Papers in Social Sciences 16 (Pondichéry: Institut Français de Pondichéry, 1994), 9-12; Stein, Grottes-matrices.
[143] There is apparently no association with mother-Earth and demand for children in Tibet and the Himalayas.
[144] As shown by Lessing, sin is imagined as something material, to be scrapped off, physically removed, by crawling through a narrow passage; a physical effort is needed to free oneself from sin.
[145] For Humphrey (“Chiefly and Shamanist Landscapes,” 150), the cave ritual belongs to shamanic spirit cults; its power deriving “from the untamed sexual drives of the female spirits within.” Now this can also be the shamans’ interpretation of an old popular ritual.
[146] A famous one is Tövgön khiid in Övörkhangai Province, the hermitage of the First Jebcündamba Qutuγtu, built next to a womb-cave called Eke-yin Kebeli, “the Mother’s Belly.”
[147] Or the Monastery of the Caves (aγui-yin süme, Agui Miao, 阿貴廟), in Alašan Territory (present-day Dengkou District).
[148] Isabelle Charleux, “Padmasambhava’s Travel to the North: The Pilgrimage to the Monastery of the Caves and the Old Schools of Tibetan Buddhism in Mongolia,” Central Asiatic Journal 46, no. 2 (2002): 168-232. In Tibet too, the ritual caves are linked with NyingmapaRnying ma pa teachings and lore about Padmasambhava (eighth century). The Alkanay womb-cave is also linked to Padmasambhava.
[149] This is not completely true according to Kristopher Schipper (personal communication). There exists for instance a Chinese womb-cave at Tianlong Shan, southwest of Taihuai, not far from Wutai Shan (I thank Vincent Durand-Dastès for this information).
[150] A twelve-year-old boy crossed the mountain by the tunnel cave daily to reach the distant place where he studied; on a rainy night his mother went to wait for him with an umbrella, saw a strange light on the mountain, and her son suddenly appeared in front of her, with dry clothes on. He said that he had gone through the cave with an old woman leading travelers. The mother saw the cave and understood that the old woman was Buddha’s mother saving people (Zhang, “Fomu Dong,” 35).
[151] Stein, Grottes-matrices, 6-9; Birnbaum, “Secret Halls,” 120.
[152] Chinese grotto-heavens are celestial microcosms, places of initiation and refuge from civilization (Franciscus Verellen, “The Beyond Within: Grotto-Heavens (Dongtian) in Taoist Ritual and Cosmology,” Cahiers d’Extrême-Asie 8 [1995]: 265-90). On a similar cave in AmdoA mdo: Lawrence Epstein, and Peng Wenbin, “Ganja and Murdo: The Social Construction of Space at Two Pilgrimage Sites in Eastern Tibet,” Tibet Journal, Special Edition: Powerful Places and Spaces in Tibetan Religious Culture, 19, no. 2 (1994): 21-45.
[153] It was destroyed by canon fire and turned into a “holiday hideaway” for Lin Biao. An artificial corridor leading to a semi-buried stūpa has been rebuilt.
[154] The dragon king of the northern or eastern sea was seduced by a pretty young girl who was bathing in the sea’s eye (haiyan) spring; when he tried to kidnap her she asked for Mañjuśrī’s help. The furious dragon king provoked the flooding that was stopped by the Bodhisattva (Wei, Wutai Shan daoyou, 128-34; Zhou Zhuying, “Zhenhai Si de jianzhu yu caisu yishu,” Wutai Shan yanjiu [2003, no. 4]: 15-22).
[155] Wei, Wutai Shan daoyou, 196-97.
[156] Gao, Ming Shan youfang, 115, 117.
[157] L. C. Arlington, and William Lewisohn, In Search of Old Peking (Hong Kong, Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 1987 [Peking: Vetch, 1935]).
[158] Katia Buffetrille, “The Blue Lake of A-mdo and its Island: Legends and Pilgrimage Guide,” in Sacred Spaces and Powerful Places in Tibetan Culture: A Collection of Essays, edited by Toni Huber (Dharamsala: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, 1999), 105-24.
[159] See examples in Robert B. Ekvall, and James F. Downs, Tibetan Pilgrimage (Tokyo: Institute for the Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, 1987); N. J. Allen, “‘And the Lake Drained Away’: An Essay in Himalayan Comparative Mythology,” in Mandala and Landscape, ed. Alexander Macdonald (New Delhi: D. K. Printworld, 1997): 435-51.
[160] Huber, The Cult of Pure Crystal Mountain, 38.
[161] Laozang Danba, Qingliang Shan xin zhi; Gao, Ming Shan youfang, 63.
[162] Wei, Wutai Shan daoyou, 135-36.
[163] Gao, Ming Shan youfang, 114.
[164] Gilmour, Among the Mongols, 147.
[165] Where a bull demon king converted to Buddhism and killed himself at this place, and was changed into a stone (Lao, “Dao Wutai Shan,” 102).
[166] Gao, Ming Shan youfang, 119.
[167] Jiang, Wutai Shan jiyou, 24.
[168] Stein, Grottes-matrices, 3.
[169] Charleux, “Padmasambhava’s Travel to the North.”
[170] Birnbaum, “Secret Halls,” 138, n. 70.
[171] Or Gilubar-un Aγui, also called Aru Juu (Houzhao Miao, 後召廟), in Baγarin Left Banner, Chifeng Municipality (Chifeng Shi, 赤峰市). For the history of this monastery: Charleux, Temples et monastères, CD-rom 136.
[172] Antoine Mostaert, cicm., ed., Textes oraux ordos (Peking: Université catholique de Pékin, 1937, Monumenta Serica, Monograph Series, 1), 141.
[173] Aleksej Matveevič Pozdneev, Mongolia and the Mongols 2, trans. from Russian by W. Dougherty (Bloomington: Mouton & Co., 1977 [Saint-Petersburg: 1896-1898]), 277.
[174] Such as the guide-book of the Yeke Juu or Vang-un Гoul-un Juu, an important pilgrimage site in Ordos: S. Narasun and Temürbaγatur, eds., Ordus-un süme keyid, Mongγul ündüsüten-ü süme keyid-ün bürin ciγulγa 5 (Hailar: Öbür Mongγul-un soyul-un keblel-ün qoriya, 2000), 371-91.

Note Citation for Page

Isabelle Charleux, “Mongol Pilgrimages to Wutai Shan in the Late Qing Dynasty,” Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies, no. 6 (December 2011): , http://www.thlib.org?tid=T5712 (accessed ).

Note Citation for Whole Article

Isabelle Charleux, “Mongol Pilgrimages to Wutai Shan in the Late Qing Dynasty,” Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies, no. 6 (December 2011): 275-326, http://www.thlib.org?tid=T5712 (accessed ).

Bibliography Citation

Charleux, Isabelle. “Mongol Pilgrimages to Wutai Shan in the Late Qing Dynasty.” Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies, no. 6 (December 2011): 275-326. http://www.thlib.org?tid=T5712 (accessed ).