Wutai shan is identified by its five flat-topped peaks, the origin of its Chinese name, “Five-Terrace Mountain” (Wutai shan, 五臺山).3 In Tibetan and Mongolian the site is known as “Five-Peak Mountain” (Riwo Tsengari bo rtse lnga) from whence the exhibition takes its name. Each peak is inhabited by a unique form of Mañjuśrī.4 Wutai shan is Mañjuśrī’s “field of activity” or “place of practice” (daochang, 道場, maṇḍa), where a Buddha or high-ranking bodhisattva exerts his or her influence [page 4] and preaches, greatly aiding the faithfuls’ ability to develop spiritually and attain enlightenment. What is important about Mañjuśrī’s field is that unlike many other buddhafields, or pure realms, such as Amitābha’s Western Paradise (sukhāvatī) into which one prays to be reborn, Mañjuśrī’s is thought to be here on earth and is associated with a particular geographic location, reachable by foot, and thus the focus of both local and international pilgrimage.
More than 120 sites of interest to the pilgrims who ventured to Wutai shan are labeled with Chinese and Tibetan inscriptions on this 19th-century woodblock, including Buddhist monasteries, Taoist temples, villages, sacred objects, and locations of events, both historic and miraculous.
The numerous anecdotes concerning his miraculous appearances constitute an important aspect of the cult of Mañjuśrī at Wutai shan. Pilgrims who visit this sacred mountain go to see visions of Mañjuśrī. These have often taken the form of miraculous light and cloud formations, for which the mountain is famous (Fig. 3). Accounts of these encounters with the divine were first compiled in Chinese gazetteers beginning in the seventh century, which helped to spread the cult of this mountain; they were later translated and adapted into Tibetan, Mongolian, and Manchu. Visual records of these divine manifestations were also mapped onto the mountain (Cat. 1) as discussed by Chou,5 and brought to life in the exhibition through an interactive digitally decoded map (http://wutaishan.rma2.org/rma_viewer.php?image_id=1&mode=info, Fig. 4). Wutai shan, also known in Chinese as “Clear and Cool Mountain” (Qingliang shan, 清涼山, Riwo Dangsilri bo dwangs bsil), is one of the four great sacred mountains in China, and its importance is underscored by the fact that more gazetteers were produced for Wutai shan than for any other pilgrimage site.6 As the introduction to one edition of its gazetteer, Records of Clear and Cool Mountain (Qingliang chuan), put it: “Qingliang shan (Wutai shan) is foremost among all sacred mountains for those who hold mystic manifestation to be the essence of Buddhism.”7
Note Citation for Page
Karl Debreczeny, “Wutai Shan: Pilgrimage to Five-Peak Mountain,” Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies, no. 6 (December 2011): , http://www.thlib.org?tid=T5714 (accessed ).
Note Citation for Whole Article
Karl Debreczeny, “Wutai Shan: Pilgrimage to Five-Peak Mountain,” Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies, no. 6 (December 2011): 1-133, http://www.thlib.org?tid=T5714 (accessed ).
Debreczeny, Karl. “Wutai Shan: Pilgrimage to Five-Peak Mountain.” Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies, no. 6 (December 2011): 1-133. http://www.thlib.org?tid=T5714 (accessed ).
- The Mountain
- Early Political Significance
- Tibetan Identification with Wutai shan
- Tibetan Involvement with Wutai shan
- Tibetan and Mongolian Monasteries on Wutai shan
- Mongol Interests in Wutai shan
- “Wutai shan: Pilgrimage to Five-Peak Mountain” Catalog
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