Tibetan and Himalayan Library - THL

THL Title Text
Wutai shan: Pilgrimage to Five-Peak Mountain
Karl Debreczeny, Rubin Museum of Art
JIATS, no. 6 (December 2011), THL #T5714, pp. 1-133
Section 6 of 9 (pp. 43-46)

Tibetan and Mongolian Monasteries on Wutai shan

Despite the fact that Wutai shan is a mountain site, it is man-made structures, the monasteries, which were at the heart of religious activity on Wutai shan as well as the focus of pilgrimage in their own right. The GelukDge lugs monastic order has ten major Tibetan and Mongolian monasteries on Wutai shan: Pusa ding Monastery (Pusa ding, 菩薩頂, Jangchup Sempé Porbyang chub sems dpa’i spor; Fig. 4, no. 14), Rāhula Temple (Luohou si, 羅睺寺, Drachendzingyi Lhakhangsgra gcan ’dzin gyi lha khang; Fig. 4, no. 41), Temple of Longevity and Tranquility (Shouning si, 壽寧寺, Takten Dechen Lingrtag brtan bde chen gling; Fig. 4, no. 72), Sanquan Monastery (Sanquan si, 三泉寺, Chupmik Sumdré Lingchub mig gsum ’dres gling; Fig. 4, no. 73), Qifo si (七佛寺, Sanggyé Rapdün Gönsangs rgyas rabs bdun dgon; Fig. 4, no. 25), Cave of Sudhana (Shancai dong, 善財洞, Norzang Druppuknor bzang sgrub phug; Fig. 4, no. 69), Tailu Monastery (Tailu si 臺麓寺; Fig. 4, no. 70), Vajra Cave (Jingang ku, 金剛窟, Dorjé Pukrdo rje phug; Fig. 4, no. 58), Yuhua Pond (Yuhua chi, 玉花池; Fig. 4, no. 71), and Yongquan Monastery (Yongquan si, 湧泉寺; Fig. 4, no. 33). All were said to have been converted from Chinese Buddhist to GelukDge lugs temples in 1683 or 1705.111 There are a total of twenty-five Tibetan and Mongolian monasteries on Wutai shan (the vast majority being GelukDge lugs institutions), which also include: Shifang Hall (Shifang tang, 十方堂, Drupchok Kündü Linggrub phyogs kun ’dus gling; also called Guangren si, 廣仁寺; Fig. 4, no. 67), Yuanzhao si (圓照寺, Küntu Khyappé LhakhangKun tu khyab pa’i lha khang; Fig. 4, no. 66), Cifu si (慈福寺, Jamgé Lingbyams dge gling; Fig. 4, no. 21), Taming the Ocean Monastery (Zhenhai si, 鎮海寺, Gyatso Dülwé Lingrgya mtsho ’dul ba’i gling; Fig. 4, no. 37), Cave of Avalokiteśvara (Guanyin dong, 观音洞, Chenrezikkyi Pukspyan ras gzigs kyi phug; Fig. 4, no. 43), Tiewa Temple (Tiewa si, 铁瓦寺, Lhakhang Chaktokchen Jawalha khang lcags thog can bya ba; Fig. 4, no. 74), Santa Monastery (Santa si, 三塔寺, Chörten Sumpé Lingmchod rten gsum pa’i gling; Fig. 4, no. 16) and the Pule yuan (普樂院, Kündé Tselkun bde tshal; Fig. 4, no. 22). There are also twenty-five monasteries that do not seem to appear on the map, including: Guanghua Monastery (Guanghuahou si, 廣化睺寺, Yongdül Lingyongs ’dul gling), Jifu Monastery (Jifu [page 44] si, 集福寺, Getsok Lingdge tshogs gling), Pushou Monastery (Pushou si, 普壽寺, Künpak Lingkun dpag gling), Wente Monastery (Wente si, 文特寺), Yunai Temple (Yunai An, 魚耐庵), Nange Temple (Nange miao, 南閣庙), and Pu’an Monastery (Pu’an si, 普安寺).112 Some of these later temples were built after the blocks for the map were carved in 1846 and therefore not represented.

Because many of the Tibetan and Mongolian monasteries on Wutai shan were converted from Chinese institutions, their architecture is typically Chinese, modeled on palace architecture, with tiled hip-gabled roofs. Other distinctive features distinguish these Chinese temple formats from typical Tibetan monastic layouts, such as bell and drum towers. Contrasting with the Chinese architecture of the buildings, the stūpas are constructed in a Tibetan style (Fig. 18).113 Inside the buildings is often found a mixture of Tibetan and Chinese images (Fig. 2?). In some cases this confluence of cultures can be seen within single objects, such as a large appliqué of a Tibetan master made with Chinese artistic techniques (Cat. 28), which was meant to hang in just such a monastery: Cave of Sudhana (Shancai dong, 善財洞, Norzang Druppuknor bzang sgrub phug; Fig. 4, no. 69).114

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Figure 36. Maitreya Festival. 1846 Wutai shan map detail.

This meeting and mixing of Chinese and Tibetan culture at the monasteries of Wutai shan extends well beyond the external aesthetics to the clergy and congregation as well. As Tuttle reveals below, Wutai shan had a vibrant community of ethnic Chinese practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism, who appear participating in the central ritual activity of the map (Cat. 1; Fig. 36) alongside their Tibetan and Mongolian colleagues.115 In some cases rituals and liturgies are printed and performed in both Tibetan and Chinese at the same monastery at Wutai shan. This Sino-Tibetan cultural confluence is a fairly unique quality to Wutai shan.

Many of these monasteries on Wutai shan have close institutional relationships with major monasteries throughout the Tibetan and Mongolian Buddhist world, especially with the northeastern Tibetan area of AmdoA mdo (modern-day Qinghai and Gansu provinces). For instance, Shifang Hall (Shifang tang, 十方堂, Drupchok Kündü Linggrub phyogs kun ’dus gling; Fig. 4, no. 67), was founded in 1831 by a monk from Lhündrup Dechen LingLhun grub bde chen gling Monastery (Dachongjiao si, 大崇教寺) and ChonéCo ne Monastery (Zhuonichanding si, 卓尼禅定寺), both in Gansu Province.116 Shifang Hall became [page 46] one of the most famous among the Tibetan monasteries on Wutai shan, hosting a constant stream of visiting monks and pilgrims from Amdo. Wutai shan also had a close relationship with LabrangBla brang Monastery, one of the most important GelukDge lugs institutions and printing centers in eastern Tibet, as detailed by Nietupski.117 AmdoA mdo is a border area where Tibetan, Mongolian, and Chinese populations meet, and local ethnic Chinese became strongly involved with Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, both as patrons-laity and clergy, which links this region culturally to Wutai shan. Nietupski also reveals that this network of prominent lamabla mas from LabrangBla brang traveling to Wutai shan were also connected to imperial cites in Beijing such as Yonghe Palace. Monasteries of other Tibetan Buddhist traditions from other regions are also represented on Wutai shan. For instance, one of the NyingmaRnying ma order’s main monasteries, KatokKaḥthog Monastery in DegéSde dge (Dege, 德格; KhamKhams/Western Sichuan), had a branch-monastery on Wutai shan’s western peak (Fig. 4, no. 9), where the great eighteenth-century KangyüBka’ brgyud scholar and artist Situ Penchen Chökyi JungnéSi tu paṇ chen chos kyi ’byung gnas was said to have stayed when he visited China.118


[111] Wang Xiangyun, “Wutai Shan,” 8; Wen Jinyu, “Wutai shan Zangchuan Fojiao,” 25. The monasteries in question are: Rāhula Temple (Luohou si, 羅睺寺, Drachendzingyi Lhakhangsgra gcan ’dzin gyi lha khang), Temple of Longevity and Tranquility (Shouning si, 壽寧寺, Takten Dechen Lingrtag brtan bde chen gling), Sanquan Monastery (Sanquan si, 三泉寺, Chupmik Sumdré Lingchub mig gsum ’dres gling), Yuhua Monastery (Yuhua si, 玉花寺), Qifo si (七佛寺, Sanggyé Rapdün Gönsangs rgyas rabs bdun dgon), Vajra Cave (Jingang ku, 金剛窟, Dorjé Pukrdo rje phug), Cave of Sudhana (Shancai dong, 善財洞, Norzang Druppuknor bzang sgrub phug), Pu’an Monastery (Pu’an si, 普安寺), Tailu Monastery (Tailu si, 臺麓寺), Yongquan Monastery (Yongquan si, 湧泉寺). On Seven Buddha Monastery see Bai Fusheng, “Xiaoji Wutai shan Qifo si” [Seven Buddhas Monastery at Wutai shan], Wutai shan yanjiu, no. 3 (1999): 36-38. However, as Köhle, “Why Did the Kangxi Emperor Go to Wutai Shan?,” 77-78, points out, while this conversion of ten monasteries is a commonly stated in secondary literature, none cite primary sources.
[112] See Wang Xiangyun, “Wutai Shan,” 6; Zhao Peicheng, “Shi tan Wutai shan Zangchuan Fojiao,” 39. Is Pu’an si (普庵寺) the same as Pu’an si (普安寺; Fig. 4, no. 55)? The vast majority (twenty-one) were GelukDge lugs institutions: Pusa ding Monastery (Pusa ding, 菩薩頂, Jangchup Sempé Porbyang chub sems dpa’i spor), Rāhula Temple (Luohou si, 羅睺寺, Drachendzingyi Lhakhangsgra gcan ’dzin gyi lha khang), Guanghua Monastery (Guangren si, 廣仁寺), Guanghua Monastery (Guanghuahou si, 廣化睺寺, Yongdül Lingyongs ’dul gling), Tailu Monastery (Tailu si, 臺麓寺), Pushou Monastery (Pushou si, 普壽寺, Künpak Lingkun dpag gling), Temple of Longevity and Tranquility (Shouning si, 壽寧寺, Takten Dechen Lingrtag brtan bde chen gling), Qifo si (七佛寺, Sanggyé Rapdün Gönsangs rgyas rabs bdun dgon), Sanquan Monastery (Sanquan si, 三泉寺, Chupmik Sumdré Lingchub mig gsum ’dres gling), Santa Monastery (Santa si, 三塔寺, Chörten Sumpé Lingmchod rten gsum pa’i gling), Cave of Avalokiteśvara (Guanyin dong, 观音洞, Chenrezikkyi Pukspyan ras gzigs kyi phug), Yuhua Pond (Yuhua chi, 玉花池), Tiewa Temple (Tiewa si, 铁瓦寺, Lhakhang Chaktokchen Jawalha khang lcags thog can bya ba), Yongquan Monastery (Yongquan si, 湧泉寺), Yunai Temple (Yunai an, 魚耐庵), Nange Temple (Nange miao, 南閣庙), Pu’an Monastery (Pu’an si, 普安寺), Jinhua si (金华寺), Yuanzhao si (圓照寺), Jifu Monastery (Jifu si, 集福寺, Getsok Lingdge tshogs gling), Cifu si (慈福寺, Jamgé Lingbyams dge gling). On Cifu si, see Chun Rong, “Cifu si.” All eighteen Tibetan and Mongolian monasteries on the woodblock map are singled out for gazetteer-style entries on the digitally decoded map: Rubin Museum of Art, “Wutaishan Map Blockprint,” http://wutaishan.rma2.org/rma_viewer.php?image_id=1&mode=info.
[113] On Tibetan shaped stūpas on Wutai shan, see: Wang Hongli, “Zangchuan fo ta de xingzhi ji qi tedian,” Wutai shan yanjiu, no. 3 (2001): 18-20; and Xiao Yu, “Wutai shan zhi ta,” Wutai shan yanjiu, no. 1 (2002): 45-48.
[114] The full name of the cave is the “Cave of the Bodhisattva Sudhana” (Jangchup Sempa Zhünnu Norzanggi Druppukbyang chub sems dpa’ gzhun nu nor bzang gi sgrub phug). See: Setri Ngawang TendarSe kri ngag dbang bstan dar, Dangsil Riwo Tsengé NeshéDwangs bsil ri bo rtse lnga’i gnas bshad (Beijing: Krong ko’i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang, 2007), 66.
[115] Yellow robes with orange trim are the color coding used as an ethnic marker of Chinese practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism on Wutai shan (see Cat. 10-12 and Fig. 36). Tuttle, Tibetan Buddhists in the Making, 212-14; Tuttle, “Tibetan Buddhism at Ri bo rtse lnga”; and Tuttle, “Gazetteers and Golden Roof-tiles: Publicizing Qing Support of Tibetan Buddhism at Wutai Shan,” paper given at the “Wutai Shan and Qing Culture” Conference at the Rubin Museum of Art, May 12-13, 2007.
[116] The name of the founder of Shifang Hall on Wutai shan is the high-ranking monk Lozang MenlamBlo bzang sman lam (Amo Luosang Manlong, 阿摩洛桑曼隆). See Luosang Danzhu and Popa Ciren, Anduo gucha chanding si (Lanzhou: Gansu minzu chubanshe, 1995), 249; Suonan Cao, “Wutai shan yu zangchuan fojiao,” Xizang min su 3 [1999]: 5. On Shifang Hall, see: Li Shiming, “Luohou si yu Shifang tang” [Luohou Monastery and Shifang Hall”], Wutai shan yanjiu, no. 1 (1998): 29; Cai Hong, “Shifang Tang” [Shifang Hall], Wutai shan yanjiu, no. 1 (1999): 23-25. Lhündrup Dechen LingLhun grub bde chen gling Monastery was founded in 1417 in in Minzhou (Minzhou, 岷州), Gansu Province, by Pelden TrashiDpal ldan bkra shis, abbot of Drotsang Dorjé ChangGro tshang rdo rje ’chang (Qutan si, 瞿曇寺). Its construction and ornamentation are closely detailed in Pelden TrashiDpal ldan bkra shis’s biography (Domé ChöjungMdo smad chos ’byung [History of Amdo], 682-84), where it is clearly described as being Chinese in architecture (with bell and drum towers) but ornamented by the Ming court with both Chinese and Tibetan objects and images. See Karl Debreczeny, “Sino-Tibetan Synthesis in Ming Dynasty Wall Painting at the Core and Periphery,” The Tibet Journal 28, nos. 1 and 2 (Spring and Summer 2003[b]): 49-108. Choné Trashi Chönkhor LingCo ne bkra shis chos ’khor gling Monastery was founded by Chögyel PakpaChos rgyal ’phags pa and his patron Qubilai Khan in 1269, and later converted to a GelukDge lugs institution in 1459. ChonéCo ne expanded significantly in the eighteenth century under Manchu patronage, when the blocks for the Tibetan canon (KangyurBka’ ’gyur and TengyurBstan ’gyur) was carved, for which the monastery became famous. Monks from ChonéCo ne would travel to Shifang Hall on Wutai shan to teach, and monks from Shifang Hall would also go to ChonéCo ne for advanced studies.
[117] Paul K. Nietupski, “Bla brang Monastery and Wutai Shan,” Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies, no. 6 (December 2011), http://www.thlib.org?tid=T5718.
[118] ri bo rtse lnga’i nub ḥphu li thi” (’Jam dbyangs rgyal mtshan, Rgyal ba kaḥ thog pa’i lo rgyus mdor bsdus [Chengdu: Sichuan minzu chubanshe, 1996], 168). “ḥphu li thi” may be a Tibetan transliteration for the Chinese name of Wutai shan’s western peak, Puli tai (菩利台). However the western peak’s name is Guayue Peak (Guayue feng, 挂月峰). Katok Dorjé DenKaḥthog rdo rje gdan Monastery, founded in 1159 by Kadampa DeshekKa dam pa bde gshegs (1122-1192) in DegéSde dge, is one of the six major monasteries of the NyingmaRnying ma order with one-hundred and twelve branch monasteries spread across Tibet, Sikkim, Yunnan, Inner Mongolia, and Wutai shan in Shanxi Province. Situ PenchenSi tu paṇ chen’s visit to the Wutai shan branch is mentioned by Alexander Berzin, “Nyingma Monasteries,” in Chö-Yang, Year of Tibet Edition (Dharamsala, India, 1991), 32, without citing his source. On KatokKaḥthog Monastery, see: ’Jam dbyangs rgyal mtshan, Rgyal ba kaḥ thog pa’i lo rgyus mdor bsdus (branch monasteries, 166-68); ’Jigs med bsam grub, “Sde mgon khang gyi lo rgyus [History of Sde mgon khang],” in Khams phyogs dkar mdzes khul gyi dgon sde so so’i lo rgyus gsal bar bshad pa nang bstan gsal pa’i me long, vol. 1. (neibu) [Kangding and Beijing: Krung goʼi bod kyi shes rig dpe skrun khang, 1995), 97-135.

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 ).

Bibliography Citation

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 ).