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Humanistic sensibilities in Huaguo Mountain

Author:Huaguo Mountain scenic spot

Though going through many years, Huaguo Mountain still presents us with a wide range of fascinating and charming scenery which attracts innumerable great scholars and poets to produce a large number of beautiful and touching masterpieces with utmost passion.  

Huaguo Mountain has received many names from men of letters through the ages. Its original names include Duzhou, Yuzhou, Yingzhou, the mountain of feathers, Mount Yu and Mount Feng. The names it has once adopted include Cangwu Mountain, Fufu Mountain. It also has some alternative names like Qianyun terrace, Green Peak, Yunu Peak, Qianding Mountain. Huaguo Mountain is located on the top of Yuntai mountain range, overlooking 148 peaks and hills. Wu Cheng’en vividly describes it as “In the east sea tower the peaks and hills”.

In China’s first geographical book Yugong, an unknown scholar passionately eulogizes its intoxicating beauty and its irresistible glamour. The fertile land is her plump figure. The red soil represents her pink cheeks. And lush plants are her gorgeous dresses.  2000 years ago, the author of Shan Hai Jing pays a close attention to the big range of mountains beyond the east sea and speaks highly of the habitat of numerous birds and the prosperous place under Shaohao’s government. In Xia dynasty, Emperor Yao sends Xizhong to offer sacrifices to the sunrise here. Shuhai of Jianxing follows the order of Dayu to measure the size of the world starting from this place.

Numerous masterpieces present us with scrolls of history depicting its beautiful landscape and unique customs.

The poet Ying Shao in Han dynasty and the hydrologist Li Daoyuan pay close attention to the fact that the plants which can only be seen in the south appear on the soil of the north. After contemplating, men of letters believe that the Cangwu County by the south sea is moved to this place. Lush and dense trees and flowers give Huaguo Mountain a name, Yuzhou Mountain. And the story of migration from the south gives it a name, Cangwu Mountain. Many great poets like Li Bai, Liu Changqin, Dugu Ji and Su Dongpo admire the picturesque scenery and its peculiar customs, leaving precious masterpieces of Cangwu Mountain.

Su Dongpo is an optimistic and broad-minded person with a certain naivety. In his poems, he shows deep concerns for his wife and children so that he attributes the grey hair to his sentiment. However, facing the verdant and serene Huaguo Mountain, he even wants to leave his wife and children and retreats to the mountains for his longing for celestial mountains on the sea and his craving for woods and plants like heavenly medicines.

Lin Zexu, also a man of letters, appreciates the peaking hills and bamboos. Li Bai prefers the white clouds enveloping Cangwu Mountain. Li Qingzhao laments the loneliness of the Cangwu people who abandon their carriages and take boats to arrive here in order to run away from the turmoil caused by war.

Novelists can find much inspiration in the legends of Huaguo Mountain and the dim beauty of the Yunu Peak. 

The first goddess in the Orient, Nuwa, discards the superfluous colorful gemstone beside the celestial mountain on the sea. Thus, it has become a mysterious stone laden with various stories and myths. Sleeping for 5000 years, this celestial stone is caved into monkey king under Wu Cheng’en’s pen. 200 years later, Cao Xueqin turns it into a sentimental gentleman. Nowadays, the characters in these two literary giants’ works have undoubtedly become world-known celebrities with the two novels regarded as the highest achievement among the Chinese ancient classics. Wang Mei writes a poem of great value Yuntai Mountain which chants that Nuwa tempered the five-colored stones to mend the heavens, left one piece on the jade terrace and was blown to the seaside.

During the most prosperous time of Tang dynasty, a prime minister and a number one scholar appear among the locals in the Huaguo Mountain which is originally regarded as a desolate place by the officials. This “broken mirror joined together” story is set in the picturesque landscape and is full of deep hometown complex. Scholars and monks all have mentioned this story in their poems and essays. Among these people, Wu Cheng’en is the most outstanding one who weaves the monk Tang of Henan and Chen Guangrui of Huaguo Mountain together to create a story with a happy ending with his ingenious skills in depicting characters. A historian once comments it as Wu’s word game. Another novelist says that it is the temperament and taste of literates.

It’s true that the scholars’ interests and tastes in the folk culture contribute to the immortality of this world famous classic.

These are the passionate humanistic sensibilities which add much flavor to Huaguo Mountain by leaving monumental classics in China’s cultural history.

The versatile man of letters, Li Ruzhen even regards Huaguo Mountain as the world abroad.

Qian Lianyin, one of the four talented ladies, writes in her inscription to The Flowers in the Mirror that similar talent different sentiment.

Through the ages, Huaguo Mountain has attracted numerous visitors and inspired countless talents. No matter how skillful and ingenious these talents are, they are all intoxicated, infatuated and amazed in front of the picturesque scenery and its profound historical and cultural heritage.

“Refreshing The Journey to the West” Project Group, National Planning Office of Social Science
Oct, 2012