Buddhist culture of Jiuhuashan geopark

2018-05-26

Li Bai, a poet in the Tang Dynasty, described scenery at Jiuhuashan in a poem as follows: "I used to boat on the Yangtze River, and looking at Jiuhuashan from far away. Waterfall is like a celestial river pouring green water, and the mountain is like a beautiful swaying nine lotus". The name of Jiuhuashan was originated from the mountain shape, which looks like nine lotuses.

Jiuhuashan, a large fault-block granite landform, is towering on one bank of the Yangtze River. It is an important intersection for the eastern coastal culture expanding west along the Yangtze River, and also an important region featured by the integration of the northern and the southern cultures of China. The characteristics of landforms and ecological landscape with features of "towering, fresh, moist, lush" of Jiuhuashan are important principles for Buddhist site selection. Since the Eastern Jin Dynasty, Buddhism had spread to Jiuhuashan for more than one thousand years. During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, Buddhism established the statement that golden Ksitigarbha should be Ksitigarbha Buddhisattva, making Jiuhuashan become the ashram of Ksitigarbha Buddhisattva and a holy land of Chinese Buddhism, also one of the most important spreading centers of Buddhism in China. Jiuhuashan Buddhist culture has turned into the current culture by absorption of Confucian culture, Taoist culture, overseas culture and secular culture. Therefore, Jiuhuashan Buddhist culture is a unique cultural landscape and is characteristic of a cultural melting pot of various regions of China. Jiuhuashan is famous in the world for its unique Buddhist culture, it is a tourist resort for visitors from home and aboard, one of the four sacred Buddhist mountains in China.

A.Jiuhuashan Buddhist culture rising from its unique geologic landform.

In geology, the magnificent natural landscape in Jiuhuashan is a large fault granite landform, featured by the geomorphic structure of "mountain-hill-basin", and diversified micro-landforms, such as terrace, rock wall, basin, and grotesquely-shaped rocks. Among them, terrace landform is an ideal site for the construction of Jiuhuashan Buddhist architecture. Currently, there are 9 key protection temples of China, and 30 provincial key protection temples in the Geopark. These temples were built on ridge terrace, cirque terrace, which are weathered and denuded. Granitic cliff walls are the place for cliff inscription. There are more than 100 cliff inscriptions in Jiuhuashan. Among them, cliff inscriptions in Liuchong Basin recorded the 1,200 years history of calligraphy and cultural evolution from Tang Dynasty to Qing Dynasty. Now, they have been inscribed on the list of the provincial-level cultural relics protection unit by the People's Government of Anhui Province. Names of grotesquely-shaped granite rocks is closely related with Buddhist figures of Jiuhuashan Buddhist culture, such as: Roc hearing sutras stone Fig.1, Kwan-yin viewing the land of BuddhaFig.2, Buddha viewing the sea of clouds Fig.3, Jiuhua sleeping Buddha Fig.4and other geo-heritages. In all, geology and landforms are the material basis and premise for the rise of Buddhist culture in Jiuhuashan.

Fig.1Roc hearing sutras stone

Fig.2 Kwan-yin viewing the land of Buddha

Fig.3 Buddha viewing the sea of clouds

Fig.4 Jiuhua sleeping Buddha

B. Buddhist culture of Jiuhuashan is a historical evidence of cultural exchanges of China with the Koreas

The prince of Silla (Korea), Kim Gyo-gak (696-794) was the first person to make Jiuhuashan Buddhist culture prosperous. Kim Gyo-gak stayed in Jiuhuashan for 75 years until he passed away. He was highly respected with his rigorous penance thinking and profound Buddhist thought. Because he is a foreign monk with the prince identity, many Buddhism believers were attracted to visit here for thousands of years. Kim Gyo-gak opened the thriving of Jiuhuashan Buddhist culture, laying the foundation of Jiuhuashan Buddhist culture, and enhancing the popularity of Jiuhuashan.

On July 4, 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a speech at Seoul National University, he said “from Xu Fu, who sought the immortal in Jeju Island from China, to Kim Gyo-gak, who was the prince of Silla and passed away in Jiuhuashan, all witnessed the long standing and well-established history of friendly exchanges and the tradition of helping each other.Fig.5.

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Fig.5 Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a speech at Seoul National University

Fig.6 Bronze statue of Ksitigahba Buddhisattva

C. Jiuhuashan Buddhism culture integrates the Confucian culture of China with Buddhist culture, forming cultural peak.

 The prince of Silla (Korea), Kim Gyo-gak came to Jiuhuashan at his first time in 719 A.D.. Then, under the protection and development by generations of famous monks, Jiuhuashan had become a holy land of Buddhist culture. A large number of precious Buddhist cultural heritages have been found and has made Jiuhuashan characteristic of multi-level and multi-style Buddhist cultures. During the development of Jiuhuashan Buddhist culture, Confucian and Buddhism scholars in Tang, Song, Ming and Qing Dynasties of China, came to Jiuhuashan to open schools or build academies, leaving thousands of precious poems, paintings and more than 20 historical sites. The integration of Buddhism culture and Confucian culture created a culture pak at Jiuhuashan.

D. Jiuhuashan Buddhism culture is the product jointly developed by monks and local residents.

The Jiuhuashan Temple Fair and Jiuhuashan Buddhist Music have been inscribed on the list of the national intangible cultural heritage. The Jiuhuashan Temple Fair is a product combining Buddhism culture with local drama and trade activities. The Jiuhuashan Buddhism music is a product combining the Buddhist chanting with the folk songs and local drama with a clear tone. It is of great academic value for study on Chinese traditional music, culture, folklore, folk customs and religion evolution.

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