Mt. Wudang is one of the famous Taoist
holy lands in China. Taoism, the traditional Chinese
religion, originated from ancient witchcraft,
necromancy, philosophies of Chuang Tzu and Lao
Tzu in the era before the Qin Dynasty .In the
times when Emperor Shui in the Eastern Han Dynasty
was on the throne, Zhang Daoling respected the
Yellow Emperor as First Ancestor, Lao Tzu as Taoist
Ancestor, consecrated Beginning God as the highest
god. He cured illness with magic figures and incantations,
and created Taoism under "helping and educating
people with Tao."
The religious activities in Mt. Wudang
were always very active in ancient China. Mt.
Wudang area was under jurisdiction of the Kingdom
of Mi in ancient times and was annexed by the
Kingdom of Chu in the Epoch of Spring and Autumn
and the Warring States. The area of Mt. Wudang,
only 255 km from Jiangling ,the capital of Chu
Kingdom, was an important town in the north of
the kingdom. There was a custom in this area that
people believed in ghosts and took ancestor worship
seriously. Until now there are still numbers of
tombs built in ancient Chu times left in the reservoir
area of Mt. Wudang . The unearthed relics reflect
that the ancient people in this area believed
in ghosts and worshiped gods. These became the
breeding ground f Mt. Wudang Taoism.
In the Eastern Han Dynasty, Mt. Wudang
was under jurisdiction of Wu dang County, Nanyang
Prefecture. Influenced by the early Taoism in
Hanzhong Prefecture west to Nanyang, a religion
named Five-dou-rice spread widely in Mt. Wu dang
area. According to the history book, there were
large sacrificial rites with 4 si and 36 gates
in the area. The 24 si was a kind of religious
installation with pits under thatched cottages,
which was the embryonic form of Taoist terraces.
Pang Zhongpu wrote in his book "Five
Thousand Years History of America" that a
naked goddess statue with a bronze tablet in her
hand was once found in a cave in Peru. Carved
on the tablet were there Chinese words "Mt.
Wu dang " with the style of calligraphy Lishu.
It might be carved in the Epoch of South and North
According to "The Annals of Mt.
Taihe", in the Eastern Zhou Dynasty, when
Yin Xi got Tao Te Ching written by Lao Tze, he
resigned his jib and secluded himself in Mt. Wudang
.In the Han Dynasty, the General Dai Meng took
the advantage of gathering medical herbs for the
emperor to seclude himself on Hat-dropping Peak
in Mt. Wu dang .Other recluses included Ma Mingshen
and Yin Changsheng who tried to make immortality
pills in Mt. Wu dang .The residues neither stone
nor iron left by Yin Changsheng on Hidden-immortal
Crag have been existing up to now..
In the Wei &Jin Dynasties, and
the Epoch of South and North, the society was
turbulent, so Mt. Wudang became a spirit of heaven
of the literati. Tao Hongjing wrote in his book
The Jade Cabinet Records "Mt. Taihe was long
and narrow extending from north to south. Many
people seclude themselves in the prodigious mountains."
The word " Taihe" comes from the book
of Changes which has two meanings, one referred
that there is a saying in Taoist scriptures "
where there is Taiji, there will be mountains"
Mt Wudang came into being so long ago that it
has the vitality of Taihe that can create the
world. The other referred that the spirit of Taihe
is the interaction Yin and Yang, which has given
birth to Heaven and Earth, and has formed humanity.
Therefore the mountain where people learning Tao
live is called Mt. Taihe.
In the Eastern Jin Dynasty quite a
few people including officials like Xu Ziping,
Liu Liang, Xiao Qishi and Liu Qiu gave up their
family and office, came to Mt. Wudang practicing
During the Sui & Tang Dynasties,
Mt. Wudang had gradually developed into a holy
land of Taoism. When emperor Tai Zong of the Tang
Dynasty was on the throne, Yao Jian ,the governor
in charge of military affairs in Wudang, prayed
for rain in Mt. Wudang and really got it, so Emperor
Tai Zong had Five-dragon Temple built. Converted
from the former religion of Five-dou-rice, Taism
in Mt. Wudang developed into a complete and sophisticated
religion. Furthermore, from a folk religion it
changed into an official one. In the end of the
Tang Dynasty, Mt. Wudang was listed as the Ninth
Fairyland on the 72 Fairylands of Taoism.
Paradises& and Fairylands are
the places inhabited by immortals. It's said that
there are 10 Grand Paradises, 36 Small Paradises
and 72 Fairylands. The 72 Fairylands are famous
mountains ruled by immortals by order of God,
so many people attained perfection in Taoism over
there, Mt. Wudang is located in the middle of
China. Fair mountains, warm climate and plenty
of plants and animals make Mt. Wudang suitable
for traveling, living and cultivating one's mind.
Therefore, it is an ideal secluded paradise of
traditional Chinese. Mt. Wudang also attracts
religious people by its unique geographic surroundings,
mysterious natural landscape and long-standing
cultural history. In China the period synchronized
with the feudal society when religious changed
from polytheism to supreme god worship, from tribe
religion to national religion.
In the early and middle times of the
feudal society, the political centers of China
were in Chang' an, Luoyang and Kaifeng in North
China Plain along the middle and lower reached
of the Yellow River .The location of Mt. Wudang
is just between North China Plain and the Plain
of the Middle and Lower Reaches of the Yangtze
River ,All these factors impelled Mt. Wudang to
the Fairyland soon.
As the Ninth Fairyland, Mt. Wudang
was the place were Zhen Wu attained the perfection
in Taoism. Zhen Wu, also named Xuan Wu, originated
from ancient myth and star worship. In the ancient
myth, Xuan Wu is the Godin the North, that is,
the seven clusters of stars in the North among
the total twenty-eight clusters in heaven. The
symbol of Xuan Wu is a snake winding round a tortoise.
It's named xuan because of being in the north.
It's named Wu because of having hard scales. The
north represents water in the Five Elements, so
Xuan Wu is also the God of Water. Mt. Wudang is
in the south that represents fire in the Five
Elements that Xuan Wu attained the perfection
of Taoism in Mt. Wudang.
In the Northern Song Dynasty, Emperor
Zhao claimed that he united China under an auspicious
omen of fire. According to an old saying that
the opposite of fire in the Fire Elements, that
is water, could bless the Song Dynasty. Xuan Wu,
the God of Water, gained high esteem from the
royalty. It's changed to the name of Zhen Wu under
taboonand was conferred "Blessing Immortal"
to bless the Song Dynasty lasting forever. From
the former winding-snake-tortoise, Zhen Wu was
also changed to a humanized deity---an awe-inspiring
general. To support the change, the pedigree of
Zhen Wu was compiled. It' said that in the period
of the Yellow Emperor, Zhen Wu was born from the
left upper part of Empress Shansheng in the Jingle
Palace. When he grew up, he refused to succeed
to the throne but got directions from the Ancestor
Ziqi and came to Mt. Taihe. After 42 years of
cultivation, he attained the perfection of Taoism,
ascended to the heaven and was conferred Zhen
Wu by the Jade Emperor. Then Mt. Taihe was changed
to the name of Mt. Wudang because "Nobody
deserves it except Zhen Wu." Taoism in Mr.
Wudang had esteem by imperial family. The well-known
Taoist priests such as Chen Tuan, Deng Ruozhuo,
Xie Tiandi, Sun Yuanzheng, Deng Anzao anf Cao
Miaoguan came here to build Taoist temples, put
Taoist affairs in order, compile Taoist priests
by imperial decrees, making Taoism in Mt. Wudang
a new development.
Influenced by Han nation's culture,
the emperors in the Yuan Dynasty also paid much
attention to the belief of Zhen Wu. According
to the legend ,in Kublai ( the first emperor of
the Yuan Dynasty) 6 th, tortoise-and-snake was
found in the Gaoliang River in Dadu(the capital
of China at that time). Xu Shilong, a government
official in charge of history records affairs,
wrote to the emperor to say that this phenomenon
represented Zhen Wu, the God of Water, made its
power felt.He also wrote that according to the
production and water, they would surely be able
to annex the Song Dynasty and unite China. So
Kublai ordered to offer sacrifices to Zhen Wu.
In 1304, Emperor Chengzong conferred "Xuantian
God" on Zhen Wu. From "Immortal"
in the SongDynasty to "God" in the Yuan
Dynasty, Zhen Wu made a great leap forward in
the deity order. Meanwhile the emperors in the
Yuan Dynasty attached much importance to Mt. Wudang,
the ascension place of Zhen Wu. Emperor Renzong
was born on March 3 rd (lunar calender), the same
birthday as Zhen Wu by chance .On every birthday,
he would send envoys to Mt Wudang offering sacrifices
and showing worship. From then on Taoism in Mt.
Wudang had developed quickly and widened its influences
to all around. History book told us that on each
March 3 rd there were tens of thousands of pilgrims
offering numerous sacrifices. The famous Taoists
as Wang Zhenchang, Zhang Daogui, Ye Yunlai, Lu
Dayou and Zhang Shouqing took the advantage to
found religious organizations. They opened up
hundreds of square miles land for farming and
organized tens of thousands of Taoism followers.
With its great influences, Mt. Wudang turned into
a place where immortals cultivating their minds
and royalty praying for nation's happiness .It
shared the same fame with Mt. Dragon &Tigers,
the holy land of Taoism's Zhengyi Sect.
In the early period of the Ming Dynasty,
Zhu Di, the monarch of the Yan Kingdom seized
the throne by force in the name of quelling so-called
rebellions .He became Emperor Chengzu. In order
to give a good name to his usurpation of the throne,
Zhu Di claimed that what he had done was under
Zhen Wu's tacit permission, that he upheld justice
on behalf of Zhen Wu .In Yongle 10 th (1412),
Zhu Di sent 200,000 soldiors and craftsmen to
Mt. Wudang building Taoist temples, choses famous
Taoists from Taoist temples throughout country
to Mt Wangdang as chief Taoists. With both political
and economic support, the biggest Taoist rite
and organization in China were founded in Mt.
Wudang. To protect Mt. Wudang, the emperor allotted
several hundred square km mountains and forests
in Mt. Wudang area as government mountains where
felling trees was forbidden .500 soldiers were
sent to protect temples, and officials were sent
to manage religious affairs by the emperor. Mt.
Wudang was conferred "Grand Mountain Taihe".
The temples became imperial temples and Wudang
Taoism became imperical religious. In Jiajing
31 st (1552). Emperor Shizong had Wudang Taoist
buildings rebuilt and claimed to govern the nation
with the spirit of Wudang Taoism. The royalties
and other social power had so great esteem for
Wudang Taoism that a lot of intellectuals came
here cultivating themselves depending on Taoist
rules. Among them were Zhang Sanfeng, Qiu Xuanqing,
Sun Biyun and Ren Ziyuan who had profound knowledge
and high attainment in Taoism, who worshiped Zhen
Wu, took interal cultivation seriously, who was
good at magic figures and incantations, and who
emphasized loyalty and filial piety. Therefore,
with the fusion of three religions, Wudang Taoism
developed to its great prosperity. Mt. Wudang
became the first immortal mountain in the world.
In the Qing Dynasty, because the upper
class in the royal government took Religions Saman
as their belief, also because of the special relationship
between Taoism and Ming Royalty, Taoism got less
attention. The worship of Zhen Wu avert deep into
the folk people. Zhen Wu became one of the most
popular deities among the folk for his lengegary
capabilities satisfying people's desires such
as bringing timely sunshine or rain, curing illness,
dispelling personal misfortune and helping people
make succeed in fame or fortune.
At that time, as the original place
of Zhen Wu, Mt. Wudang was still famous among
people in middle or lower class. The pilgrims
increased steadily. Taoists in Wudang like Bai
Xuanfu, Yang Changxuan, Zhang Jingming, Yang Laiwang,
Wang Fumiao and Xu Benshan repaired temples with
donations from the folk, and preached Taoism.
After the foundation of the People's
Republic of China, the government persues freedom
of religious belief policy. Regular religious
activities continue in Mt. wudang. The government
has also taken measures to protect the Taoist
relics and Taoist buildings. Especially since
the reform and opening of China, the new religious
people in Mt. Wudang Taoism Associattion led by
Chairman Wang Guangde have founded and consummated
a lot of management systems which keep religious
activities in order. The Taoism Association in
Mt. Wudang has raised in mang ways more than 30,000,000
RMB repairing Taoist buildings overalland improving
living conditions of the Taoists to a large degree.
The Wudang Taoist Culture Centre(WTCC) under the
administration of Wudangshan Taoism Association
has developed and researched into Taoist cultural
resources so that Taoist music, Internal Boxing,
Taoist medicines can be inherited.