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China's Mount Wutai joins World Heritage List

Compiled by Tipitaka Network newsdesk, Sunday, August 30, 2009

China's On June 26, Mount Wutai became China's 38th site to join UNESCO's World Heritage List as a cultural landscape.

"We've been through a rough path, full of suspense," Tong Mingkang, deputy chief of China's State Administration of Cultural Heritage, said after the announcement.

Mount Wutai, literally, the five-terrace mountain, is a sacred Buddhist mountain with five flat peaks at altitudes of 2,500 to 3,000 meters above sea level. The cultural landscape features 53 monasteries and includes the East Main Hall of Foguang Temple, a structure that was built in 857 during the Tang Dynasty (618-917) and is one of the oldest wooden buildings in China.

It also features the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) Shuxiang Temple with a huge complex of 500 statues representing Buddhist stories woven into three dimensional pictures of mountains and water.

The structures on the site represent a catalogue of the way Buddhist architecture developed and influenced palace building in China for more than one millennium.

The mountain had applied to be both cultural and natural heritage but only approved to be cultural landscape, said Tang Wei, director of world heritage bureau, department of cultural heritage protection and archaeology, State Administration of Cultural Heritage.

The site is in Wutai County, Xinzhou City in Shanxi Province, 230 kilometers from the provincial capital, Taiyuan City. Mount Wutai`is the highest mountain in northern China and is remarkable for its morphology characterized by precipitous sides with five open treeless peaks. Temples were built on the site from the first century AD to the early 20th century.

"Mount Wutai has been harmoniously combined with Buddhism culture, reflecting the ancient Chinese philosophy of the harmony between people and nature," said Han Jianggen, deputy secretary-general of the Wutai Mountain Buddhism Association.

Experts had blamed the mountain for being "too commercialized, too urbanized and too artificial," which prompted the Mount Wutai administration to improve its protection work.

source: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-06/26/content_11608433.htm
source: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-06/27/content_11608919.htm

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