The 8th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Mount Heng (Shanxi)
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Heng Shan or Heng Mountain (simplified Chinese: 恒山; traditional Chinese: 恆山; pinyin: Héng Shān) in Shanxi Province is one of the Five Great Mountains. At 2,017 m, it is one of the five tallest peaks in China Proper. Heng Shan in Shanxi Province is sometimes known as the Northern Heng Shan, and the one in Hunan Province as Southern Heng Shan (Chinese: 衡山; pinyin: Héng Shān). Both mountains have the same pronunciation in Chinese, and the Southern Heng Shan is also one of the Five Sacred Mountains.
Like the other mountains in China with strong Taoist presence, Heng Shan has been considered a sacred mountain since the Zhou Dynasty. Due to its northerly location, the mountain has made it impossible for pilgrimages by the Chinese to take place for much of its history. Because of this, Hengshan is not nearly as religiously important in China as the other Taoist mountains.
During the Han Dynasty, a temple called the Shrine of the Northern Peak (Beiyue Miao), dedicated to the mountain god was built on Hengshan's slopes. While periodically destroyed and rebuilt, this temple has an uninterrupted history from Han times to the present day. During times of occupation by non-Han Chinese people, worship to Hengshan was done at the Beiyue Temple in Quyang.