Nanshan Cultural Tourism Zone
The Nanshan Cultural Tourism Zone consists of three parks, each with its special theme: Nanshan Buddhist Culture Park, Felicity and Longevity Culture Park and Nanshan Custom Park. In spite of being a newly-created theme-park complex (eg., the temple at Nanshan Buddhist Culture Park is the only Buddhist temple that has been created from scratch, as it were, since the emergence of the PRC), and in spite of the obvious nods to modern tourism (this is after all a theme park complex with a multitude of deliberate photo-op venues), the theme park complex on Nan shan, or South Mountain, is popular with Chinese tourists as well as with outsiders, and part of this popularity is owing to the tasteful way in which the "touristy" aspects of the theme park complex are dovetailed to the complex's more serious religious and cultural aspects, including its Buddhist origins and its link to the indigneous Li and Miao nationalities.
The association of Nanshan mountian with the notion of longevity is owing to the former name of the mountain, which was likened to the shape of a tortoise, a totem of longevity in some cultures, including ancient Chinese culture. Furthermore, in Buddhism, the tortoise is considered as a symbol of immortality, and is related to the Guanyin Buddha, one of the four great bodhisattvas of Buddhism (also known as the Goddess of Mercy and the Sea Goddess, patron saint of fishermen and sailors in general), which of course explains the reasoning behind the Felicity and Longevity Culture Park on Nanshan Mountain as well as the statues of Guanyin Buddha. And, as if to prove the longevity claim inherent in the mythology connected to Nanshan Mountain, the people of Hainan Island, on which Nanshan Mountain is located - especially those who live in Nanshan Longevity Valley beside Nanshan Mountain - live longer than do any other local residents in any other part of China (there have been some 20 residents of the valley who lived to be over 100 years old, with the oldest reaching the ripe old age of 120).
Of particular interest in Nanshan Buddhist Culture Park are:
· An awe-inspiring 108 meter high* 3-faced (3 statues standing back-to-back, in triangular formation) statue of Guanyin Buddha, Goddess of Mercy/ Sea Goddess, that is built on a promontory that juts out into the sea, with one of the figures facing directly landwards, the other two facing the sea (each figure holds a scroll in one hand and prayer beads in the other, with one figure representing peace, the second wisdom, and the third mercy).
· A smaller - but still large (3.8 meters high, including its base) - version of the Guanyin Buddha, the Golden Jade Guanyin Statue that stands in Deda Zizai Hall, is inlaid with gold, precious stones and sacred Buddhist relics. The 3.8 meter-high Golden Jade Guanyin Statue consists of four parts, a golden body, a bright-green leaf, a Qianye lotus flower, and a base made of red sandalwood. The creation of the statue required 100 kilograms of gold, 120 carats of South African diamonds embedded by Chinese diamond craftsmen, as well as countless other precious stones such as emeralds, pearls, red and blue rubies and more than 100 kilograms of green jade. The statue was crafted by "welding" 200 slices of gold in a hand-mold process, each slice with an average thickness of 1.2 mm. This magnificent statue, thanks to its many different components, each with its unique color and tactile sensation, is a marvel to behold.
Other highlights of Nanshan Buddhist Culture Park include Nanshan Temple and the Chinese Buddhism Culture Institute.
The Felicity and Longevity Culture Park is devoted to exhibits relating to a healthy - and thus to a long - life, including activities and special diets which reduce stress and promote harmony.
The Nanshan Custom Park is dedicated to profiling the specific physical and cultural characteristics of Hainan Island, including the island's tropical plant and marine life, as well as the cultural lifestyles of the indigenous Li and Miao nationalities and the more general cultural contributions to Chinese society of other important persons and events. Of special interest are: the Custom Garden for Li and Miao Nationalities, the Fairyland of Legends, the Memorial House for Huang Daopo (who revolutionized weaving and spinning techniques during the Yuan (CE 1279-1368) Dynasty, which thereafter put China on the world map as a major producer of textiles), Ocean Park, Underwater World, and lastly, the Paradise for Birds and Flowers.
With its unique sky and sea, its bountiful sunshine and sandy beaches, its verdant forest and protected coral reef as well as its theme parks with an abundance of interesting activities for families as well as for the solo tourist, Nanshan Cultural Tourism Zone admirably showcases the natural landscape and coastline of the South China Sea, including the culture and customs of the indigenous Li and Miao nationalities, which, in today's modern China, also incorporate elements of mainstream Chinese culture as well as Western culture.
* By comparison, the Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island, New York, is only 93 meters high.