Wuyi Mountain

Last updated by drwi at 2014/5/3

Wuyi Mountain, or Mount Wuyi as it is known locally, is famous for its crystal clear waters and its amazingly beautiful Danxia landform (a Danxia landform - so-named after Danxiashan, or Mount Danxia, in China's Fujian Province - is a unique-to-China, raised landform consisting of uplifted bedrock, sometimes of reddish sandstone, whose sides end in near-barren, vertical cliffs). Mount Wuyi is located in the northwestern quadrant of Fujian Province.

 

Mount Wuyi's Geology

The Danxia landform is a local example of crustal uplift along tectonic fault lines. In China, the Danxia landform is subdivided into three types, depending on the region of China in which it is situated. In the southeast of China, to which belong the Danxia landforms of Fujian Province, including Wuyi Mountain, the crustal uplift is characterized by peaks made either of volcanic or plutonic rock* and by what is pictorially termed "a narrow strip of sky", i.e., two large blocks of raised land mass with a narrow crack, or corridor, between them, offering a narrow strip of visible sky above. It is at once a beautiful and terrifying experience to stand at the base of such a narrow slit in a massive mountain of rock and view the narrow strip of sky above - one naturally fears the worst: that the narrow gap could close at any minute, though the likelihood of this occuring is probably a billion to one.

Common to most Danxia landforms, including those of Fujian Province, are gorges - often with a river at their base - that wind their way between the uplifted Danxia blocks. The gorges have been eroded over the ages by the action of the water. Sometimes "a narrow strip of sky" will end abruptly where a wedge of stone bridges the narrow gap between two massive Danxia blocks. In some regions, the uppermost part of the Danxia landform is characterized by jagged peaks, while in others, it forms near-flat plateaus (in this they somewhat resemble the typical mesas of the Arizona desert landscape in the U.S.).

 

Mount Wuyi's Prehistory

Mount Wuyi has a Neolithic prehistory that can be traced possibly as far back as 5000 years or more, though archeologists are not in agreement on the dating of the various prehistoric cultures that lived in this region. It was formerly believed that the earliest culture in the coastal area corresponding to present-day Fujian Province existed around about BCE 2000, making it roughly 4000 years old. Newer excavations from the Keqiutou site suggest that this culture predated the Tanshishan Culture (BCE 3000) of the area around the present-day city of Fuzhou in Fujian Province. In fact, some archeologists believe that the Tanshishan Culture may have been an offshoot of the Keqiutou Culture. In any case, after the Tanshishan Culture came later Neolithic cultures such as those discovered at the Damaoshan and Huangguashan sites. The culture that developed along this coastal region is strikingly similar to the culture that developed on the nearby island of Taiwan, causing some archeologists to conjecture that the two belonged to the same maritime culture, aka Austronesians.

 

Mount Wuyi in China's Dynastic Period

The ancient city of Chengcun was the capital of the Kingdom of Minyue (BCE 334-110), which existed parallel to, yet separate from China's Han (BCE 206 - CE 220) Dynasty, though the Minyue Kingdom existed in close agreement and cooperation with its stronger neighbor to the northwest. The Kingdom of Minyue was annexed in BCE 110 by the Han emperor Wu Di, thus becoming a part of China (for a more in-depth historical background regarding the city of Fuzhou, the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Minyue, click here).

Wuyi Palace, on Mount Wuyi, was built during the Tianbao (CE 742-756) reign of Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang (CE 618-907) Dynasty. The palace was used by successive emperors as a Taoist sacrificial site, and the entire area around Mount Wuyi became an important center for the spread of Taoism. Later, Mount Wuyi would figure prominently in the spread of Buddhism. Finally, during the 11th century, Mount Wuyi became the center for the propagation of Neo-Confucianism, yet the mountain's Buddhist and Taoist past was preserved.

 

Present-Day Mount Wuyi

Mount Wuyi is recognized today as a site of great natural beauty - in fact, it made the UNESCO World Natural Heritage List in 1999. Given the mountain's cultural heritage, it might well have made UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage List as well, though this has not yet happened. As a key region of the World Conservation Union - part of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) - Mount Wuyi is a habitat for many rare and endangered species, and as such makes a significant contribution to the ongoing effort to preserve our natural heritage in order to better understand man's placement in the chain of biological evolution, i.e., mankind's evolutionary relationship to the rest of the biosphere.

That said, Mount Wuyi, with its starkly beautiful Danxia landform, offers as unique a topography, albeit, non-monolithic, as Australia's Uluru, aka Ayers Rock, itself of the same red sandstone as many of China's Danxia landforms.

 

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* Volcanic rock is formed at or near the surface, while plutonic rock is formed well below the surface.

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150 Yuan per person.

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The mountain can be visited year-round at any time of the day, although the various facilities – restaurants, tea houses, places of lodging, etc. – have opening hours that follow the usual scheme for a typical tourist site in China.

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