China’s Backbones

Traditional Chinese culture views all things in the universe as interconnected, and in Feng shui theory, there is a comparison between the physical formation of Earth and the human body. It refers to mountains as the spines, rivers the blood veins, soil the skin and plants the hair.

Following this notion, China is a tall and bony guy since mountains and plateaus cover about 65 percent of its total land area, with seven of the world’s twelve top high peaks (higher than 8000 metres) located in the country. As China’s hill terrains are mainly concentrated in the northwest with fertile watering land in the southeast, this lofty and skinny fella exposes his face and soft belly to the sun, which from the feng shui point of view, is an ideal geo-composition.

Normally when Chinese mention China’s natural landscape, they often refer to it as “Three Eminent Hills and Five Great Mountains” (三山五岳).

It is believed that the Three Hills Five Mountains are where the immortals reside, and Chinese sovereigns made it a routine to pay tribute to the higher beings dwelling on the high grounds of the Five Mountains who act as the in-house guardians of the nation.

While the Three Hills are said located somewhere in the East Sea with their exact geo-positions never positively determined, the Five Mountains in the five key directions of the country are viewed as five pillars popping up the sky.

Mount Mighty (Mt. Tai 泰山)

Mount Lotus (Mt. Hua 华山)

Mount Eternity (Mt Heng 恒山)

Mount Balance (Mt Heng 衡山)

Mount Lofty (Mt Song 嵩山)

Five great mountains represent the Five Agents respectively, and are described as each having a distinctive personality: in the east Mt Mighty (泰山 Wood) sits majesty, in the west Mt Lotus (华山 Metal) erects tall and upright, behind them in the north Mt Eternity (恒山 Water) keeps pacing leisurely, and before them in the south Mt Balance (衡山 Fire) is on the verge of taking off from the ground, while right in the middle, Mt Lofty (嵩山 Earth) lies down meditating (泰山如坐,华山如立,恒山如行,衡山如飞, 嵩山如卧)

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