Wutaishan’s panoramic picture of the sacred realm of the mountain of the five terraces and Cifu Ci (慈福寺)

The panoramic picture of the sacred realm of the mountain of the five terraces is a map of Wutaishan, which was craved by a Mongolian lama (Gelong) Lhundrup (act. 1846) in 1846 at Cihusi. A hand-colored print of the woodblocks was purchased by members of a Finnish expedition to Mongolia in 1909. Later on, the print was reproduced in eight sections by the National Board of Antiquities in Helsinki in 1987. This print depicts 130-odd temple sites in the mountain range, accompanied by an equal number of inscriptions, depictions of divine emanations, pilgrimage activities, rituals, and festivals.

The woodblock set serves as the master copy for numerous prints, although colored by different persons. These prints are preserved in various places around the world.

The full description of this print can be found in Wen-shing Chou’s article (pp. 109). This gazetteer map ought to be read in conjunction with texts. This map illustrates the spatial relations alongside a text that itemizes distances, directions, and relative locations in great detail. This map demonstrates in detail the number of bays and halls of large and small monasteries and liberally exaggerates the relative scale of certain portions to match their prominence and openness for public spectacle, therefore, it can be considered as more hierarchical, individuated, and complete assembly of sites than the topographically accurately maps. This map can bee seen as a guide map for visionary encounters.

It may be improper to describe the prints without introducing the monastery where it was produced, which is Cifu Si (慈福寺)

Cifu Si, also called Chantang Yuan[[#_ftn1|[1]]] (禅堂院) is located on a hill behind the Pusa Ding (the Bodhisattva Peak; Manjusri Peak). It was established during the Daoguang regime[[#_ftn2|[2]]] (r. 1820-1850) of the Qing dynasty. Cifu Si should be associated with the woodcut printings, since it was built at the time of the woodblocks’ execution.

This monastery served as the primary lodging center for all Mongolian lamas who made the pilgrimage to Wutaishan. Cihua Si is one of the three (out of seventy or so) monasteries that had no inscription in earlier textual records.

In sum, part of the intention of carving a new map of Wutaishan in Cifu Si was to place Cifu Si in the center of the map and legitimized this monastery as a permanent existence at Wutaishan.

  • Chou, Wen-shing, Ineffable Paths: Mapping Wutaishan in Qing Dynasty China, Art Bulletin, March 2007, Vol. 89 No. 1

Entry by Lan Wu 04/16/07

[[#_ftnref1|[1]]] 禅堂院:Shantang yuan or Chantang yuan, “禅”is a polyphonic character.
[[#_ftnref2|[2]]] According to Chou, the monastery was established in the early years of the Daoguang reign (1821-1851)