Dai Miao

Mount Tai (Tai Shan), Shandong

Dai Miao is a large temple complex at the base of Mt. Tai. The temple was begun in 1008 after a visit by the Song emperor, although there must have been earlier temples on the spot; it has often been renovated since. Its entrance pailou, shown here, dates to the Ming dynasty (1600).

The mile-high mountain is the chief of the Daoist Five Sacred Peaks1 in China. It is here that Qin Shihuang performed the ancient feng and shan sacrifices to Heaven and Earth, and proclaimed his unification of China in 219 BC. But from long before that, up to the present day, innumerable visitors from the greatest to the humblest have made the pilgrimage to offer their respects. Although the modern ascent can easily be made by bus and cable car, many pilgrims - like the visitor in the foreground - come equipped for a hike.

1The Daoist peaks are Mt. Song (Henan, center); Mt. Heng (Shanxi, N); another Mt. Heng (Hunan, S); Mt. Tai (Shandong, E); and Mt. Hua (Shaanxi, W). The Buddhist peaks are Wutai (Shanxi, N, Manjushri); Jiuhua (Anhui, S, Ksitigarbha); Putuo (Zhejiang, E, Guanyin); and Emei (Sichuan, W, Samantabhadra).