Feng Shan

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Jade Emperor Peak, the summit of Mt. Tai

Feng Shan, was a special ceremony performed by the emperors of China to honor heaven and earth. They would go to Mount Tai and Mount Liangfu to perform the sacrifices. The Feng sacrifice was done at the top of the mountain to honor heaven, while the Shan sacrifice was done at the foot of the mountain to honor earth. [1]

Completing the Feng Shan ceremony allowed the emperor to be seen as having the support of heaven. The word "feng" means "to seal", and "shan" means "to clear away". [2]

This ceremony is very important in religious Confucianism. According to Records of the Grand Historian, the emperor would build an altar at the top of the mountain and proclaim their legitimacy to the god of heaven during the Feng sacrifice. During the Shan sacrifice, they would clear land at the foot of the mountain to show respect to the god of earth.[3][4]

This ceremony was used as a way for emperors to think about the relationship between heaven and earth. It was usually only performed during times of prosperity, with a good emperor and good omens. Some emperors refused to perform the ceremony, feeling they were unworthy of it. [5][6]

Although only the emperor was historically allowed to perform the ceremony, there were times when common people did it without permission. The general Huo Qubing even did it alone.[7]

The Feng Shan ceremony played an important role in politics, much like the Secular Games of the Roman Empire. Both were rare and had religious significance, and were important for changing ideas about power. [8]

History[change | change source]

Mount Tai has been a place of worship for many years, and it began in prehistoric times.[9]

According to legends, the Yellow Emperor performed the ceremony before ascending to heaven as an immortal.[8]

Sacrifices at Mount Tai continued through the Zhou dynasty.[9] During the Warring States Period, both Qi and Lu leaders would carry out sacrifices at the mountain. In 219 BC, Qin Shihuang carried out what would be considered the first Feng and Shan sacrifices in celebration of uniting China.[9]

The last recorded traditional Feng Shan was performed in 1790 by the Qianlong Emperor.[10] There are only six verified accounts of performances throughout Chinese history.[11]

Emperors like Wu of Han, Gaozong of Tang,[12] and Zetian[13] all carried out sacrifices. In modern times, a festival is held every year to celebrate the occasion with a modern light show.[14][15][5]

Related pages[change | change source]

Sources[change | change source]

  1. Lewis, Mark Edward (18 March 1999). Writing and Authority in Early China. ISBN 9780791441145. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  2. Jing, Wang (1992). The Story of Stone: Intertextuality, Ancient Chinese Stone Lore, and the Stone Symbolism in Dream of the Red Chamber, Water Margin, and The Journey to the West. Durham, North Carolina: Duke Press. pp. 66–69. ISBN 082231195X.
  3. Bokenkamp, Stephen (2002). "24. Record of the Feng and Shan Sacrifices". Religions of Asia in Practice. pp. 386–395. doi:10.1515/9780691188140-029. ISBN 9780691188140.
  4. "'Fengshan Sacrifices' at Mount Tai[1]- Taian". www.chinadaily.com.cn. Retrieved 2019-02-25.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "'Fengshan Sacrifices' at Mount Tai[2]- Taian". www.chinadaily.com.cn. Retrieved 2023-02-12.
  6. "Mount Tai - Holy Land of Politic and Worship | ChinaFetching". ChinaFetching.com. Retrieved 2023-02-12.
  7. Theobald, Ulrich. "fengshan 封禪 (www.chinaknowledge.de)". www.chinaknowledge.de. Retrieved 2023-02-12.
  8. 8.0 8.1 ROBINSON, REBECCA (2018). "Spectacular Power in the Early Han and Roman Empires". Journal of World History. 29 (3): 343–368. ISSN 1045-6007. JSTOR 26607626.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "Mount Taishan". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Retrieved 2019-02-25.
  10. 泰山文化纪年 Archived 2021-01-08 at the Wayback Machine》:1、乾隆十三年(1748年)二月二十八日,清高宗奉皇太后(孝圣宪皇后钮祜禄氏,高宗之母)东巡,驻跸泰安府。次日,祭岱岳庙,侍太后登岱顶,祀碧霞元君。2、乾隆十六年(1751年)四月十六日,清高宗与皇太后南巡回銮,幸泰安,祀岱岳庙。3、乾隆二十二年(1757年)四月十一日,清高宗南巡回銮,抵泰安,谒岱岳庙,登岱顶,礼碧霞祠。4、乾隆二十七年(1762年)四月十九日,清高宗南巡回銮,途经泰安,谒岱岳庙,次日登山祀碧霞祠。5、乾隆三十年(1765年)四月,清高宗奉皇太后南巡,回銮谒岱岳庙, 驻跸灵岩寺。6、乾隆三十六年(1771年)二月,清高宗为恭贺皇太后八十寿辰,奉太后东巡,二十四日至泰安府, 驻跸白鹤泉 (此地是年建成行宫)。次日高宗躬谒岱庙。7、乾隆四十一年(1776年)三月,为庆祝大小金川叛乱平定,清高宗“恭奉皇太后巡幸山左,登岱延禧”。三月十四日至泰安府,谒岱庙,驻跸白鹤泉行宫。十五日登岱顶,祀碧霞祠。8、乾隆四十五年(1780年)正月,清高宗南巡,过泰安府。二十六日,驻跸白鹤泉行宫,次日谒遥参亭、岱庙。9、乾隆四十九年(1784年)二月初六,清高宗与皇子顒琰(即后之清仁宗嘉庆皇帝)南巡江河至泰安,躬谒遥参亭,“诣岱庙行礼”。10、乾隆五十五年(1790年)二月,清高宗东巡。三月初四日至泰安府,谒岱庙,驻跸白鹤泉行宫。次日以八旬之龄与皇子顒琰登岱顶,祀碧霞祠。初七日躬诣岱庙。
  11. Record of the Feng and Shan Sacrifices,” in Donald Lopez, ed., Religions of China in Practice (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), 251-60
  12. Skaff 2012, pp. 146-7.
  13. 中国文化科目认证指南. 华语教学出版社. Sinolingua. 2010. p. 63. ISBN 978-7-80200-985-1.
  14. "Fengshan Sacrifices Performance - Mt Tai - Review of Mount Tai, Tai'an, China". Tripadvisor. Retrieved 2023-02-12.
  15. "Fengshan Ceremony - Best Show at the Foot of Mount Tai 2023". www.chinadiscovery.com. Retrieved 2023-02-12.