Emeishan, China — Another side of China. It’s not all development and destruction.
In the photo three Buddhist monks head towards the summit of Emeishan, a mountain holy to Chinese Buddhists.
In China, since ancient times, people traditionally have regarded mountains as access points to heaven or places where deities dwelled. The expression “to go on a pilgrimage” literally translated from the Chinese means “to go pay one’s respects to the mountain.” Traditionally, pilgrims would go to a holy mountain to seek a vision of the deity, to perform a penance, to ask for heirs or cures, to pray for good health or long life for themselves or family members, or to pray for the peaceful repose of their deceased ancestors. Though these traditions have largely died out or been forcibly quashed by the Communist government, in some remote places traces of the ancient practices still survive.
Of the many sacred mountains in China, thirteen stand out for their importance. Four are Buddhist, four are Daoist (Taoist) and five are the so called “Great Mountains” and are traditionally venerated by both Buddhists and Daoists.
I spent several months following these ancient ways, looking to find what never dies, what was there before the beginning.