Mt. Qiyun, known as the White Mountain in ancient times, is located near the Yanqian Town, 15 kilometers away from the west of Xiuning County, Anhui Province.
Mt. Qiyun was once one of the four famous Daoist mountains in China. As early as the Qianyuan era of the Tang Dynasty (A. D. 758-760), the Daoist priest Gong Qiyun roamed to Mt. Qiyun and lived in seclusion at the Tianmen Cliff. During the Baoqing years of the Southern Song Dynasty (A. D. 1225-1227), the Magician Yu Daoyuan built at the Qiyun Cliff the Shrine of Perfect Warrior Who Protects Sages. In the Ming dynasty, Daoist activities on Mt. Qiyun daily became more and more flourishing. The Daoists of the mountain used to go to Mt. Wudang to visit masters and seek knowledge, so much so that Daoist temples and regulations of Mt. Qiyun mostly imitated those of Mt. Wudang. In the 15th Zhengde year (A. D. 1515), Wang Taiyuan, a Daoist living on Mt. Qiyun, built the Jade Emptiness Temple on the Purple Clouds Cliff and the Peaceful Joy Temple at the Peach Blossoms Valley, in imitation of Mt. Wudang. His disciple, carrying forward his master's will, built the Plums Temple and picked plums on Mt. Wudang to plant there. Since Mt. Wudang has the literary title "Taihe" while Mt. Qiyun has the literary title "Zhonghe", ancient people called the latter a "Small Mt. Wudang in the South of the River".
In the 11th Jiajing year during the reign of Emperor Shizong of the Ming Dynasty (A. D. 1532), Zhang Yanyu, the Celestial Master of the 48th generation of the Orthodox Oneness Sect of the Dragon and Tiger Mountain, presented a memorial to the emperor and commanded the Daoist devotees to perform offering rituals on Mt. Qiyun so as to pray for sons for the emperor. The prayer turned out accurate, and the emperor ordered the construction at the Qiyun Cliff of the Supreme Simplicity Temple of the Mysterious Heaven. During the Jiajing and Wanli eras, the three generations of the Celestial Masters Descended from the Han Dynasty of the Dragon and Tiger Mountain and stayed in turn on Mt. Qiyun, establishing titlears and offering rituals there. The Orthodox Oneness Sect of Daoism began to grow strong and to develop, thus forming the co-existence of the Complete Perfection Sect of Mt. Wudang and the Orthodox Oneness Sect of the Dragon and Tiger Mountain.
During the last years of the Ming Dynasty, the Daoism of Mt. Qiyun declined gradually. During the Qianlong years of the Qing dynasty, it was once renovated, but during the Xianfeng and Tongzhi eras, pilgrimages were on the wane due to wars, and the stone steps on the mountain, run-down and lacking repairs, collapsed one after another. At present, the Daoist Association of Mt. Qiyun and relevant departments of the local government are raising funds to rebuild some temples.
There is the famous Yuehua Street on the mountain. On the street are simple and elegant Hui-styled houses, scattered among which are some Daoist temples built against the mountain. The Supreme Simplicity Temple of the Mysterious Heaven is the most magnificent one of all the temples on the street. Located in the south and facing the north, the temple leaned against the three peaks of the Jade Screen, Eastern Bell and Western Drum Peaks, with the tall and erect Incense Burner Peak standing in front of it. They are just like a heavenly bell, drum and incense burner, forming a precious land of high geomantic quality created by nature.
There are plenty of tablet and stone inscriptions on Mt. Qiyun. They amounted to over 1,400 throughout history, but were corroded by nature and destroyed by man over the years, and today only 462 exist. The fairly early stone inscriptions include those of the Daguan era of the Northern Song dynasty and the Shaoxi era of the Southern Song dynasty, and about 80% are those of the Ming and Qing dynasties. These tablet inscriptions and stone inscriptions are of various styles, including all the calligraphic styles such as Zhen, Xing, Cao, Li, and Zhuan. They are of great calligraphic value. Among them, the inscriptions "heavenly magical beautifulness", "marvellous prominent peak" and "wonder from time immemorial" are so grand that they are acclaimed as the acme of perfection.
Mt. Qiyun, with its peculiar charm, along with the Huangshan Mountain and the Jiuhua Mountain, enhance each other's beauty. It is a brilliant pearl in the scenic spot in the south of Anhui Province.
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