CHINA / Regional

Ancient building complex becomes national protection unit
By Han Hongmei and Meng Xianfei (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-06-23 06:49

"As the epitome of Chinese history and culture, the complex has played an important role in the development of the national culture, national spirit and national identity," said experts from the State Cultural Relics Bureau who sat on the assessment committee for the sixth batch of national key protection units of historical relics.

The Taishan Mountain ancient building complex has successfully entered the list of the Sixth Batch of National Key Protection Units of Historical Relics recently approved by the State Council, China's cabinet.

As a result, the Taishan Mountain has five national key protection units of historical relics. The other four are the Dai Temple and Feng Yuxiang Grave approved in 1988, as well as the carved stones such as the Sutra Rock Valley and the Cliff Engravings of Tang Dynasty (618-907), and the Great Wall of Qi Kingdom (479-502), both approved in 2001.

According to experts, the five national key protection units have in effect covered the ancient building complex, stone inscription, pavilions, lanes, bridges and temples of the Taishan Mountain, thus improving the integral value of the mountain.

Ancient building complex

Historical literature shows that the ancient building complex of the Taishan Mountain was constructed during several dynasties. The majority was built in the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties in answer to religious activities such as the needs of emperors to offer sacrifices to the Heaven and Earth on the mountain.

"The ancient building complex of Taishan Mountain is closely associated with the history of Chinese emperors sacrificing to the Heaven and Earth on the mountain," said experts, adding that: "As they represent the longevity, continuity and abundance of Taishan Mountain's history and culture, these ancient buildings are of great value in the Chinese history."

The ancient buildings were constructed along a nine-kilometre winding path. The important parts of the buildings are the Guandi Temple, Queen Mother's Pool, Red Gate Palace, South Heaven Gate, Three Officers Temple, Azure Cloud Temple, Confucius Temple, and Temple of Universal Illumination.

In addition, there are also seven pavilions, nine lanes and six bridges, representing the typical construction style of the Ming and Qing dynasties.

Taishan Mountain was listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as both the world cultural and natural heritages in December 1987, with the ancient building complex comprising its main contents.

With the unique natural landscape of Taishan Mountain as its background, the ancient building complex has high aesthetic and scientific research values.

Furthermore, readers can always come across these ancient buildings in the beautiful poetry written by literati of past dynasties.

Restoration efforts

The well-preserved state of the ancient building complex is attributed to the scientific and systematic protection and management by related authorities.

The Taishan Mountain administration committee carried out large-scale renovations of the ancient building complex in 1956, 1959, 1978, 1984, 1994, 2000 and 2004.

Last year, in line with the principle of "renovating the old buildings, keeping true to its historical feel," related authorities invested 24 million yuan (US$3 million) in launching an all-round restoration of the cultural relics and ancient buildings on the mountain.

The restoration and consolidation of the Caojiazhuang Reservoir, one of three major projects, began this year. The Guandi Temple, Red Gate Palace, Confucius Temple and Mokong Pavilion will see their restoration complete at the end of this year.

According to the Overall Planning of the Taishan Mountain Scenic and Historical Interest Area, all the restoration projects will be completed by 2010.

During the restoration period, the construction sites will be enclosed to guarantee tourist safety.

Separately, the government of Tai'an, where the Taishan Mountain is situated, recently issued Management Regulations for the Protection of Geological Relics in the Taishan Mountain Geopark.

The regulation has set up a multi-level protection system by dividing the protection area into four parts according to their geological values, which will effectively prevent artificial destruction of geological heritage and landscape.

(China Daily 06/23/2006 page6)