“Mount Wuyi is the most outstanding area for biodiversity conservation in south-east China and a refuge for a large number of ancient, relict species, many of them endemic to China. The serene beauty of the dramatic gorges of the Nine Bend River, with its numerous temples and monasteries, many now in ruins, provided the setting for the development and spread of Neo-Confucianism, which has been influential in the cultures of East Asia since the 11th century. In the 1st century B.C. a large administrative capital was built at nearby Chengcun by the Han dynasty rulers. Its massive walls enclose an archaeological site of great significance.”It is the assessment of the World Heritage Committee on Mount Wuyi when it was included in the list of World Cultural and Natural Heritage in 1999.
Located at the south suburbs of Wuyishan City in the northwest of the southeast province Fujian of China, Mount Wuyi covers a total area of about 1,000 square kilometers. With its unique natural scenery, the mountain is famous for its “Danxia landform”. The towering peaks and cliffs along the Nine Bend River reflected in the clear water constitute a magnificent mountain and water landscape. Mount Wuyi is among the small number of sites entering the lists of both World Cultural Heritage and the World Natural Heritage. As the World Natural Heritage, its red cliffs, clear water, mountain peaks, different climates in four seasons, and chopping and changing scene present its superb beauty. Mount Wuyi preserves the best mid-subtropical original forest ecosystem at the same latitude in the world. With a great diversity of intact forest belts, it is the largest and most representative example of the Chinese Subtropical Forest and the South Chinese Rainforest. For the cultural heritages, Mount Wuyi preserves many archeological sites, including the relics of ancient Minyue people before 4,000 years, the ruins of Han City in the 1st century BC, a large number of temples, and the sites of academies as the cradle of Neo-Confucianism developed since the 11th century AD. Incorporating Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism of traditional Chinese culture, Mount Wuyi has promoted the co-existence, development, and growth of Neo-Confucianism and tea culture and produced a lasting influence.
Mount Wuyi is different from other famous mountains which are of lofty height. The representative Tianyou Peak is 408 meters above the sea level and the relative height is only 215 meters. Nevertheless, the vertical cliffs of the peak in Danxia landform tower into the sky. The journey to the peak is like traveling in the heavenly palace, providing the wonderful experience of “heavenly tour”. Looking up from the foot of the peak, there is a torrent of waterfall---the Snowflake Spring cascades down the peak, showing the charm of the narrow and rolling spring. Overlooking the peaks of Mount Wuyi from the top of the Tianyou Peak, you will find the peaks in mist and clouds stretch to the end of the skyline. It looks like a giant maze of connecting but separatingpeaks perching alone on the sea of clouds. With a sense of calm peacefulness in the picturesque scenery, Mount Wuyi is neither showy nor exaggerating. Mountains and water are perfectly combined here. Mountains rise from the water and water follows beside the mountains. They show and disappear together. The zigzagging Nine Bend River flows slowly through the mountains and turns to another direction right at the foot of the mountain. Xu Xiake had traveled here and marveled that “Though it is not adjacent to the river, it provides the best view of the Nine Bend River. It should be the first peak of the Mount Wuyi.” Later, the Tianyou Peak is called the first peak of the Mount Wuyi.
Nine Bend River
Nine Bend River is a typical example of the perfect combination of mountains and water. In the rainy season every year, the red cliffs of the Danxia landform along the river are covered with a layer of green moss. It is even greener in the background of verdant trees and grasses. When the raindrops fall onto the surface of the water, it would create foggy mist which gathers and spreads between the mountains and water. Without concrete images, the mist is subtle and fantastic. The river is full of water in the rain, like a mellow and smooth jade with gorgeous green sometimes, and a bronze mirror reflecting thewonderful scenery sometimes. On a bamboo raft stands a boatman. The green mountains slide back slowly beside his eyes unhurriedly. Inadvertently, red inscriptions appear on the vertical cliffs. Some are indulging in self-admiration, while others are in groups connecting to each other. To the upstream of the river, Yunu Peak stands as if in the center of water, elegant but majestic; the Dawang Peak which is plump in the upper part and slim in the lower part shows its figure in the clouds. The legend between the Dawang Peak and Yunu Peak has a long history, yet they are so near and yet so far and could never be together for generations.
Da Hong Pao
An important factor for the inclusion of Mount Wuyi in the World Cultural Heritage is the tea culture represented by “Da Hong Pao”. Reputed as “king of tea”, Da Hong Pao is the treasure and representation of the Wuyi Rock Tea. Da Hong Pao belongs to oolong tea. Derived from the same origin to green tea and black tea in production technology and after constant innovation and development, Da Hong Pao has formed its unique production process of superb technique. There are many stories related to Da Hong Pao. To cut a long story short, a poor scholar had cured abdominal distension by drinking this kind of tea. Later, he made a rapid advance in his study and became the number one scholar of the country. When he returned to his hometown in full glory, he paid the tea as a tribute to the emperor and the emperor bestowed him a red robe, reading Hong Pao in Chinese. He covered the red robe on the tea tree. Since then, “Da Hong Pao” has become the most precious tea which could only be heard but hardly be tasted.
There are waving peaks in the Nine-Dragon Nest area, like nine connecting dragons. The mother plants of Da Hong Pao of Mount Wuyi grow on a steep cliff in the Nine-Dragon Nest area. The inscriptions reading “Da Hong Pao” was carved by the monks of Tianxin Temple in 1927. Six ancient Da Hong Pao bush tea trees stand beside the inscriptions. Growing on the halfway up the steep cliff all year round, these trees have seldom been disturbed and shined by the sunlight. Absorbing the essence of the heaven and earth and the nimbus over the cliff, they are slim and elegant and the leaves are sweet-scented and fragrant. The area has been guarded by specifically appointed personnel in different dynasties through the history and the tea has been only picked in spring to pay tribute to the emperor. The tea produced for each year is less than a half kilogram. Therefore, 20 grams of Da Hong Pao of the mother plants could be sold as much as 200,000 yuan. It was the price for several years ago and it is still on the rise.