Mount Wutai,also known as Wutai Mountain or Qingliang shan, located in Shanxi, China, is one of the Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains. The mountain is home to many of China’s most important , monasteries and temples, Mount Wutai’s cultural heritage consist of 53 sacred monasteries, and they were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009.
The Four Scared Buddhist Mountains are Mount Emei, Mount Wutai, Mount Jiuhua and Mount Putuo, Each of the four mountains are viewed as the abode or place of practice of one of the four great bodhisattvas.
Wutai is the home of the Bodhisattva of wisdom, Manjusri or Wensshu(文殊） in Chinese. Mount Wutai also has an enduring relationship with Tibetan Buddhism.
It takes its name from its unusual topography, consisting of five rounded peaks (North, South, East, West, Central), of which the North peak,called Beitai Ding or Yedou Feng, is the highest ,and indeed the highest point in northern China.
Wutai was the first of the four mountains to be identified and is often referred to as “first among the four great mountains.” It was identified on basis of a passage in the A`vatamsaka Sutra (Ch: Hua yan jing;华严经)，which describes the abodes of many bodhisattvas, In this chapteer,Manjusri is said to reside on a “clear cold mountain” in the northeast. This served as charter for the mountain’s identity and its alternate name “Clear Cool Mountain” (Ch: Qingliangshan;清凉山）。
The bodhisattva is believed to frquently manifest himself on the mountain, taking the form of ordinary pilgrims, monks, or most often unusual five-colored clouds.
Mount Wutai is home to some of the oldest existent wooden buildings in China that have survived ?since the era of the Tang Dynasty (618-907). They include the main hall of Nanchan Monastery and East Hall of Fuguang Monastery, built in 782 and 857 repectively. They were discovered in 1937 and 1938 by a team of architectural historians including the prominent historian Liang Sicheng of the early 20th century. The architectural designs of these buildings have since been studied by leading sinologists and experts in traditional Chinese architecture, such as Nancy Steinhardt. Steinhardt classified these buildings according to the hall types featured in the Yingzao Fashi Chinese building manual written in the 12th century.
In 2008, there were complaints from local residents that in preparation for Mount Wutai’s bid to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site, they were forced from their homes and relocated away from their livelihoods.