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Mian Mountain is noted for its natural scenery, and especially for its cultural and religious relics. It is also the birthplace of the Qingming Festival (Tomb-Sweeping Day), which is one of China’s most important traditional festivals and items of intangible cultural heritage.
Mianshan is a beautiful and historic mountain to visit, with clean streams and many traditional Chinese buildings. Basically, Mianshan is not too steep or too high to climb, and you can even make it easier with the help of an cableway.
Chinese: 绵山Mián Shān/myenshan/'Cotton Mountain'
Location: Jiexiu City, Shanxi Province, central North China, midway between Beijing and Xi’an.
Best time: from May to October
Highlights: Shuitao Valley, Qixian Valley, and the Sky Bridge
Suitable for: hiking, photography, seeing the natural scenery
Time needed: at least one day
With a history dating back some 2,500 years, Mianshan boasts enchanting natural scenery and cultural significance. It is a national scenic spot with 14 tourist areas containing about 400 attractions.
Several restaurants and hotels have been built overhanging the steep cliffs, which provide a unique dining or accommodation experience for travelers.
The spectacular scenes and cultural relics at Mian Mountain provide tourists with many activities, such as watching a sunset or sunrise at the Dragon Head Temple, visiting Daluo Palace (the largest Taoist temple in China), walking on the Sky Bridge, and enjoying the natural beauty of Shuitao Valley.
Shuitao Valley is very popular among tourists. Water flows between the two sides of the valley. Also, there are about 10waterfalls in Shuitao Valley. In summer and autumn, tourists can often see beautiful rainbows shining in the waterfalls.
Qixian Valley is a very long valley and the water in between is fast-flowing. Our ancestors put chains and ladders on the two sides for people to walk through this valley. It is quite amazing to walk across the ladders and experience how brave and intelligent our ancestors were.
The Sky Bridge is famous for its design. It was built on the edge of a steep cliffand is about 300 meters long. The distance to the bottom of the cliff is over 300 meters. Walking on it after a rain shower, you may have the feeling of walking in a wonderland as the fog surrounds you.
Mianshan is also called Jieshan (Jie Mountain) after Jie Zitui (?–636 BC), a loyal defender of Duke Wen of Jin (697–628 BC), who, earlier in life, was a prince in exile named Chong'er.
One day in 655 BC, when Prince Chong'er was about to starve to death, Jie Zitui secretly cut apieceof flesh from his thighand cooked it into a meat soup, which saved the prince.
Chong'er wondered where Jie had obtained the soup. When he found out what Jie had done, the prince was so moved that he promised to reward him one day.
Nineteen years later, in 636 BC, Prince Chong'er returned to his kingdom and took power as Duke Wen of Jin, one of the five hegemons of the Spring and Autumn Period (770–476BC).
After taking power, Duke Wen greatly rewarded and honored all of his followers, but he forgot Jie Zitui, the man who once saved his life. When others spoke of Jie Zitui, Duke Wen remembered him and was ashamed.
Then, the duke decided to go personally but, before he arrived, Jie Zitui heard the news and hid on a nearby mountain with his aged mother. Jie Zitui refused to see the prince, and no one could find him in his hiding spot on the mountain. Duke Wen ordered the mountain to be set on fire to force Jie Zitui out of hiding.He immediately sent his servants to invite Jie Zitui to his kingdom and conferred a title on him. However, Jie Zitui refused resolutely, because he was not the type of person who sought rewards. Instead, he just wanted to help the prince return to Jin to become a duke.
Three days and nights later, the duke and his people found two dead bodies— those of Jie Zitui and his mother— in a cave under a willow tree on the mountain. So ironically, after Jie had cooked his thigh for Duke Wen, the duke repaid him by cooking the rest of him, and his mother!
In honor of Jie Zitui, a man who never sought fame and profit, Duke Wen buried him and his mother respectfully, held a memorial ceremony for the tomb, and ordered his subjects not to use fire and only to eat cold food on that day. The mountain is now called Mian Mountain.
The next year, Duke Wen climbed the mountain to commemorate Jie Zitui. When arriving at the tomb, he saw the burnt willow tree was revived with lush leaves and branches, and remembered Jie Zitui's noble character.
He was so moved that he swept the tomb and declared the festival as a “Cold Food Festival” (called the Qingming Festival nowadays). Later, Duke Wen formed an honest, diligent, pragmatic, and efficient government during his reign.
If you are planning a tour to Mianshan, we are more than happy to offer a professional guide service and to tailor-make a tour for you.