Epi7 People of Mount Danxia
Mount Danxia is located at the Renhua County of Shaoguan City in Guangdong Province in China, it was designated by the UNESCO as one of the first batch of World Geoparks in 2004 and listed as a World Heritage in 2010.
“When vesper advents, chromatic cloud sets ablaze from the valley, tinted with the colour of Lilium concolor that shines like twilight.” - Ming Jiajing Nanyang Fuzhi Jiaozhu
Mount Danxia is one of the most famous tourist attractions in China visited continuously by countless tourists who come all the way just to admire the grotesque mountain scenery. The most well-known scenic spots among the landscapes are “Yangyuanshi (Male Stone)” and “Yinyuanshi (Female Stone)” which bear a remarkable resemblance to their bodily counterparts! Although the name “Danxia” is familiar and reputable, has anyone ever noticed the culture behind such fame?
The term “Danxia Landform” was born in 1928 when FENG Jinglan, a Chinese geologist, named the reddish sedimentary strata of gravel as “Danxia Layer”. Since then, scholars in the Mainland have been studying this peculiar landform. Danxia Landform is mainly distributed in the Northwest and Southwest of China, Western America, Central Europe, Australia, etc. among which China accounted the most. Among over one thousand areas with Danxia Landform found in China, Mount Danxia named after “Danxia Landform” was hailed as an area with “the most typical development, the greatest variety, and the most exquisite landscapes”.
About 70 to 140 million years ago, Mount Danxia in Guangdong Province used to be a large inland basin. After several ascensions and erosion brought about by the Mother Nature, the basin had transformed into the red peaks we see today. The entire “Great Danxia” area, including the vast untapped areas, covers a total area of 292 km2, wherein more than 680 rock peaks, walls, pillars, etc. of various sizes and shapes can be found. Having witnessed such astounding scenery, our forefathers named different spots on Mount Danxia using their imagination that enlivened such places. For example, the “Chahufeng (Teapot Peak)”, one of the iconic spots of Mount Danxia, was named for its resemblance to red clay teapot, and it is also a literal demonstration of the topographical features of Mount Danxia, i.e., “flat top, steep face and gentle piedmont”.
The saying “where there is a mountain, there is a village; where there is a village, there is a door; where there is a door, there is precipitousness” vividly describes the unique culture of mountain village on Mount Danxia. People in former times employed the precipitous terrain of Mount Danxia and dwelled in constructs made of stones in natural grottos or on cliff tops. It is said that there are more than 100 ancient mountain fortified villages strewn across Mount Danxia which are referred to as the “108 Mountain Fortified Villages of Mount Danxia”. The origin of fortified villages on Mount Danxia can be traced back to Han Dynasty. Since eons ago, Mount Danxia had been the territory of Baiyue people, but Emperor Wu of Han marched his army southward for invasion which then drove the Baiyue people who took hold in the South, to Southeast Asia, and as such, the Baiyue people who lived on Mount Danxia moved to its cliffs in avoidance of warfare. Thenceforth, many monks and nuns also came for spiritual practices in reclusion. Nowadays, these mountain fortified villages have been deserted and left in reticence to await those who aspire to uncover their stories.
Assistant Producer: Mandy KWOK
Producer: Leo LAI