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The World Heritage Mount Emei

The World Heritage site is an area of natural beauty by virtue of its high plant species diversity, with a large number of endemic species. It also underlines the importance of the link between the tangible and intangible, the natural and the cultural. The Mount Emei (Emishan) area possesses exceptional cultural significance, as it is the place where Buddhism first became established on Chinese territory and from where it spread widely throughout the East.

Mount Emei Scenic Area
Continent: Asia
Country: China
Category: Mixed Heritage Property
Criterion: (IV)(VI) (X)
Date of Inscription: 1996

Heritage Mount Emei

Heritage Mount Emei is located in central Sichuan Province, the nominated area includes Mount Emei Scenic and Historical Area, west of Emeishan City, and the Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area, south-east of Leshan City at the confluence of three rivers: Minjiang, Dadu and Qinqyi.

Mount Emei, with its characteristic three summits, rises 2,600 m from the western margin of the Chengdu Plain. Its diverse topography includes a range of undulating hills, valleys, deep gullies and high peaks. Sedimentary rocks from the late Precambrian contain a large number of fossils and are an important source of geological information.

Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area
Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area

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Mount Emei contains both Sino-Japanese and Sino-Himalayan flora. Five vegetation belts are defined according to vertical zonation. In ascending height order they are: subtropical evergreen broadleaved forest (below 1,500 m), evergreen and deciduous broadleaved mixed forest, coniferous and broadleaved mixed forest, subalpine coniferous forest and subalpine shrubs above 2,800 m. Some 3,200 plant species in 242 families have been recorded, of which 31 are under national protection. There are some 1,600 species of medicinal plants and 600 species of commercial interest. More than 100 species are endemic.

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Some 2,300 animal species have been recorded, of which 29 are under national protection, 157 species being threatened or endemic animals to China. A number of type specimens have been taken from Mount Emei. A number of internationally threatened species are to be found, including lesser (red) panda, Asiatic black bear, mainland serow, Asiatic golden cat, Tibetan macaque, Chinese giant salamander and grey-hooded parrot bill. Archaeological evidence indicates that the area was inhabited as long as 10,000 years ago.

Both Mount Emei and the Leshan Giant Buddha are places of historical importance, constituting one of the four holy lands of Chinese Buddhism. Mount Emei's history has been documented and recorded for over 2,000 years, during which time a rich Buddhist cultural heritage has accumulated, including cultural relics, architectural heritage, collected calligraphy, paintings, tablet inscriptions and earthenware.

Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area, which covers 2,500 ha, includes a number of significant cultural artefacts. These include the sitting Giant Buddha Statue, carved on the Xiluo Peak of Mount Lingyun in the early 8th century and standing 71 m high, with its back against Mount Jiuding and facing the confluence of the Minjiang, Dadu and Qinqyi rivers. In addition there are more than 90 stone carvings, Buddhist shrines made during the Tang dynasty, the Lidui (a large rock cut in the centre of the river for irrigation purposes), tombs, Buddha statues, pagodas, temples and city walls.

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