What make this mountain range with its 72 peaks so unique, are the rare cliff formations, the peculiar vegetation, the fascinating, harsh weather-sculpted pines, and the clouds of vapour which hover close to the slopes, and turn the whole into an unreal and magical scene.
If there is anywhere on earth where nature as artist can be seen, then it is here. As you marvel at the perfection of this nature spectacular, you are bound to ask yourself how these stone sculptures could possibly come about. Did the gods possibly even have a hand in it? Over the millennia, as Chinese civilisation blossomed under successive dynasties, this was indeed a place of mythical and mystical significance. Countless legends have entwined themselves around these mountains, in which gods, virgins, dragons and heroes meet, cross swords, and fan the flames of love. Still today many people find this place exudes an air of mysticism.
Even the name of the highest peak, Lianhuafeng or Lotus Blossom Peak, is pure poetry, like a sweetmeat melting on the tongue. It inspires us to see and imagine more in this paradise garden than is really there. Not without reason have Chinese artists paid homage to this landscape in a legacy of paintings, the most outstanding of which date from the Ming and Qing dynasties. These painters often lived for months or years as hermits in these mountains, first allowing the environment to take its effect on them, and the genius loci to permeate flesh and blood, until they finally felt able to commit their impressions to paper. They are in fact relatively simple, impressionistic ink drawings, which are hung as scroll paintings on the wall. Mount Huang Shan – the name registered by UNESCO – seems not only for the Chinese but also for us in the West, to be a metaphor for the quintessential mountain: magical, otherworldly, fading away into the mist.
Under the name “Shan Shui“, which translated means “mountain – water”, wonderful landscape paintings were created during many dynasties up to the present day (mostly as scroll paintings), which naturally changed in style over the centuries, but always retained the breathtaking mountain scenery as the most important inspiration.