Nature created the mountains and the sea. Here the Great Wall
Reporters: Wang Jiangang, Wang Hao, Jiang Long, Hui Wen, Zhang NaIntroduction: In search of the treasures left by time and history. It’s great to have you along for the new episode of the serial reports, “I love my hometown - generous gifts from history”. At the Dragon’s Head in Shanhaiguan, we can see a stele on which it is written “Nature created the mountains and the sea.” These words, with their lofty artistic conception, have become a cultural symbol of Qinhuangdao. Today, you will observe the old stele with our reporter.
Li Huiwen: At the peak travel time, it's a hard thing to take a photo with the stele, because, just like us, all the tourists come here with the same intention - to take photos to show that they once visited the Laolongtou where the Great Wall rises up from the intersection of the sea and and the sky.
Scenic commentator Wu Dan: In the sentence “Nature created the mountains and the sea." “sea” means the Bohai Sea, “mountains” means the Yanshan Mountains. Such a simple sentence can describe the majesty of nature, the sea and the mountains.
Main text: As one of the symbolic cultural relics of the Old Dragon’s Head scenic spot, the “Nature created the mountains and the sea” monument, located on the stone which extends into the sea, has captured the attention of millions of people. But it was not originally located in this position. In 1908, the American missionary William Edgar Geil photographed the Old Dragon’s Head. In the photo, the “Nature created the mountains and the sea” monument was in front of a small hill but no one have ever seen it from then on. Until the 1980s, with the restoration project of the Old Dragon’s Head, people unearthed the stele with words of “Nature created the mountains and the sea” in sand and grass on a hillside. Hao Sanjin, chairman of the Qinhuangdao Society of the Great Wall of China, witnessed the whole process of the discovery of the stele.
Hao Sanjin, chairman of the Qinhuangdao Society of the Great Wall of China: At that time, we levelled the sandland on the west side of the Old Dragon’s Head. When we cleaned the ground, we found a stele that was upside down. We turned it over and saw the inscription. It seemed very valuable. Then we send for the provincial cultural relics experts to identify it, and later moved it to its current position, With the purpose of protection, we reinforced it with bricks.
Main text: The monument is 2.65 meters high, 0.7 meters wide and 0.25 meters thick. Its character is simple, honest and powerful. However, there was no signature on the monument to show its date and dedicator. Annals of Shanhaiguan in 1535 and 1670 and Annals of Linyu County in 1756, 1878 and 1929 left no records of it. For over 30 years, some experts and scholars have carried out research and put forward their own views. Hao Sanjin believes that this ancient monument could date back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907).
Hao Sanjin: According to the Toponyms of Ying and Ping, in 645, when Li Shimin (599-649), the emperor of Tang dynasty returned successfully from his eastern expedition to Goguryeo (one kingdom of the modern Korea peninsula), he ascended the Hanwu Terrace here carved his conquest.
Li Lifeng, curator of the Archives of Funing District, also has a strong interest in the stele. According to his textual research, he proposed that this monument was established in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
Li Lifeng: In 2001, Guangxi Normal University published the Complete Works of Yeonhaengrok (Journeys to Yan- ancient China). Among them, there was a diary which records the Korean envoys Seo Jang Bo, So Gyeon Sun and Kim Gyeon Seonon the journey to visit Hebei and pay the tribute to Ming Dynasty. In the diary, the stele was mentioned three times.
Main text: Li Lifeng says that Yeonhaengrok (Journeys to Yan) is the diaries written by the Korean envoys who travelled back and forth between Ming and Korea. It provided a large number of vivid and precious historical materials, filled some gaps in Chinese historical records and gave evidence for historical facts.
Li Lifeng: According to Seo Jang Bo’s Gesangijeong (Journeys to Ji mountains): at the north-western corner, there are two steles. One reads “Nature created the mountains and the sea” and the other one “The volume of a spoon is precious”. On the back of the steles, it is written “Written by Liu Yongji the southerner, erected in 1626, by the Maritime Marshal, Prince of Hedong”. From the two other envoys who were here during the years of Daoguang (1820-1850) and Xianfeng (1851-1861), there are also similar records in Journeys to Yan.
Reporter Li Huiwen: Experts’ argue about the time when it was established and the person who wrote it; there are many legends in the folklore. It seems that the debate will continue until more solid evidence is discovered. However, it is the controversy and legend that adds a bit of mystery to this monument, making it the most popular cultural relic in the Old Dragon’s Head.
Tourist: One thousand years of history is spectacular. It is a worthwhile trip here.
Tourist: The stele is imposing and the calligraphy is impressive. It’s really good.
Main text: Walking up the stairs from the stele, in the east corner of Chenghai Tower, You can find another stele which reads “the volume of a spoon is precious”. The two steles make a good pair.
Guide Wu Dan: “The volume of a spoon is precious” is a citation of the Chinese ancient philosophy book Golden Mean. The sentence means that even if in the beginning we only have a spoonful of water, when it begins to accumulate, it can become an ocean and then treasures and creatures will multiply in it. The moral is that we should cherish what we have for now, and we should not forget the origin and foundation of things. Only by doing this can we get more in the future.
Main text: If “Nature created the mountains and the sea” is a description of the landscape, “the volume of a spoon is precious” is more of a philosophic and humanistic reflection - the sea is always so tolerant that it can hold everything. Standing between the mountains and the sea, the Old Dragon’s Head is strategically important and beautiful. In the history, many emperors like Daoguang and Qianlong, literati and authors, have all been here for sightseeing and for inspiration of literary creation. They left much prose and many poems carved on steles, which are memorized by the sea and the mountains.
Reporter Li Huiwen: Cut from remote mountains, these bluestones were revived by craftsmen. Every stoke left on them has become the bearer of history and humanism. They are the cultural treasure of our hometown Qinhuangdao, and the immortal memory of the Chinese people.