Longhu Shan (Dragon-Tiger Mountain)

Longhu Shan scenery

With a catchy name like Dragon-Tiger Mountain (龙虎山), you would expect the historical Daoist site Longhu Shan to be pretty popular. This is, after all, where the nonbeliever Marshal Hong (“you Daoists are always inventing stories to make a penny off the common folk”) accidentally set free 108 demons in the classic The Water Margin. This is also where the founder of religious Daoism (Zhang Daoling) is said to have attained the Dao in the 2nd century CE. Those are pretty major cultural markers, even if you don’t care a whit about Chinese history.

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Sanqing Shan

A taste of Sanqing Shan, in eastern Jiangxi, China. There’s a definite similarity with Huang Shan, although there are far fewer visitors (especially considering that I was there over the weekend), and it has a Taoist legacy. It’s not in the previous Lonely Planet China guide, but I can assure you it will be in the next one!

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Soundscapes: A Taoist Ceremony in Shanghai

Qinciyang Temple, Pudong
Qinciyang Temple, Pudong

Shanghai, and in particular, Pudong, was the last place I expected to chance upon a traditional Taoist ceremony. But there you go, even China’s financial center is sitting on top of some leftover animist beliefs.

This recording is of a birthday party for the god Dongyue, who presides over Mount Tai (Tai Shan), China’s supreme sacred mountain. So how do Shanghainese Taoists celebrate birthdays? With plenty of liquor, pumpkin seeds, and peanuts, plus over twenty-five large bags of specially folded paper money, which was burned for Dong Yue after the ceremony. Pudong is an expensive place to live, after all, even for a god.