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Marvelous Mianshan

Updated: 2015-10-09 16:35:55

( chinatoday.com.cn )

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The natural scenery in Mianshan Mountain is very attractive. [Photo/Xinhua]

Located near the city of Jiexiu in North China's Shanxi Province, Mianshan Mountain is a famous cultural and historical site, the birthplace of the Cold Food Festival (Hanshi Festival) and the story of the loyal aide Jie Zitui. Its striking scenery leaves visitors with a sense of awe and a feeling that they have experienced something very special. Origins of the Cold Food Festival

Chinese people have a unique concept of landscape aesthetics; famous mountains and great waters are usually inextricably linked with eminent historical figures. As the proverb goes, "Any mountain can be famous through the presence of a saint", and this saying forms many Chinese people's judgment criteria for grand mountains. Mianshan Mountain is also known as Mount Jie after Jie Zitui (year of birth unknown - 636 BC), an official of the State of Jin (1033-376 BC) renowned for his loyalty and filial piety, who lived in seclusion on the mountain.

Legend has it that during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC), the State of Jin was in turmoil and Prince Chong'er (671-628 BC) was exiled. On one occassion, in order to sate the prince’s hunger, Jie Zitui, his advisor and personal friend, made him a meat broth. The prince drank the soup and felt revitalized, but wondered where Jie had managed to find the meat. It turned out that Jie had cut a piece of flesh from his own thigh. The prince was extremely moved by Jie's loyalty and promised to reward him one day.

When Chong'er succeeded the throne as the monarch of Jin, Jie resigned and went to live on the mountain with his mother. Appalled at the corruption he witnessed among his fellows, Jie lost all political ambition and became a recluse. When the monarch tried to find and reward him for saving him from starvation. Jie stayed hidden. At the suggestion of a treacherous court official, the monarch ordered fires to be set on the mountain to force Jie out of hiding. But the plan backfired and Jie and his mother were killed.

Filled with remorse, the monarch named the mountain after Jie and ordered that each year on the anniversary of his death, the lighting of fires be forbidden – all food was to be consumed cold. The Cold Food Festival was observed to commemorate him.

The Cold Food Festival (the 105th day after the Winter Solstice) was traditionally one or two days before the Qingming (Tomb Sweeping) Festival of the Chinese lunar calendar. Since it is so close to the Qingming Festival in early April, the two festivals are nowadays merged into one.

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