Chiu-hua Shan, translated as “Nine Floriate Mountain” or “Nine Flower Mountain”, is a Taoist and early Buddhist site situated in one of the most naturally beautiful parts of the Yangtze Valley, southwest of Qingyang in present-day Anhui province. The monastery was extensively destroyed during the Tai-ping rebellion (1861-1865) with a few of the main buildings rebuilt around or after 1867.
This flourishing pilgrimage site near Huang Shan is believed to be the sanctuary of savior-bodhisattva Ksitigarbha (Sanskrit) or Ti-tsang (also known as Jizo Bosatsu in Japan) near Huang Shan. One of the group of eight Dharani-Bodhisattvas with hints of a feminine origin, he is now the guardian of the Earth-store, Earth-treasury, or Earthwomb, and his many representations assimilate Taoist, Buddhist, and Shinto aspects. Though associated with hell’s overlord Yama and with the dead, his role is that of savior, holding a place between the gods and men on the one hand and the hells on the other for liberating all in adversity. He labors to alleviate the affliction and shorten the sentence of those imprisoned in hell as well as to respond to the invocations of the living for health, good luck, progeny, and to supplications of all kinds. He is depicted with a resplendent jewel in his left hand and an alarum staff with its six rings in his right.
Some academics postulate that Jizo’s representation as a priest originated with a 7th-century Korean monk named Gin Chau Jue who was recognized as an incarnation of Jizo, came to China in 653 and lived at Chiu-hua Shan for 75 years. The monk saint lived to be 99 years old and died on the sacred mountain in 728. According to tradition, his material remains did not decay but became naturally mummified, and at a later date his body was gilded over and worshiped as both an object of veneration and a manifestation of Jizo in the Jouzen Pao-tien (Mummified Precious Hall) of the Pai Su Kung temple located here.
Poet Li Po was particularly enamored of Chiu-hua Shan, and extolled the beauties of the area in several of his most celebrated poems.