Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/236

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CHAPTER IX

OMEI SHAN, THE SACRED

THE rose-red city of Chia-ting lives in my memory as a vision of beauty, the most charming (at a distance) of the many charming (always at a distance) Chinese towns that I have seen. Built on a sandstone ledge at the junction of the Ta Tu and Ya with the Min, its crenellated red walls rise almost directly from the water, which, when in flood, dashes high against the foundations. On the northwest the city rises to nearly three hundred feet above the level, and standing on the wall one looks down upon a sea of living green from which rise temple and pagoda, or west across Chia-ting plain, perhaps the loveliest and most fertile spot in the Chinese Eden, and then farther west still to where on the horizon towers Omei Shan, the Holy of Holies of Buddhist China, often, alas, shrouded in mist from base to summit, for this is a land of clouds and rain and floods.

Looking across the river to the great cliffs opposite the town, one discerns dimly, carved on the face of the rock, the wonder of the region, a colossal Buddha more than three hundred feet in height, sitting serenely with his hands on his knees, and his