Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/245

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189
OMEI SHAN, THE SACRED

Perhaps in earliest times the Lolos worshipped here, and the mountain still figures in their legends. But Chinese tradition goes back four thousand years when pious hermits made their home on Omei. And there is a story of how the Yellow Emperor, seeking immortality, came to one of them. But Buddha now reigns supreme on Omei; of all the many temples, one only is Taoist. According to the legend, at the very beginning of Buddhist influence in China, P'u-hsien Bodhisattva revealed himself to a wandering official in that wonderful thing known as "Buddha's Glory," and from this time on, Mount Omei became the centre from which the light of Buddhist teaching was spread abroad over the entire country.

The land now belongs to the Church, and there are not many people on the mountain besides the two thousand monks scattered about in the different monasteries which occupy every point where a flat spur or buttress offers a foothold. Each has its objects of interest or veneration, and I believe that to do one's duty by Omei, one must burn offerings before sixty-two shrines. Judging by the determined look on some of the pilgrims' faces, they were bent on making the grand tour in the shortest time possible; in fact, they almost raced up the breakneck staircases. To save expense, some make the whole ascent of one hundred and twenty li from Omei-hsien in a day. Even women on their bound feet sometimes do this, I am