Note: This post is part of a series where I reproduce random sources that I find interesting, with minimal annotation and commentary. Punctuation and translation (if given) are done by me unless otherwise stated. Corrections and comments are greatly appreciated.
I was recently reading a chapter by John Lagerwey on pilgrimages in the Wudang Mountain 武當山, where Lagerwey quotes a curious Qing-dynasty inscription found in a mountain gazetteer. Apparently, there was a place called the Terrace of Ascension (飛昇臺) where the god Zhenwu 真武 was said to have ascended to the heavens. The place was also known locally as the Suicide Cliff (捨身崖), an unfortunate name that led many visitors to actually commit suicide at the location. Concerned about the situation, the governor-general Cai Yurong 蔡毓榮 (1633-1699) erected a stele prohibiting the use of this misleading name.
Since Lagerwey’s chapter provides only the English translation of this inscription, I checked the original source and found the text to be so interesting that I had to reproduce it here. Below, then, is the full text of Cai’s inscription. In punctuating the text, I have consulted the punctuation done by Yang Lizhi and Chen Mei (see the bibliographical note below).
Source: Wang Gai 王槩. Dayue Taiheshan jilüe 大嶽太和山紀略. 8 juan. Prefaced Qianlong 9 (1744). 6.37a-38a. Edition held in Waseda University Library. (Images accessible online.)
A complete English translation of the inscription is available in John Lagerwey, “The Pilgrimate to Wu-Tang Shan,” in Pilgrims and Sacred Sites in China, ed. Susan Naquin and Chün-fang Yü, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992), p. 319.
In addition to the edition that I have used here, the Dayue Taiheshan jilüe 大嶽太和山紀略 (1744 edition) can also be found in Siku quanshu cunmu congshu 四庫全書存目叢書 (史部 242).
Half-way through transcribing the text, I found out that a Chinese translation of Lagerwey’s chapter was available online, which also includes the full text of the inscription. The text reproduced here reflects my own preferences of punctuation style, but I have followed the punctuation done by the translators Yang Lizhi 楊立志 and Chen Mei 陳梅 at some sections where the meaning of the text was unclear to me. There are also slight textual variations between my version and that quoted by Yang and Chen.