On the western slope of Mount Hua in Shaanxi Province in China, visitors can see the strange sight of a gigantic rock split perfectly into three parts. According to an ancient legend passed down over the centuries, these cuts are the results of the efforts of demi-god Chen Xiang to rescue his mother.
The story begins with the forbidden love between a goddess and a mortal. One day, the goddess San Sheng Mu was walking in the forest when she came across a young scholar named Liu Xiang.
Destiny continually brought the two together, again and again, until finally, the goddess agreed to Liu Xiang’s requests to marry her. In time, the couple had a son, whom they called Chen Xiang. Seeing all of this from Heaven, Sheng Mu’s brother, the three-eyed God Erlang Shen, was furious with his sister.
How could his younger sister break the laws of Heaven and marry a mere mortal? He got his revenge by imprisoning her inside Mount Hua, a sacred place in Taoist tradition because its five peaks resemble the petals of the lotus flower.
As he grew into a young boy, Chen Xiang became curious about his mother and traveled to Mount Hua to look for her. There he met a Taoist master who trained him in martial arts.
Years later, when the boy had become a man and mastered the Taoist teachings, his teacher gave him a magic ax. With this special tool in hand, the young man once again journeyed to Mount Hua. There, he split the mountain with the magic ax, making perfect cuts as he went, and freed his mother from her prison inside the rocks.
Many similar legends about Mount Hua and the other sacred mountains and rivers of China have been passed down from time immemorial, a time when the Gods lived among mortals. But one thing remains consistent throughout; the mountain is imbued with powerful folklore and is a site of much respect and reverence for people around the world.