Penglai(蓬莱/蓬萊)’s Story

鰲 蕭雲從《天問圖》

In Chinese #mythology, Penglai(蓬莱/蓬萊) is depicted as a suspended pavilion above the sea,supported by a cluster of auspicious clouds. It’s the palace of the immortals,all made of gold and jade,and the birds and beasts are all white.

It is stated in《列子》that there are five fairy mountains in the sea: First is Mount Taiyu, second is Mount Yuanjiao, third is Mount Fanghu, fourth is Mount Yingzhou, fifth is Mount Penglai.’ Penglai is just one among them. 

The Structure of Penglai(蓬萊)

There is an interesting theory about the structure of the mystical mountain, Penglai(#蓬萊) being a pot.

In WangJia(王嘉)’s ‘Records of the Unearthed Tales《拾遺記》’, Penglai ‘s structure is described as resembling a pot, alongside two other mystical mountains, Fangzheng and Yingzhou. These three, collectively termed the ‘Three Pots(三壺) ‘. The Three Pots symbolize three sea-bound mountains. Fanghu(方壺) represents Fangzhang(方丈), Ponghu(蓬壺) signifies Penglai(蓬萊), and Yinghu(瀛壺) embodies Yingzhou(瀛洲), all shaped akin to vessels.
This pot-like imagery signifies a contained world, each potentially holding its own universe within. 

《仙山樓閣圖》 仇英

This painting continues the tradition of previous immortal mountain artworks. The towering emerald-green mountains reaching into the clouds, the pavilions hidden among the irregular pine forests, and the bridge symbolizing the passage to the immortal realm, serving as a connecting and linking symbol – these typical elements of the immortal mountain paintings are all referenced by the artist.

Tales of Yuyi(郁夷國)

To the east of Penglai(蓬萊) , there is a country called Yuyi, where golden mists frequently appear. The immortals say that this mountain often floats within the mist, sometimes rising high, sometimes hanging low.

Many buildings stand on the mountain, their windows usually facing towards the bright direction when the mist disperses, and all facing north when the mist vanishes.


~鐘毓龍 《上古秘史》, in the Qing Dynasty

I think the earliest record of that is in 《拾遺記》, will talk about that in the next thread. 

Tales of Hanming(含明國)

《蓬萊仙境圖》清 袁耀

To the west of Penglai(蓬萊) , there is a country named Hanming, where people use bird feathers as clothes and quench their thirst with dewdrops. They spend their days climbing high places to fetch water, using stairs made of precious materials like gold, silver, and crystal. Here, there are both icy and hot waters, and those who drink them can live up to a thousand years.

The original description in 《拾遺記》 is more fascinating , see image. 


The Emperor asked Li Shaoweng, how to get to the floating mountain.
‘First, offer to Taiyi(太一); only then can one ascend to the heavens. Only after ascending to the heavens can one reach Penglai(蓬萊).’

Li Shaoweng from Qi, aged two hundred, had the appearance of a youth. His creations in various forms were all effective. The Emperor greatly believed in him, appointed him as the General of Wencheng, and treated him as an honored guest. 

About GuiXu(歸墟)

To the east of the Bohai Sea, an unmeasurable distance away, lies a vast, bottomless chasm that is, in reality, an abyssal valley, unfathomably deep, known as GuiXu.

Waters from various places and even from the celestial river converge here, yet the water volume neither increases nor decreases. In this place, there are five mountains: Daiyu, Yuanyu, Fanghu, Yingzhou, and Penglai.

🎨 胡廷暉 《蓬萊仙會圖》in the Yuan Dynasty

DaYu(夏禹)’s visit in Penglai(蓬萊)

In ancient times, after Yu the Great(DaYu) had controlled the floods, he rode in a carriage across the Weak Water and arrived at Mount Penglai.

He offered sacrifices to God at Bei’ao and attributed his great achievements in flood control to the Nine Heavens. Da Yu toured the Five Mountains and ordered craftsmen to carve stone tablets to record the distance, height, and other information of each mountain.

The characters on the tablets were written in the ancient Kochou script, which was not intelligible to the Han people. 

《仙山樓閣圖(Immortal Mountain and Pavilion)》王時敏

《仙山樓閣圖(Immortal Mountain and Pavilion)》王時敏, in the Qing Dynasty
This painting was created for the 70th birthday of Chen Jingfu’s mother, shows towering mountains, lush forests, winding streams and pines. Two tall and lush pines symbolize longevity.

In the distance, there are rolling mountains. A stream flows out of the mountains and merges into a river at the bottom. In the embrace of mountains, water, and trees, a secluded pavilion can be seen in the distance.