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Folded Brocade Hill (Die Cai Hill), Guilin Top Mountain Retreat

 

 Just like Wave-Subduing Hill and Solitary Beauty Peak, Folded Brocade Hill is another wonderland in downtown Guilin characterized by inviting natural beauty, intriguing legends, ancient history and glamorous culture. Arrays of historic and architectural complexes include pavilions, pagodas and mansions as well as caves sheltering stone inscriptions, couplets and Buddha statues fit into the landscape neatly, bringing out each other’s beauty. From time immemorial, the bewitching landscape in Guilin has enthralled, inspired and nurtured artists, poets and monks, who in return left behind delicate statues, beautiful couplets and poetries to immortalize its beauty. One line of poetry goes like this: “Baptized by soothing breeze and enveloped with hills in four sides, Folded Brocade Hill is a fairyland on earth.”Thus, a visit to Folded Brocade Hill will be more than a sightseeing hiking, but also a journey through time to the past. As for foreigners who love Chinese calligraphy and art, a visit to this hill will be enlightening and refreshing. If you are lucky, you can enjoy the Guilin Landscape Festival or Body Painting Art Show here.

During Tang dynasty(618-907), Yuan Hui bumped into this hill accidentally. Beholding the unique rock, he was left with bewildered admiration and wrote in his travelogue: “the rocks adopt the most eye-dazzling colors and pile up layers upon layer on each other, just like the finest silk and brocade”. Hence, the hill was given the name which is still in use today: Folded Brocade Hill. Ascending around 434 steps, you will reach the summit in half an hour. As the highest hill in downtown Guilin, Folded Brocade Hill will promise the most spectacular panoramic view: Guilin city sprawls under your foot while Lijiang River flows by gracefully, guiding the lovely hills and the blessed city with sweet care.

Yuyue Hill, All-Direction-Looking Hill (Siwang Hill), Crane Peak and Bright Moon Peak constitute Folded Brocade Hill. At 223m, Bright Moon Peak is the main body of this hill. The topography of this hill is undulating and can be divided into three layers, which mounting from valleys all the way to summit, with beauty evolving from delicacy to magnificence, just like a great symphony of Beethoven.


What to see in Folded Brocade Hill

Wind Cave

Bright Moon Cave is pieced through by one cave: Wind Cave. Measuring 9.2m at the widest and 5m at the highest, the gourd-shaped Wind Cave stretches 20m long and encompasses an area of around 140m2. It comprises two minor caves: Beiyou Cave and Diecai Cave. The irresistible charm of Wind Cave derives from the incessant wind and 98 statues enshrined within 24 niches.

Warm and soothing in spring, cool and refreshing in summer, crispy and stirring in autumn, chilly and freezing during winter, wind never cease inside of this cave, bestowing this cave a name “the Refreshing Kingdom”. Wind Cave is also a kingdom of stone inscriptions and Buddha statues. Among them, the most striking one is the “Orchid and Bamboo” sculpture engraved by one famous painter during Qing dynasty.

The orchid’s roots are exposed to the air and look very fragile, which indicates the plight of the turmoil society under Qing government’s reign. Though with sharp leaves, the bamboo’s trucks are withering, which metaphors the Qing government is decaying from inside.

Generally speaking, Buddha statues can be differentiated by stature, the plum one belongs to Tang while the slim one falls into Song. While in Wind Cave, the story is total different. Bodhisattva statues of Tang dynasty feature slender stature, well-proportioned bodies, long arms and legs, beautiful curves and fitting attires, while those of Song dynasty look plum and well-fed.

To unravel this unusual phenomenon, we need to recall history. During Song dynasty, Buddhism has been assimilated by Han people’s culture. Thus, the trace of its origination: India has gone obscure. Han people were used as prototypes to create Buddha statues, rather than Indians. Besides, the rising and proliferation of Li Xue(Philosophy of Rationalism) has altered and shaped every aspect of society. Guided by the ascetic spirit of Li Xue, folk artists adopted a more conservative way to create Buddha statues. You can see their bodies are lost among the spacious robes, big sleeves and necks are hidden behind high collars. From this, we can see the formidable influence Li Xue has exerted.

Butterfly Museum


A collection of thousands of butterflies and animal specimen are exhibited here, some are for sale. This will be an eye-opening and fruitfully shopping experience.

Mulong Pagoda

Constructed in Tang dynasty, the round Tibetan Buddhism style Mulong Pagoda sits at the east ridge of Folded Brocade Hill, dashing 4.34m above the ground. Buddha and Bodhisattva are carefully engraved before being placed into the shrines artistically.

 

Gallery of Folded Brocade Hill (click to enlarge)

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