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Nine Horse Mural Hill, Li River

 

Mural Hill is located on the west bank of the Li River about 60 km or 37 miles from Guilin. Facing the banks of the Li River is a big stone cliff blazoned with yellow, white, black, grey and green colors. From a distance the cliff face resembles a natural mural with images of what appears to be nine horses in various poses.

According to legend, at one time the nine horses were raised in heaven and attended by Sun Wukong who was also known as Monkey King. However, Monkey King was not happy with his job and he often went back to Huaguoshan Mountain and left the heavenly horses unattended. On one of these occasions when the horses were not being attended to, nine of them escaped to the world to wander in the verdurous mountains where they enjoyed fresh clean water and blooming flowers and never came back. In time they were forced to hide in a cave to escape a god from the heaven, which was sent to look for them and return them to heaven after they were found. Unfortunately the horses were discovered by the god while bathing in Li River at dawn, and in a hurry to escape they ran into the cliff side where their images turned into stone as a punishment for not getting back.

Nine Horse Mural Hill, Li River
Nine Horse Mural Hill, Li River

The gestures of the horses differ from one to another. One image may be of a horse running wild, while another may be standing still, neighing, browsing or drinking water. It is not that easy to identify all of the nine horses, and most people can only recognize three or four images as horses. A folk ballad claims that the one who can identify all nine horses will be Number One Scholar, a title conferred to the one who came out first in the highest imperial examination. To be able to identify the nine horses you need keen eyesight and a rich imagination.

Nine Horse Mural Hill, Li River
Nine Horse Mural Hill, Li River

Mural Hill has always been popular with poets, scholars, painters and travelers. For instance the famous scholar Ruan Yuan in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) visited the hill five times when he was the Governor-General of Guangdong and Guangxi. Premier Zhou Enlai also visited Mural Hill and it is reported that he was able to recognize and identify all of the nine horses. Perhaps on your visit to Mural Hill you might also be able to identify all nine horses and be the next Number One Scholar.


 

   

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