The Journey

The Complete Map of the Imperially Established South Sea Mount Putuo Area

  • 38
  • China
  • Qing period, early 20th century
  • Hand-colored woodblock print
  • H. 43 5/16 x W. 24 7/8 in. (110 x 63.3 cm)
  • American Museum of Natural History, ASIA/0578
  • Mount Putuo
Find it on the Interactive Map

Mount Putuo, one of China's Four Sacred Mountains of Buddhism, has been a pilgrimage site for the worship of Avalokiteshvara (Guanyin in Chinese) for a thousand years. Putuo is a small (about five square miles) and hilly island in the East China Sea, and its uniqueness lies largely in its location. According to myth, Guanyin miraculously appeared to pilgrims at the Cave of Tidal Sound, marked on this map at the lower left corner, welcoming the boats nearby. On a metaphoric level, the pilgrim's act of travel to the island by boat might parallel the Buddhist notion of salvation by crossing the "sea of sufferings." Mount Putuo is a surrogate site for Mount Potalaka—the paradise of Avalokitesh-vara, who promises protection and salvation to devotees—which, according to Indian Buddhist texts, is located on the southern coast of India.

PHOTO CREDIT: Division of Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History


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