While working on tomorrow’s Tolkien post, I realized that the first post of this series needed to be broken up in order for #5 to be more easily found. This is the original post, detailing what we’re looking for in real-world equivalents of J. R. R. Tolkien’s mythical city of Gondor.
Now let’s check out the five places I found, starting with:
#5. Mount Hua
Okay, it’s a mountain, not a city, but it’s definitely vertical, and tell me this picture doesn’t make you think of the golden tower of Ecthelion in the first light of dawn.
As well, it is an excellent real-world example of Minas Tirith’s “towering bastion of stone, its edge sharp as a ship-keel.”
If Mount Hua, also known as Huashan and Xiyue, is inhabited, balances the human and the natural worlds, has walls, and is symbolic, I’d say it’s a valid comparison.
People, of course, do stay there, and the works of man and nature are in perfect equilibrium. Stairs are carved into the living rock, and there is a tea house at the very top of this peak.
As well, temples sit atop each of the mountain’s other four peaks, for this is a holy place.
Um, it doesn’t have walls, though.
Then again, it doesn’t need walls.
Instead it has this (seriously, don’t watch the following video if heights make you uncomfortable). Traditionally you had to have the “right stuff” and a good sense of literal balance in order to visit that teahouse:
In olden times, the mountain was visited by royalty who worshiped there. I wonder how many of them decided to go up for a cup of tea.
Good and evil
Certainly, Mount Huan didn’t influence J. R. R. Tolkien’s ideas for Minas Tirith. It’s also somewhat inaccessible for a major city in a populous land. Other than that, though, I think it works fine.
Imagine Sauron’s hordes trying to cross that set of planks, one at a time, in all their armor and with all their weaponry.
Sure, the winged Nazgûl could attack it, but they only appear at the end of the story. Sauron had to put the Nine on flying beasts in order to attack Minas Tirith. He would be driven to the same necessity at Huashan.
Indeed, it might turn out that the Taoist god who is said to dwell there would mount a more formidable fight against the Wraiths and their armies than Gandalf and Aragorn ever could.
There are actually real-world echoes of the battle between good and evil today at Mount Hua.
Dr. Wikipedia says that the people who are responsible for the mountain have turned all its temples over to the China Taoist Association because the presence of religious practitioners (who are likely to be up and around, anywhere, at any hour of the day or night) deters loggers and poachers even more than warden patrols.
Next week, an emphasis on builders….
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Categories: Tolkien Tuesday