Mountain Resort and its Outlying Temples, Chengde (1994)

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The Mountain Resort (the Qing dynasty's summer palace), in Hebei Province, was built between 1703 and 1792. It is a vast complex of palaces and administrative and ceremonial buildings. 

Temples of various architectural styles and imperial gardens blend harmoniously into a landscape of lakes, pastureland and forests. In addition to its aesthetic interest, the Mountain Resort is a rare historic vestige of the final development of feudal society in China. 

  • China 1998. Chengde Temple. The stamp is a joint issue with Germany. See the corresponding German stamp on the page of Würzburg, also a world heritage property (on this web site). 

The Province capital of Sichuan, Chengde, is more than 2000 years old, and has today more than 3 million inhabitants in the centre of the town, around 9 million if also counting the suburbs.  In spite of all renovations and communistic "attacks" on the city centre, Chengde has maintained an atmosphere making it possible to sense what China looked like in the historic past.  

China 1998. Chengde Temple.

Chengde is located in the mountains between the Huabei Pingyuan (North China Plain) and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The Je He, or Warm River, flows into the Wulie He at Chengde. The Je He is so named because nearby hot springs raise the water temperature. 

China 1991. Chengde Mountain Resort. Ch'ing Dynasty Royal Gardens. Islet with Maple trees. China 1991. Chengde Mountain Resort. Ch'ing Dynasty Royal Gardens. Mid-lake Pavilion. China 1991. Chengde Mountain Resort. Ch'ing Dynasty Royal Gardens. Pine Valleys.

Chengde first came under Chinese control during the Liao dynasty (907-1125). After the fall of the Mongols’ Yuan dynasty (1279-1368), the succeeding Ming emperors abandoned the region. The Manchus gained control in the 1620s, and the area became a base for their conquest of China in 1644. Under the Qing (Manchu) dynasty, which lasted until 1912, the city was known as Jehol. 

Kangxi, a Qing emperor, began building a summer retreat there in 1703. Two large Tibetan Buddhist temples and a number of smaller temples were also built. The Qing emperors received foreign delegations at Chengde, including the first delegation from Great Britain in 1793 during the reign of Qianlong (Ch’ien-lung). Chengde was captured by the Japanese and made part of Manchukuo, the Japanese puppet state, in 1933. In 1949 the region again came under Chinese control. 

China 1991. Souvenir sheet. Chengde Royal Summer Resort.

The city of Chengde has been thoroughly described in the excellent novel by Jung Chang: "Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China". A riveting tale of three generations spanning the end of Old China, Mao's regime and the Japanese occupation. Chang chronicles the enormous changes in China since 1929 through her family's story, one that includes arrest during the Cultural Revolution, exile to the Sichuan wilderness and the bewildering state of China today. It's quite a tale, wonderfully told without a trace of rancor or bitterness. Living in London since 1978, Chang visits her mother back in China every year. You can imagine Chang with notebook in hand back in the family apartment absorbed in the stories of her much-loved mother. The book opens with the statement, "At the age of 15 my grandmother became the concubine of a warlord general. It was 1929 and China was in chaos."  ISBN 0006374921

Sources and links:

Other World Heritage Sites in China (on this site). Inactive links are not described on stamps. Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, section China for further information about the individual properties.  

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Revised 20 jun 2007  
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