When I first came across Christoph Baumer’s China’s Holy Mountain – An Illustrated Journey into the Heart of Buddhism, I was impressed by its first quality presentation, abundance of information and beauty of its images. It is said that one should not judge a book by its cover, or its pictures – for that matter, but this work of art, I could not resist, and upon reading it, I was not disappointed.
Christoph Baumer is an internationally recognised scholar, leading researcher, photographer and explorer of Central Asia, Tibet and China. He has a background in Philosophy, Psychology and History of Art. Baumer has written other works in related areas: history, religion, archaeology and travel: The Church of the East: An Illustrated History of Assyrian Christianity, 2006 and Traces in the Desert: Journeys of Discovery across Central Asia, 2008. Dr Baumer is President of the Society for the Exploration of EurAsia and a member of the Explorer’s Club, New York, the Royal Asiatic Society and the Royal Geographical Society, London. With such an erudite background it is no surprise that China’s Holy Mountain, An Illustrated Journey into the Heart of Buddhism, bears information of such high quality and is so richly illustrated.
During his travels to one of China’s most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites, Mt Wutai (Wutai Shan, Five-Terrace Mountain), Baumer personally visited more than fifty monasteries. In China’s Holy Mountain, Baumer gives a detailed description of the pilgrimage routes to the mountain and its five terraces, as well as an introduction to the history and legends of the monasteries, monks and nuns.
China’s Holy Mountain – An Illustrated Journey into the Heart of Buddhism, is a very well organized book, it is written in an understandable style for those with greater knowledge of Buddhism as well as the uninitiated. An abundance of excellent photographs, taken by the author, maps and other illustrative material, make this book not only a wonderful information resource about the philosophical and religious heritage of China, the history of Buddhism and the major schools of Buddhism in China, but also serves as a wonderful spiritual and visual inspiration.
Photos and blog by WildChina’s Chelin Miller.