Rocky rainbows' cultural colors

By Erik Nilsson | China Daily | Updated: 2019-12-03 08:40
Geology and culture color Gansu province's rock formations. Zhangye is a place where natural and psychological landscapes mingle to conjure its magical charm.[Photo by Erik Nilsson/China Daily]

People have divined many figures in the rock formations of the Colorful Sea of Clouds, including the Colorful Flying Clouds, Monks Worshiping Buddha and Spirit Monkey Views the Sea.

The simian-shaped spire, for instance, is described as "a monkey deity trapped in purgatory, sitting in a sea of fire but not knowing what it is".

Once again, a specific formation is viewed among the backdrop of the other mountains, which are likened to sunrises, sunsets, flames-and even an elaborate tapestry, known as Colorful Embroidery, that's alternatively viewed as a sunup that serves as the backdrop for a golden cow.

Colorful Embroidery is, perhaps ironically, near the Silk Road, which is likened to both ribbons of the material and the ancient trade route along which it was transported.

Following the tendency to imagine rocks as textiles is Tassels of the Yugu Maiden, mud danxia that look like the tassels that hung from ancient Yugu women's skirts.

A poem hailing the formation says: "Whoever sees the tassels' beauty will think back and remember old friends".

Indeed, each formation in the Rainbow Mountains is splendid on its own. But the best way to view the range is by looking down from aboard the helicopters, parasails and ultra lights that soar over these peaks.

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