Meanings Of Mountains

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01Japan2011020720120312

The Meanings of Mountains is a series of essays that, following the sun's path from east to west travels from Japan to Peru, reveal the relationships that different peoples have with their mountains. In the first the writer and artist Stephen Gill, who has lived and worked for many years in Japan, delves into the complex feelings that people there have not for their most famous mountain, Fuji, but the one that perhaps is even more important to them - Mount Ogura.

Mt. Ogura is Japan's 'poets' mountain', featuring in centuries of literature, in the works of Teika, Saigyo and Basho. The mountain is only 1,000 feet high, but it rises very steeply, with a gorge snaking round two of its sides, and it has attracted courtiers, priests and poets to its slopes in such numbers that Japan's most famous poetry collection, Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each) bears its name.

Yet, on its northern flank it has an enormous illegal rubbish-tip. When its secret was exposed a few years ago it caused national consternation. Work is going on now to clear the dump and over the past few years tons and tons of rubbish has been collected, as have hundreds of short poems about the famous mountain. These unite classical images of autumn leaves, summer wind and frogs singing with car batteries, empty bottles and broken fridges.

The Meanings of Mountains is a series of essays that, following the sun's path from east to west travels from Japan to Peru, reveal the relationships that different peoples have with their mountains.

In the first the writer and artist Stephen Gill, who has lived and worked for many years in Japan, delves into the complex feelings that people there have not for their most famous mountain, Fuji, but the one that perhaps is even more important to them - Mount Ogura.

Mt.

Ogura is Japan's 'poets' mountain', featuring in centuries of literature, in the works of Teika, Saigyo and Basho.

The mountain is only 1,000 feet high, but it rises very steeply, with a gorge snaking round two of its sides, and it has attracted courtiers, priests and poets to its slopes in such numbers that Japan's most famous poetry collection, Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each) bears its name.

Yet, on its northern flank it has an enormous illegal rubbish-tip.

When its secret was exposed a few years ago it caused national consternation.

Work is going on now to clear the dump and over the past few years tons and tons of rubbish has been collected, as have hundreds of short poems about the famous mountain.

These unite classical images of autumn leaves, summer wind and frogs singing with car batteries, empty bottles and broken fridges.

Stephen Gill explores the complex feelings that the Japanese have for Mount Ogura.

02China2011020820120313

The Meanings of Mountains is a series of essays that, following the sun's path from east to west travels from Japan to Peru, reveal the relationships that different peoples have with their mountains. In the second essay Howard Zhang of the BBC's Chinese Service, considers the way that mountains in China have been sacred to Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism - sometimes the same mountain revered by devotees of all three. Certain mountains are places of pilgrimage, the Chinese word for which literally means 'paying respect to the mountain', and many monasteries and shrines are hidden away in the hills.

Howard explains the attraction of mountains, throughout Chinese history, to poets and artists - an attraction so deep that landscape paintings are known simply as mountain and river pictures - and intellectuals, who have been drawn from the complex life of the city to a simple, quiet life in the mountains.

But many Chinese are newly rich, able at last and eager, to travel. The holy mountains are becoming places of mass tourism. Howard Zhang contemplates this dilemma and considers the meanings of mountains to the Chinese today.

Producer: Julian May.

Howard Zhang on the sacred mountains of China and what these mean to the Chinese today.

The Meanings of Mountains is a series of essays that, following the sun's path from east to west travels from Japan to Peru, reveal the relationships that different peoples have with their mountains.

In the second essay Howard Zhang of the BBC's Chinese Service, considers the way that mountains in China have been sacred to Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism - sometimes the same mountain revered by devotees of all three.

Certain mountains are places of pilgrimage, the Chinese word for which literally means 'paying respect to the mountain', and many monasteries and shrines are hidden away in the hills.

But many Chinese are newly rich, able at last and eager, to travel.

The holy mountains are becoming places of mass tourism.

Howard Zhang contemplates this dilemma and considers the meanings of mountains to the Chinese today.

03Slovenia2011020920120314

Moving westwards from Japan and China, this week's essays about the relationships different peoples have with their mountains reaches Europe, and Slovenia. Matej Zatonjsek, the Cultural Attache at the Slovenian Embassy in London, explains how his people are a nation of mountaineers, with three-quarters of the population climbing in the Julian Alps every year. Endowing mountains with Slovenian names was an expression of independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and a commitment to the language. The country's national myth is centred on Triglav, the country's highest peak and climbing this for Slovenians is akin to making the pilgrimage to Mecca for muslims, a sacred duty and an assertion of identity.

Producer: Julian May.

Moving westwards from Japan and China, this week's essays about the relationships different peoples have with their mountains reaches Europe, and Slovenia.

Matej Zatonjsek, the Cultural Attache at the Slovenian Embassy in London, explains how his people are a nation of mountaineers, with three-quarters of the population climbing in the Julian Alps every year.

Endowing mountains with Slovenian names was an expression of independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and a commitment to the language.

The country's national myth is centred on Triglav, the country's highest peak and climbing this for Slovenians is akin to making the pilgrimage to Mecca for muslims, a sacred duty and an assertion of identity.

Matej Zatonjsek explains the deep feeling the people of Slovenia have for their mountains.

04Scotland2011021020120315

In the fourth of this week's essays about the relationship different peoples have with their mountains, following the path of the sun from east to west, we reach Scotland. Kenneth Steven's father was a lifelong climber, who reached the summit of his last 'Monroe' (Scottish mountains more than 3,000 high) when he was 89. But as a boy of eight or nine Kenneth was dragged up hills at every opportunity and resented these exhausting, thirsty excursions. He rather shared the view of the crofters that the hills were just there and to climb them without having to was puzzling. It was only when he left Perthshire for university in Glasgow that he missed their presence and began to share the love that writers such as the great Gaelic poet Sorley MacLean and Norman MacCaig expressed in their work. He returned to the highlands and ventured, now voluntarily, into the hills. But he is not concerned with conquering them; it is in the journey up and what he finds along the way that the mountains reveal their many meanings.

Producer: Julian May.

Poet Kenneth Steven considers the relationship of the Scots to their mountains.

In the fourth of this week's essays about the relationship different peoples have with their mountains, following the path of the sun from east to west, we reach Scotland.

Kenneth Steven's father was a lifelong climber, who reached the summit of his last 'Monroe' (Scottish mountains more than 3,000 high) when he was 89.

But as a boy of eight or nine Kenneth was dragged up hills at every opportunity and resented these exhausting, thirsty excursions.

He rather shared the view of the crofters that the hills were just there and to climb them without having to was puzzling.

It was only when he left Perthshire for university in Glasgow that he missed their presence and began to share the love that writers such as the great Gaelic poet Sorley MacLean and Norman MacCaig expressed in their work.

He returned to the highlands and ventured, now voluntarily, into the hills.

But he is not concerned with conquering them; it is in the journey up and what he finds along the way that the mountains reveal their many meanings.

05Peru20110211

The Meanings of Mountains series which this week, following the sun, has reflected the relationships of peoples from Japan, China, Slovenia and Scotland with their mountains now concludes in Peru. Javier Lizarzaburu, a journalist living in Lima, considers how the shrine at Pariacaca, the mountain home of an important Inca oracle, was suppressed by Jesuits 400 years ago, with the destruction of thousands of images and the exile of its priests.

He considers how the mountain, which has two peaks, embodied the duality of the Andean world view, and its centrality to the Inca creation story. He shows how this story did not disappear but absorbed the new religion, and how, although suppressed, the cult of Pariacaca survives. Javier recalls a friend whose grandmother told him that, rather than the old man sitting in the room, the mountain outside was really his grandfather. Peruvians revere mountains, yet have close, familial relationships with them, and Pariacaca is a mountain with many meanings.

Producer: Julian May.

05 LASTPeru2011021120120316

The Meanings of Mountains series which this week, following the sun, has reflected the relationships of peoples from Japan, China, Slovenia and Scotland with their mountains now concludes in Peru. Javier Lizarzaburu, a journalist living in Lima, considers how the shrine at Pariacaca, the mountain home of an important Inca oracle, was suppressed by Jesuits 400 years ago, with the destruction of thousands of images and the exile of its priests.

He considers how the mountain, which has two peaks, embodied the duality of the Andean world view, and its centrality to the Inca creation story. He shows how this story did not disappear but absorbed the new religion, and how, although suppressed, the cult of Pariacaca survives. Javier recalls a friend whose grandmother told him that, rather than the old man sitting in the room, the mountain outside was really his grandfather. Peruvians revere mountains, yet have close, familial relationships with them, and Pariacaca is a mountain with many meanings.

Producer: Julian May.

Javier Lizarzaburu on the Inca shrine of Pariacaca and what the mountain means today.

The Meanings of Mountains series which this week, following the sun, has reflected the relationships of peoples from Japan, China, Slovenia and Scotland with their mountains now concludes in Peru.

Javier Lizarzaburu, a journalist living in Lima, considers how the shrine at Pariacaca, the mountain home of an important Inca oracle, was suppressed by Jesuits 400 years ago, with the destruction of thousands of images and the exile of its priests.

He considers how the mountain, which has two peaks, embodied the duality of the Andean world view, and its centrality to the Inca creation story.

He shows how this story did not disappear but absorbed the new religion, and how, although suppressed, the cult of Pariacaca survives.

Javier recalls a friend whose grandmother told him that, rather than the old man sitting in the room, the mountain outside was really his grandfather.

Peruvians revere mountains, yet have close, familial relationships with them, and Pariacaca is a mountain with many meanings.