Splitting the Mountain
This Chinese legend begins with forbidden love between a goddess and a mortal. The goddess San Sheng Mu is walking in a forest when she suddenly encounters a young scholar named Liu Xiang. As the story progresses, fate brings them together again and again, until the goddess finally consents to his entreats and marries him. The goddess and the human bear a son, naming him Chen Xiang.
Watching from Heaven, the goddess’s brother, the three-eyed deity Erlang Shen, is furious. How could his little sister violate heavenly decrees and marry a human? In a bout of righteous rage, he imprisons her inside one of China’s sacred Taoist mountains, Mount Hua.
Her semi-immortal son, still only a boy, travels to Mount Hua in search of his mother. There he encounters a Taoist who trains him in special martial arts techniques. Years later, after the boy grows up and masters the Taoists’ teachings, his master gives him a magical axe. Empowered and confident, the son defeats his uncle in combat, and then splits open Mount Hua, freeing his mother.
Even today in Shaanxi province on the western face of Mount Hua, lies a giant boulder split cleanly into three pieces—a relic of Chen Xiang’s efforts to rescue San Sheng Mu.
Shen Yun’s dance drama Splitting the Mountain is adapted from this legend.