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Mural Hill (Horses Galloping on Fresco Hill)

Horses Galloping on Fresco Hill: 60km far from Guilin, near Fresco Hill Village, the east bank of Li River. The five peaks join together, steep and flat as if they were cut. The cliff-faces are dazzled by a riot of color, appearing to be a huge colored wall painting which suggested nine horses with different in figures. So it is named "Horses Galloping on Fresco Hill",short name is "Fresco Hill".These nine horses are lifelike in posture, or standing or lying, or rushing or spring; or drinking or soaring. About this spot, Xu Yun, a Qing dynastic poet, wrote a poem appraising "The hill looks like a picture since ancient time, while nowadays, the picture looks like a hill. A horse-picture shows nine paths and the unique item can be found in the world."

According to legend, at one time the nine horses were raised in heaven and attended by Sun Wukong who was also known as Monkey King. However, Monkey King was not happy with his job and he often went back to Huaguoshan Mountain and left the heavenly horses unattended. On one of these occasions when the horses were not being attended to, nine of them escaped to the world to wander in the verdurous mountains where they enjoyed fresh clean water and blooming flowers and never came back. In time they were forced to hide in a cave to escape a god from the heaven, which was sent to look for them and return them to heaven after they were found. Unfortunately the horses were discovered by the god while bathing in Li River at dawn, and in a hurry to escape they ran into the cliff side where their images turned into stone as a punishment for not getting back.

The gestures of the horses differ from one to another. One image may be of a horse running wild, while another may be standing still, neighing, browsing or drinking water. It is not that easy to identify all of the nine horses, and most people can only recognize three or four images as horses. A folk ballad claims that the one who can identify all nine horses will be Number One Scholar, a title conferred to the one who came out first in the highest imperial examination. To be able to identify the nine horses you need keen eyesight and a rich imagination.

Mural Hill has always been popular with poets, scholars, painters and travelers. For instance the famous scholar Ruan Yuan in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) visited the hill five times when he was the Governor-General of Guangdong and Guangxi. Premier Zhou Enlai also visited Mural Hill and it is reported that he was able to recognize and identify all of the nine horses. Perhaps on your visit to Mural Hill you might also be able to identify all nine horses and be the next Number One Scholar.

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