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The Kunlun Mountains
Kunlun Mountains
(simplified Chinese: 昆仑山; traditional Chinese: 崑崙山; pinyin: Kūnlún Shān, pronounced [kʰu̯ə́nlu̯ə̌n ʂán]; Mongolian: Хөндлөн Уулс, Khöndlön Uuls) are one of the longest mountain chains in Asia, extending more than 3,000 kilometres (1,900 mi). In the broadest sense, it forms the northern edge of the Tibetan Plateau
Tibetan Plateau
south of the Tarim Basin. The exact definition of this range varies. An old source[1] uses Kunlun to mean the mountain belt that runs across the center of China, that is, Kunlun in the narrow sense: Altyn Tagh
Altyn Tagh
along with the Qilian and Qin Mountains. A recent source[2] has the Kunlun range forming most of the south side of the Tarim Basin
Tarim Basin
and then continuing east south of the Altyn Tagh. Sima Qian
Sima Qian
(Shiji, scroll 123) says that Emperor Wu of Han
Emperor Wu of Han
sent men to find the source of the Yellow River
Yellow River
and gave the name Kunlun to the mountains at its source. The name seems to have originated as a semi-mythical location in the classical Chinese text Shanhai Jing.

Contents

1 Extent

1.1 Kunlun Volcanic Group

2 Mythology 3 In popular culture 4 Gallery 5 See also 6 References 7 Further reading 8 External links

Extent[edit] From the Pamirs
Pamirs
of Tajikistan, it runs east along the border between Xinjiang
Xinjiang
and Tibet
Tibet
autonomous regions to the Sino-Tibetan ranges in Qinghai
Qinghai
province.[3] It stretches along the southern edge of what is now called the Tarim Basin, the infamous Takla Makan
Takla Makan
or "sand-buried houses" desert, and the Gobi Desert. A number of important rivers flow from it including the Karakash River
Karakash River
('Black Jade River') and the Yurungkash River
Yurungkash River
('White Jade River'), which flow through the Khotan Oasis
Oasis
into the Taklamakan Desert. Altyn-Tagh
Altyn-Tagh
or Altun Range is one of the chief northern ranges of the Kunlun. Its eastern extension Qilian Shan is another main northern range of the Kunlun. In the south main extension is the Min Shan. Bayan Har Mountains, a southern branch of the Kunlun Mountains, forms the watershed between the catchment basins of China's two longest rivers, the Yangtze River
Yangtze River
and the Yellow River. The highest mountain of the Kunlun Shan
Kunlun Shan
is the Kunlun Goddess (7,167 m) in the Keriya area. The Arka Tagh (Arch Mountain) is in the center of the Kunlun Shan; its highest point is Ulugh Muztagh
Ulugh Muztagh
(6,973 m). Some authorities claim that the Kunlun extends northwest-wards as far as Kongur Tagh
Kongur Tagh
(7,649 m) and the famous Muztagh Ata
Muztagh Ata
(7,546 m). But these mountains are physically much more closely linked to the Pamir group (ancient Mount Imeon). The mountain range formed at the northern edges of the Cimmerian Plate during its collision, in the Late Triassic, with Siberia, which resulted in the closing of the Paleo-Tethys Ocean. The range has very few roads and in its 3,000 km length is crossed by only two. In the west, Highway 219 traverses the range en route from Yecheng, Xinjiang
Xinjiang
to Lhatse, Tibet. Further east, Highway 109 crosses between Lhasa
Lhasa
and Golmud. Kunlun Volcanic Group[edit] Main article: Kunlun Volcanic Group Over 70 volcanic cones form the Kunlun Volcanic Group. They are not volcanic mountains, but cones. As such, they are not counted among the world volcanic mountain peaks. The group, however, musters the heights of 5,808 metres (19,055 ft) above sea level (35°30′N 80°12′E / 35.5°N 80.2°E / 35.5; 80.2). If they were considered volcanic mountains, they would constitute the highest volcano in Asia
Asia
and China
China
and second highest in the Eastern Hemisphere (after Mount Kilimanjaro) and one of Volcanic Seven Summits
Volcanic Seven Summits
by elevation. (Mount Damavand
Damavand
is the highest volcano in Asia, not the Kunlun cones.) The last known eruption in the volcanic group was on May 27, 1951.[4] Mythology[edit] Main article: Kunlun Mountain (mythology) Kunlun is originally the name of a mythical mountain believed to be a Taoist
Taoist
paradise. The first to visit this paradise was, according to the legends, King Mu (976-922 BCE) of the Zhou Dynasty. He supposedly discovered there the Jade Palace of Yellow Emperor, the mythical originator of Chinese culture, and met Hsi Wang Mu
Hsi Wang Mu
(Xi Wang Mu), the 'Spirit Mother of the West' usually called the 'Queen Mother of the West', who was the object of an ancient religious cult which reached its peak in the Han Dynasty, also had her mythical abode in these mountains. In popular culture[edit] The Kunlun mountains (spelled "Kuen-Lun" in the book) are described as the location of the Shangri-la
Shangri-la
monastery in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by English writer James Hilton. The Kunlun mountains serves as the location of a high-security Chinese-government political prison of which the captured protagonists characters attempt to escape from in the 2013 video game Battlefield 4. Additionally, the multiplayer map 'Operation Locker', also takes place within the same location. The Chinese TV series Candle in the Tomb mentions a secret government fort when they hike these mountains and find the fictional Nine Story Demon Tower. The Kunlun mountains are also referenced in Marvel's Iron Fist as containing the mythological Kunlun (spelled K'un-Lun per the Wade–Giles romanization,) the place where protagonist Danny Rand
Danny Rand
is sheltered and taught by Buddhist monks and gains the power of the iron fist, thus becoming Iron Fist. In the PS2 game Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus, the fourth member of the Fiendish Five, the Panda King, makes the Kunlun Mountains the hub of his extortion empire. There, he sells the small villages "avalance protection," and uses his fireworks to bury anyone who doesn't pay up. The hero of the franchise, Sly Cooper, puts an end to his crime ring, regains Otto van Cooper's portion of the Thevius Racoonus, and facilitates the Panda King's arrest at the end of chapter 4, Fire in the Sky. 2 games later, in Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, General Tsao had his fortress in the Kunlun Mountains. There, he was forcing the Panda King's daughter, Jing King, into marrying him. With the Cooper Gang's help, the Panda King was able to free his daughter and join Sly's team for the heist on the Cooper Vault as their demolitions expert. Gallery[edit]

Karakash River
Karakash River
in the Western Kunlun Shan, seen from the Tibet- Xinjiang
Xinjiang
highway

Peak in Kunlun range

The Kunlun Pass

See also[edit]

Kunlun Mountain (mythology)

References[edit]

^ L. Richard, 'Comprehensive Geography of the Chinese Empire',1905 ^ National Geographic Atlas of China,2008 ^ "Kunlun Mountains". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2009-11-19.  ^ "Kunlun Volcanic Group". Global Volcanism Program. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2014-03-15. 

Further reading[edit]

Munro-Hay, Stuart Aksum. Edinburgh: University Press. 1991. ISBN 0-7486-0106-6

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kunlun Mountains.

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