Kunlun Mountains

Kunlun Mountains
Kunlun Mountains (Kūnlún Shān)
View of Western Kunlun Shan from the Tibet-Xinjiang highway
Country China
Region Tibet, Qinghai, Xinjiang
Borders on Gobi Desert border1=Alps
Highest point Kunlun Goddess
 - elevation 7,167 m (23,514 ft)
Karakash River in the Western Kunlun Shan, seen from the Tibet-Xinjiang highway
Peak in Kunlun range
The Kunlun Pass

The Kunlun Mountains (simplified Chinese: 昆仑山; traditional Chinese: 崑崙山; pinyin: Kūnlún Shān, pronounced [kʰu̯ə́nlu̯ə̌n ʂán]; Mongolian: Хөндлөн Уулс) are one of the longest mountain chains in Asia, extending more than 3,000 km. In the broadest sense, it forms the northern edge of the Tibetan Plateau south of the Tarim Basin and the Gansu Corridor and continues east south of the Wei River to end at the North China Plain.

The exact definition of this range seems to vary. 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, Qilian Mountains and Qin Mountains. A recent source [2] has the Kunlun forming most of the south side of the Tarim Basin and then continuing east south of the Altyn Tagh. Sima Qian (Shiji, scroll 123) says that Emperor Wu of Han sent men to find the source of the 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 Shan Hai Jing.



From the Pamirs of Tajikistan, it runs east along the border between Xinjiang and Tibet autonomous regions to the Sino-Tibetan ranges in Qinghai province.[3] It stretches along the southern edge of what is now called the Tarim Basin, the infamous Takla Makan or "sand-buried houses" desert, and the Gobi Desert. A number of important rivers flow from it including the Karakash River ('Black Jade River') and the Yurungkash River ('White Jade River'), which flow through the Khotan Oasis into the Taklamakan Desert.

Altyn-Tagh or Altun Range is one of the chief northern ranges of the Kunlun. Nan Shan or its eastern extension Qilian 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 and the Huang He.

The highest mountain of the 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. Some authorities claim that the Kunlun extends north westwards as far as Kongur Tagh (7,649 m) and the famous 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 to Lhatse, Tibet. Further east, Highway 109 crosses between Lhasa and Golmud.

Kunlun Volcanoes

One of over 70 Kunlun Volcanoes is the highest volcano in Asia and China and second in East Hemisphere (after Mount Kilimanjaro) and one of Volcanic Seven Summits by elevation, with 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), the last known eruption is on May 27, 1951.[4]


The Kunlun mountains are believed to be the paradise of Taoism. 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 Huang-Di, the mythical Yellow Emperor and originator of Chinese culture, and met 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.

"An Orographical map of the Western Regions".Map of the Western Regions appended to the Hsi-yu-tu-chih, compiled on the orders of Emperor Chien-lung in 1762. According to the Government of India Publication, "The map makes clear that Sinkiang extended in the south only up to the Kuen Lun Range". The aforesaid map is reproduced in the Government of India Publication, viz. The Atlas of the Northern Frontiers of India at Pg.20.

Kunlun martial arts

Part of the series on
Chinese martial arts
List of Chinese martial arts
Historical places
Historical people
Legendary figures
This box: view · talk · edit

The Kunlun mountains are associated with a number of different martial arts, and are considered by some as an alternate source for the Daoist martial arts (Wudang being traditionally claimed as the source.) Some styles associated with the Kunlun mountains:

Kunlun Mountain Fist is a style associated with the Kunlun mountain range, although similarities between this style and Kunlunquan, as well as the name of one of the forms (White Cloud Mountain Fist) suggest that this style may be associated with Kunlun Mountain in Shandong province

Kunlunquan may be named after the Kunlun mountain range, or it may be named after Kunlun Mountain in Shandong province.


  1. ^ L. Richard, 'Comprehensive Geography of the Chinese Empire',1905
  2. ^ National Geographic Atlas of China,2008
  3. ^ http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/325007/Kunlun-Mountains Kunlun Mountains. (2009). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved November 19, 2009, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
  4. ^ Global Volcanism Program - Kunlun Volcanic Group

Further reading

  • Munro-Hay, Stuart Aksum. Edinburgh: University Press. 1991. ISBN 0748601066

External links

Coordinates: 36°00′N 84°00′E / 36°N 84°E / 36; 84

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Kunlun Mountains — [koon′loon′] mountain system in W China, between Tibet & Xinjiang: highest peak, c. 25,300 ft (7,711 m) * * * or K un lun Mountains Mountain system, east central Asia. It extends for 1,250 mi (2,000 km) through the western regions of China. From… …   Universalium

  • Kunlun Mountains — [koon′loon′] mountain system in W China, between Tibet & Xinjiang: highest peak, c. 25,300 ft (7,711 m) …   English World dictionary

  • Kunlun Mountains — noun a mountain range in western China that extends eastward from the Indian border for 1000 miles • Syn: ↑Kunlun, ↑Kunlan Shan, ↑Kuenlun, ↑Kuenlun Mountains • Instance Hypernyms: ↑range, ↑mountain range, ↑range of mountains …   Useful english dictionary

  • Kunlun — Para otros usos de este término, véase Base kunlun. Vista de los Kunlun occidentales desde la carretera Tíbet Sinkiang …   Wikipedia Español

  • Kunlun — Das Kunlun Gebirge am Nordrand des Hochlands von Tibet Kunlun (chin. chinesisch 崑崙山(脈) / 昆仑山(脉) Kūnlún Shān(mài) ‚Kunlun Gebirge‘, auch Kunlun Gebirge, in älterer Transkription auch Kuenlun) ist eine knapp 3.000 km lange… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Kunlun — noun a mountain range in western China that extends eastward from the Indian border for 1000 miles • Syn: ↑Kunlan Shan, ↑Kunlun Mountains, ↑Kuenlun, ↑Kuenlun Mountains • Instance Hypernyms: ↑range, ↑mountain range, ↑ra …   Useful english dictionary

  • Kunlun Nu — (Zh t|崑崙奴 The K’un lun Slave or The Negrito Slave ) was a wuxia romance written by P’ei Hsing (Zh t|裴鉶) (c. 880) during the Tang Dynasty. The Hero of the tale is a Negrito slave that uses his supernatural physical abilities to save his master s… …   Wikipedia

  • Mountains of Central Asia — South of the northern low lands is a great belt of mountains and plateaus. The Pamir plateau in central Asia forms mountainous chains running out in different directions. The mountain chains of the Himalayas, Karakoram and Kunlun run towards the… …   Wikipedia

  • Kunlun — geographical name mountains W China extending from the Pamirs & Karakoram Range E to SE Qinghai see Muztag …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Arkatag Mountains — ▪ mountains, China also spelled  Arkha Tagh , Chinese (Pinyin)  A erge Shan  or  (Wade Giles romanization)  A erh ko Shan , also called  Przhevalsky Range        one of the complex mountain chains that form the Kunlun Mountains in western China.… …   Universalium

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”