The Cliffs of Tanghai were a series of cliffs or bluffs beside the Hungtse River in Shou Lung. Inscribed with the teachings of the Path of Enlightenment by the Celestial Emperor himself, they were a holy site of the faith and the surest evidence of the existence of the Celestial Heaven.[1][2][3]


The Cliffs of Tanghai overlooked the mouth of the Hungste River near Taitun, where the Upper Hungste River and another river flowed into the main Hungste River.[1][2][3][4][5][note 1] They comprised a huge cliff of black basalt and sheer bluffs of granite.[1][2][3][note 2]


The letters of the inscriptions each stood a full meter high (3.3 feet) and were carved into the solid stone. They were carved along the cliff's outer face, and were so high above the ground they could only be reached via flight.[1]


It was believed that the Celestial Emperor caused red-hued lighting to rain from the heavens and blast the letters into the face of the Cliffs of Tanghai in Shou Year 440 (−810 DR), in order that mortals be reminded of his will for all time.[1][2][3] Old histories recorded that the firestorm was visible across Kara-Tur and the skies seemed alight, even to bubble like boiling blood, but no people or plants beside the Hungtse were harmed.[2][3] For example, Wei Tsao Te's Shichi Hsi, a collection of history, legend, and official history, spoke of flaming words appearing in the sky.[6] Revealed in the aftermath were the teachings of the Path of Enlightenment. However, contemporary emperors initially denied these teachings.[2][3] Other faiths tried to downplay the scale of the event recorded in the histories, or even its divine origin.[2]

Nevertheless, the inscriptions remained intact and clearly visible by Shou Year 2607 (1357 DR).[1][2]


The Cliffs of Tanghai were a holy site and the basis for the following of the Path of Enlightenment.[1] Many pilgrims journeyed to read them.[2]



  1. The Cliffs of Tanghai are not actually labeled on any canon map of Shou Lung, but Taitun and the Hungste are marked. With reference to the maps in Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms and The Forgotten Realms Atlas, one may assume the Cliffs lie in the hilly area of Wang Kuo Province north of Taitun. The early Ochimo: The Spirit Warrior (later copied by The Grand History of the Realms) confuses matters by referring to "the mouth of the river" but, rather than referring to where it enters the sea, "mouth" can also describe where a river flows into a larger body of water, implying the point where the Upper Hungste joins the lower Hungste.
  2. The cliffs are stated to black basalt on page 4 of Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms: Volume I, but granite on pages 24 and 27. Ochimo: The Spirit Warrior and The Grand History of the Realms say they are of granite, but change the (unnamed) site to bluffs. Due to the ambiguity, this article assumes the Cliffs of Tanghai comprise both basalt and granite and are both cliffs and bluffs. It is possible the inscriptions run for some length of the river.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), pp. 4, 24, 27. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 Jeff Grubb (1987). Ochimo: The Spirit Warrior. (TSR, Inc), pp. 3, 5. ISBN 0-88038-393-3.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 40. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  4. Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Maps). (TSR, Inc). ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  5. Karen Wynn Fonstad (August 1990). The Forgotten Realms Atlas. (TSR, Inc), p. 20. ISBN 978-0880388573.
  6. Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 31. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.