MING TOMBS

At a distance of 50 km northwest of Beijing stands an arc-shaped cluster of hills fronted by a small plain. Here is where 13 emperors of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) were buried, and the area is known as the Ming Tombs. The construction of the tombs started in 1409 and ended with the fall of the Ming Dynasty in 1644. In over 200 years tombs were built over an area of 40 square kilometers, which is surrounded by walls totaling 40 kilometers. Each tomb is located at the foot of a separate hill and is linked with the other tombs by a road called the Sacred Way.

The stone archway at the southern end of the Sacred Way, is decorated with designs of clouds, waves and divine animals.

 

 

The Sacred Way inside the gate of the Ming Tomb is lined with 18 pairs of stone human figures and animals. These include four each of three types of officials: civil, military and meritorious officials, symbolizing those who assist the emperor in the administration of the state, plus four each of six types of animals: lion, griffin, camel, elephant, unicorn and horse.

Dingling

The Dingling Tomb is the tomb of Emperor Wanli (reigned 1573-1619), the 13th emperor of the Ming Dynasty, whose personal name was Zhu Yijun, and of his two empresses, Xiao Duan and Xiao Jing. The tomb was completed in six years (1584-1590), it occupies a total area of 1,195 square meters at the foot of Dayu Mountain southwest of the Changling Tomb.

 

 

The underground palace at Dingling Tomb consists of an antechamber, a central chamber and a rear chamber plus the left and right annexes. One of the pictures shows the central chamber where the sacrificial utensils are on display. Two marble doors are made of single slabs and carved with life-size human figures, flowers and birds. More than 3,000 articles have been unearthed from the tumulus, the most precious being the golden crowns of the emperor and his queen.

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