Thursday, 15 November 2012

Ming Xiaoling Tomb

I have never been very interested in history all my life, certainly not ancient tombs of some emperors. But i had done a bit of homework before I went to Ming Xiaoling Tomb. With a very rough idea in mind, we reached the site early in the morning.

Ming Xiaoling Tomb is the last resting place for Emperor Zhuyuanzhang, the founder of Ming Dynasty. It is listed in the Unesco World Heritage sites! It was built in 1381-1405, making it 600++years old. Not that old compare to Emperor Qin Shihuang's Imperial Tomb which is 2,200++ years old. Legend says that in order to prevent robbery of the tomb, 13 identical processions of funeral troops started from 13 gates to obscure the real burying site. (info courtesy from Wikipedia.)

The map of the mausoleum. The inner most is the Ming Tower and beyond it the outline of a circle is the enormous Treasure Mound
From the map, we learned that it's designed like a garden! (Later I found out that the  Ming tombs are designed in this manner for the rest of the imperial tombs.) First, we found ourselves in a path called the Elephant path with 12 pairs of mighty stone carved animals. The animals are the Elephants, Horses, Camels, Lioans and fantasy ancient animals Unicorn and Xiezhi! They are supposed to guard the tomb! And there's another path called the Sacred path which were lined with some warrior figures and we missed it! We also missed the giant tortoise with stele! How sorry were we!

The Elephant Path.

Qiling (Unicorn).
Huge camels.



Knowing that this area is vast, we proceeded quickly further in. We passed through the gate then the tablet hall. The tablet hall contain a stele constructed by emperor kangxi as a homage to emperor Zhuyuanzhang who is his predecessor of 300 years. We do not understand why the tortoise is carved with the the head facing the door and the tail at the other side of the wall.

The tablet hall by Emperor Kangxi.

The tail is at the other side of the wall.

We then walked further in where we reached the Ming Tower. At the entrance, we had to climb a flight of stair ascending to another area. At this open area, we found ourselves face to face with a wall! But I still didn't know where is the actual burial site! Hubby then explained to us that the wall beyond is the tomb and he pointed at the carving on the wall! The carving says "This mound is the tomb of the emperor"! I realised then that the big mound beyond the wall is the last resting place of the emperor! The coffins of the emperor and the empress are somewhere within the big mound and it stays untouched for all these years!
The Ming Tower.
The entrance of the stairs.

Steps to the treasure mound.

On top of the steps where we found ourselves face to face with a wall.
It says this mound is the tomb of  the Emperor!
Wall surrounding the Treasure Mound.
After we came home, I read from Wikipedia that the Ming tower is actually embedded into the mound which explains the ascending steps we climbed earlier. I have been wondering what is inside the mound and why is it so big. Hubby also shared with us the Dingling tomb he visited in Beijing which had been excavated and there lies red coffins of the emperor and the empress! I read on to know that there are chambers for different purposes in the tomb and of course there is the coffin chamber! Needless to say, tons of priceless treasures are also being buried!

Tan Yan Kai tomb.
Also found in Ming Tower are some brief informations of other Imperial Ming Tombs in other parts of China. Most of them are untouched and still stays intact till today, not even Emperor Qinshihunag! Also very interesting is that the imperial steles are always built on top of a tortoise as pedestal. It is said that the tortoise is being highly respected in ancient China for it's longevity  and it's also associated with divination.

The giant tortoise stele.
Somehow i find all these facts quite interesting and have since developed some special "feelings" towards the history of our ancestors. To be able to see and to touch the artifact that has been around for a few hundred years have given me the sense unlike before!  This is only the beginning, there are so much more !!

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