Located 50 kilometers northwest of Beijing, the Ming
Tombs built from 1409 A.D. -1644 A.D is where 13 emperors of the Ming
(1368-1644) and their empresses and concubines were buried.
Thirteen tombs spread over 40
kilometers in circumference. A 7-kilometer-long sacred way flanked by 18 pairs
of giant stone statues leads to the Changling - the tomb of Emperor Yongle,
the most powerful emperor in the Ming dynasty. The up-turn-cornered marble
Stone Arch with beautiful bas-relief carvings of lions, dragons and flowers -
the first on your way to the tomb was erected in 1540. The Great Palace Gate
built in 1426 marks the beginning of the Sacred Way to Changling. The Great
Palace Gate used to have three passageways and the central one was used by the
deceased emperor only while the living emperor used the side ones. Officials
and civilians had to dismount before the gate. About 460 meters from the gate
stands the vermilion Stele Pavilion with an exquisitely engraved 7-meter-high
stone column called as huabiao - similar to the one on the Tian'anmen Square.
Inscriptions from Qing Emperor Qianlong's Reign on the back recorded the
reconstruction of the tombs. Next along the path are bizarre, mythical stone
monsters standing guard. At the end of road stands Changling and on half the
way a sideway to the left leads to Dingling a prior for visitors - the tomb of
Emperor Wanli. To get to the tomb itself, you have to walk down many flights
of stairs till you are deep inside the mountain. It is kind of creepy and cool
to go down and down.
Dingling - the tomb of Emperor
Wanli (1573 A.D. -1620 A.D.), the 13th Ming emperor, and his two empresses has
been excavated and is famous for a magnificent underground palace, which
consists of five stones chambers.
The underground palace lies 27
meters below the surface and occupies a floor space of 1,195 square meters. It
has five halls: an antechamber, central hall, real hall and left and right
annexes. In the central hall are three white marble thrones for the emperor
and his two empresses in front of each stands the "everlasting lamp", a
blue-and-white porcelain tub containing oil, which was lit after the emperor
was buried. Three coffins on a dais are in the rear hall, Emperor's in the
center with the empresses' on each side. Among precious treasures buried with
emperor, a gold crown and four phoenix crowns are eye-catching.
Visitors to the underground palace have to first see the
exhibition hall - Dingling Museum which exhibits buried treasures and
articles, before they go down a long zigzag staircase to the palace.
Work of the construction began
in 1409 A.D. and ended in 1427 A.D. It is 120,000 square meters with a
underground structure including Leng'endian, Leng'enmen, Shengchou and
Jufudian ect. Having been restored several times after the Ming's decline,
only the wood-structure Leng'endian and Leng'enmen survived.
Copyright © 2002, Sunrise Studio, All Rights Reserved.