china edition


Xian - Qianling Tomb

Shaanxi - Xian - Yan'an

Qianling Tomb is located 85 kilometer northwest of Xian on Liang Hill. It is the joint tomb of Emperor Tang Gaozong (Li Zhi, 628 AD - 683 AD) and Empress Wu Zetian (624 AD - 705 AD), the only Empress in Chinese history.

Qianling Tomb is 1,047.5 meter above sea level. It was built in 684 AD and it took 23 years to complete. Of the 3 peaks of Liangshan Hill, the north peak, where Qianling is located, is the highest. The city comprises the inner city and the outer city. There were 4 gates on the 4 sides of the inner city, namely, the Phoenix (south gate), the Tortoise (north), the Black Dragon (east) and the White Tiger (west). Many other splendid buildings such as dedicatory halls and gate towers were built here.

An avenue lined by animal and human statues leads all the way to the tombs from the southern approach. The exquisite carvings include 2 winged horses galloping, 2 vermilion birds like ostriches, and 5 pairs of saddled horses, each with a groom. The most noteworthy is 10 pairs of guardian generals with very large heads, wearing long-sleeved robes and holding the hilts of long swords. They demonstrate remarkable achievements of the sculptural arts during the prime of the Tang dynasty.

There are 61 stone statues of foreign envoys and chiefs of Chinese minorities as well as imperial guards on the eastern and western sides of the inner city. They are foreigners who came to the Chinese court in the 7th century for Tang Gaozong's funeral. Now only 2 statues have heads. On the back of each stone statue were carved its nationality, official position and name. It proves that China had close relationship with neighborhood countries during the Tang dynasty.

The Wordless Tablet on the eastern side of the Phoenix Gate is 6.3 meter high, and weights 98.9 tons. Figures of dragon were carved on the sides of the tablet. It is the only Wordless Tablet placed before an emperor's mausoleum in China.

A tablet to Emperor Gaozong is located on the western side of the Phoenix Gate. It measures 6.3 meter high, 1.86 meter wide and weighs 61.6 tons. The tablet consists of 7 joints symbolizing the Seven Elements, that is, the Sun, the Moon, Metal, Wood, Water, Earth, and Fire. The ancient Chinese believed that the world was composed of these Seven Elements. The inscription on the tablet praises Gaozong's political achievements and military exploits. It was written by Emperor Zhongzong and composed by Emperor Wu Zetian.

There are 17 satellite tombs of princes, kings and high ministers near the Qianling Tomb including the Tomb of Crown Yide, the Tomb of Princess Yongtai and Tomb of Crown Prince Zhanghuai.