china edition


Xian - Tomb of Princess Yongtai

Shaanxi - Xian - Yan'an

The Tomb of Princess Yongtai is the first tomb to be excavated and remains the most impressive of all the satellite tombs in the Qianling Tomb.

Princess Yongtai was the granddaughter of Tang Emperor Gaozong and his wife Empress Wu Zetian. In 700, she married Wu Yanji, son of Wu Chengsi, who was Wu Zetian's nephew. In 701, Princess Yongtai died in Luoyang, Henan Province, at the age of 17. The epitaph suggests that she died childbirth, but supposedly both she and her husband were poisoned by her grandmother after Yongtai revealed secrets about the older woman's affairs with 2 lovers. After rising to the throne, Zhongzong posthumously conferred the title of Princess Yongtai upon his daughter, and gave orders that his daughter and her husband should be buried together in the Qianling Tomb in 705 AD.

The Tomb of Princess Yongtai is pyramid-shaped, 87.5 meter long and 3.9 meter wide with a chamber 16.7 meter deep. In front of the tomb the road is lined with a pair of stone lions, 2 pairs of stone figures, and a pair of obelisks. The tomb consists of a main passage, 5 doorways, 6 sky-lights, a paved path leading to the tomb, 8 small niches, an antechamber and a burial chamber. The walls on both sides of the tomb passage are covered with murals.They represent court attendants, almost all of them women, wearing the elegant central Asian fashions of the day. The burial chamber represents the house where the Princess lived.

The tomb of Princess Yongtai held more than 1,000 valuable cultural artifacts, including murals, pottery and wooden figurines, tri-color glazed pottery figurines, gold vessels, jade articles, and copper wares. The tricolour glazed pottery figurines, which are beautifully shaped and have peculiar decorative designs, demonstrate the high artistic level of the Tang dynasty ceramic industry.