china edition


Xian - Zhaoling Tomb

Shaanxi - Xian - Yan'an

The Zhaoling Tomb is situated on Jiuzong Mountain near Liquan County, 76 kilometer to the northwest of Xian. Zhaoling is the mausoleum of Emperor Tai Zong (Li Shimin), an emperor famous for the 'Zhenguan Reign'. In 626 AD, Li Shimin came to the throne and in the year followed, he changed the title of his reign to Zhenguan. He was in power for 23 years.

During his rule there was a famous period of well being, the "Well-Managed Zhenguan Reign". He was important for bringing political stability as well as cultural and philosophical richness to the great Tang dynasty. In 636 AD, Empress Wen De died of an illness and was buried against the mountain according to her will. Taizong chose Mt. Jiuzhongshan as the tomb site. In 649 AD, Taizong died and was buried together with Empress Wen De in the same tomb.

Zhaoling Cemetery is 60 kilometer in circumference. It covers an area of 20,000 hectares and is surrounded by 167 satellite tombs. In this area are the '18 tombs of the Tang dynasty' on the Guanzhong Plain. Zhaoling was a masterpiece for tombs of its type.

Its construction was designed by a famous artist, Yan Lide from the Tang dynasty. It showed a unique style in dimension and layout. The Zhaoling Tomb is the first to use the technique of mountainside burial while it had previously been the custom to build tombs on the plains and create artificial mounds over them. Constructed against mountains, the tomb chamber was built on a peak accessible by a 230 m long tunnel excavated through the mountain with 5 stone gates installed along.

Emperor Tai Zong's resting place is located in the northermost part of the cemetery.

Among the satellite tombs, those of Wei Zheng, Li Jing and Li Ji (Xu Mao gong) were particularly unique. The world-famous Six Zhaoling Bas-relief Stone Horses were carved and installed in the north wall of Zhaoling by Tang Tai Zong's instructions. Following a popular Tang dynasty custom, more than 80 tombstones were erected on the Zhaoling Tomb. Most of these artifacts are now preserved in Zhaoling Museum.

The Zhaoling Museum was opened to the public in 1978. These remaining tombstones are on exhibition in it together with other stone tablets with epitaphs unearthed from some satellite tombs of Zhaoling in recent excavations. The museum also displays all the artifacts removed from the excavated satellite tombs. There is a splendid selection of superb ceramic figurines, wall paintings, and utensils.