Ming Xiaoling

Last updated
Ming Xiaoling
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Nanjing Ming Xiaoling 2017.11.11 08-10-27.jpg
Ming Lou, the main building of Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum
Official nameXiaoling Tomb including area from Treasure Mound to Shenlieshan Stele, including Plum Blossom Hill, and Big Golden Gate
Location Xuanwu District, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China
Part of Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties
Criteria Cultural: (i)(ii)(iii)(iv)(vi)
Reference 1004ter-005
Inscription2000 (24th session)
Extensions2003, 2004
Area116 ha (290 acres)
Coordinates 32°03′30″N118°50′23″E / 32.058271°N 118.839631°E / 32.058271; 118.839631 (Xiaoling Dian, Ming Xiaoling Maosoleum) Coordinates: 32°03′30″N118°50′23″E / 32.058271°N 118.839631°E / 32.058271; 118.839631 (Xiaoling Dian, Ming Xiaoling Maosoleum)
Subdivisions of Nanjing-China.png
Red pog.svg
Location of Ming Xiaoling in Nanjing
China Jiangsu adm location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Ming Xiaoling (Jiangsu)

The Ming Xiaoling (Chinese :明孝陵; pinyin :Míng Xiào Líng; lit. : ' Filial mausoleum of Ming') is the mausoleum of the Hongwu Emperor, the founder of the Ming dynasty. It lies at the southern foot of Purple Mountain, located east of the historical centre of Nanjing. Legend says that in order to prevent robbery of the tomb, 13 identical processions of funeral troops started from 13 city gates to obscure the real burying site. [1]

Contents

The construction of the mausoleum began during the Hongwu Emperor's life in 1381 and ended in 1405, during the reign of his son the Yongle Emperor, with a huge expenditure of resources involving 100,000 labourers. The original wall of the mausoleum was more than 22.5 kilometres long. The mausoleum was built under heavy guard of 5,000 troops.

Layout and monuments

The Shengong Shengde stele in the Sifangcheng pavilion Stone Sifangcheng.jpg
The Shengong Shengde stele in the Sifangcheng pavilion

Great golden gate and Square city

Da Jin Men and Sifangcheng. One enters the site through the monumental Great Golden Gates (Da Jin Men), and is soon faced by a giant stone tortoise ( bixi ), which resides in the Sifangcheng ("Square city") pavilion. The tortoise supports a splendid carved stone stele, crowned by intertwining hornless dragons. The well-preserved stele is known as the "Shengong Shengde Stele" (神功圣德碑), i.e., literally, "The Stele of Godly Merit and Saintly Virtue". The inscription of the stele, extolling the merits and virtues of the Hongwu Emperor Hongwu Emperor was written by his fourth son, the Yongle Emperor. The tortoise is 5.15 m long, 2.54 m wide and 2.8 m tall, [2] the stele stands 8.78 m tall (including the tortoise) [3] and is one of the best-known examples of its genre.

It is thought that originally the Yongle Emperor planned to install a much bigger stele here. The work on making it was started in the Yangshan Quarry (some 10 km east of the mausoleum) in 1405, but the unfinished stele was abandoned in the quarry, as it was realized that it would not be possible to move it. [4]

Unlike the similar pavilion at the Ming Tombs near Beijing, Nanjing's Sifangcheng does not have its roof anymore, as it was destroyed during the Taiping Rebellion. Recently, Chinese engineers have conducted research in regard to the possibility of restoring the roof. [5]

The Kangxi Emperor's stele of homage to his Ming predecessor of 300 years before MingXiaoling ZLTS01 rotated.jpg
The Kangxi Emperor's stele of homage to his Ming predecessor of 300 years before

The Sacred Way

The Sacred Way is an 1800-metre-long road at the Nanjing city Government site. The winding Sacred Way (Shendao) starts near the Sifangcheng pavilion. It includes several sections: the Elephant Road and the Wengzhong Road. The Elephant Road is lined by 12 pairs of 6 kinds of animals (lions, xiezhi , camels, elephants, qilin , and horses), guarding the tomb. Beyond them is a column called huabiao in Chinese. One then continues along the Wengzhong Road. Four pairs of ministers and generals (or warrior guardian figures, wengzhong) of stone have been standing there for centuries to guard the journey to the after life.

Lingxing Gate

The Lingxing Gate, a pailou at the end of the Wengzhong Road was destroyed long ago, but rebuilt in 2006. [6]

The central area

One enters the central area of the mausoleum complex through the Wen Wu Fang Men (The Gate of the Civil and the Military). On an inscribed stone tablet outside of the gate is an official notification of the local government in the Qing dynasty (1644–1911) is ordered to protect the tomb. Inside the gate, there the Tablet Hall (Bei Dian) in which 5 steles stand. The one in the middle, also mounted on a stone tortoise, is inscribed with 4 Chinese characters, "治隆唐宋", which were written by the Qing dynasty's Kangxi Emperor on his third inspection tour of the South in 1699. The text is interpreted as alluding to the greatness of the Ming dynasty founder Zhu Yuanzhang, matching (or surpassing) that of the founders of the Tang and Song Dynasties of old. [7] [8]

Behind the pavilion, there used to be other annexes; however most of them have collapsed into relics from which the original splendor can still be traced. The emperor and his queen were buried in a clay tumulus, 400 metres in diameter, known as the Lone Dragon Hill (Du Long Fu). A stone wall with a terrace on top, known as Ming Lou (Ming Mansion) or the Soul Tower is half-embedded into the front face of the tumulus. On a stone wall surrounding the vault, 7 Chinese characters were inscribed, identifying the mausoleum of Emperor Ming Taizu (respected title of Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang).

The mountain to the south of the tomb, known as Meihua Shan ("Plum Flower Mountain"), is the mausoleum of Sun Quan, King of the Kingdom of Wu in the Three Kingdoms period (220-265). The existence of this tomb is the reason why the Sacred Way is not straight.

Later history

The mausoleum complex suffered damage during the mid-19th century Taiping Civil War, but was restored during the Tongzhi era thereafter.

Along with the Ming Tombs north of Beijing, the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum of Nanjing was inscribed by UNESCO as part of the World Heritage Sites "Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties".

The mystery of the third tortoise

The unfinished bixi with a blank stele, re-installed in the Red Chamber Culture Park Hong Lou Park - Blank stele bixi - P1060592.JPG
The unfinished bixi with a blank stele, re-installed in the Red Chamber Culture Park

In 1999, another, unfinished, stone tortoise and an unfinished stele lying on the ground were discovered in a ravine just over 100 m to the southeast from the Sifangcheng Pavilion, and even closer to Madame Chiang Kai-Shek's former villa (known as Meiling Gong). The tortoise, larger than those under the Shengde stele and the Kangxi Emperor's steles, and the matching blank stele were recognized by experts as being products of the early Ming, but the reasons for their manufacture and abandonment became subjects for speculation among historians. A number of possible explanations - from faulty material to the overthrow of the Jianwen Emperor by the Yongle Emperor in 1402 - have been advanced.

In the meantime, the tortoise and the blank stele (无字碑) have been moved to the Red Chamber Culture Park (红楼艺文苑, Honglou Yiwen Yuan), located just east of the Ming Xiaoling complex. [3] [7] The park (which otherwise is a modern Dream-of-the-Red-Chamber-themed landscape and sculpture park) can be visited on the same ticket with the Ming Xiaoling proper.

Notes and references

  1. Asian Historical Architecture
  2. 明代帝陵砖材科技含量高 明十九帝陵图片展筹备 Archived 2011-07-20 at the Wayback Machine (High-tech bricks of Ming imperial mausolea: preparing for an exhibition of images of the 19 Ming imperial tombs) Xinhua, 2009-06-10. (Source for sizes)
  3. 1 2 明孝陵景区 Archived 2010-01-07 at the Wayback Machine (MIng Xiaoling Scenic Area); at the Nanjing city Government site. (in Chinese)
  4. Yang & Lu 2001 , pp. 616–617
  5. Mu, Baoang; Wang, Yan; Yang, Xiaohua (2010), "The Feasibility Study on Adding Roof in Square City of the Ming Tomb", Advanced Materials Research, 163–167: 2618–2624, doi:10.4028/www.scientific.net/AMR.163-167.2618
  6. Information plaque at the Lingxing Gate
  7. 1 2 明孝陵两大“碑石之谜”被破解 Archived 2012-10-18 at the Wayback Machine (Solving the two great riddles of the Ming Xiaoling's stone tablets). People's Daily, 2003-06-13. Quote regarding the Kangxi's stele text and its meaning: "清朝皇帝躬祀明朝皇帝 ... 御书“治隆唐宋”(意思是赞扬朱元璋的功绩超过了唐太宗李世民、宋高祖赵匡胤)"; regarding the dimensions of the stele and its tortoise "康熙御碑孝陵碑殿中部主碑,是清康熙三十八年(1699年)由康熙皇帝爱新觉罗·玄烨所立,高3.85米,宽1.42米,上阴刻楷书“治隆唐宋”4字,字径0.68米,碑座为石制龟趺,高1.06米。"
  8. Photo and description of the Kangxi's stele. The inscription is interpreted as "His reign was as glorious as that of the Tang and Song"]

Bibliography

Related Research Articles

Yongle Emperor 15th-century Chinese emperor

The Yongle Emperor — personal name Zhu Di — was the third Emperor of the Ming dynasty, reigned from 1402 to 1424.

Ming tombs tomb

The Ming tombs are a collection of mausoleums built by the emperors of the Ming dynasty of China. The first Ming emperor's tomb is located near his capital Nanjing. However, the majority of the Ming tombs are located in a cluster near Beijing and collectively known as the Thirteen Tombs of the Ming Dynasty. They are within the suburban Changping District of Beijing Municipality, 42 kilometres (26 mi) north-northwest of Beijing city center. The site, on the southern slope of Tianshou Mountain, was chosen based on the principles of feng shui by the third Ming emperor, the Yongle Emperor. After the construction of the Imperial Palace in 1420, the Yongle Emperor selected his burial site and created his own mausoleum. The subsequent emperors placed their tombs in the same valley.

Jianwen Emperor Second emperor of the Ming Dynasty

The Jianwen Emperor was the second Emperor of the Ming dynasty, reigned from 1398 to 1402. His personal name was Zhu Yunwen (朱允炆). The era name of his reign, Jianwen, means "establishing civility" and represented a sharp change in tone from Hongwu, the era name of the reign of his grandfather and predecessor, the Hongwu Emperor. His reign did not last long: an attempt to restrain his uncles led to the Jingnan rebellion. The Jianwen Emperor was eventually overthrown by one of his uncles, Zhu Di, who was then enthroned as the Yongle Emperor. Although the Yongle Emperor presented a charred body as Zhu Yunwen's, rumours circulated for decades that the Jianwen Emperor had disguised himself as a Buddhist monk and escaped from the palace when it was set on fire by Zhu Di's forces. Some people speculated that one of the reasons behind why the Yongle Emperor sponsored the admiral Zheng He on his treasure voyages in the early 15th century, was for Zheng He to search for the Jianwen Emperor, who was believed to have survived and fled to Southeast Asia. Some historians believe that the Jianwen Emperor had indeed survived and escaped from Nanjing, but the official histories of the Ming dynasty were modified later during the Qing dynasty to please the Manchu rulers.

Linggu Temple building in Nanjing, China

Linggu Temple is a famous Buddhist temple in Nanjing. It is now surrounded by a large park.

Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties is the designation under which the UNESCO has included several tombs and burial complexes into the list of World Heritage Sites (WHS). These tombs date from the Ming and Qing dynasties of China.

Gate of China, Beijing

The Gate of China was a historical ceremonial gateway in Beijing, China, located near the centre of today's Tiananmen Square. It was demolished in 1954. This gate formed the southern gate of the Imperial City during the Ming and Qing dynasties. It was situated on the central axis of Beijing, to the north of Qianmen Gate and south of Tiananmen. Unlike these two defensive gates, the Gate of China was a purely ceremonial gateway, with no ramparts, but was a brick-stone structure with three gateways.

Ming Palace palace

The Ming Palace, also known as the "Forbidden City of Nanjing", was the 14th-century imperial palace of the early Ming dynasty, when Nanjing was the capital of China.

Eastern Qing tombs mausoleum

The Eastern Qing tombs are an imperial mausoleum complex of the Qing dynasty located in Zunhua, 125 kilometres (78 mi) northeast of Beijing. They are the largest, most complete, and best preserved extant mausoleum complex in China. Altogether, five emperors, 15 empresses, 136 imperial concubines, three princes, and two princesses of the Qing dynasty are buried here. Surrounded by Changrui Mountain, Jinxing Mountain, Huanghua Mountain, and Yingfei Daoyang Mountain, the tomb complex stretches over a total area of 80 square kilometres (31 sq mi).

Mausoleum of the Yellow Emperor mausoleum

The Mausoleum of the Yellow Emperor is the burial site of the legendary Yellow Emperor (Huangdi) of China. It is located in Huangling County, Yan'an City, Shaanxi Province, China. According to legend, the Yellow Emperor attained immortality and rose to Heaven, leaving behind only his clothing and cap to be entombed.

Fuling Mausoleum construction

The Fuling or Fu Mausoleum, also known as the East Mausoleum, is the mausoleum of Nurhaci, the founding emperor of the Qing dynasty and his wife, Empress Xiaocigao. It served as the main site for ritual ceremonies conducted by the imperial family during the entire Qing dynasty. Located in the eastern part of Shenyang city, Liaoning Province, northeastern China, Fuling has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2004.

Bixi one of the 9 sons of the Dragon

Bixi, or Bi Xi, is a figure from Chinese mythology. One of the 9 sons of the Dragon King, he is depicted as a dragon with the shell of a turtle. Stone sculptures of Bixi have been used in Chinese culture for centuries as a decorative plinth for commemorative steles and tablets, particularly in the funerary complexes of its later emperors and to commemorate important events, such as an imperial visit or the anniversary of a World War II victory. They are also used at the bases of bridges and archways. Sculptures of Bixi are traditionally rubbed for good luck, which can cause conservation issues. They can be found throughout East Asia in Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Mongolia, and even the Russian Far East.

Xiaoling may refer to the following from China:

Spirit way ornate road leading to a Chinese tomb of a major dignitary

A spirit way is the ornate road leading to a Chinese tomb of a major dignitary. The term is also sometimes translated as spirit road, spirit path or sacred way. The spirit way is lined on both sides by a succession of statues, pillars, and stelae. The statues along the spirit way depict real and mythical animals, as well as civilian and military officials.

Shou Qiu

Shou Qiu is a historical site on the eastern outskirts of the city of Qufu in Shandong Province, China. According to the legend, Shou Qiu is the birthplace of the Yellow Emperor.

Temple of Confucius, Qufu largest and most renowned temple of Confucius in East Asia

The Temple of Confucius in Qufu, Shandong Province, is the largest and most renowned temple of Confucius in East Asia.

Yangshan Quarry mine

The Yangshan Quarry is an ancient stone quarry near Nanjing, China. Used during many centuries as a source of stone for buildings and monuments of Nanjing, it is preserved as a historic site. The quarry is famous for the gigantic unfinished stele that was abandoned there during the reign of the Yongle Emperor in the early 15th century. In scope and ambition, the stele project is compared to other public works projects of Yongle era, which included the launching of the treasure fleet for Zheng He's maritime expeditions and the construction of the Forbidden City in Beijing.

Ming Ancestors Mausoleum cemetery in Jiangsu, China

The Ming Ancestors Mausoleum is the first imperial mausoleum complex of the Ming dynasty, and a cenotaph located north of the former Sizhou City, Yangjiadun, in present-day Xuyi County, Huaian City, by Hongze Lake, north of Huai River Jiangsu Province, China. It was built by Zhu Yuanzhang, the founding emperor of the Ming dynasty, in 1385, for his great-great-grandfather, great-grandfather and grandfather. It is also the actual burial site of Zhu Chuyi, Zhu Yuanzhang's grandfather.

Tomb of the King of Boni

Tomb of the King of Boni, built in the early 15th century, is the tomb of Manarejiana (麻那惹加那), ruler of Boni, a medieval state on the island of Borneo, considered by some as the predecessor of the present-day sultanate of Brunei but disputed by some researchers. The tomb and associated statuary is located in a park at the southern foothills of Tortoise Mountain (Guishan), about 3 km south of the southern gate of the walled city of Nanjing. The street address is No.9, Weijiu Road of Huacun; this is east of Tiexinqiao Subdistrict, in Yuhuatai District, Nanjing, Jiangsu province, China.

Longquan Temple (Yunnan)

Longquan Temple is a Taoist temple located in Panlong District, Kunming, Yunnan. The temple is renowned for its three ancient trees, namely the plum tree of Tang dynasty (618–907), cypress tree of the Song dynasty (960–1279) and tea of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644).

Tomb of Wang Jian Tomb of Wang Jian, emperor of Former Shu

The Yongling Mausoleum, commonly known as the tomb of Wang Jian, is the burial place of Wang Jian (847–918), the founding emperor of Former Shu. It is located at 10 Yongling Road, Jinniu District, Chengdu, Sichuan, China.