www.asiavtour.com Sign in l Register
Asia Travel Asia Food Asia Culture
   asiavtour.com google
Home  >   Asia  >   East Asia  >   China  >   Shaanxi  >   Xi'an  >  Qianling Tomb
  Travel Note
  Photo Gallery
[Add Section]

[Add Sights]

[Add Region]
[Rename Qianling]
  [edit this]
photo of Qianling Tomb
Photo By: Ada
[Change Image]

Qianling is the joint tomb of Gao Zong (Li Zhi, 628-638 A.D.), the third emperor of the Tang Dynasty and his Empress Consort, Wu Zetian (624-705 A.D.). Wu Zetian was the only Empress in Chinese history. The tomb lies on Liangshan Hill, 6km north of Qianxian County, and about 80km from Xi'an.

Li Zhi, the ninth son of Li Shimin (Tai Zong, the second emperor of the Tang Dynasty), ruled for 34 years. According to tradition, the emperor should establish his eldest son as crown prince who would succeed him to the throne. However, Li Zhi was made crown prince instead. Because he was the son of Empress Zhangsun who was strongly supported by her brother Prime Minister Zhangsun Wuji, the emperor appointed Li Zhi. After Emeror Tai Zong's death, Li Zhi ascended the throne and was entitled Gao Zong. But he was a person lacking political ability. He could hardly made any final decisions on court affairs without the Prime Minister's assis- tance. He was stupid and cowardly, so power gradually fell into Wu Zetian's hands.

Qianling Tomb was built in 684 A.D.. It took 23 years to complete Qianling Tomb. It is located on Liangshan Hill, 1047.5 metres above sea level. Of the three peaks of Liangshan Hill, the north peak, where Qianling is located, is the highest. The two peaks in the south, face each other, east to west. On each of the two peaks stands a watch tower made of earth. Folks call the two peaks “Nipple Hills”. According to historical records there used to be two city walls that formed an inner and outer city there. There were four gates and many other splendid buildings, such as the dedicatory hall, and several gate towers.

It has been proven through exploration that the total area of the inner city was about 240 square metres. On each side of the inner city, there was a gate, the Phoenix Gate in the south, the Tortoise Gate in the north, the Blue Dragon Gate in the east and the White Tiger Gate in the west. On both sides of the spirit way in front of the tomb, 124 exquisite and lively stone statues are lined up from north to south. They include a pair of octagonal prismatic cloud pillars, a pair of winged horses, a pair of phoenixes, five pairs of stone horses, and ten pairs of guarding generals with helmets on their heads and swords in their hands. There is a pair of stone lions in front of each city gate. There are three pairs of stone horses in front of the north gate. In addition, outside the south gate there are two tall tablets: a Monument to the Holy Deeds of Emperor Gao Zong and a Wordless Monument to Wu Zetian. There are also 61 stone statues, representing the heads of the Chinese minority nationalities and envoys from friendly countries who came to Emperor Gao Zong's funeral. From the beginning of the construction of Qianling Tomb, the number and variety of stone carvings, and the way they were to be arranged were formulated, and followed till the beginning of the Qing Dynasty. This arrangement with minor differences was largely identical in successive dynasties.

A Monument to Emperor Gao Zong located on the western side of the Phoenix Gate, consists of seven joints, and it is also called the Seven-Joint Tablet. It is said that the seven joints symbolize 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. It measures 6.3 metres high, 1.86 metres wide and weighs 61.6 tons. The pedestal for the tablet is carved with various figures of beasts. The inscription on the tablet was contains over 8,000 words, singing the praises of Gao Zong's political achievements and military exploits. When the tablet was carved, the strokes of characters were coated with gold fillings, and even today the remains of gold fillings on some characters can still be discerned.

The Wordless Tablet on the eastern side of the Phoenix Gate is 6.3 metres high, and weights 98.9 tons. The sides of the tablet were carved with figures of dragon. On the top part of the tablet were carved eight oysters intersecting each other. Why did Wu Zetian set up a wordless tablet for herself? Some say that she wanted people of later generations to give her a just and fair appraisal. 0thers say she thought that her merits and virtues were so immeasurable that they were beyond words. Still some others think that it was probably set up by Tang Zhong Zong, who was dissatisfied with her arbitrary decisions and peremptory actions on the one hand and unwilling to flatter her against his conscience on the other. But as a son of hers, it was inappropriate for him to reproach her. So he set up the Wordless Tablet to let people of later generations appraise her. Anyhow, placing a tablet, with no word, before an emperor's mausoleum, has never been found before in China.

In the Song and the Jin Dynasties, 13 paragraphs have been inscribed by visitors. Now the Wordless Tablet has become a tablet with words. Owing to the passage of time and the ravages of wind and rain, most of the inscription on the tablet is already undecipherable. Only the Travelog by I.ang Jun, carved in Niuzhen script, in the Jin Dynasty (1135 A.D.) with Chinese translation beside it, has been preserved comparatively intact. Niuzhen script, the language of a minority nationality has disappeared. Therefore, this tablet has great value for the study of Niuzhen script, the history, and the culture of minority nationalities of our country.

The towers on the eastern and western sides of the inner city are flanked with 61 stone statues. In order to commemorate the heads of the Chinese minorities and the envoys from foreign countries that attended Gao Zong's funeral, Wu Zetian ordered these stone statues be carved. Dressed in close-sleeved clothes, wide belts round their waists and boots on their feet, they obviously showed no characteristic of the costume of the Han nationality of the Tang Dynasty. They were saying prayers with their hands cupped before their chests. Most of their heads were damaged long ago. Now only two statues have heads. They have high noses and deepset eyes and they probably were envoys from the Western Regions of Central and Western Asia. Originally on the back of each stone statue were carved its nationality, official position and name. Being exposed to the weather over the years, most of the characters are already undecipherable, only those on the backs of the two stone statues coming from Iran and Afghanistan, can still be discerned.

Qianling Tomb is not only magnificent in its outward appearance, but also rich in buried treasure. According to the Records of the Holy Deeds of Emperor Gao Zong, Emperor Gao Zong asked, in his last words, to have the calligraphies and paintings that he liked during his lifetime, buried with him in his tomb. Besides, as Emperor Gao Zong and Wu Zetian were living at the peak of the Tang Dynasty, the tomb must have had just about everything you would have expected to find there.

Most emperor's tombs of the Tang Dynasty were robbed by Wen Tao, the general governor of Yaozhou, during the Five Dynasties. Historical records say it was a dark day when Wen Tao was digging into Qianling Tomb. The stone of the tomb was so strong that he could't break it open. After liberation it was proven through archaeological survey that the tomb passage, from the entrance to the tomb gate, was built of rectangular stone blocks piled up layer upon layer, 39 layers in all. Each layer of the stone blocks was fastened together with iron bolts. All the crevices between the layers were filled with molten lead. It was not easy to open under the working conditions at time. It has been verified that there were no holes around the tomb, and the stone blocks and rammed earth along the tomb passage remain the same as when Wu Zetian and Gao Zong were buried. Therefore, it is believed that Qianling Tomb was not robbed. Qianling Tomb is large in scape. It has a circumference of 40 kilometers; and 17 satellite tombs of princes, high ministers are also there.

Edit by: Ada
Qianling Tomb
Banpo Museum
Big Wild Goose P...
Forest of Stone ...
Huaqing Hot Spri...
Mausoleum of Emp...
Museum of Qin Te...
Shaanxi History ...
Xi'an City Wall
About Us  |  Site Map  |  Legal & Privacy  |  Sign up as new member  |  Sign in
Web Design by Enymedia  |  Restaurant Coupon  |  Learn Chinese  |  Watch Asian Drama  |  Search Coupons
All rights reserved by Asiavtour.com      EMAIL:services@asiavtour.com