Xianling Tomb

On August 26, 2011, in Beijing, Historical Relics, More Places of Interest, Tombs, by Jack Li

Located in the foot of the west peak of Tianshou Mountain, the Changling Tomb is the mausoleum for the Emperor Renzong Zhu Gaozhi. He was the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). His empress Zhangshi was also buried there. The Changling Tomb was built after the emperor’s death. The Emperor Renzong was only in the power for eleven months.  He left his will, saying that he had not made many devotions to the people and the country because time was so short. He would rather have a simple funeral and a plain tomb. He didn’t want to waste much money or manpower. His son Zhu Zhanqi, later named the Emperor Xuanzong, followed his will and started to build the tomb in the 1st year (1425) during the Hongxi Era. It only took three months for the construction to be accomplished.

Since it was built, the Xianling Tomb has been kept simple and plain compared with other tombs. There was not a single Statue or pavilion. Afterwards a pavilion was built during the Jiajing Era (1522-1566). The Shendao Road meaning holy and sacred is one kilometer long, with a stone bridge that has one low simple arch. The pavement was tiled just with bricks. Gravel is spread on the sides of the road, so water can flow when it rains. The location of the architectural buildings is south but is 20 degrees to the west. It covers an area of 42,000 kilometers. There are five halls in total and three gate buildings. These gate buildings are not as magnificent as those of the Changling Tomb. These architectural buildings were not built for luxurious enjoyments. Therefore there was a saying about it that ‘the Xianling Tomb is the simplest of the Ming Dynasty Tombs while the Jingling Tomb is the smallest’. The Xianling Tomb set a good example for other tombs in the Ming Dynasty.

Ming Dynasty Tombs (Shisan Ling)

Jack Li

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