Friday, February 22, 2008

Ming Tombs - Beijing, China

Before making our way to the Great Wall of China, we stopped off at the Ming Tombs. As you can see from the picture, it was a chilly day. The tombs have a good history, but it wasn't the most interesting place we've ever been, we think it was a filler for the day tour. We've seen some online posts to avoid the Ming Tombs, mostly because it is a pretty boring tour and you aren't able to see much. On that note, you can say you've seen the tombs after reading this post and clicking on any of the other links!

History (

50 kilometers northwest from Beijing City lies the Ming Tombs - the general name given to the mausoleums of 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). The mausoleums have been perfectly preserved, as has the necropolis of each of the many emperors. Because of its long history, palatial and integrated architecture, the site has a high cultural and historic value. The layout and arrangement of all thirteen mausoleums are very similar but vary in size as well as in the complexity of their structures.

It was originally built only as Changling, the tomb of Emperor Zhu Di and his empresses. This is the most magnificent of the tombs. The succeeding twelve emperors had their tombs built around Changling.

Only the Changling and Dingling tombs are open to the public. Changling, the chief of the Ming Tombs, is the largest in scale and is completely preserved. The total internal area of the main building is 1956 square meters. There are 32 huge posts, and the largest measures about 14 meters in height.It inhumes Emperor Zhudi, the fourth son of Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang. Travel China Guide recommends the Lingsi Palace in its second yard as really deserving a visit. This is unique as it is the only huge palace made of camphor wood. It covers about 1956 square meters. The ceiling is colorfully painted and supported by sixteen solid camphor posts. The floor was decorated with gold bricks..... (click here to read on)

Entrance to the main hall

Emperor Yongle

The entire place was built without a single nail, an impressive feat in those days!

These gold ingots uncovered from Dingling weigh 385 grams each, marked with the name of the place they came from, date of collection, name of the official in charge as well as their weight and purity.

Silver ingots, each weighing l.9 kilos, were the type of money in use at the time. They were land tax collected from Zhejiang Province.

These are helmet, sword and armour worn by Emperor Wanli. The originals had decayed. They are reproductions.

The gold crown, for the Emperor, is woven with extremely thin gold wire. The weaving is done from top to bottom. The tiny holes must be the same in size. It is neat and graceful, displaying the high artistry in arts and crafts in the Ming Dynasty.