MING TOMBS, Spirit Way Introduction

Audio File length: 2.24
English / USA Language: English / USA

Hi, my name’s Jill, and I’m your personal guide. Along with MyWoWo, I’d like to welcome you to one of the Wonders of the World: the Ming Tombs, the final resting place of 13 emperors from the Ming dynasty and their consorts.

When Zhu Di, or Yongle, the third emperor of the Ming dynasty, moved the capital to Beijing, he looked for a site near the city to build his own tomb. Basing his choice on the principles of Feng Shui, he opted for the valley at the foot of Mount Tianhou, because he was convinced that the mountains would keep away evil spirits and the evil winds blowing down from the north. So, he had his mausoleum built in Changling, and in the following 230 years, another twelve Ming emperors followed suit.

These 13 magnificent tombs are spread out over 40 square kilometers on either side of the Changling Tomb, arranged in the shape of a fan, with the exception of the Siling tomb, built away from the others.

Only the Changling, Dingling and Zhaoling tombs are open to the public.

A suggestive 7-kilometer road named the Spirit Way, runs through the burial area. It opens with a gate formed by three arches, painted red and known as the "Great Red Gate”. The gate is preceded by a huge commemorative stone arch, built in 1540 during the Ming dynasty and one of the largest of its kind in China.

Just after the entrance, you’ll cross a pavilion containing grave stones. Here you can see a 50-tonne stone statue in the shape of a tortoise, depicting Bixi, a son of the Chinese dragon, carrying a memorial tablet. Four white marble pillars, each topped with a mythical creature, are positioned at the four corners of the pavilion.

The road is flanked by statues of guardians armed with sabers, statues of public officials and 18 pairs of marvelous sculptures of mythical creatures, all carved from single blocks of stone. At the end of the road is the three-arched Dragon and Phoenix Gate.

 

An interesting fact: at the start of the road, I’m sure you noticed four pillars, sculpted with cloud patterns. Rather like spotlights indicating the way, the task of these pillars was to guide the soul of the deceased towards heaven.

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