On our way to lunch from Juyongguang Pass, the Great Wall of China, Beijing.
Our lunch consisted of Stir-fry diced Chicken with Green Capsicums & Dried Chili.
Sweet & Sour Fish.
Stir-fry diced Onions with sliced Pork.
Stir-fry Vegetables in oil (“You Cai” in Chinese).
All the dishes were served together at a go!
Another stir-fry Vegetables with Garlic.
Egg Soup again – but this time it’s better cos of the sliced Tomatoes & Lettuce!
Dear scooping plain white Rice to go with our dishes!
Sliced Apples & Oranges for our Desserts!
After meal, I took some photos – the above showing the pretty ceiling lamp in our dining room.
The dining room where we just sat at the last table by the window.
A huge poster of Changping Tourist Map outside the dining room.
Leaving the Restaurant now for our next destination!
We saw nice Stone Sculptures along the roads in Changping County.
We soon came to the countryside where we were delighted to see beautiful sceneries of the rural area with tree lined roads, crop fields & mountains.
We arrived at Changling Tomb - the Chef of the Ming Tombs (“Shisan Ling” in Chinese meaning 13 Tombs) located in Changping District of Northwest Beijing.
In ancient times, people believed the existence of an after-world & the dead “lived” a life similar to that of the living. Ming emperors, therefore, have grand Mausoleums built for themselves. Evidently the site fits all the rules of Feng Shui. The Ming Tombs, scattered in an orderly manner all over a picturesque Valley with Orchards & rolling Hills at the foot of Tianshou Mountain, are protected on 3 sides due to Mountain range that lies to the North, deterring any Evil Spirits thought to be brought along the North wind. This Ming Tombs site was chosen by the 3rd Emperor of the Ming Dynasty, Emperor Yongle (1402 – 1424, born Zhu Di, 4th Son of Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang), who moved the Capital City back from Nanjing to the present location of Beijing.
The first, largest & grandest & best preserved, Changling Tomb was exquisitely built & completed in 1427 for Emperor Yongle & his Empress. With huge columns & architecture along the same lines as the grand Forbidden City (but in miniature size), Changling Tomb shows the Supreme Authority & Dignity of the Emperor signifying that he’s still the Supreme Ruler after death!
Later, tombs of succeeding Ming Emperors were also situated here, totaling 13 in all. The 1st, 2nd, & 7th Emperors are buried in different locations. Covering an area of 120 square kilometres, the Imperial Cementary is buried with 13 of the 16 Ming Dynasty Emperors, along with their Empresses & Concubines, Princes & Princesses.
Construction of the necropolis spanned more than 200 years (1409-1644 A.D), almost throughout the entire Ming Dynasty : the 1st Tomb was built in 1409, & the last one in 1644. The Ming Tombs are the best preserved Chinese Imperial Tombs & has been nominated by the UNESCO as World Cultural Heritages in 2003.
Below shows the Burial Site of the Ming Tombs :
And the first thing we saw outside the Ming Tombs was rows of potted colorful flowers by the sides & infront of the Shisan Ling – Changling Red Gate – how wonderful!
Couldn’t wait but quickly snapped numerous photos of ourselves with the many gorgeous flowers!!
Below shows the Red Gate of Shisan Ling – Changling.
Dear & I posing infront of the Shisan Ling – Changling Red Gate with 3 Arches.
Entering the Red Gate of Shisan Ling – Changling now!
Once we entered Changling - our tour guide Wang Jing cautioned us not to take any photo with ourselves in it. Due to Chinese superstitions, Wang Jing believes it’s not auspicious to have our photos taken inside a Cementary on burial grounds.
We stopped to look at the huge Tourist Map of Changling showing the layout of the Changling Mausoleum.
Occupying an area of 120000 square metres, the Mausoleum consists of the underground Palace (Burial Chamber) & the above ground Structures. The main structures are Baocheng (Treasure Town which has a diametre of 300 metres & consists of Baoding), the Grave Mound above the Burial Chamber & Xuangong, the deep Burial Chamber), Minglou (Soul Tower), Hall of Eminent Favour (Ling En Hall), Gate of Eminent Favour (Ling En Gate), Langwu (the attached Halls, 15 on each side), Sacred Kitchen (Kitchen for Cooking Sacrifice), Sacred Warehouse (place for temporary Sacrifice storage), Livestock Slaughter Kiosk (place used to slay livestock : pig, ox, sheep), & Juju Hall (Dressing Hall for Emperor).
The Mausoleum buildings have beem repaired many times after the Ming Dynasty, & the main buildings have been preserved, with the Hall of Eminent Favour & the Gate of Eminent Favour, made of Nanmu (a kind of rare hard wood) deserving to be the Treasures of Ancient Chinese Architecture!
There was also a huge Picture of the Ming Tombs (“Shisan Ling” in Chinese meaning 13 Tombs), with Changling Tomb being the largest & grandest of all :
Below shows the back view of the Red Gate of Shisan Ling – Changling where we earlier entered.
We then entered the below Gate of Eminent Favour (“Ling En Men” in Chinese) also meaning the Gate to Paradise.
We arrived at a bigger Courtyard where the Hall of Eminent Favour (“Ling En Dian” in Chinese) stands. Also in the Courtyard are 2 Yellow Ceramic Incense Burners (one of which is shown below) on each side of the Central pathway meant for making offerings to the deceased Emperor Yongle.
Below shows the Gate of Eminent Favour (“Ling En Men” in Chinese) through which we just entered.
The Hall of Eminent Favour (“Ling En Dian” in Chinese or the Ling En Palace) in Changling as shown below.
Of all the Ming Tombs, only the Hall of Eminent Favor in Changling is still in excellent condition; the best protected & largest Nanmu wooden structure in China.
The Hall was constructed throughout of Nanmu supported by 32 single Nanmu wooden Pillars each made from a single whole Nanmu log. The Pillars are so large each of them takes three people to encircle hand in hand, & the largest measuring about 14 metres in height. The timber came from the Mountains in Yuannan, Guizhou, Sichuan & other provinces in Southwest China.
The Hall stands on a 3.2 metres high, 3-tiered terrace of marble foundation, with White marble steps leading to the Hall & surrounded by White marble balustrades. 61 metres in width & 29 metres in depth with a total area of 1956 square metres, the wooden structure has stood over 500 years of wind & rain without the slightest tilt or deformation.
We entered the Hall of Eminent Favour (Ling En Dian) & saw the below giant Bronze statue of Emperor Yongle sitted in the Centre.
Emperor Yongle (“Yongle” meaning ”Perpetual Happiness”) is generally considered one of the greatest Emperors of the Ming Dynasty, & among the greatest Chinese Emperors in Chinese history.
The following is the Bronze descriptive plaque on details of the Changling Tomb beside the Bronze statue of Emperor Yongle :
Below photos show the ceiling of the Hall of Eminent Favour with the huge thick Nanmu Woods in their natural raw color.
See the huge crowds of people in line – they were visitors walking in line & viewing the Relics unearthed from the Ming Tombs on display. We would soon join these people too!
These are the grand shinning Imperial Gold Wine Vessels of the Imperial Rulers of the Ming Dynasty – Gold Wine Pots, Gold Cups & Gold Caskets.
More Cold Jars, Gold Wine Pots, Gold Bowls, Gold Chopsticks & Gold Spoons :
The following are the Gold Cups & Gold Caskets & the exquisite Gold Basins used in the Imperial Courts. The Gold Basin weighs 80 Liang & was made by the Silver Ware Making Office in the year of Geng Seng during the reign of Emperor Wan Li of the Ming Dynasty.
Then there’re the following Silver Ware unearthed from Ding Ling (the only excavated Tomb of Shisan Ling) – daily use Utensils mostly Burial objects of Empress Xiao Jing (2nd Wife of Emperor Wan Li). These Silver Ware include Silver Soap Case, Silver Pots, Silver Lid, Silver Jars, & Gold coated Silver Plates, Bowls & Basins.
We next saw the following Imperial Gold Ingots, 100 pieces in total unearthed. The bigger ones weighing 10 Taels each have carved words inscribed or labels attached to them, & the smaller ones weighing 2 to 3 Taels each have no inscriptions & labels.
There were also 65 Silver Ingots unearthed weighing 50 Taels, 30 Taels, 20 Taels & 10 Taels.
The following are the exquisite Porcelain Burner, Porcelain Vases & Porcelain Bowls.
And the below are pieces of Jade, Jade Basins, Jade Caskets & Jade Cups.
Next we saw the elegant Stone inlaid gilded Pendants, unearthed from the Burial site of Empress Xiao Duan. The pieces include gilded Copper Hen & Blades, Birds, Insects, Fish, Cicadas & Flowers made of Jade & Crystal Flowers.
Below photo shows the Jade Belts (unearthed from Ding Ling) – pieces of top quality Jade used to make belts for the Imperial Rulers during the Ming Dynasty. These Jade Belts were important part of the Ceremonial attires of the Emperors & Empresses & common Officials were not allowed to wear Jade Belts!
More beautiful Jade Pendants are shown below. Jade Pendants were unreplacable Ornaments of the Imperial Crowns & Robes in ancient times. A Pendant was linked with Jade Jewelleries of different sizes & attached to the left & right sides of the Imperial Belt, making the Imperial Robe more elegant & majestic!
Gorgeous Jade Hairpins which I’d love to have! How lucky the Ming Empresses were!!
The Official Leather Hat with Jade pieces worn by the Emperor during Court Summons, Sacrificial Ceremonies & when burning Incense.
The elegant Imperial Gold Crown (unearthed from Ding Ling) with 2 Dragons playing with a Pearl made of Hair thin Gold filaments is shown below. This Gold Crown is a rare Treasure of China’s relics.
The following is the elegant grand Imperial Yellow Robe – actually a Gun Attire won by Emperor Wanli (13th Emperor of Ming Dynasty) during major celebrations. In this showcase the Robe is actually a duplicate by the Suzhou Embroidery Institute.
I find the following very interesting so am sharing with you – The Ming Dynasty Emperors had their robes decorated with the Chinese “Twelve Symbols of Sovereignty” representing Imperial Authority as they believed they were the Sons of Heaven. These were especially worn during Sacrificial Ceremonies. Officials were only allowed to wear Robes decorated with some of the Symbols, & the social status of an individual decided what kinds of Symbols would be used.
The “Twelve Symbols of Sovereignty” consist of, in order of Importance, as follows :
Light & Wisdom of the Emperor shinning upon the World.
Legendary Rabbit pounding the Elixir of Immortality.
– The Universe, as personified by the Emperor, is an unending source
of Pardon & Love
the Transformations they can perform.
– The Phoneix & the Dragon represents the Bird & Animal Kingdoms
thus the entire Natural World.
– 1 Cup has a Tiger (Physical Strength)
& the other Cup has a Monkey (Cleverness).
thus having Prosperity & Fertility.
The Robes would also be decorated with other Symbols of Longevity as follows :
Bat which is the Symbol of Happiness & Longevity - the word for Happiness is pronounced the same word for Bat “Fu” in Chinese, & according to Legend, Bats can live for a thousand years!
“Shou” in Chinese meaning Longevity.
Above photos show the close-up views of the Imperial Robe (Gun Attire) decorated with most of the Symbols which I’ve just mentioned.
We next saw the above very beautiful bright Red Imperial Robe (also a duplicate by the Suzhou Embroidery Institute) unearthed from the Coffin of Empress Xiao Jing. On the front, back & the 2 sleeves of the Robe are emroidered Golden threaded 9 curling Dragons of different postures. And against the backdrop of Hills, Stones, Trees, Flowers & Grass is the vivid scene of 100 children playing.
Close-up view of the 100 Children playing embroidered on the Empress Robe.
We next saw the below Empress Crown (unearthed from Ding Ling) inlaid with Blue Kingfisher Feathers decorated with more than 3500 Pearls & more than 150 Precious Stones.
And the below photo shows a Jade Hairpin with Precious Stones.
The following is an ordinary Hat worn by Emperor Wanli. Also known as the Angleup Tower of Black Gauze, this Hat is made of Black Gauze with Golden Wings & decorated with a pair of Golden Dragons with Pearls, Jades & Precious Stones. This Hat was on the head of Emperor Wanli when unearthed.
Below shows the Ritual Crown (decorated with Jades) worn by the Ming Emperors during grand Ceremonies to offer sacrifices to the Heaven & Earth, Ancestral Temple, God of Land, God of Grain & God of Farming, & during Lunar New Year’s day, Holy Festivals & the Conferring of Noble Titles.
The following are the Helmet, Armor & Sword all unearthed from the Burial site of Emperor Wanli. These were worn by the Emperor in War, when issuing Orders, & when veiwing Army Parades.
The Helmet is made of iron, decorated with “God of Liu Jia” & “God of Xuan Wu” in Gold.
The Armor is a Vest made of Iron Leaves & painted with Black lacquer. The Leaves, number 199 pieces, are in rectangular & triangular shapes, woven & tied by Yellow Silk Belts, & on the front & back are gilded Iron Mirrors.
The Sword is a sheath made of Shark’s skin, decorated with Gold objects.
The following Bow Sheath, Arrow Bag & Arrows were also Burial objects of Emperor Wan Li. The Bow Sheath is made of Leather, wrapped with Yellow Satin embroidered with Gold threaded Dragon Design & inlaid with Gold & Precious Stones. The Arrow Bag is 34cm long containing 32 Arrows with Rattan Stems & Iron Heads. And the Weapons should be decorative articles of Warrior attire.
Lastly, we saw the beautiful grand exquisite Textiles used to make the Imperial Robes of the Ming Dynasty Emperors.
After viewing the many beautiful grand elegant exquisite Imperial Treasures of the Great Ming Dynasty, we left the Hall of Eminent Favour (Ling En Dian).
We soon came to the Stone Pavilion of Emperor Yongle.
Inside the pavilion is a huge tall stele, about 6.5 metres high, resting on top of a Stone Dragon-headed Tortoise, built for Emperor Yongle. The front of the massive Tablet bears a 3000 words Inscription in the hand of his Son, Emperor Ren Zong. The Tablet was named ‘Tablet of the Divine Merit & Sage Virtue of Changling of the Great Ming.” On the reverse is inscribed a Poem by Emperor Qian Long of the Qing Dynasty. Inscriptions on two sides of the Tablet talk of Renovation of the Ming Tombs by Emperor Qian Long & Emperor Jia Qing of the Qing Dynasty.
Emperor Yongle’s list of Achievements includes establishing the Chinese Capital at Beijing (previously kown as Nanjing), commissioning the grand Forbidden City & Temple of Heaven, a refortification of the Great Wall of China, & the Ming Tombs (Shisan Ling).
A fairy tale of 3000 years ago says that the Dragon King had 9 sons, each having its own interest & special skill. One of the 9 Sons was a Dragon-headed Tortoise & was Known for its powerful physique for carrying heavy loads & its Longevity. Thus the Massive Stone Tablet of Emperor Yongle was placed here on the Dragon-headed Tortoise which was regarded highly by people.
Visitors to the Changling Tomb, especially the Chinese who greatly respect their Imperial Ancestors, would touch the head of the Stone Dragon-headed Tortoise for Good Luck, Prosperity, Intelligence, Wisdom, Beauty & Longevity.
After taking in the many intriguing Chinese Historical Stories & Legends, we headed to the exit of Changling Tomb.
Outside the Shisan Ling – Changling Red Gate now.
Walking past the carpark – look there’s even a huge Plasma TV!
We soon came back to the Van of our Chinese Driver (“Sifu” in Chinese).
While waiting for our other tourmates who had gone to the Toilet, I took some photos of the nearby plants & rocks that look like huge mine coals!
Our visit to the Changling Tomb was pretty good & interesting, the best part was being able to see the many Treasure relics & understanding the Imperial cultures of the Great Ming Dynasty of ancient times.
And I was really surprised & delighted to find Dear’s Great Wall of China Red Jumper (shown below right) on sales at a small Souvenirs Store inside the Hall of Eminent Favour (Ling En Dian), which totally matches my Great Wall of China Red Jumper (shown below left) which was bought earlier at the Souvenirs store of Juyongguang Pass of the Great Wall of China.
Always trying to keep souvenir momentoes from wherever I travel to, I was happiest when I discovered the following Souvenir Magnet of Emperor Wan Li (with the 4 Chinese words “Wan Li Huang Di” meaning Wan Li Emperor) at the same Souvenirs Store where we bought Dear’s Red Jumper – the Magnet is big & totally unique & special with its detailed 3D effect & workmanship – really Beautiful!