Ming Thirteen Tombs(明十三陵)are located in a naturally regulated mountainous area. The mountain Tianshou belongs to the Taihang Mountain Range. These royal tombsare an integrated unit where each mausoleum could be independent. They are all located in front of the mountains. Under the guideline of Chinese traditional theory of geomantic omen (fengshui), both the location choice and layout-design of the Ming Tombshighly emphasize the harmonization and integration among the mountains, rivers, and plants to pursue the perfect state of design and creativity from heaven and nature, and express the philosophical viewpoint of the integration of nature and human. The Ming Tombs are the typical representations of Chinese ancient royal tombs, revealing the deep and sophisticated conception, and denotation of Chinese traditional culture.
The unique design and layout has been highly praised by Western authorities like Dr. Joseph Needham, a noted British historian who once said, "The royal mausoleum is an important breakthrough in the field of Chinese architecture. It is, to some extent, the most meaningful and influential example for the combination of architecture and landscape." He described the Ming Thirteen Tombs as the greatest masterpiece of Chinese architecture.
In 2003, the Ming thirteen tombs were inscribed on the World Heritage List. The comment from the World Heritage Committee was that according to the theory of geomantic omen, the royal mausoleum of the Ming and Qing dynasties is a perfect example. Its delicate choice of location makes variety of buildings set under the ground. It is the outcome of the human activity to change traditional ideas in architecture and decoration. It also reveals the Weltanschauung and value of powers of feudalistic society of China in the past 500 years.
Sacred Road towards to the Ming Tombs
Changling Tomb----the earliest tomb of the Ming Tombs
There are three tombs that can be visited by tourists: Changling Tomb, Dingling Tomb and Zhaoling Tomb. Among these three tombs, Changling Tomb is famous for its well-preserved over ground architecture, and the Dingling Tomb is well-known for the underground palace, which is worth visiting.
Underground palace of Dingling Tomb
Zhaoling Tomb----one of the three tombs which opens to the public
Author: Wuhao Posted on Jan. 15, 2013
Edited by Sophie Zhu on Feb. 19, 2014