The story of the Mausoleums of Jingjiang Princes
starts from Zhu Yuanzhang(1328-1398), the first emperor of Ming dynasty(1368-1644). To stabilize the newly-established country, he entitled and dispatched his 24 sons all over China
to rule this country for him. In 1370, Zhu Shouqian, the grandnephew of Zhu Yuanzhang, was honored as Jingjiang Prince, the first prince of the Jingjing Kingdom based in Guilin
. The following 280 years witnessed over 14 princes came to the throne successively. Among them, 11 were buried along Yao Mountain. Together with other royal families’ tombs, there are over 300 tombs in total. Stretching 15km long and 7 wide, this imposing mausoleum cluster is imbued with distinctive flavor.
To highlight its significance, a saying prevails like this: “In North China there are the Ming Dynasty Tombs, in south China, the Mausoleums of Jingjiang Princes”
|The Mausoleum of Prince Zhuang Jianwang|
According to experts, it is the biggest and best-preserved extant Ming-era princes’ mausoleum complex in China. Backed against the Yao Mountain, the Mausoleums of Jingjiang Princes Scenic Site is flanked by undulating hills and faces two peculiar-shaped peaks in front, which form a natural gap. Strolling along this area, one can still feel the solemn air which once dominated here.
|The layout of the Mausoleum of Prince Zhuang Jianwang|
With rectangular layout, this scenic site is divided into the periphery area and the core area. The former consists of mansions, divine avenues, arches, Jade Ribbon Bridge, stone human sculptures and stone animals, while the later contains temples, tombs and stone sculptures. Each mausoleum is enclosed by two walls, with size ranging from 0.66 to 18 hectares.
|The Entry of the Mausoleum of Prince Zhuang Jianwang|
Recently years have seen the much-needed facelift done to this scenic site and the opening of Prince Zhuang Jianwang’s tomb to the public. Besides, a medium-sized museum has been incorporated into this tomb also, serving as a perfect showcase for the unearthed historic relics and artworks of unraveled beauty. Years of painstaking excavation work has turned out to be fruitful, with large groups of exquisite porcelains, shinning golden wares &silverwares and refined jades meeting the sky again. The blue vases with plum patterns, in particular, abound in this area. By now, over 300 pieces of this kind have been spotted here. Besides, archaeologists have discovered over 50 pieces of epitaphs engraved with stunning calligraphic masterpieces, which shed light on the dim history of Guilin and have immeasurable aesthetic and historic research value.
|Worship Mansion (zhao fang): it is the place where Ming-era princes carry out the worship rituals. Nowadays, they are reduced to handicraft shops.|
However, we cannot deny the fact this site has fallen prey to negligence for a substantial period of time. Lack of sufficient protection does not pose as the biggest threat, it is the on-going invasion of private tombs of deceased local people that have caused the greatest damage. It is estimated that over 60,000 tombs have popped up during the past decades, which keep impinging on the harmony and beauty of this historic site.
|One pair of stone lions guide this prince's tomb|