China – Xi’an – Tomb of Emperor Jing Di

Out of the spotlight of the infinitely more famous Terracotta Warriors, this tomb of Emperor Jing Di (also Lui Qi and Yangling) of the Han Dynasty, is severely underrated. A fair way out of Xi’an, this can be a tricky place to reach. Overcoming this obstacle will reward you with an excellent highlight, which the standard tourist will pass by and miss out on. Catching a public bus out of the city, we were dropped off at the site which is situated north of Xi’an, beside a country highway.

Model of Emperor Jing Di's Mausoleum site with rows of burial pits

Model of Emperor Jing Di’s Mausoleum site with rows of burial pits

Spread out over a large area, this mausoleum is still under excavation and more treasures may be uncovered in the future which may raise its name and popularity. The place was mostly empty which was a perfect retreat from the previous day’s crowds at the Terracotta Warriors site.

The tomb itself is a massive roofed complex which has been built over the main excavation area to allow visual access and also to preserve the sight in mostly darkness. A walkway takes you around the perimeter as you peer through the glass at the uncovered treasures still lying insitu.

Terracotta figures on a much smaller scale

Terracotta figures on a much smaller scale

The complex is dark and spotlights guide the way as you step over glass panels revealing oven pits below. A complete contrast to the military Terracotta Warriors, these contents reveal more about normal life of ancient China. Inside we found terracotta figures of domesticated animals; pigs, sheep, goats, horses.

A farm's worth of animals

A farm’s worth of animals

Small figures of people; eunuchs, servants, acrobats, people on horseback.

Thousands of small terracotta figures

Thousands of small terracotta figures and other items

The people originally were dressed in colourful silk robes and had movable wooden arms, which have since deteriorated away. There are over 50,000 terracotta figures buried here.

Fairly 'armful

Fairly ‘armful

Further on is a display showing what the arrangements may have looked like originally.

What it may have looked like originally

What it may have looked like originally

And life-size

And life-size

There is also an interesting museum with some of the better preserved items found.

Musuem finds

Museum finds

A short walk around the area will bring you to another interesting find. A pelorus (Luojing stone) is a device placed to provide a survey mark. It is used to ascertain level and height during construction. This stone pelorus, protected behind a dusty glass roof, was placed sometime between 153-141 BC during the building of Emperor Jing Di’s mausoleum. It is the earliest known markstone for measurement and survey in the world.

The Yangling Pelorus

The Yangling Pelorus

We highly recommend spending a day to visit this site as the effort is well worth it.

Visited 3rd February 2014.


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