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Qianling Mausoleum

Qianling Mausoleum

Six kilometers to the north of Qian County about 80 kilometers west of Xi'an, there located Qianling Mausoleumn. It is a joint tomb of the third Emperor LiZhi of Tang Dynasty and his Empress Wu Zetian, the only female monarch to have ruled China. Among all the royal tombs in history, this is the unique one that two emperors buried together. They were both couples and emperors as well; even empress Wu Zetian had ever changed the national mark as "Zhou". Such situation has never occurred in China even the world.

Empress Wu Zetian
Wu Zetian was born of a royal lineage during the Tang Dynasty. She entered Emperor Taizong's harem when she was 13 and that of the successive emperor Gaozong after. A master of manipulation, Wu Zetian persuaded the emperor to declare her one rank below the empress consort. Eventually, the Emperor married Wu. When Gaozong suffered a stroke five years later, Wu governed behind the scenes. She created a secret police force to spy on her opposition, jailing or killing those who stood in her way.
After Gaozong's death she reigned through puppet emperors, her sons Zhongzong and Ruizong. She finally proclaimed herself Emperor, the first woman to do so. Wu ruled until her 80s when she was unable to thwart a coup. She died shortly after. Despite her ruthless climb to power, her rule was benign. Wu reduced the size of the standing army, and replaced aristocrats in the government with scholars. She was fair to the peasantry, lowering taxes, raising agricultural production, and strengthening public works. Wu also campaigned to elevate the status of women and had scholars write biographies of famous women.

History
The Qianling Mausoleum occupies a prominent place on the summit of Liangshan Hill. The Qianling tomb was originally built in 683 A.D., the site of the mausoleum was selected by Emperess Wu Zetian totally. Emperor GaoZong LiZhi was died in Luoyang City, because of the series of disasters, GongZong left last words to be buried in Luoyang City supported by most ministers. However, Wu Zetian disobeyed the majority to carry the coffin to Chang'an, the present Xi'an City and established Qianling Mausoleum. 20 years later, it was only after the death of Empress Wu Zetian in 705 A.D. that marked the end of the huge project.

Architecture
The Qianling Mausoleum is a tomb that depends totally on the hill; the overall arrangement has made use of the highest peak- the north peak and two other minor paeks on the south that strictly followed the traditional Chinese-way structure as a north-south axis. It is widely believed that the north peak resembles Empress Wu's head with two breasts on the south.
As a whole, the mausoleum site covered an area of 2.3 square meters consists of the inner and outer cities. The outer parts had already destroyed and Sacrifice Hall, a Pavilion, a Hall of Ministers and numerous corridors won't be seen any more at present, only an area of about 240 square meters inner city well preserved. It presents a rectangular layout of Chang'an city with four gates on each side named clockwise: the Phoenix in the south, the Tortoise north, the Black Dragon east and the White Tiger west.
Last but not the least, the tomb is of a very strong and secure construction and is notable as the only mausoleum to escape the unwelcome attention of tomb robbers.

Stone Carvings
Qianling Mausoleum is surrounded by headless statues of the leaders of minority peoples. There are various historical relics here including stone engravings and exquisitely carved stone statues.
Before entering from the south gate, there are two tablets: the Tablets to the Holy Deeds of Emperor GaoZong and the worldless Tablet to Wu Zetian.
And inside the southern approach set between two smaller hills and the way to the Emperor's tomb is lined with stone animals as well as human figures that specially flourished in Tang Dynasty. 124 exquisite and lively stone statues are lined up from north to south, all of which revealed a lot the fact that the Tang was very much involved with trade and diplomatic exchange with the world far beyond China's borders as there are distinct Western Asian and Greek influences in these sculptures.
In details, among the exquisite carvings of the Tang, first there comes two winged horses galloping and then two vermilion birds like ostriches. Five pairs of saddled horses come next, each with a groom. The most noteworthy is ten pairs of guardian generals with very large heads wear long-sleeved robes and hold the hilts of long swords.

Qijie Bei-Tablet of Seven Elements

Qijie Bei is a tablet that symbolized four basic elements of the world as the Sun, the Moon, Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth with the height of 6.3 meters, width 1.86 meters and weight 61.6 tons. The most attractive part is the inscription engraved on by the Empress Wu Zetian with the main contents of the achievements of her late husband. And the calligraphy is a hand of Emperor ZhongZong, which could be clearly seen even today.

Blank Tablet
It is the only example that a tablet with on inscription lays in the royal tombs. The tablet stands on the opposite side of the Qijie Bei to the east of the Phoenix Gate. There are only dragons carved on the sides and eight intersecting oysters on the top. It is said that originally it was erected upon the orders of the Empress to bear the achievement of hers, however, she failed in doing at all.

 


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