The Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum is the tomb of the Hongwu Emperor, the founder of the Ming Dynasty. It lies at the southern foot of Purple Mountain, located east of the historical centre of Nanjing, China. Legend says that in order to prevent robbery of the tomb, 13 identical processions of funeral troops started from 13 city gates to obscure the real burying site.
The construction of the mausoleum began during the Hongwu Emperor's life in 1381 and ended in 1405, during the reign of his son the Yongle Emperor, with a huge expenditure of resources involving 100,000 labourers. The original wall of the mausoleum was more than 22.5 kilometres long. The mausoleum was built under heavy guard of 5,000 troops.
Layout and Monuments
Great Golden Gate and Square City
Da Jin Men and Sifangcheng. One enters the site through the monumental Great Golden Gates (Da Jin Men), and is soon faced by a giant stone tortoise (bixi), which resides in the Sifangcheng ("Square city") pavilion. The tortoise supports a splendid carved stone stele, crowned by intertwining hornless dragons. The well-preserved stele is known as the "Shengong Shengde Stele", i.e., literally, "The Stele of Godly Merit and Saintly Virtue". The inscription of the stele, extolling the merits and virtues of the Hongwu Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang was written by his fourth son, the Yongle Emperor. The tortoise is 5.15 m long, 2.54 m wide and 2.8 m tall, the stele stands 8.78 m tall (including the tortoise) and is one of the best-known examples of its genre.
The Sacred Way
The Sacred Way is a 1800-metre-long winding Sacred Way (Shendao) starts near the Sifangcheng pavilion. It includes sections: the Elephant Road and the Wengzhong Road. The Elephant Road is lined by 12 pairs of 6 kinds (lions, xiezhi, camels, elephants, qilin, and horses), guarding the tomb. Beyond them is a column called huabiao in Chinese. One then continues along the Wengzhong Road. Four pairs of ministers and generals (or warrior guardian figures, wengzhong) of stone been standing there for centuries to accompany His beneath.
The Central Area
One enters the central area of the mausoleum complex through the Wen Wu Fang Men (The Gate of the Civil and the Military). On an inscribed stone tablet outside of the gate is an official notification of the local government in the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911) is ordered to protect the tomb. Inside the gate, there the Tablet Hall (Bei Dian) in which 5 steles stand. The one in the middle, also mounted on a stone tortoise, is inscribed with 4 Chinese characters, which were written by the Qing Dynasty's Kangxi Emperor on his third inspection tour of the South in 1699. The text is interpreted as alluding to the greatness of the Ming Dynasty founder Zhu Yuanzhang, matching (or surpassing) that of the founders of the Tang and Song Dynasties of old.
The mausoleum complex suffered damage during the mid-19th century Taiping War, but was restored during the Tongzhi era thereafter. Along with the Ming Dynasty Tombs north of Beijing, the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum of Nanjing was inscribed by UNESCO as part of the World The Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum is the tomb of the Hongwu Emperor, the founder of the Ming Dynasty. It lies at the southern foot of Purple Mountain, located east of the historical centre of Nanjing, China. Legend says that in order to prevent robbery of the tomb, 13 identical processions of funeral troops started from 13 city gates to obscure the real burying site. Sites "Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties".
The Mystery Of The Third Tortoise
In 1999, another, unfinished, stone tortoise and an unfinished stele lying on the ground were discovered in a ravine just over 100 m to the southeast from the Sifangcheng Pavilion, and even closer to Madame Chiang Kai-Shek's former villa (known as Meiling Gong). The tortoise, larger than those under the Shengde stele and the Kangxi Emperor's steles, and the matching blank stele were recognized by experts as being products of the early Ming, but the reasons for their manufacture and abandonment became subjects for speculation among historians.
The Lingxing Gate, a pailou at the end of the Wengzhong Road was destroyed long ago, but rebuilt in 2006.