Eastern Qing Tombs in Beijing

Eastern Qing Tombs

Eastern Qing Tombs PicturesBeing a sacred burial ground near Beijing, Eastern Qing Tombs are one of the two tomb areas devoted to the emperors, empresses and imperial concubines of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911, the last feudal empire in China).The other is the Western Qing Tombs.

Why is Eastern Qing Tombs So Special

The Qing Eastern Tombs are about 130km to the northeast of Beijing city center, and located in Zunhua, Hebei Province. Enlisted as World Cultural Heritage Site, the royal mausoleums in Qing Dynasty ( 1644 – 1911 ) are regarded as the largest, most complete and the best preserved imperial tombs in China.

The whole burial site is surrounded by the mountains on its four sides – Changrui Mountain, Jinxing Mountain, Huanghua Mountain, and Yingfei Daoyang Mountain, extending 80 square kilometers with good fengshui. Totally, five emperors in Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911) – Shunzhi, Kangxi, Qianlong, Xianfeng, and Tongzhi, were buried here accompanied by 15 empresses, 136 imperial concubines, three princes, and two princesses of the Qing dynasty who were also buried here. The tomb of Ding Dongling was where Dowager Empress Cixi was buried.

Introduction of Eastern Qing Tombs

Among the finest, best-preserved and largest of the extant tomb complexes in China, the Eastern Qing Tombs are located along Changrui Mountain in the west of Malanyu Town, Zunhua County, Hebei Province. Along the south side of Changrui Mountain, the tombs of five emperors, four empresses, five imperial concubines, and one princess are arrayed based on the traditional concept of placing the most senior and most distinguished in the center.

The Tomb of Emperor Shunzhi

Xiaoling, the tomb of Emperor Shunzhi (1638-1661, the first Qing emperor to rule China), is aligned with the axis of the main apex of Changrui Mountain, which indicates that the person buried there is the most exalted in the group. Other emperors’ tombs lie on both sides of Xiaoling in a fan pattern from east to west according to the position each person occupied in the Eastern Qing Tombsfamily hierarchy. The tombs of empresses and concubines are placed alongside those of their husbands, clearly showing the master-subject relationship that they had in life. Sacred ways connect the tombs of the women with those of their husbands, and the sacred ways of the tombs of the other emperors connect with that of Xiaoling. Thus a branch-like system is formed, showing clearly the relationship of the rulers to their heirs.
Of all, Xiaoling is the biggest and most elaborate, standing as the focal point of the entire Eastern Qing Tombs. The grandeur of this tomb may be attributed to its having been the first sepulcher constructed for a member of the royal family of the Qing Dynasty, so the builders hoped to set the tone for a prosperous future. Crossing through the Great Red Gate, you can see buildings of different sizes, all with roofs of yellow glazed tile, connected by the brick paths or ‘sacred ways’ that converge in the area of Xiaoling.

The tomb of Empress Dowager Cixi

An example of the most exquisite architecture of Eastern Qing Tombs is Dingdongling, the tomb of Empress Dowager Cixi.Inside the tomb Although she handled affairs of state for more than 45 years, she never ascended the throne. Elaborate and highly refined decorations and carvings inside Dingdongling make it unique among those of the Qing Dynasty. The main material used in the tomb, which took six years to build, was gold, the symbol of royal family.
Around the Gate of Eminent Favor (Long’enmen) of Dingdongling, elaborate carvings of dragons and phoenixes, drifting water and flowing clouds adorn the white marble balustrades. In front of the hall, on a colorful stone, we find examples of extraordinary techniques and unconventional design in additional intricate images of lively dragons and phoenixes.

Main tombs

  • Xiaoling (Chinese: 孝陵; pinyin: Xiàolíng; literally: ‘Tomb of Filial Piety’; Manchu: hiyoošungga munggan) for the Shunzhi Emperor (1638–1661, the 1st Qing emperor to rule over China)
  • Jingling (Chinese: 景陵; pinyin: Jǐnglíng; literally: ‘Tomb of Majestic’; Manchu: ambalinggū munggan) for the Kangxi Emperor (1654–1722, the 2nd emperor)
  • Yuling (Chinese: 裕陵; pinyin: Yùlíng; literally: ‘Tomb of Sedate’; Manchu: tomohonggo munggan) for the Qianlong Emperor (1711–1799, the 4th emperor)
  • Dingling (Chinese: 定陵; pinyin: Dìnglíng; literally: ‘Tomb of Stability’; Manchu: tokton munggan) for the Xianfeng Emperor (1831–1861, the 7th emperor
  • Huiling (Chinese: 惠陵; pinyin: Huìlíng; literally: ‘Tomb of Kindness’; Manchu: fulehungge munggan) for the Tongzhi Emperor (1856–1875, the 8th emperor)
  • Ding Dongling (Chinese: 定東陵; pinyin: Dìng Dōng Líng; literally: ‘Eastern Tomb of Stability’) composed of:
  • Putuo Yu Ding Dongling (Chinese: 菩陀峪定東陵; literally: ‘Tomb east of Dingling in the Potala valley’) for Empress Dowager Cixi (1835–1908)
  • Puxiang Yu Ding Dongling (Chinese: 普祥峪定東陵; literally: ‘Tomb east of Dingling in the broad valley of good omens’) for Empress Dowager Cian (1837–1881)

How to Get to Eastern Qing Tombs

You have several options to visit the tombs. You can travel from different places easily as transportation is available from various areas. It is located 125km away from Beijing (East Side) with bus/coach available from diverse locations. You can choose the following methods for travel:

  • If you are traveling from Beijing, then you can go to Zunhua on a coach. You can take a cab from Shimen Toll station to reach the exquisite location.
  • From Tangshan, you can take a bus to the Zunhua and take a taxi to the Qing Tombs.
  • If you wish to travel from Tianjin to the mausoleums, then taking a bus from Tongsha Long distance bus station is apt.
  • Self-Drive Route(about 2 hours): Jingping Expressway (京平高速) -Jinyu Expressway (津蓟高速)- S302 Xibang Road (喜邦路).

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Edited by  Lynette Fu/付云锐