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During the beginning of the Ming Dynasty, the capital was located in Nanjing, which is located in the southern portion of China.  Emperor Zhudi, who was the third Ming Dynasty, decided to move the capital to Beijing so the boundary was northern and more peaceful.  During this change, the Imperial Palace and temples were built as well as the construction of the famous Ming Tombs.  Over the years, thirteen Emperors were buried in the tombs, which is where the name “Thirteen Ming Tombs” came from. 

These tombs are astoundingly large, measuring 40 kilometers in circumference.  Because of the size, the final construction took more than 200 years to complete.  The walkway that leads to the Ming Tombs is flanked by 18 pairs of giant stone statues, leading to the Changling, which is the tomb of Emperor Yongle, who was by far the most powerful and prominent of all Emperors during the Ming Dynasty. 

The location of the Ming Tomb was chosen based on the theory of geomancy and Feng Shui.  This particular location is surrounded by beautiful, rolling hills that work to form a protective screen to the north.  On the east, Dragon Hill resides, on the west is Tiger Hill, and to the south, the Wenyu River.  Together, these natural elements work to screen the Ming Tombs. 

Being very pleased with the location, Emperor Zhudi changed the name to Heavenly Longevity Hill.  While not all of the tombs are open to the public to enjoy, several are to include the Chang, Ding, and Zhao tombs.  Stretching seven kilometers going from the south to north and through the center of where the tombs are located is a place called the Sacred Way.  Originally, this was built for the very first of the Ming Tombs, Changling, which was Emperor Yongle’s tomb.  However, as time passed and additional tombs were built, the Sacred Way became the main road leading to all the tombs. 

Although the tombs are all together, they each stand as independent tombs.  The Changling tomb is the largest of the 13 and as you can imagine is quite impressive.  Within the walls of the Changling tomb is the third Ming Emperor, Zhu Di who was buried with his wife, the Empress Xu.  This Emperor was in reign from 1402 to 1424, making huge steps toward cultural, economic, political military and diplomatic arenas. 

The DingLing tomb is the final resting place of the thirteenth Emperor Wanli along with his two wives.  Having been born in 1563, this Emperor was crowned as Prince at the early age of six.  By the time he reached age 10, he had become the Emperor.  He went on to rule for 48 years, making great strides for the country. 

The construction of this particular tomb began underground in 1584 when the Emperor was 22 years old.  The tomb was completed six years later but then experienced damage during the peasant uprising of 1644, the same year the Ming Dynasty collapsed.  The DingLing tomb remained damaged until the reign of Qing Emperor Qianlong but in 1914, the Gate and Hall of Eminent Favor were again burned down. 

Of the 13 Ming tombs, the DingLing tomb is the only one that has been excavated to date.  During this process, more than 3,000 pieces of precious and irreplaceable treasure were uncovered, which included four Phoenix crowns that were worn by the Emperor and Empress, and a golden crown.


The Great Wall of China The Forbidden City
The Terracotta Army Along the Silk Road
Dragon & Phoenix ~ Silk Embroidery
Silk Embroidery
Gold Leaf Painted ~ 10 Inch Turnip Vase
Gold Leaf Lacquer
Pair of 10 Inch Closionne Vases
Pair of Brass Foo Dogs
Brass & Bronze
Inside Painted Boxes

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