Eastern Tombs of the Qing Dynasty
With the total area up to 70 km², Eastern Tombs of the Qing Dynasty are existing largest imperial tombs of China. It was originally constructed from the 18th year of the rein of Emperor Shunzhi (AD 1661). With Changrui Mountain in the center, tombs district is 125 km wide from south to north and 20 km long from east to west. It’s made of 5 tombs for emperors (Xiaoling Tomb for Emperor Shunzhi, Jingling Tomb for Emperor Kangxi, Yuling Tomb for Emperor Qianlong, Dingling Tomb for Emperor Xianfeng, Huiling Tomb for Emperor Tongzhi), 4 tombs for empresses (East Dongling Tomb for Empress Ci’an and Ci’xi and others), 5 tombs for imperial concubines, and one tomb for princesses. The whole tombs district has Xiaoling Tomb as the center and other tombs standing on its two sides. With jade steps of palaces, painted ridges and carved beams, the tombs are grand and majestic.
From the stone tablets in the southern part of tombs district to the mortuary site of Xiaoling Tomb, there is a 5 km long holy path, along which the solemn grand elegant buildings, such as Big Red Gate, Saint Devotions Stele Pavilion, stone figures, Ling En Gate, Ling En Palace and Square Pavilion, stand in a good order.
Yuling Tomb for Emperor Qianlong is a treasure house of carving art. Except the floor, the walls and gates of tomb are made of stone, on which various pictures are carved, such as Eight Bodhisattvas, Four Kings, Five Dhyani Buddha, Five Sacrificial Offerings, Eight Treasures, and the Buddha Nom in Sanskrit and Tibetan characters. These unique pictures, with clear fluent lines and vivid forms making an integrated mass, are placed in good order.
East Dongling Tomb for Empress Cixi is also quite unique. The balustrades around Ling En Palace are carved with the pictures of the dragon and phoenix as well as the water and cloud waves. The stone stair in front of palace, a masterwork of outworking carving, is carved with a vivid picture of a dragon and a phoenix playing with a ball (the dragon is below the phoenix).