Qianling Mausoleum is a tomb of Li Zhi, the third Tang emperor as well as Wu Zetian. The Qianling Mausoleum is located on the Liangshan Mountain. It is 80 km from Xi’an and 6 km from the county seat Qianxian.
Things to Do
Qianling Mausoleum is located on a prominent site on Liangshan Hill’s summit. It is 80 km from Chang’an or Xi’an, the capital of Tang. The tomb’s design replicates Xi’an city and is in accordance with the local tradition since it is on the north to south axis. The tomb’s southern approach has been set between the two small hills. The way to the tomb itself has been lined with human figures and stone animals. These figures include ostriches, horses, stone lions and winged horses.
In all, there are around 124 sculptures and these remind that Tang had been much involved with diplomatic exchange and trade with the global world since there are distinct Greek and Western Asian influences in the sculptures. The tomb features secure and strong construction.
It is noted as the only mausoleum which escaped the tomb robbers and their unwelcome attention. The site of the Qianling Mausoleum in total covers 2.3 sq m area. Within the area there are 378 buildings which included various corridors, Hall of the Ministers, the pavilion and Sacrifice Hall. The structures above ground were not able to survive unlike some of the stone sculptures here.
The Main Attractions
Qianling Mausoleum is home to two octagonal ornamental columns marking its south entrance. The first among the sculptures to be seen are the winged mythical horses. The ostriches had been a gift from Afghanistan. Along the same route there are five horse pairs but only three of them still have attendant grooms. There are several military figures with swords that guard the path.
There are various other life sized, realistic sculptures of human beings which represent the 61 foreign emissaries that had attended the funeral of the emperor and these had been created on instructions of Wu Zetian Emperor. Every figure has been depicted in a wide belt, wearing boots and long robe. Each individual’s name as well as his country has been carved on the statue’s back. It still isn’t known why or how but every statue is decapitated somewhere in the past years.
The Tablet of the Seven Elements or Qijie Bei is called so since it represents the fire, earth, water, wood, metal, moon and sun and it has an inscription by Empress Wu Zetian describing her late husband’s achievements. The calligraphy seen here is from Emperor Zhongzong who was deposed by the Empress but had returned later to his throne when he had eventually retired from office.
The Blank Tablet
One of the most unusual features of Qianling Mausoleum is a blank tablet with carved oysters and dragons but no writing or inscriptions. No other tomb site has anything like it. Many believe that the tablet had been made on the Empress’s orders and it would bear the descriptions of her own achievements eventually when a future generation recorded it. However, the tablet continues to remain blank even today and does not bear any inscriptions.