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The Ming Tombs


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At a distance of 50 km northwest of Beijing stands an arc-shaped cluster of hills fronted by a small plain. Here is where 13 emperors of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) were buried, and the area is known as the Ming Tombs.

Construction of the tombs started in 1409 and ended with the fall of the Ming Dynasty in 1644. In over 200 years tombs were built over an area of 40 square kilometers, which is surrounded by walls totaling 40 kilometers. Each tomb is located at the foot of a separate hill and is linked with the other tombs by a road called the Sacred Way.

Only the Tomb of DingLing has been excavated and been made open to the public.

The DingLing Tomb is located in an excavated area with 10 flights of stairs leading down to the tombs.  (This after climbing the Great Wall.)

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Map of the Area

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DingLing Tomb Map

This picture is of a map depicting the area of DingLing.

Notice the center line of the area.  The Chinese must always have this central line in their lives and in their death.  This line continues all the way to the end of the tombs.

The Sacred Way inside the gate of the Ming Tomb is lined with 18 pairs of stone human figures and animals. These include four each of three types of officials: civil, military and meritorious officials, symbolizing those who assist the emperor in the administration of the state, plus four each of six types of animals: lion, griffin, camel, elephant, unicorn and horse.

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Picture of a
Meritorious Official

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Of course, I had to pretend that
I was one of the Generals.

It was during our ride to the Tombs that we spotted an really up-to-date method of farmers drying their wheat crop.   Click here to see it.  OR, you can go onto The Summer Palace which was our next stop on this whirlwind Saturday adventure with ES Hair and Wendy Sun.