Im­pe­rial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dy­nas­ties

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Built be­tween 1368 and 1911, The Im­pe­rial Tombs of the Ming (13681644) and Qing (1644-1911) dy­nas­ties in­cludes Xian­ling Tombs of the Ming Dy­nasty, East­ern and West­ern Qing Tombs, Xiaol­ing Tomb of the Ming Dy­nasty, Ming Tombs in Bei­jing and Three Im­pe­rial Tombs of Shenyang, Liaon­ing Prov­ince. As some of the most im­por­tant con­struc­tions of the na­tion at that time, they were of­ten built un­der the per­sonal in­spec­tion of the em­per­ors them­selves, and al­ways de­signed with the clos­est at­ten­tion and high­est skills. Most of the mau­soleums are still well pre­served.

The Ming and Qing im­pe­rial tombs are lo­cated in topo­graph­i­cal set­tings care­fully cho­sen ac­cord­ing to prin­ci­ples of ge­o­mancy (feng­shui) and com­prise nu­mer­ous build­ings of tra­di­tional ar­chi­tec­tural de­sign and dec­o­ra­tion. The tombs and build­ings are laid out ac­cord­ing to Chi­nese hi­er­ar­chi­cal struc­tures and in­cor­po­rate sa­cred ways lined with stone mon­u­ments and sculp­tures de­signed to ac­com­mo­date on­go­ing royal cer­e­monies as well as the pas­sage of the spir­its of the dead. They il­lus­trate the great im­por­tance at­tached by the Ming and Qing rulers over five cen­turies to the build­ing of im­pos­ing mau­solea, re­flect­ing not only the gen­eral be­lief in an af­ter­life, but also an af­fir­ma­tion of au­thor­ity.

The Im­pe­rial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dy­nas­ties are mas­ter­pieces of hu­man cre­ative ge­nius by rea­son of their or­ganic in­te­gra­tion into na­ture, and a unique tes­ti­mony to the cul­tural and ar­chi­tec­tural tra­di­tions of the last two feu­dal dy­nas­ties (Ming and Qing) in the his­tory of China be­tween the 14th and 20th cen­turies. They are fine works com­bin­ing the ar­chi­tec­tural arts of the Han and Manchu civ­i­liza­tions. Their sit­ing, plan­ning and de­sign re­flect both the philo­soph­i­cal idea of “har­mony be­tween man and na­ture” ac­cord­ing to feng­shui prin­ci­ples and the rules of so­cial hi­er­ar­chy, and a daz­zling il­lus­tra­tion of the be­liefs, world view, moral val­ues and ideas about life and death of Chi­nese feu­dal so­ci­ety for thou­sands of years.

xian­ling Tomb of the Ming Dy­nasty

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