In the morning, we hired a taxi to head north of Xian. Our taxi took the airport highway, passed by a number of new residential developments and coal power plants, and arrived at another popular attraction near Xian, the Han Yang Ling Mausoleum (漢陽陵). As the capital of 13 dynasties, there are many royal tombs around the area of Xian (formerly known as Changan). Other than the Mausoleum and his Terracotta Army of the First Qin (秦) Emperor, royal tomb complexes of Han and Tang Emperors are also impressive in scale and significant in historical values. Belonged to Emperor Jing (漢景帝) of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC – 9 AD), Han Yang Ling Mausoleum is a major archaeological site to study the Han Dynasty. There are 86 outer burial pits (22 of which are opened for visitors) around the central mausoleum mount. Over 50,000 mini terracotta figures were found in the pits along with other valuable artefacts, allowing historians a glimpse what Han China might be like under Emperor Jing. During his reign in 157 – 141 BC, the Han Dynasty underwent a relatively peaceful period. Influenced by Taoist beliefs, his policies of non-interference with the people and heavy tax reductions allowed the Han society to rejuvenate itself after years of internal power struggles and civil wars.
After arriving at Han Yang Ling, we walked on the designated boardwalk to have a look at the ruined foundations of the Southern Double Gate Towers (門闕). The earth foundation structure of the two huge gate towers survived to the present, and is now protected under a huge structure constructed in traditional Chinese style. The ancient gate towers were gone, but from the interpretative displays and a close look at the remaining foundations, we could imagine the scale of the original structures. We followed the boardwalk to walk around the mausoleum mount, which had yet been excavated. Saving the best for the last, we found our way down to the underground museum which brought visitors to have a close encounter with the outer burial pits. We put on the museum shoe covers and entered the underground world of the tomb. Inside the museum, we followed a designated route where we could look through the glass floor to the artefacts in the burial pits. Artefacts seen included mini terracotta human figures, terracotta animals such as pigs, cows, horses, dogs, etc., skeletons of large animals, ancient tea leaves, barley, wooden tools, etc. It was such a big contrast compared with the Terracotta Army of the First Qin Emperor, who died 69 years before Han Emperor Jing. The Qin royal tomb was all about presenting the Emperor’s military might and his fear of revenges from his enemies in the underworld. The Han tomb, on the other hand, was a mausoleum built during a time when China was beginning to enter its first peaceful golden age. It was a time to celebrate good economy, abundant food, and agricultural advancement. It was weird to see the thousands of naked arm-less terracotta figures until we realized that their wooden arms and clothing made of fabrics had long perished.
Boardwalk heading to the ruins of the Southern Tower Gate (hidden within the museum constructed as a traditional Chinese building.
Foundation of one of the two Southern Gate Tower.
Looking at the passageway between the foundation of the two Gate Towers.
Stone structure of the burial pit was visible from the plain aboveground.
Boardwalk leading to the foot of the mausoleum mount of Han Emperor Jing.
Walking into the underground museum of Han Yang Ling Mausoleum.
A model of the reconstructed Han Yang Ling Mausoleum.
Interior of the underground museum.
Looking into the burial pit through the glass.
The burial pits were long and linear with rows of artefacts inside.
Designated route with glass floor in the underground museum.
Standing above one of the burial pits.
Terracotta livestock and pots in one of the burial pits.
Terracotta human figures at Pit 18.
Partially excavated terracotta figures at Pit 14.
Closer look at the terracotta figures and cows.
Terracotta livestock with pigs, cows, horses, dogs, etc.
Display of the terracotta figures, with the middle one wearing clothing in the Han style.
Thousands of artefacts were unearthed at Han Yang Ling Mausoleum.
Our posts on 2016 Xian and Jiuzhaigou:
DAY 1 – NIGHT ARRIVAL, Xian, China
DAY 2 – QIN EMPEROR’S TERRACOTTA ARMY, near Xian, China
DAY 2 – BIG WILD GOOSE PAGODA (大雁塔), Xian, China
DAY 3 – HAN YANG LING MAUSOLEUM, Xian, China
DAY 3 – SHAANXI HISTORY MUSEUM, Xian, China
DAY 3 – GREAT MOSQUE (西安大清真寺) AND MUSLIM QUARTER, Xian, China
DAY 3 – MING CITY WALL, Xian, China
DAY 4 -FIRST GLIMPSE OF JIUZHAIGOU (九寨溝), Sichuan (四川), China
DAY 5 – ARROW BAMBOO LAKE (箭竹海), PANDA LAKE (熊貓海) & FIVE FLOWER LAKE (五花海), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – PEARL SHOAL FALLS (珍珠灘瀑布), MIRROR LAKE (鏡海) & NUORILANG FALLS (諾日朗瀑布), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – LONG LAKE (長海) & FIVE COLOURS LAKE (五彩池), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – RHINOCEROS LAKE (犀牛海), TIGER LAKE (老虎海) & SHUZHENG VILLAGE (樹正寨), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 6 – ASCEND TO FIVE COLOUR POND (五彩池), Huanglong (黃龍), Sichuan (四川), China
DAY 7 – FAREWELL JIUZHAIGOU & XIAN, China