Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum is located at the foot of the Wanzhu Peak on the south of Zhongshan Mountain in Nanjing City, Jiangsu Province.
Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum
Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum is the mausoleum of Zhu Yuanzhang, the first emperor in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), and his wife Empress Ma. In the 14th year (1381) of the Hongwu reign in the Ming Dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang ordered Li Xin to supervise the construction of the mausoleum. In August of the following year, Empress Ma died and she was buried in September in this mausoleum, which was then called the Xiaoling Mausoleum, meaning the emperor ruled the country by means of filial piety.
Another explanation says that it was named after Xiaoci, the posthumous title of Empress Ma. In May of the sixteenth year (1383) of the Hongwu reign, the palace of the Xiaoling Mausoleum was founded. In May of the thirteenth year (1398) of the Hongwu reign, Zhu Yuanzhang died, and he was buried in the mausoleum together with Empress Ma. The accessorial project of Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum was not finished until the third year (1405) of the Yongle reign.
Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum has a grand scale with stately buildings. Its structure adopted the style of the mausoleums of the Tang and Song dynasties. The mausoleum is 22.5 km in length, inside which there are magnificent palaces and pavilions. Half of the seventy temples built in the Southern Dynasty (420-589) were encircled in a forbidden garden. Hundred thousand pine trees were planted and thousands of deer were raised in the mausoleum. Each deer had a silver badge hanging from the neck, which read, Deer thief will be punished to death.
In order to protect the Xiaoling Mausoleum, inspectors of the divine palace were arranged inside of the tomb, and guardians were arranged outside of the tomb. There were five thousand to ten thousand soldiers on duty day and night. When Emperor Kangxi and Emperor Qianlong in the Qing Dynasty made visits to the southern China, they would go to the mausoleum to pay their respect. They specially assigned two tomb keepers, forty tomb houses, and so on. In the 3rd year (1853) of the Xianfeng reign, the Xiaoling Mausoleum area became the important battlefield between the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom forces and the Qing forces. The wooden construction on the ground was almost entirely damaged.
The constructions in the mausoleum generally fall into two groups: the first group, or the Sacred Way, including the structures from the Dismounting Lane to the front gate of the Xiaoling Mausoleum, the second group, or the principal part, consists of the structures from the front gate to Baocheng (Treasure City), Minglou (Soul Tower), and Chongqiu (High Mountain). The buildings still extant include the Shenlie Mountain Monument, the Jinyue Monument, the Dismounting Lane, the Big Gold Gate, the Sifang City (Square City), the Supernatural Work and Holy Virtue Monument, the Stone Statue of Weng Zhong, the Yuhe Bridge, the Mausoleum Gate, the Stele Pavilion, the Xiaoling Mausoleum Palace, the Gig Stone Bridge, the Treasure City, and the tombs, as well as stele pavilions and palaces built at the end of the Qing Dynasty.
The Dismounting Lane is the entrance of the Xiaoling Mausoleum. It is a two-bay stone memorial archway with pillars. On its horizontal tablet engraves six big characters in regular script, meaning "All the officers dismount here. So all the civil and military officers who visited the mausoleum must dismount the horse and walk on foot. The archway is 9m high with the middle part 6m wide. The horizontal tablet is 6m long, 1.28m high, and about 0.32m thick. The archway had been destroyed into a few blocks lying at the side of the road. Afterward it was repaired.
A Jinyue stele was established beside the archway in the 14th year (1641) of the Chongzhen reign in the Ming Dynasty, restating the strict byelaw to protect the Xiaoling Mausoleum, and people against the ordinances would be executed. Passing through the frontispiece named the Big Gold Gate, one can reach the Sifang City (Square City). Its bounding walls take the shape of bulwark. In the city, there is a big Shi Liang (stone bar), perking and wagging the tail as a living creature. On its back stands a monument with inscription that reads, Supernatural Merit and Holy Virtues Monument for the Xiaoling Mausoleum of the Ming Dynasty.