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PublicationNKK Lab Report-IALE Beijing Congress

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Reported by Joe (2011 graduate)

Based on the IALE’s schedule, today, August 21th 2011, is the excursion schedule for all member of IALE’s meeting. One of the excursion packages who provided by IALE’s meeting is excursion to Ming Tombs that incorporated with the excursion to the Great Wall on the “City Tour I” package. We went to the Ming tombs after visiting the Great wall and having taken a lunch. Because the traffic into Ming Tombs is very crowded, we need two hours to get Ming tombs and arrived at this place around 02.00 pm. Tour’s guide  explained to us all part of Ming’s tombs and history of Ming’s dynasty.
Ming Tombs is the general name given to the mausoleums/tombs of 13 emperors from 16 emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). It is located about 50 kilometers northwest of Beijing city at the hilly of the Tianshou Mountains.  The Ming Tombs, covering a hilly area of 40 acres, was selected in 1409.
In 1424, “the Yongle Emperor” Zhu Di, was the first Ming Emperor to be buried here in his mausoleum called the Changling. He was the third Ming Emperor. This is the most magnificent of the tombs. His father and founder of the Ming Dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang, was buried in Nanjing, and his nephew, the second Ming Emperor, from whom he usurped the throne, escaped and disappeared from official history.
The succeeding twelve emperors had their tombs built around Chang Ling. All in, thirteen of sixteen Ming Emperors were buried in this royal necropolis, including Empresses and many concubines, some buried alive to accompany the Emperor to his next world. It was in the reign of the Zhengtong Emperor (1436-1449) that the practice of entombing live imperial concubines was abolished. The last Emperor to be entombed here was the Chongzhen Emperor, Zhu Youjian, in his mausoleum called Siling. This last Ming Emperor hanged himself in 1644 at Coal Hill just outside the Forbidden City when Beijing fell to the rebel army of Li Zicheng. However, the succeeding Qing (Manchu) conquerors, under Chinese imperial protocol, gave the last Ming Emperor a decent burial due to an Emperor.
Of the remaining three missing Emperors, the founder of the Ming Dynasty was buried in Nanjing, the second Emperor vanished when the Yongle Emperor usurped the throne and the seventh Ming emperor insisted on being buried in Jinshan closer to Beijing. Only three tombs are opened to the public viz Changling of the Yongle Emperor, Dingling of the Wanli Emperor and Zhaoling of the Longqing Emperor. Of these, only one tomb, the Dingling, has its tumulus (underground chamber) opened. Chinese archaeologists are excited about opening the Changling tumulus housing the powerful Yongle Emperor and possibly containing the remaining copy of the Great Dictionary of Yongle (Yongle Dadian).
The layout and arrangement of all thirteen mausoleums are very similar but vary in size as well as in the complexity of their structures. The Ming Tombs follow the past traditional Chinese Imperial layout of eight components:
1.     Stone Memorial Arch, the central way only for the deceased Emperor
2.     The Great Red Gate, where all, including the Emperor, must dismount
3.     The Stele Pavilion with 7 meter high engraved stone column (huabiao)
4.     The Spirit way, lined on either side by statues of animals and officers
5.     The Gate of Dragon and Phoenix (Gate on the Threshold of Stars)
6.     The Soul Pavilion with a marble tortoise carrying a stele on its back
7.     The Tumulus or underground chamber holding the Emperor’s remains
8.     Sacrificial halls for sacrifices.
In this excursion, we just visited Changling Tombs. Changling, the biggest mausoleum was built for the Yongle Emperor, Zhu Di and took 18 years to complete. Zhu Di was the Emperor who built the Forbideen City, commissioned the Great Dictionary of Yongle (Yongle Dadian) and sent the eunuch Admiral Zheng He to South-East Asia, Ceylon, India, Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

Changling is surrounded by sixteen satellite tombs for Zhu Di’s concubines, and the tumulus has not yet been excavated. The ground structure opened to the public is a miniature Forbidden City, with an impressive Hall of Eminent Favours (Ling’en Dian) of marbled floor and thirty-two sandalwood columns. The hall now serves as a museum for the precious artifacts found in the imperial coffins and twenty-three wooden chests in Dingling. The stone stele bears the inscriptions of the Ming Dynasty Renzong Emperor (Zhu Gaozhi) and Qing rulers, the Qianlong and the Jiaqing Emperors.

In the Ling’en hall, we can see the historical relics of the Ming Dynasty, such as King’s and empresses’ crown, jewelries, jade, silk and porcelain ware, etc. The other interesting history which can be found in the Ling’en hall or museum is the history about foreign relationship in the Ming Dynasty. The Yongle period saw a significant development of foreign exchanges and trade. There were many countries establishing foreign relationship with the Ming Dynasty, which can be traced in the recording “the court was flooded with diplomats of foreign countries” in the history of the Ming Dynasty. Following Emperor Yongle’s order, General Zheng He, lead a large fleet carrying many precious cargos including gold, silk, and porcelain ware to exchange the treasures Southeast Asian and African countries, strengthening relationship between China and the countries. 
At 17:00 o’clock, we fully completed our tours. After we took some pictures and enjoy for shopping, we went back to CNCC again. The excursion to this place was truly an unforgettable experience for us because we could see the interesting story of Ming’s dynasty that very popular in the world. Previously, I only heard and learned of China’s history including Ming’s dynasty from Historical lesson when I studied world history at high school in Indonesia.


Tour guide explaining about the Ming’s Tombs.


The Ling’en hall and Sacred Silk Burner in Changling Tomb.
Sacred Silk Burner were used to burn elegiac address inscriptions and sacred silk materials after sacrificial rites in the Ming Dynasty.


Several relics of Ming Dynasty in the Ling’en hall of Changling Tombs.


The statue of General Zheng Ho and the miniature of the fleet used for foreign relationship with many countries in Southeast Asia and Africa.


NKK lab members with Prof. Hadi Susilo Arifin from Bogor Agricultural University of Indonesia in front of the gate of Changling Tombs.

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