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The Qianling Tomb is where the third Tang-dynasty emperor and his empress were buried together. The third emperor was Li Zhi (Gaozong) and his empress was Empress Wu Zetian; Wu Zetian was the only female monarch in the Chinese history. This is the most representative among the eighteen Tang-dynasty tombs and the best preserved. Qianling Tomb was built in 684 A.D. It is located on Liangshan Hill, 6 kilometers north of Qianxian County, and about 80 kilometers from Xi'an. The scope of the tomb is very large with the precincts of the tomb and gardens totaling an area of 2,400,000 square meters.
The tomb consists of three peaks: the two on the southern side are artificial, but the higher northern peak is natural and is the main part of the tomb. The inner city, about 240 square meters, followed the rectangular layout of Chang'an city with four gates on each side named clockwise: the Phoenix in the south, the Tortoise north, the Black Dragon east and the White Tiger west. Many splendid buildings such as dedicatory halls and gate towers were built. In the front of the tomb is the Spirit Way along which is lined by huge stone statues of animals and human. They demonstrate remarkable achievements of the sculptural arts during the prime of the Tang dynasty. On the west side of the tomb is the monument to Emperor Gaozong. It consists of seven joints, which symbolize the Seven Elements, that is, the Sun, the Moon, Metal, Wood, Water, Earth, and Fire. The ancient Chinese believed that the world was composed of these Seven Elements. It measures 6.3 meters high, 1.86 meters wide and weights 61.6 tons. The inscription on the tablet was composed by Wu Zetian and written by Emperor Zhongzong (the son of Gaozong and Wu Zetian). It contains over 8,000 words, singing the praises of Gaozong's political achievements and military exploits. On the eastern side is the Wordless Tablet for Wu Zetian, which is 6.3 meters high, and weights 98.9 tons. Placing a wordless tablet in front of the emperor's tomb had never found before in china. Some archaeologists guess Emperor Zhongzong didn't know how to describe his mother Wu Zetian. That's why the tablet was built with no word. Qianling Tomb is large in scope with a circumference of 40 kilometers, and 17 satellite tombs of princes, princess, kings and high ministers.
According to historical documents, a number of accompanying tombs surrounded the Qianling imperial-tomb precinct. These were mostly robbed in antiquity but certain superlative works of art remain that can be seen at this museum. It is well worth a visit.
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