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Shunling Mausoleum

The Shunling Mausoleum is located in the south of Chenjia Village, 18 km northeast of Xianyang City in Shaanxi Province.

The Shunling Mausoleum was the tomb of Yang Shi, the mother of Empress Wu Zetian in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). In the 1st year (670) of the Xianheng reign, Yang Shi died and was buried in the name of Li Wang. In the 1st year of the Tianshou reign, Wu Zetian ascent to the throne, and changed the title of her reigning dynasty to Zhou, and granted his mother the title of Empress Xiao Minggao, and renamed the tomb as Shunling Mausoleum. In the 1st year (710) of the Jingyun reign in the Tang Dynasty and the 2nd year (713) of Xiantian, the name of the mausoleum had been abolished twice, but the later generations are used to calling it as Shunling Mausoleum. In 1953, the Cultural Relics Management Committee of Shaanxi Province made thorough research into the Shunling Mausoleum. 

There are inner and outer city in the mausoleum. The inner city was called imperial city in a square shape. The south gate has 20 watchtowers at 20-meter-long intervals. The outer city is rectangular and covers an area of over 1.1 million square meters with one gate on each side. The grave is in the northern part of the inner city, with 12.6 meters in incomplete height, and each side of 48.5 meters wide. Over 30 pieces of carved stone are preserved in front of the mausoleum, including stone figures, stone sheep, stone horses, stone lions and stone unicorns. Among them, the walking lion outside the south gate has a huge body, is 4 meters tall and wears curly hair on the head with extrusive eyes and a grand nose. It has a full cheek and sharp teeth, its mouth opening wide and gnarling, and is in the posture of galloping and running. The hale and powerful sculpture is the masterpieces of the stone carvings in the Tang Dynasty. 

Originally, a carved stele built in the 2nd year (702) of the Chang'an reign by Wu Zetian for her mother stood on the site of the stele pagoda temple in the center of the outer city. The stele epitaph was composed by Wu Sansi, and written by Li Dan (Emperor Ruizong of the Tang Dynasty). From the epigraph we can see the new characters created by Wu Zetian, so it was called one of the famous steles of the Tang Dynasty. In the 34th year (1555) of the Jiajing reign in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the stele fell into seven pieces in an earthquake. Afterwards, it was restored. It is now preserved in the Xianyang Museum in Shaanxi Province.

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