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West Mausoleum of the Qing Dynasty

The West Mausoleum of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) is located at the foot of Yongning Mountain in Liangge Village, 15 km west of Yixian County in Hebei Province.

The West Mausoleum of the Qing Dynasty is one of the imperial mausoleums in the Qing Dynasty, and it is about 120 km to the west of Beijing. The mausoleum connects the Zijin Pass in the west and faces the Yishui River in the south. The mausoleum is surrounded by peaks rising one after another, and sheltered by luxuriant pines and cypresses. At first, the mausoleums of the Qing Dynasty were built in the Malan Valley in Zuhua City of Hebei Province. After Emperor Yongzheng ascent the throne, the site of the mausoleum was moved to the Taiping Valley of Yongning Mountain in Yixian County for its good location. Hence, the imperial mausoleums of the Qing Dynasty have two parts, the East mausoleum in the east of the capital, and the West Mausoleum in the west of the capital.

The West Mausoleum is well preserved with altogether over 1,000 houses, over 100 stone buildings and stone carvings. It covers 100 square kilometers with a construction area of 5.03 million square meters. The bounding wall of the mausoleum extends 21 km. The Tailing Mausoleum and the Taidong Mausoleum of Emperor Yongzheng and his empress are in the middle of the mausoleum area, and westward there comes the Muling Mausoleum and the Mudong Mausoleum of Empress Daoguang and his empress. To the east of the Tailing Mausoleum is the Chongling Mausoleum of Empress Guangxi. The tombs of imperial concubines, princes and princesses were buried beside the empress' mausoleum, totalling 7 tombs. Altogether 76 people were buried in the West Mausoleum of the Qing Dynasty buried 76 people, including empresses, imperial concubines, princes and dukes.

The general outlay of West Mausoleums is much like those of the Ming Dynasty and East Mausoleums. Each mausoleum is divided into the front part and the back. The front part chiefly consists of a stone monument in front of the gate, marking the entrance; a tower housing a tablet in praise of the deceased monarch; ornamental posts, stone sculptures and a stone bridge which leads the way branching off the main sacred path. While the back part holds the main body of the area, the soul tower, the accessory halls, the grave hillock and the underground palace.

The Tailing Mausoleum is for Emperor Yongzheng and his two empresses. It was the largest, and the first built of the West Mausoleums in 1730, the eighth year under his reign, until 1737, the second year under the reign of Emperor Qianlong, the fourth Qing emperor. The sacred path, 2.5 kilometers long, stretches out in three brick-paved tiers from south to north. Other mausoleums are arranged centering on Tailing.

The system of each mausoleum in the West Mausoleum in the Qing Dynasty is generally the same as that of the Tailing Mausoleum, except the system of Emperor Daoguang's Muling Mausoleum. Originally, Emperor Daoguang built his mausoleum in the Baohua Valley of the Dongling Mausoleum. It took 7 years to finish, but later because the terra palace was dipped in water, it was moved to the Longquan Valley in the West Mausoleum. The scale of the cemetery was small without big stele building, stone statues, etc.. The palace was not painted with colorful drawings either. But the Long'en Palace was solely built of Nanmu, and its sunk panels and purlins were carved with thousands of wandering dragons, holding their heads high. It seems as if they were flying in the great waves in the sea and above the clouds. Because of the fragrance of the Nanmu plus the dragonhead blowing a cloud, they create the artistic effect thousands of dragons gather together, spraying fragrance.

Emperor Guangxu's Chongling Mausoleum was the latest built among the mausoleums of the Qing Dynasty; it was constructed in the 1st year (1909) of the Xuantong reign in the Qing Dynasty. In 1915, after the death of Emperor Guangxu, he was buried here. The scale of the Chongling Mausoleum is small. When the Chongling Mausoleum was first built, the Qing government was on the eve of breakdown, so it has no big stele building and stone statue. The construction was mainly built of tung wood and iron. There goes the saying Tung girder and iron column. The underground palace of the Chongling mausoleum had been robbed before the founding of new China. In 1980, it was excavated and cleaned up archeologically, and now it is opened for tourists to visit. The underground palace has an arch stone roof, and the four stone gates were decorated with large-scale black and white stone carvings, with the image of a standing Bodhisattva carved on it. The image is 1.99m in height with a stately manner. The gold arch that is tall, big and spacious is the main body of the underground palace 12 meters long from the east to the west, 7.2 meters wide from the south to north, and 8.95 meters high. Emperor Guangxu and Empress Longyu's coffins were placed on the bed.

The tomb of Chong Concubine was located in the east side of the Chongling Mausoleum, the tomb of Zhen Concubine in the east, and the tomb of Jin Concubine in the west. The Zhen and Jin concubines were sisters. Because Zhen Concubine supported Emperor Guangxu in the political reform, she was put in the Cold Palace by Cixi. The Eight Power Allied Forces captured Beijing in 1900; Cixi escaped holding Emperor Guangxu under duress. Before they escaped, she drown Zhen Concubine in the well of the Forbidden City. The following year Zhen Concubine's body was salvaged, and buried in Tiancun Village in the west suburb of Beijing. In 1915, her coffin was moved to the mausoleum.

The West Mausoleum is sheltered by verdant forests, with birds singing in the empty mountain. Now it is opened to the public and become a famous tourist attraction in the southwest of Beijing. 

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