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Saturday, September 21, 2002 - 09:00

Outing: The Eastern Qing Tombs

The Eastern Tombs of Qing, located in the foothills of the Changrui Mountains, Zhunhua, Hebei Province, contain the tombs of five of the ten Qing Dynasty Emperors. On this 2,500 square kilometre area there are five tombs for Emperors, four for Empresses and five for Imperial Concubines. Altogether the remains of 157 people, five Emperors, fifteen Empresses, 136 Imperial Concubines and a Prince are buried here. The 300 individual buildings in the 14 independent cemetery compounds are centred around Xiaoling, the largest tomb on the central axis. The Yuling is the last resting place of Emperor Qianlong. Qianlong was idle and he enjoyed prosperity in a flourishing time initiated by his father and grandfather. He longed for glory and success, sought opulence and luxury. He ordered his tomb to be built as an underground Buddhist palace. It contained four stone doors, carved all over with fine figures of Bodhisattva, and walls with inscriptions of all kinds of religious scriptures and paternosters.

Qianlong rested here in peace, together with his five beloved Queens, Concubines and numerous treasures. However, in July 1928 Sun Dianying, 'Robber of the Eastern Tombs', sent two brigades of his troops to blow open Yuling and Eastern Dingling and then stole all the treasures from the two tombs. Yuling had the largest amount of sacrificial objects and Eastern Dingling, on Putuoyu Mountain, was the most extravagantly decorated. In the years that followed most of the Eastern Qing Tombs were looted by bandits. Treasures were stolen from the burial chambers and the buildings above ground were destroyed. Now the tombs are protected and funds have been set aside for repairs. The Eastern Qing Tombs area is a serene place to visit where it is possible to wander from tomb to tomb. Professor Yan, an expert on the Qing Dynasty Emperors, will be our guide. This will be a whole day outing so please bring along a picnic lunch, there are not too many annoying venders here, and enjoy the peacefulness of the whole valley.