Mausoleum of the Yellow Emperor

Mausoleum of the Yellow Emperor
Tomb of the Yellow Emperor

The Mausoleum of Yellow Emperor (simplified Chinese: 黄帝陵; traditional Chinese: 黃帝陵; pinyin: Huángdì Líng) is the burial site of the Chinese legendary Yellow Emperor, located in Huangling County, Yan'an City, Shaanxi Province, China. According to legend, the Yellow Emperor attained immortality and was taken up to heaven, leaving behind only his clothing and cap to be entombed.

The Mausoleum is located on Qiao Mountain, north of Yan'an proper. In 1961, the Chinese State Council proclaimed it as the first National State-Protected Great Cultural Site, with the identifier "Ancient Tomb #1" and the moniker "The First Tomb Under Heaven". The Mausoleum was anciently called "The Qiao Tomb", and was an important location where generations of emperors and famous people made offerings to the Yellow Emperor.

According to historical records, the earliest offerings to the Yellow Emperor at the Mausoleum's location began in 442 BC. From the establishment of a shrine proper in the ninth year of Tang Emperor Daizong (AD 770), it was the scene of regular national offerings and sacrifices. During the Cultural Revolution, however, the original complex was completely destroyed. The site has been rebuilt and restored several times, most recently beginning in 1993. The Yellow Emperor Mausoleum Foundation was established to raise money for the reconstruction process, which was divided into two phases. The first phase was completed in August 2001, and in 2004 yearly national offerings to the Yellow Emperor at the Mausoleum resumed.


Scenic Area

The Yellow Emperor Mausoleum Scenic Area covers an area of approximately 333 hectares. It contains over 60,000 mature cypress trees, of which 30,000 are over one thousand years old, making the area one of the best old cypress forests in China. The Scenic Area is divided into two parts: the Tomb Area and the Xuanyuan Area.

Tomb Area: On the right side of the stone path leading to the Tomb Area lies a stone entitled the "Horse-Dismounting Stone". Upon the stone is written in Chinese calligraphy the words "Wen and Wu and their officials arrived at this point and dismounted their horses", a reference to King Wen of Zhou and King Wu of Zhou. Nearer to the Tomb lies the "Emperor Wu of Han Immortal Platform".

"Emperor Wu of Han Immortal Platform" 漢武仙台

According to tradition, as Emperor Wu of Han was returning from a northern campaign against the Xiongnu, he stopped at the Mausoleum and made offerings.

The current Mausoleum is 3.6 meters tall, 48 meters in circumference, and is surrounded by a brick wall. On the south side stands a Ming Dynasty stone stele that reads "The Qiao Mountain Dragon Rider" (橋山龍馭), a reference to the story of the Yellow Emperor and his family riding into the west on a golden dragon.[1] The eastern side's stele hallway preserves 57 Imperial stele commissioned by various emperors. On the western side stand returned commemoration stele from Hong Kong and Macao.

In the main hall, called the "Great Hall of Man and Civilizations's First Ancestor" (人文初祖大殿), stands a relief sculpture of the Yellow Emperor, as well as a niche shrine decorated with the four great spirit animals of Chinese astrology: the Azure Dragon, the White Tiger, the Vermilion Bird, and the Black Tortoise. In the memorial pavilion are arranged several dedicatory inscriptions from modern Chinese leaders Sun Yat-sen, Chiang Kai-shek, Mao Zedong, and Deng Xiaoping. In front of the tomb is a pavilion for offerings, in the middle of which stands a stone stele with the three characters "Yellow Emperor Mausoleum". The stele was erected by Chiang Kai-shek during the Second Sino-Japanese War but was chiseled blank in 1956 before being restored in 1963 by Guo Moruo.

Xuanyuan Shrine: a second part of the sacrificial temple complex, and part of the post-1993 restoration architecture. The shrine is approximately 8000 square meters in size and is made entirely of granite.

Past Offerings and Restorations

The emperors of Chinese dynasties venerated the Yellow Emperor's mausoleum, and most would dispatch a closely trusted high-ranked official, bearing an imperial monument written by the Emperor himself, to conduct the ceremonies.

  • 220 BC: Tradition states the First Emperor of Qin, after subduing the other Chinese states and proclaiming himself Emperor, personally carried offerings and his sword to the Yellow Emperor's temple to seclude himself and offer prayer.
  • 110 BC: In the tenth lunar month, Emperor Wu of Han led 180,000 troops to make offerings at the Yellow Emperor's tomb and set up the "Immortal's Platform" mentioned above.
  • During the Tang Dynasty, the traditional sacrifices to the Yellow Emperor were officially adopted by the state.
  • AD 1040 to 1043: during the reign of Song Dynasty Emperor Renzong, the famed Fan Zhongyan made ceremonial sacrifice there three times.
  • 1061: Song Dynasty Emperor Renzong decreed the mass planting of cypress trees at the complex.
  • 1371: Emperor Hongwu of the Ming Dynasty sent Imperial Historian Guan Gougan to officiate an official offering.
  • 1651: Emperor Shunzhi, founder of the Qing Dynasty, had numerous veneration ceremonies for the Yellow Emperor conducted.
  • 1939: On the day of Qingming, Mao Zedong dispatched Lin Boqu to conduct the sacrifices and offerings.
  • 2006: The ceremonial offerings to the Yellow Emperor were entered into the National Immaterial Cultural Relic List.[2]

See also

  • Shou Qiu, the legendary birthplace of the Yellow Emperor (in Qufu, Shandong)


External links

Coordinates: 35°34′44″N 109°15′59″E / 35.57880001°N 109.26635001°E / 35.57880001; 109.26635001

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