China museums

Underground Imperial Palaces

Dingling Museum
Qing Dongling at Zunhua and Qing Xiling at Yixian









Dingling Museum


Dingling Tomb.

Overlooking the Dingling Tomb.


The Dingling Museum is located in Changping County at the foot of the Yanshan Mountains, outside Beijing. This is the site of the world-famous Ming dynast 'Thirteen Tombs' and it counts as the tenth among those thirteen. The thirteenth emperor of the Ming dynasty is buried here, together with his two empresses. Zhu Xianjun was the Shenzong emperor, with the reign name of Wanli. He ascended the throne at the age of ten, in " 1572, and was on thethrone for 48 years. This was the .t, longest reign of any Ming dynasty emperor.

The Dingling tomb construc?tion was begun in 1584 and was finished in 1590. The cost of construction was said to be eight million liang of gold; it stands on 18 hectares of land. The main buildings are built along an axis that includes a stone bridge, stelae tower, gates, halls, tower, surrounding wall and the underground palace hall. The surface buildings were destroyed several times by fire, so except for the minglou, banding, wall, and underground palace which have been relatively well preserved, only traces remain of the other buildings.

dragon robe unearthed from the Dingling Tomb

A dragon robe unearthed from the Dingling Tomb.

The portrait of the Ming Emperor Shen Zong-Zhu Yijun

The portrait of the Ming Emperor Shen Zong-Zhu Yijun- who was buried in the Dingling Tomb.

In May of 1956, archaeologists found the entryway to the underground palace at a depth of 27 meters. This was called the 'gold steel wall' gate and it stands 8.8 meters high. In it was a doorway shaped like the Chinese character for man. This entryway was tightly sealed with twenty-three layers of large bricks. Tearing down this human-shaped entryway in the gold steel wall, they followed along the corridor inside and encountered two large carved-jade doors. These were three meters high, and each of the two swinging doors in the frame was 1.8 meters wide and weighed around four tons. On them were carved nine rows of the symbolic knobs. A bronze beam of around ten tons in weight was set across the top part of the door: the axles of the doors were set in this so that they could swing open. Beyond the doors was an underground palace hall containing a suite of connected rooms, including front, middle, rear, left and right chambers. All were spacious and separated by seven stone gates. The front and middle halls used 'gold bricks' as a floor covering, the others were of stone construction.

The rear chamber was the main part of the palace. Three coffins lay here, with Zhu Xianjun in the middle and his two empresses on either side. Twenty-six red?lacquered cases were set around the coffin, holding some 3,000 items made of gold, silver, gems, ceramics, jades, and fabric, all to accompany the burial.

An emperor's gold crown unearthed in the Dingling Tomb. empress's phoenix crown
An emperor's gold crown unearthed in the Dingling Tomb.
An empress's phoenix crown unearthed in the Dingling Tomb.

All of the Dingling Museum's collections come from articles unearthed from this underground palace. They are not only beautiful, they represent a valuable resource for studying Ming court life and Ming craftsmanship.

Among items excavated from Dingling are the emperor's crown and a phoenix crown that are particularly notable. The golden crown is woven of very thin threads of gold and two golden dragons are crouched and coiled on top. The crown is 24 centimeters high with a diameter of 20.5 centimeters and a weight of 826 grams. The phoenix crown was used by the empress when she received visitors at court. It uses lacquered bamboo and silk as a base and on top are silk gold dragons and a jadeite phoenix, as well as flowers that are created out of gems. The crown is encrusted with 150 precious gems and more than 5,000 pearls.

Address: Beijing , Changping County, Special Area of the 13 Tombs
Telephone: 86-10-60761424

More Museums in Beijing City

Site Navigator: [ Home ] [ Beijing Museums ] [ Shanghai Museum ] [ By Province ] [ SiteMap ]
Links, Ads, Comment: Send a message to