Qing Dongling at Zunhua and Qing xiling at Yixian
The Eastern Tombs, or Dongling, of the Qing dynasty are located in Zunhua County in Hebei Province. They rest in the Malan Valley of the Changrui Mountains, some 125 kilometers from Beijing. The fifteen tombs located here include those of certain Qing emperors who reigned from 1644 onwards, including the tomb of the great Kangxi emperor. The tomb of the famous Cixi Dowager Empress is also located here. The fifteen tomb-mounds represent the largest and most complete grouping of imperial tombs that still exist in China today. They are arrayed east and west along the southern-facing slope of the southern ridge of the Changrui Mountains. The central axis of each tomb faces northward, towards a backdrop of mountains. The site is extremely beautiful, with ancient pines and long spirit ways gracing the approach to the royal resting places.
The heart of the Eastern Tombs is the tomb of Emperor Shunzhi, called Xiaoling. A total of five emperors, fifteen empresses, and 136 concubines are buried at the Eastern Tombs and all of these with one exception are arrayed to the east and west of this centrally located Xiaoling. The tomb of Kangxi is situated to the east and slightly south of Xiaoling. It was begun in the 20th year of Kangxi s long sixty-year reign (1681) and its size and scope are second only to Xiaoling. The tomb of Qianlong is set to the west of Xiaoling in the Shengxui Valley. It is a joint burial of the emperor, his two empresses, and three concubines. It too is a very special underground palace, with three rooms and four entryway gates; it reaches a depth of 54 meters and occupies 327 square meters of space. One notable aspect of this tomb is that all of its walls and ceilings are completely covered with stone carvings relating to Buddhism. Several tens of thousands of characters of Buddhist scriptures also adorn the tomb, written in the clear and fluid lines of Sanscript and Tibetan scripts.
The tomb of Empress Dowager Cixi contains the most accomplished above?ground artistry of all the Qing-dynasty tombs. It includes refined and exquisite stone carving that depicts phoenixes and dragons cavorting amongst clouds. The splendor of the architecture is unique, with gold foil fixed to the ceiling, superb painting, and fine carpentry of the actual structures. The tomb-chamber of Cixi has already been 'opened' and is the only tomb of an express's underground palace that has been excavated to date.
Four of the Qing-dynasty imperial tombs are located some 120 kilometers to the west of Beijing, in Hebei Province. These are known as Xiling or Western Tombs. This is where Emperor Yongzheng selected a site and began to erect his resting place. Eventually the location came to include the burials of three empresses, four emperors, and a number of princes, altogether 76 people in fourteen tomb groupings. Above-ground extant buildings occupy 50,000 square meters.
The organization of Xiling or Western Tombs is similar to the Eastern. Yongzheng's tomb, called Tailing, sits in the middle. The others are arrayed to his east and west. The spirit way leading up to Tailing is five Ii in length, or nearly two miles, and sculptures on either side are impressive. In the neighboring area twenty-one of Yongzheng's concubines are buried, also his empress, the blood mother of Qianlong.
To the west of the Tailing tomb of Yongzheng are two imperial groupings, one of which belongs to Emperor Daoguang. This includes buildings that are unique for not being painted but rather carved in dragon designs from nanmu wood. The dragons cover every inch of space on the ceiling, and the pillars and beams are alive with swimming dragons, coiled dragons, vigorous dragons.
To the east of Tailing is the most recent tomb among the western-tomb groupings, which was built for Guangxu and his empress. It is called Chongling. Groundbreaking began in the first year of Xuanzong (1909) and the work was completed in the fourth year of Minguo (1915). This was the last imperial tomb among all of China's imperial tombs and it holds Guangxu and his empress. This was robbed in early years, but when restoration and research of the site began in 1980 some jades and pieces of silk were found. Near the Chongling tomb are the tombs of various concubines.
All of these tombs have been declared National Key Cultural Relics Protected sites, and are listed also as World Heritage Cultural Sites.