Maoling Mausoleum

Maoling, the mausoleum of Emperor Wu Di of the Western Han Dynasty, is located about nine kilometers southeast of Xingping County and 45 kilometers from Xian. The mausoleum was in Maoxiang Town in Huaili County during the Western Han Dynasty; hence the name Maoling.

Emperor Wu Di (140-87 BC), also called Liu Che, was the fifth emperor in the Western Han Dynasty. At the age of seven he was made the crown prince. He came to the throne at 16 and was in power for54 years. He was the emperor for the longest period in the history of China. The First Qin Emperor and Emperor Wu Di are usually regarded as equals because the autocratic state of centralized power in the feudal society was established by the First Qin Emperor but consolidated by Emperor Wu Di. In order to centralize the power under the feudal imperial court, Emperor Wu Di deprived every dependent state of their titles of nobility by means of various pretexts. For example, in 112 BC, he revoked the titles of 106 princes with the excuse that the gold they offered as an oblation to theirs ancestors was not pure of under weighed. Before the reign of Emperor Wu Di, the ministers of the imperial court were mostly those who had rendered outstanding service, and their sons. Even ordinary officials mostly came from wealthy, powerful or noble families. However, Emperor Wu Di did not stick to the old rule. On the contrary, he was unconstrained and broad-minded in choosing talents. He even establishes the Imperial College from which to train and choose qualified officials. These measures were adopted to strengthen further the system of centralization of the feudal autocracy. To bring the financial and economic rights under the control of the imperial court, Emperor Wu Di announced that coin-minting was forbidden among the people and the local governments, and only the coins minted by central government could be in circulation. Metallurgy and salt processing were also forbidden among the people. The business run by the government enjoyed the exclusive right to sell salt and iron. Meanwhile the government levied a property tax on businessmen so the revenue of the court increased greatly. The Western Han Dynasty became unprecedented rich and powerful, centralization strengthened and its feudal economy flourished. Emperor Wu Di launched three important battles, and defeated its formidable enemy, the Hun invaders of the northern border. He also sent men, more than once, to establish relations with Western Regions. The well-known Silk Road was opened during his reign.

In order to consolidate feudal domination and to further achieve the unity of academic thought, Emperor Wu Di accepted the Confucian, Dong Zhongshu's proposal of "rejecting the other schools of thought and respecting only Confucianism". Thus the period of "contention between a hundred schools of thought" came to an end. From then on, Confucian thought gradually developed into an orthodox philosophy and had far-reaching influence on the history of China.

Emperor Wu Di's great talent and bold strategy led the Han Empire to its prime. The feudal society of China made great developments in politics, economy, military affairs, and culture. China began to make a name for itself in the world, as a highly civilized, wealthy and powerful nation.

At the age of 71, Emperor Wu Di died and was buried at the Maoling Mausoleum. His mausoleum was built of rammed earth in the shape of a four-sided dipper, 46 meters high and 240 meters long. Around the mausoleum there are vestiges of wall on the four sides, each of which was 400 metres long with a base of 5.8 meters wide. Today the vestiges of the eastern, western and northern watchtowers can still be clearly seen

Among the tombs of the Western Han Dynasty, the Maoling Mausoleum was the largest in dimension, took the longest time to be built and had the richest funeral objects. Emperor Wu Di was in power for 54 years, yet the construction of Maoling Mausoleum took 53 years to be completed. By the time he died, the trees at the mausoleum had grown so large that one could hardly get his arms around them. How much gold, silver, jewelry and other treasures were buried in the bomb? No one knows, but according to historical records, one third of the yearly taxes went into the construction of the mausoleum and the purchase of funeral objects. It was said that there was such a large number of funeral objects that the tomb could hardly hold them even before his death. So after the Eastern Han Dynasty, the Maoling Mausoleum became the target of grave diggers.

It is horrifying to mention graves, but Maoling does not give you that feeling. During the Western Han Dynasty in the area around the Maoling cemetery, there sere a lot of mansion built for high officials and noble lords. Inside the cemetery there were many palaces and houses inhabited by tomb keepers and palace maids. There were over 5,000 custodians responsible for the maintenance of the mausoleum. The Town of Maoling County was purposely built to the southeast of the mausoleum. Generals, officials, noblemen and the rich lived in the town and numbered over 277,000. At that time, even high officials and noble lords felt great honor if they could move near to the emperor's tomb to live.

Through the archaeological research of both the Maoling cemetery and the remains of the town of Maoling County, many cultural relics have been discovered, including several remains of construction sites, pentagon sewer pipes, cobbled roads and other building installations from the Han Dynasty.

There are over 20 satellite tombs of high officials and noble relations around the Maoling Mausoleum. The famous young general Huo Qubing who, on six occasions, fought the Hun invaders bravely, was buried on the eastern side of the mausoleum one kilometer away. In 1978, the Maoling Museum was set up. Eave tiles, Han bricks, pottery figures and other valuable historical relics that have been excavated at the Maoling Mausoleum as well as the giant stone carvings that were originally laced in front of Huo Qubing's tomb, are now on display there.

Opening Hours: 08:00 -17:30

Admission Fee: CNY 45 (Mar.1-Nov.30)
                              CNY 25 (Dec.1- Feb. 29)