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Maoling the mausoleum of Emperor Wudi

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Maoling the mausoleum of Emperor Wudi

Maoling, the mausoleum of Emperor Wudi of the Western Han Dynasty is located about 9 kilometers southeast of Xingping County and 45kilometers from Xi'an. The mausoleum was in Maoxiang Town in Huaili County, during the Western Han Dynasty; hence the name Maoling (the mausoleum at Maoxiang).

Emperor Wudi (140-87 B.C.), also called Liu Che, was the fifth emperor of the Western Han Dynasty. At the age of 7, he was made the crown prince. He came to the throne at 16 and was in power for 54 years. He was the emperor for the longest period in the history of China.

Emperor Han Wudi'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, Wudi died and was buried at the Maoling Mausoleum. His mausoleum was constructed in the shape of a four-sided dipper, 46meters high and 240 meters long. Around the mausoleum there are vestiges of a wall that surrounded it. The wall was 400 meters long and its base was 5.8 meters wide. Today the vestiges of the eastern, western and northern watchtowers can 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 Han Wudi was on the throne for 54 years, yet the construction of the 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. According to historical records, one third of the yearly taxes and tributes of the state went into the construction of the Maoling Mausoleum and the purchase of funeral objects that the tomb could hardly hold even before his death. So after the Eastern Han Dynasty, the Maoling Mausoleum became the target of grave robbers.

During the Western Han Dynasty in the area around the Maoling cemetery there were a lot of dwelling houses built for high officials and noble lords. Inside the cemetery there were many places and houses inhabited by tomb keepers and palace maids. The cleaners and gardeners alone numbered more than 5,000. 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 things have been discovered there, including several remains of construction sites, pentagon water pipes, cobbled roads and other building installations from the Han Dynasty.

There are over 20 satellite tombs of high officials and noble relatives 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 from the main tomb. In 1978, the Maoling Mausoleum 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 placed in front of Huo Qubing' tomb, are now on display there.


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