Tomb of Crown Prince Zhanghuai

The Tomb of Crown Prince Zhanghuai is the resting place of Li Xian (655 - 684), the second son of Empress Wu Zetian of the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907AD). It is one of 17 attendant tombs of Qianling Mausoleum, the resting place of Tang Emperor Gaozong and Empress Wu Zetian. This tomb is located about 3 km (2 miles) to the southeast of Qianling Mausoleum in Xianyang’s Qian County, about 88 km (55 miles) away from downtown Xi'an. The underground chambers of this tomb are richly decorated with colorful murals and known as the Underground Tang Art Gallery.

 

Tomb Owner - Crown Prince Zhanghuai

Prince Zhanghuai, whose name is Li Xian, was the second son of Emperor Gaozong and Empress Wu Zetian. He was very talented but had an unfortunate life. He was crowned prince in 675AD. Then he was in charge of annotating the 'Book of Later Han'. Empress Wu thought that Li Xian insinuated in the book that she was as cruel and heartless as the autocratic Empress Lü (241 - 180 BC) of the Han Dynasty; therefore, she sought by all means to revenge herself on Prince Zhanghuai. Finding weapons in the prince's mansion, Empress Wu banished him to Bazhou in Sichuan Province in 680 because of this so-called rebellion crime. In 684, Li died in Bazhou. Finally, in 706, the second year after Wu Zetian's death, Li Xian's brother became the Emperor, and then Li Xian was given a decent funeral and was finally buried together with his wife in this tomb.

 

Tomb Structure

The Tomb of Prince Zhanghuai is 71 meters (233 feet) long, 3.3 meters (11 feet) wide and 7 meters (23 feet) deep. There is a paved path leading to the tomb, four arches, four skylights, and six niches containing relics in them and two chambers that are richly decorated with colorful murals.

 

Elaborate Tang Mural Paintings

At the southeast corner of the third skylight is a tomb hole that is about 0.6 m (24 inches) long. A grave robber broke the stone gate, took all funeral objects, and damaged some relics in six niches. In spite of that, over 600 relics were unearthed from  the Tomb of Prince Zhanghuai. Among them, the most outstanding ones are the elaborate frescos that could hardly be stolen.

About 50 mural paintings in an excellent state of preservation decorate the walls. Covering some 400 square meters (480 square yards), these murals illustrate scenes from the life of the monarch and other royals in the imperial court. Those murals manifest the excellent painting skills of the Tang Dynasty. One of the most interesting of these murals is known as 'Meeting Guests'. This mural shows three Tang officials accompanying ambassadors from Rome and Korea as well as ethnic groups from northeast China. Officials are solemn while one ambassador is calm and another one is anxious. Over a thousand years have passed, but these paintings are still very vivid and expressive. During the Tang Dynasty, Chang'an, today's Xi'an, was a cosmopolitan city with a population exceeding a million. The mural serves to remind us that much of the prosperity of the Tang was due to its international relationships with more than 300 different countries.

Another famous mural is 'Polo Match', which depicts twenty people playing polo, a game popular among the Tang aristocracy. Twenty horses are in different colors and riders are in white or brown robes with black boots. From the painting, it is easy to tell that it was quite an intense match.

Other murals depict parades, singing, dancing, games, hunting, maidservants, female courtiers and ministers. From those murals with their rich contents, you will see the great prosperity of the Tang Dynasty. In addition to these paintings, more than 600 terra cotta items and tri-color vessels bear witness to the social systems and customs of those ancient days.

How ro get to Tomb of Crown Prince Zhanghuai

Take a train from Xi'an Railway Station to Qianxian, and then take local Bus 1 to Qianling; or take a long distance bus from Xi'an West Bus Station to Qian County. After arrival, local bus 2 will take you to Qianling Mausoleum.
It takes 30 minutes to walk southeast from Qianling Mausoleum to the Tomb of Crown Prince Zhanghuai; or you can take the sightseeing bus with a cost of CNY 30 per person.

Entrance Fee * It is included in the entrance ticket of Qianling Mausoleum that costs:
Mar. - Nov.: CNY 100
Dec. - Feb.: CNY 80
Children below 1.2 m (3.9 feet) can enter for free
Opening Hours Mar. - Nov.: 08:00-18:00
Dec. - Feb.: 08:30-17:30
 
- Last modified on Oct. 10, 2018 -
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