It represents the addition of three Imperial Tombs of the Qing Dynasty in Liaoning to the Ming tombs inscribed in 2000 and 2003. The Three Imperial Tombs of the Qing Dynasty in Liaoning Province include the Yongling Tomb, the Fuling Tomb, and the Zhaoling Tomb, all built in the 17th century. Constructed for the founding emperors of the Qing Dynasty and their ancestors, the tombs follow the precepts of traditional Chinese geomancy and fengshui theory. They feature rich decoration of stone statues and carvings and tiles with dragon motifs, illustrating the development of the funerary architecture of the Qing Dynasty. The three tomb complexes, and their numerous edifices, combine traditions inherited from previous dynasties and new features of Manchu civilization.
Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties
Justification for Inscription
Criterion (i): The harmonious integration of remarkable architectural groups in a natural environment chosen to meet the criteria of geomancy (Fengshui) makes the Ming and Qing Imperial Tombs masterpieces of human creative genius.
Criteria (ii), (iii) and (iv): The imperial mausolea are outstanding testimony to a cultural and architectural tradition that for over five hundred years dominated this part of the world; by reason of their integration into the natural environment, they make up a unique ensemble of cultural landscapes.
Criterion (vi): The Ming and Qing Tombs are dazzling illustrations of the beliefs, world view, and geomantic theories of Fengshui prevalent in feudal China. They have served as burial edifices for illustrious personages and as the theatre for major events that have marked the history of China.
The Ming and Qing imperial tombs are outstanding testimony to a cultural and architectural tradition that for over 500 years dominated this part of the world. By reason of their integration into the natural environment, they make up a unique ensemble of cultural landscapes.
From time immemorial, the rulers of China attached great importance to the building of imposing mausolea, reflecting not only the general belief in an afterlife but also an affirmation of authority. When the Ming dynasty came to power (1368), an overall design was adopted. This was characterized by the attempt to achieve great harmony between a natural site meeting certain precise selection criteria and a complex of buildings fulfilling codified functions. The natural site, a plain or broad valley, must offer the perspective of a mountain range to the north, against which the tombs would be built, with a lower elevation to the south. It must be framed on the east and west by chains of hills, and feature at least one waterway. In order to harmonize with the natural setting, a number of buildings are constructed along a main access road several kilometres in length, known as the Way of the Spirits, which may branch off into secondary Ways leading to other mausolea.
An entrance portico with up to five doors marks the beginning of the Way of the Spirits, which subsequently passes through or alongside a number of buildings, in particular a reception pavilion, a pavilion housing the stele of Divine Merits, stone columns and sculptures representing animals, generals and ministers, in pairs. After one or more stone bridges and a Portico of the Dragon and the Phoenix, the sacred way arrives at a complex of buildings that includes a hall of meditation flanked by side pavilions and a Memorial Tower leading to the walled tumulus under which lie the burial chambers. This cultural landscape is imbued with a form of cosmogony that invests it with sacred status.
The Xianling tombs of the Ming dynasty are situated near the town of Zhongxiang, in Hubei Province, over 1,000 km from Beijing. The first work on the mausoleum was carried out by Xing, who planned to be buried there. On genealogical grounds, he was declared Emperor posthumously in 1519. Further work was then undertaken to bring the tomb into harmony with the standards of the Ming dynasty and to create a second tumulus to house the burial chambers of his family, including the empress.
The western Qing tomb contains fourteen imperial tombs and two building complexes: the Yongfu Tibetan Buddhist temple and the temporary palace where the imperial family resided when it came to honour its ancestors. The natural setting is extremely beautiful, in large part owing to the forest of elegant centuries-old pines.
The site of eastern Qing tombs contains 15 mausolea in which 161 bodies were buried - emperors, empresses, concubines and princesses. Among them are the emperors Kangxi and Qianlong, remembered as great sovereigns who actively promoted the development of China, and the Dowager Empress Cixi, who ruled the empire through intermediaries throughout the second half of the 19th century. Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC
The Qing dynasty was established in 1636 by the Manchus to designate their regime in Manchuria. The three Imperial Tombs were built in the period when their capital was in Shenyang. In 1644, the capital was transferred to Beijing and the Manchus established their dynasty for China.
The first phase of building the Yongling Tomb was in the late years of the Ming dynasty; it was used as family graveyard of Emperor Fuman. In 1636, Emperor Huangtaiji of the Qing dynasty conferred the title of Xingjing Tomb on this graveyard. In 1648, emperor Fulin conferred the posthumous title of emperor on the four ancestors and in 1651 named the mountains where the tombs are situated: the Qiyun Mountains. Fuling Tomb was first built starting from 1629 (during the reign of Tiancong in late Jin) to 1644 (reign of Emperor Shunzhi of the Qing dynasty). The site was expanded and rebuilt from 1645 (Emperor Shunzhi) to 1688.
Zhaoling Tomb was first built from 1643 to 1651. It was subject to expansion and reconstruction during the reigns from Emperor Kangxi to Emperor Qianlong, in the second half of the 18th century.
Source: Advisory Body Evaluation