The Huangdi (Yellow Emperor) Mausoleum was originally built in honor of the first mythical king and progenitor of the Chinese people. Together with the Xuanyuan Temple nearby, the mausoleum sits in a park that covers about 300 hectares or 750 acres called the Yellow Emperor Mausoleum Scenic Area. It is thought that the mausoleum site became active about 442 BC when the first offerings to Huangdi were made at the site. However, mausoleums have been destroyed and rebuilt at the site several times since then. The current mausoleum was built in the 1990s. In the 1990s, a granite temple called the Xuanyuan Temple was built near it in the park. The mausoleum site was an important place for various emperors throughout history to make sacrifices or pay homage. It is said that Emperor Qin Shi Huang of the Qin Empire made sacrifices there in 220 BC. Though the construction at the site is modern, you can appreciate the Huangdi Mausoleum and the Xuanyuan Temple, the history of China, and the cypress trees in the park.
Huangdi was the mythical progenitor and founder of the Chinese nation. He is thought to have lived for about a hundred years from about 2697 to 2597 BC. However, the stories about his life are so incredible that he might be simply a myth. However, ancient Chinese historians didn’t think he was mythical, and even modern rulers of China such as Sun Yatsen and Mao Zedong sent officials to pay homage at the site in the 20th century.
Mausoleum Layout and Construction
The Huangdi Mausoleum is in a big cypress park with about 60,000 cypress trees called the Yellow Emperor Mausoleum Scenic Area. The scenic area covers about 300 hectares or about 750 acres, so it is quite big. The park area is divided into two parts called the Tomb Area and the Xuanyuan Area.
In the Tomb Area, the mausoleum of Huangdi was built in the 1990s. The site was completely destroyed in the Cultural Revolution. The mausoleum is a small structure that is 3.6 meters tall and is surrounded by a brick wall. It isn’t known what is in the tomb. In front of the tomb is a pavilion with red pillars. In the pavilion is a tablet that was originally set up by Chiang Kai Shek.
It is said that Huangdi lived for a hundred years or more from about 2697 to 2597 BC. The stories about his life are all clearly mythical however. He is said to have taught the people of his tribe how to grow grain, tame animals, use a calendar, and use various weapons. He is also said to have invented carts and clothing. His wife is said to have taught the people sericulture (silk fabric making).
It is said that he met a supernatural creature that talked and taught him about hundreds or thousands of kinds of supernatural creatures. He also led a war against fierce monsters of 9 barbarian tribes, and his army won because he was able to call on the god of draught called Nuba. In the end, a dragon came, and he rode it. It is said that as people tried to hold him to the earth as the dragon was taking him away, they pulled off his clothes but couldn’t catch him.
It is said that the Xia Dynasty and the Shang Dynasty clans were his direct descendants. After the first recorded sacrifices were made at the present Huangdi Mausoleum site in 442 BC, it became a tradition for emperors to go to the mausoleum themselves or send officials in their place. They would erect monuments or raise steles with inscriptions or make sacrifices. When Qin Shi Huang Di became the Emperor of the Qin Empire, he went there. Even modern rulers in the 20th century continued this tradition. So in the history of China, it has been regarded as an important place.
Travel: The Huangdi Mausoleum and the Yellow Emperor Mausoleum Scenic Area are at No. 179, 210 National Road, Huangling, Yanan City. The Xuanyuan Temple area is close to the road, and the Huangdi Mausoleum is set further back. The site is about 160 kilometers or more than 100 miles north on 210 National Road.
Fee: about 50 RMB or about 7.50 USD.
Hours: about 8 am to 5:30 pm.
Questions and Answers About Huangdi Mausoleum
I updated this article on November 11, 2013
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