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Hanyangling Museum (Tomb of Emperor Jingdi)

Brief Introduction

The Yangling Mausoleum, also called the Jingdi Emperor’s Mausoleum, is the joint burial place of the Han-dynasty Emperor Jingdi (188–141 BC) and his empress. It is about 25 kilometers to the north of Xi’an city. It is quite possibly Xi’an’s most underrated highlight. The entire burial complex is more like a copy of the imperial palace that the emperor and empress used to live in. Many of the burial objects were found in the tomb area four decades ago and now this mausoleum museum which combines modern technology, ancient civilization, historical culture and garden scenery is one of the most amazing museums in Xi’an.


Background Knowledge

Emperor Jingdi (188BC—141BC), named Liu Qi, was the fourth Emperor of the Western Han Dynasty. Much influenced by Taoist thinking, during his 17-year reign (157BC - 141BC), he based his rule upon the concept of non-action (or non-doing, non-interference) (无为而治, to control by doing nothing) and did quite a lot to improve people’s lives. He developed a peaceful relationship with the Huns in the north through intermarriage, and reduced the burden of tax and penalties.

Han Dynasty Clay Figure

According to historical records, “the state revenue of the ancient capital was brimming with coins so that the ropes used for tying, decayed, leaving them impossible to count. Grain in state storage was surplus, most of them decayed”. Emperor Jingdi, together with his father Emperor Wendi, opened a golden era of harmony in the early feudal society, which was later regarded as “the Great Reign of Wen and Jing”. The contents of his tomb are particularly interesting. Ten pits right by the Emperor’s mausoleum have been excavated with many smaller terracotta figurines in great variety which depict vividly the life of the Han dynasty and it’s people. Without too much martial preoccupation, they are a total contrast with the Terracotta Army. It is a miniature of the Emperor’s kingdom with all representations of people who gathered around the Emperor when he was alive with plenty of foods buried nearby.

Han Yangling Museum

The site can be divided into two sections: the on-site museum and the excavation area. The museum was built right by the Emperor’s mausoleum and opened to the public on September 30, 1999. It holds a large display of expressive and impressive terracotta figurines, including eunuchs, servants, concubines, government officials, various domesticated animals and even female cavalry on horseback. All these figurines originally had movable wooden arms and were dressed in colorful silk robes.

The museum today covers 10 narrow burial pits with a slopping entrance providing access and giving the feeling that one is  entering the actual tomb of the Emperor. Part of the floor inside the museum is made of glass allowing one  to walk over the top of ongoing excavations and get a great view of the relics in the pits below.

What is displayed today in the museum is only the tip of the iceberg. It is believed that there are 81 oblong pits with more than 50,000 terracotta figurines  to be unearthed right around the Emperor’s tomb, with over 8,000 more attendant tombs scattered in this 20 - 24 square kilometer tomb area.


To get here, take Xi’an metro Line 2 to the station Shitushuguan (市图书馆). Outside Exit D take Bus No. 4 (¥2) to the tomb, which leaves at 8:30, 9:30and 10:30, noon, 13:30, 15:00 , 16:00 and 17:00, returning to the Xi’an metro station at 9:00, noon, 16:00 and 17:00.

Travel Guide:

Open Hours: Mar-Nov: 8:30  - 19:00; Dec-Feb:  8:30  - 18:00

Ticket Price: Mar-Nov ¥90, Dec-Feb ¥65

Recommended Itineraries:

Day Trip to Hanyangling Museum Cave Dwelling and Terracotta Army

2 Days Heritage Tour to Terracotta Warriors and Jingdi's Tomb


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