Emperor Ruizong and Qiaoling Tomb
Ruizong of the Tang Dynasty, Li Dan by name is the 8th son of Gaozong, Li Zhi, and also the son of Wu Zetian, the Empress. He succeeded the throne when Wu Zetian abrogated Zhongzong Li Xian at the time when he was 23 years, once from 684 -690 A.D. and another from 710-712 A. D. Died of illness he was hurled in the Tomb of Qiaoling.
The Qiaoling Tomb was built in the flourishing period under the reign of Kaiyuan, and so the tomb was much more grandiose and magnificent than the Mausoleum of Qianling. Therefore, it can be considered the representative one of all the royal tombs of the Tang Dynasty.
Located on the Fengshan Hill, Jiajia Village in the Potou Township it is some 15 kilometers away to the northwest of Pucheng County seat in Shaanxi Province. With the whole Jinchan Hill enclosed in the tomb covers an area of 8. 25 million square meters. Shaped in somewhat way like a square it has gates on all four sides with each having a tower at the corner. Situated at half the slope of the main peak facing east the tomb-tunnel and the spirit way are not along the same line but slightly toward the east. The parallel hidden tomb-passage stretches north south some 70 meters long with a width of 3.78 meters. It is covered up with layers of gravels and lime-and-earth mixture. Underneath is laid with stone-slates in tight order and built up from north to south like a folded-up stairway. If counting the length and depth of the tomb-tunnel and with reference to the already known number of stone-slates used the deepest part at the north end needs at least some 30 layers of stone-slates, which require a total of 3,900 pieces of stone-slabs to cover up the tomb-passage. All these stone-slates are fastened with iron-plate jointures and strengthened by molten lead, thereby making the passage very much solidified and unbreakable.
In front of the tomb and gates there exist some 50 pieces of stone-carvings which are taller and more robust than those at the Qianling Tomb with the stone-figures to stand 3.67 – 4.28 meters tall while the horses are of 1.7 – 2 meters ill height and 2. 3 – 2.6 in the length of the body. The crouching stone-lions are of 2.4 – 2.8 meters high done outstandingly with a true-to-life skill in carving and so they are considered the treasure of stone-carvings of the Tang Dynasty. Hence they are renowned as “The atone-carvings at Qiaoling the best under heaven.” However, what is regrettable is that many of them are done out of proportion with the stone figure to have a large head hut a small body or the horse a long neck but short legs. And so if you look at them from some distance away they seem to be of an imposing momentum but a close view reveal them to be short of certain sense of artistic esthetics.
Co-buried with Li Dan in the Qiaoling Tomb are Queen Liu and Queen Dou whereas the tombs in company of it include those for Princes Huizhuang, Huiwen and Huixuan and for Princesses, of the State of Xi and of the State of Jinxian as well as the Tomb of Duke Peng by the name of Li Sixun and those of some others. Of the epitaphs those for the Elder Princess of the State of Liang, the Elder Princess of the State of Lang and that for the Elder Princess of Jinxian were the inscriptions autographed by Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty.
The Qiaoling and Qianling find there differences between the changes and variations of the clothes and caps on the stone figures along the spirit way. The stone-figures at Qiaoling, sword in hand, is clad in gown with a sash round the waist and sleeves hanging to the knees. And also different is the change of the stone animal with a unicorn to take the place of a winged-horse. The body of the unicorn looks like a deer with an ox-like head topped with a single horn and twin-winged at the shoulder which looks more or less the same as that laid there by the tomb for Wu Zetian. Resembling as legend has it somewhat like the God of Wind the chimera here is known either as “Tianlu” or a gain called “Qilin” to play the role of the God of Wind. Laid here to be used by the host in the tomb it is able to ward the evil spirits away from the tomb area.