The Mausoleum of Princess Yong Tai: What to See

The Tomb of Princess Yongtai is located in Xianyang, Shaanxi. It is in the north of Qianling Mausoleum and it is one of the seventeen subordinate mausoleums of Qianling Mausoleum. The princess is the seventh daughter of Emperor Zhongzong (Li Xian), the son of Empress Wu Zetian in the Tang Dynasty (618-907).  Princess Yongtai died when she was 17 years old in the year 701.

Tomb of Princess Yongtai
Tomb of Princess Yongtai

Fast Facts about the Tomb of Princess Yongtai

  • Time needed: 1-2 hours
  • Opening hours: 8:00-18:00
  • Entrance fee: Included in the Qianling Mausoleum ticket (CNY 100 per person from March to November; CNY 80 per person from December to February)
  • Highlights: Frescoes depicting the court life, the stone sarcophagus with exquisite patterns

History of the Tomb of Princess Yongtai

According to the Epitaph unearthed in the tomb, the princess’s name is Li Xianhui, the 7th daughter of Emperor Zhongzong, and the granddaughter of Empress Wu Zetian. And the princess died from dystocia. While the authoritative historical document Zizhitongjian (English name: General Mirror for the Aid of Government) recorded another reason of princess’s death: In Wu Zetian’s later years life, she kept many male lovers and transferred some national master’s right to them. That was harmful to face of royal family and the national government.

When the princess got married, she lived in Luoyang. And she often talked about her grandmother’s (Wu Zetian’s) affair with her husband and her elder brother, the prince Yide. Zhang Yizhi, one of the most beloved male lovers of Wu Zetian, reported to the Empress once he heard about it. As the result, Princess Yongtai, her husband, and her brother Prince Yide, were forced to commit suicide.

When she died she has an unborn  baby in belly. Her father Li Xian was alive at that time but he dared to say nothing. Several years later when Empress Wu Zetian was dead Li Xian came to throne for the 2nd time in 705. After his accession he moved his children’s and his son-in-law’s tombs to Qianling and put lots of dear subjects in their tombs.

Tomb of Princess Yongtai
Tomb of Princess Yongtai

What to See at the Tomb of Princess Yongtai

The tomb was unearthed from 1960 to 1962. In front of the Tomb of Princess Yongtai stand a pair of stone lions, a pair of Huabiao (a kind of special pillar), and 2 pairs of stone man figures. The tomb passage stretching aground to coffin chamber is 87.5m long and 3.9m wide. The coffin chamber was dug 16.7m underground. The whole tomb consists of tomb passage, 5 inner gates, 6 patios, corridors, 8 wing chambers, and the front and back tomb chambers. That symbols the luxury residence of the princess when she was alive.

The 8 wing chambers were filled with various sacrificial subjects. And the insider wall and roof of the coffin chambers  were painted with murals of honor guard, map of heaven, and court mattress. These murals faithfully reflected court life in the Tang Dynasty. Moreover, on the body of the stone coffin there are 15 vivid mattress figures who dressed in different costume and are enjoying their leisure time. And above the door of the coffin there is a pair of Chinese love birds flying to each other which means the connubial love between the princess and her husband.

Unfortunately, in process of excavation, archeologists found Princess Yongtai’s tomb was robbed in the late Five Dynasties Period (907-960) or the early Song Dynasty (960-1279), some gold and jade sacrificial subjects were lost. While the remaining subjects and murals still could tell modern people lots of basic facts of the court life and burial culture of the Tang Dynasty.

Murals in the Tomb of Princess Yongtai
Murals in the Tomb of Princess Yongtai

Travel Tips for the Tomb of Princess Yongtai

  • The tomb is part of the Qianling Mausoleum, given its large area, visitors can take a sightseeing bus to transfer between different sites, the ride takes CNY 30 per person.
  • Visitors are not allowed to take photos and touch the murals in the tomb.

How to Get to Qianling Mausoleum from Xi’an 

  • Take Tourist Bus No. 3 from the Xi’an Railway Station to get to Qianxian County, then take a taxi to get to Qianling Mausoleum;
  • Take a long-distance bus from Xi’an West Bus Station to Qianxian County, then take a taxi to get to Qianling Mausoleum;
  • Take a high-speed train from Xian North Railway Station to Qianxian County Station, then take Qianxian Bus No. 1 or take a taxi to get to the Qianling Mausoleum.

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