The Southern Dynasties Imperial Tombs in Danyang

The Southern Dynasties Imperial Tombs in Danyang

By Eric N. Danielson

(Original Post: 05-19-12.  Updated:  03-27-13)

Danyang [丹阳] is a small Jiangsu province town located on the Jiangnan section of the Hangzhou – Beijing Grand Canal (Jing Hang Da Yun He), about halfway in between the two larger cities of Changzhou [常州] and Zhenjiang [镇江].   Since 1949 it has been an administrative football, repeatedly thrown back and forth between its two neighbors.   Currently it belongs to the Zhenjiang municipality, and its status has been raised from that of a county to a city. Nonetheless, until recently there was no serviceable road connecting Danyang with Zhenjiang and the easiest way to get there was overland from Changzhou.   In 2012 a new high speed railway station was built in Danyang on the Shanghai to Beijing line, making it now possible to travel between there and Hongqiao Station in only 1 hour and 10 minutes. In May 2012 I made my most recent visit to Danyang, and after seven years of visiting there regularly since 2005 it seems finally time to share the information I have collected about this fascinating but little known place.  Although it is better known nowadays as a major production base for the optical lenses used in sunglasses and eyeglasses, it was also the hometown and burial place of two dynasties’ emperors.

A Brief History of Danyang

Danyang [丹阳] was first established in the Warring States period (Zhan Guo), when it was called Yunyang Yi. At that time a Yi was a political division similar to a county. During the Spring and Autumn Period (Chun Qiu), Danyang was the fife of Jili, a prince of the Wu Kingdom. When the emperor Qin Shi Huangdi unified China for the first time in 221 BC, he implemented a new administrative system of prefectures and counties. As a result, the former Yunyang Yi became Yunyang County. Soon afterward Yunyang County was renamed Que County. In 9 AD, the first year of Xinmang, the name Que was briefly replaced with the new name of Fengmei. However, it reverted back to being called Que County again in the early Eastern Han Dynasty. During the Three Kingdoms (San Guo) period of disunity after the fall of the Han Dynasty, when this area was part of the Wu Kingdom, the county’s name again reverted from Que back to Yunyang in 234 AD. Nonetheless, during the Jin Dynasty the county was once again renamed Que in 281 AD. Today the county’s two earlier names of Que and Yunyang are commemorated by two modern day street names in the city’s downtown.

During the period of the four Southern Dynasties (Nan Chao) [南朝] from 420 to 589 A.D., after the fall of the Jin Dynasty, China’s national capital was in Nanjing, but many of the emperors were buried in the countryside outside the small town of Danyang in southern Jiangsu province.  Eleven emperors of the Qi [齐] (479-502), and Liang [梁](502-557) dynasties were buried here.

During the Tang Dynasty, the name of Que County was finally changed to the present day name of Danyang in 742 A.D. In 758 AD Danyang County was subjected to Run Prefecture, the modern day Zhenjiang, a situation which continued during subsequent dynasties and still exists today.

After Danyang was captured by the Communists in April 1949 it changed hands several times between Zhenjiang and Changzhou over the next ten years until its administratively subordinate relationship to Zhenjiang was finalized in September 1959. In 1983, the national policy of cities ruling counties was put into practice, and Danyang County was again subjected to Zhenjiang City. However, in December 1987 Danyang’s administrative status was upgraded from that of a county (xian) to a city (shi). In 2005 a new public library and city museum were established beside beside Wanshou Park, notable for its pagoda tower, and a replica city wall was built around the entire compound enclosing all three sites.

The Southern Dynasties Tombs

Each of the Southern Dynasties imperial tombs in Danyang was marked by a pair of stone statues of mythical animals known variously in Chinese as Tianlu [天禄], Bixie, or Qylin [麒麟].  The most distinguishing factor between a Tianlu [天禄] and a Bixie is that Tianlu have two horns, but Bixie don’t have any horns at all.  According to the Danyang Xian Zhi, it seems that each tomb was originally marked by one Tianlu and one Bixie facing each other.  Apparently the Tianlu was meant to face south, whereas the Bixie would face north, standing on opposite sides of the east-west axis of the emperor’s sacred way (shen dao). However, in practice it is difficult for the naked eye to tell the difference between the very similar looking Tianlu and Bixie, especially since the ravages of time have left many of the Qylin statues in imperfect condition; some are missing their heads now, and in other cases the horns may have broken off. In English sources they are often simply called Chimera or Unicorns.  Both Victor Segalen and Barry Till opted to use the term Chimera.  For the purposes of this posting I will simplify it by calling these stone statues Qylin, unless it can be definitely ascertained that they are a Tianlu or Bixie.

These stone animal statues are extremely life like and almost frightening.  More than 1,500 years after they were carved out of stone they still look as if they could suddenly spring to life and start chasing you away from the emperor’s tomb they were meant to protect.   These mythical animals have four muscular legs and paws with vicious claws, one of which is usually shown crushing a small animal under foot.   On their rear ends they have long coiled stone tails and backbones, intricately carved wings on their sides, horns on their heads, flaring nostrils, bulging eyes, wide open, roaring mouths depicting sharp teeth, and long tongues hanging down over their chins. In 1977 most of the Qylin statues in Danyang were placed on cement foundations to protect them.

Based on the number of imperial tomb sites in Danyang, and the fact that each one originally had two stone Qylin statues, there should have once been a total of 22 Qylin statues in the Danyang area.  However, today there are only 17 Qylin statues left, and these are in various conditions, some of them missing their heads, rear ends, or legs.  It would be unfair to entirely blame the damaged and missing Qylin on the Chinese themselves, as Barry Till has documented at least 8 Qylin statues held by museums in Western countries.

There are 11 known Southern Dynasties imperial tombs spread out in five different rural areas to the east and northeast of Danyang City. Although none of the tomb mounds have survived, some of the sites were excavated in the late 1960s.   Interestingly, each tomb’s sacred way (shen dao) was arranged from east to west, rather than the normal south to north pattern of Chinese imperial tombs and temples.  However, the whole collection of tomb sites is arranged in almost a straight south to north line from the town of Ling Kou Zhen [陵口镇] in the southeast to the towns of Hu Qiao [胡桥] and Pi Cheng Zhen  [埤城镇] in the northeast.

Although most of these tombs are marked by inscribed stone tablets erected in 1989, and also appear in small print on the local Chinese language map, there are no street signs pointing the way, and their precise locations are often difficult to find. The shi bei stone tablets contain little information except for the posthumous temple name of the emperor buried there and the name of his tomb.  In at least three cases, the shi bei simply state that the exact identity of the tomb’s occupant is not known.  Therefore, to get additional details it has been necessary to consult a variety of other sources, a list of which is appended to the end of this post.  In most cases the local residents themselves know little about these tombs in their own backyards, often incorrectly telling inquiring visitors that there is nothing to see there, or that all the emperors are buried in Beijing.

It’s worth noting that there are additional Southern Dynasties imperial tombs in the rural countryside at the foot of Qi Xia Shan outside Nanjing, most notably those of Liang Dynasty (Liang Cha0) [梁朝] princes Xiao Jing [萧景](477-523), Xiao Hong [萧宏](473-526), Xiao Xiu [萧秀](475-518), and Xiao Zhan[萧谵] (478-522).  There is also one lone tomb of the Liang royal prince Xiao Ji [萧绩] (d. 529) in Jurong [句容] district of Zhenjiang [镇江].  Xiao Ji [萧绩] was the fourth son of Liang emperor Wu Di, aka Xiao Yan, and was known as the Nan Kang Jian Wang (南康简王).  The tombs of Xiao Jing, Xiao Hong, Xiao Xiu, Xiao Zhan, and Xiao Ji originally all had two stone columns (shi zhu) [石柱] with inverse mirror image inscriptions on stone tablets, and as such were very similar in design to that of Liang Wen Di’s tomb in Danyang.

Tomb of Xiao Ji in Jurong, Zhenjiang in 1912 (Tchang).

Tomb of Xiao Ji in Jurong, Zhenjiang in 1912 (Tchang).

Tomb of Xiao Ji in Jurong, Zhenjiang in 1917 (Segalen)

Tomb of Xiao Ji in Jurong, Zhenjiang in 1917 (Segalen)

Tomb of Xiao Ji in Jurong, Zhenjiang in 1912 (Tchang).

Tomb of Xiao Ji in Jurong, Zhenjiang in 1912 (Tchang).

Tomb of Xiao Hong at the foot of Qi Xia Shan outside Nanjing.

Tomb of Xiao Hong at the foot of Qi Xia Shan outside Nanjing.

Tomb Area I:   Qian Ai Town [前艾乡]

Starting from the Xin Shi Kou city center of Danyang, where most of the hotels are located, take Yunyang Lu over the bridge across the Grand Canal (Jing Hang Da Yun He) to Jinling Xi Lu. Follow Jinling Xi Lu eastward towards the small town of Qian Ai Xiang [前艾乡] out in the countryside.  Drive under the Hu Ning Gao Su expressway through an underpass. Immediately outside of the underpass, just before reaching the village of Kuai Jia Shu Jia Cun, turn left onto a paved road with no name.  Prior to my May 2012 visit there had never been a sign marking this turnoff, but now there is a Chinese language sign that says, “Zhonghua Qi Liang Wenhua Luyou Qu,” which can be roughly translated as “Chinese Qi and Liang Dynasty Cultural Tourism Zone.”  This is the only one of the tomb areas marked by any street signs.

The sign marking the turnoff to four southern dynasty tombs on the road to Qian Ai Town.

The sign marking the turnoff to four southern dynasty tombs on the road to Qian Ai Town.

The turnoff to four southern dynasties tombs on the road to Qian Ai Town.

The turnoff to four southern dynasties tombs on the road to Qian Ai Town.

Don’t let this sign give you any false impressions, though.  There are no tourism facilities available in this area, such as food, water, shelter, restrooms, etc., so come prepared as if you were going hiking in the forest.  That would be useful preparation for visits to any of the historic sites described here.

Still, the serenity of this once isolated site has now somewhat been broken as it has become sandwiched in between the Hu Ning Gao Su expressway on its west side and the new Shanghai-Beijing high-speed railway on its east side.  You can now hear the roaring of high-speed trains traveling by at 400 km. per hour, and the Danyang North Station (Bei Zhan) is visible in the distance.  Nonetheless, there are no shops or restaurants.

Along the left side of this country road are arranged a row of four parallel southern dynasties imperial tombs featuring a total of six intact Qylin statues, two stone columns, two stone turtles, and four new inscribed shibei tablets. Unfortunately, none of the tomb mounds have survived.

Based on my trip notes, photographs, and research into published sources, my conclusion is that tomb 1 is that of Qi Ming Di; tomb 2 is that of Liang Wen Di, father of Liang Dynasty founder Liang Wu Di; tomb 3 is that of Liang Wu Di; and tomb 4 is that of Liang Jian Wen Di.

Tomb Site 1:  Qi Ming Di [齐明帝]

Qi Ming Di [齐明帝] was born as Xiao Luan [萧鸾] in 447 and reigned as ruler of the Qi Dynasty [齐朝] from 494 to 498.  His tomb is called Xing An Ling [兴安陵].  There is one fairly intact Qylin here facing north, separated by a water channel from the battered torso of another barely recognizable one facing south, which is missing its head and all four legs.  In contrast, Barry Till reported in 1982 that there was only one remaining Qylin statue here, and that it was mounted on stone blocks because it had lost all four its legs, whereas the second Qylin had completely “disappeared.”  There is a photo of one Qylin at the tomb of Qi Ming Di in Mathias Tchang’s “Tombeau des Liang,” published in 1912.

1989 stone tablet marking the site of Qi Ming Di's tomb.

1989 stone tablet marking the site of Qi Ming Dis tomb.

                                                                       

Qi Ming Di's tomb marked by a 1989 stone tablet and a largely intact, original stone Qylin statue.  The Qylin's legs may have been repaired since Barry Till's 1982 description of the site.

Qi Ming Dis tomb marked by a 1989 stone tablet and a largely intact, original stone Qylin statue. The Qylins legs may have been repaired since Barry Tills 1982 description of the site.

                                                                                                                         

A roaring Qylin at Qi Ming Di's tomb.

A roaring Qylin at Qi Ming Dis tomb.

The east side of the intact Qylin at Qi Ming Di's tomb.

The east side of the intact Qylin at Qi Ming Dis tomb.

The rear of the intact Qylin at Qi Ming Di's tomb.

The rear of the intact Qylin at Qi Ming Dis tomb.

The west side of the intact Qylin at Qi Ming Di's tomb.

The west side of the intact Qylin at Qi Ming Dis tomb.

The front end of the intact Qylin at Qi Ming Di's tomb.

The front end of the intact Qylin at Qi Ming Dis tomb.

The remains of the second Qylin at Qi Ming Di's tomb, to the north of the intact one, across a small channel of water.

The remains of the second Qylin at Qi Ming Dis tomb, to the north of the intact one, across a small channel of water.

A distant shot of Qi Ming Di's tomb taken from the north.

A distant shot of Qi Ming Dis tomb taken from the north.

A Qylin at the tomb of Qi Ming Di in 1912 (Tchang).

A Qylin at the tomb of Qi Ming Di in 1912 (Tchang).

The foot path connecting the four tombs.

The foot path connecting the four tombs.

Tomb Site 2:  Liang Wen Di [梁文帝]

Liang Wen Di [梁文帝] was born as Xiao Shunzhi [萧顺之] and died in 494.  He never reigned as emperor during his life time, but was the father of Liang Wu Di [梁武帝], the founder of the Liang Dynasty (Liang Cha0) [梁朝].  Liang Wen Di was posthumously raised to the level of ancestral emperor (Tai Zu Wen Huang Di) and his tomb constructed in 502, the year that Liang Wu Di founded the Liang Dynasty, as a means of legitimizing his rule.  It is by far the most impressive one of all the Southern Dynasties tombs in Danyang.   It lies 300 meters north of the tomb of Qi Ming Di.  Liang Wen Di’s tomb is known as Jian Ling [建陵].  It features an east-west sacred way (shen dao) with two Qylin [麒麟] facing each other, a collection of seven square stone blocks that may have once been supports for a wooden pailou gate; a pair of two Greco-Roman fluted columns (shi zhu) [石柱] with coiled animal carvings at their bases, inscribed stone tablets near their tops, and round stone discs on top; and a pair of two stone turtles (gui fu) [龟趺] which originally supported inscribed stone tablets that have since disappeared.

The inscribed stone tablets near the tops of the columns bear identical inscriptions with characters written in reverse order from each other.  On the south column they read from right to left, and on the north column from left to right.  However, as Wu Hung (1994) has noted, the characters on the north column’s tablet are not only in reverse order daoshu script.  In fact the inscription on the north column is an inverse mirror image of the other, a highly unusual type of Chinese calligraphy known as fanzuoshu (inverted left handwriting).

A pair of similar stone columns were part of the Liang Dynasty tomb of Xiao Jing, located at the foot of Qi Xia Shan outside Nanjing. Although only one column remains standing at that site, it has a stone statue of a winged lion on top of the round disc, unlike the columns at Liang Wen Di’s tomb.  Whether or not the columns at Liang Wen Di’s tomb once had these additional stone animal statues atop their discs is not known.  Inverse mirror inscriptions were also found on the pair of stone columns at the tomb of Xiao Ji (d.529) in Jurong, Zhenjiang.   There are a total of seven surviving inscriptions on the stone pillars of Liang royal tombs.

Stone column at the tomb of Xiao Jing in 1912 (Tchang).

Stone column at the tomb of Xiao Jing in 1912 (Tchang).

Although the site of Liang Wen Di’s tomb appears largely intact today, it has apparently gone through some changes over the past century.  There is a photo of the Liang Wen Di tomb site in Mathias Tchang’s “Tombeau des Liang,” published in 1912.  In this photo there are two stone columns standing, but neither one has its round stone disc on top, one is broken at a jagged angle about two-thirds of the way up, and only the other one still has its inscribed stone tablet attached.  Remains of the two stone turtles can be seen, as can the stone blocks scattered about, but no Qylin statutes are visible in the photo.  Tchang’s book also included a sketch of how the Liang Wen Di tomb site may have originally looked.  Later, Ann Paludan was photographed at the site in the 1970s when there was only one column and one Qylin still standing. Barry Till reported in 1982 that the two inscribed stone tablets had been previously removed from the columns in 1909 and taken to a local museum.  He included a photograph of the two stone tablets side by side, embedded in a wall of the museum. However, Till’s account does not make it clear how many of the columns were standing when he visited the site, simply saying that there were originally two of them.  Unfortunately, his book did not include a photo of the whole tomb site.  We can probably assume that there was only column standing when he visited, and that it was missing its stone tablet. According to the Danyang Xian Zhi, the missing column had reportedly broken into two halves and been taken away for repairs. Finally, in 1990 the broken column was reassembled and the site assumed its present appearance in which both columns seem to be completely intact, authentic relics. Certainly it has had its present appearance since I started visiting the site in 2005.

1989 stone tablet at Liang Wen Di's tomb.

1989 stone tablet at Liang Wen Dis tomb.

Liang Wen Di's tomb site in 1912 (Tchang).

Liang Wen Di's tomb site in 1912 (Tchang).

Mathia Tchang's 1912 reconstruction of the Liang Wen Di tomb site.

Mathia Tchang's 1912 reconstruction of the Liang Wen Di tomb site.

A panoramic shot of Liang Wen Di's tomb site taken from the southeast corner.

A panoramic shot of Liang Wen Dis tomb site taken from the southeast corner.

The south column and Qylin at Liang Wen Di's tomb.

The south column and Qylin at Liang Wen Dis tomb.

The north column at Liang Wen Di's tomb.

The north column at Liang Wen Dis tomb.


The south column at Liang Wen Di's tomb.

The south column at Liang Wen Dis tomb.

Inscribed tablet near the top of the north column at Liang Wen Di's tomb.

Inscribed tablet near the top of the north column at Liang Wen Di

Close up of the inscription on the Inscribed tablet near the top of the north column at Liang Wen Di's tomb.  The first three characters read from left to right, "Tai Wen Di..."

Close up of the inscription on the Inscribed tablet near the top of the north column at Liang Wen Dis tomb. The first three characters read from left to right, "Tai Wen Di..."

Coiled animals at the base of the north stone column at Liang Wen Di's tomb.

Coiled animals at the base of the north stone column at Liang Wen Di

Coiled animals carving at the base of a stone column at Liang Wen Di's tomb in 1912 (Tchang).

Coiled animals carving at the base of a stone column at Liang Wen Di's tomb in 1912 (Tchang).

The north side of the sacred way (shen dao) with intact column and partly damaged Qylin at Liang Wen Di's tomb.

The north side of the sacred way (shen dao) with intact column and partly damaged Qylin at Liang Wen Dis tomb.

The two Qylin at Liang Wen Di's tomb seen from the west.  The north one is partly damaged, while the southern one is intact.

The two Qylin at Liang Wen Dis tomb seen from the west. The north one is partly damaged, while the southern one is intact.

The Liang Wen Di tomb site seen from the west.

The Liang Wen Di tomb site seen from the west.

that once supported a now missing inscribed stone tablet at Liang Wen Di’s tomb.”]A stone turtle (gui fu) [龟趺] that once supported a now missing inscribed stone tablet at Liang Wen Di's tomb.

A stone turtle (gui fu) [龟趺

[caption id="attachment_352" align="aligncenter" width="580" caption="A stone turtle (gui fu) [龟趺"]that once supported a now missing inscribed stone tablet at Liang Wen Di’s tomb.”]A stone turtle (gui fu) [龟趺] that once supported a now missing inscribed stone tablet at Liang Wen Di's tomb.[/caption]
The north stone column at Liang Wen Di's tomb.

The north stone column at Liang Wen Dis tomb.

Inscribed tablet on the north column at Liang Wen Di's tomb. This one reads from left to right, which has been the normal character order since 1949, but was the reverse of the normal order before 1949.

Inscribed tablet on the north column at Liang Wen Dis tomb. This one reads from left to right, which has been the normal character order since 1949, but was the reverse of the normal order before 1949.

Inscribed tablet with reverse inscription on the south column at Liang Wen Di's tomb.  This one reads from right to left, which was the normal character order before 1949.

Inscribed tablet with reverse inscription on the south column at Liang Wen Dis tomb. This one reads from right to left, which was the normal character order before 1949.

Coiled animals at the base of a stone column at Liang Wen Di's tomb.

Coiled animals at the base of a stone column at Liang Wen Dis tomb.

The intact stone Qylin statue at the southeast corner of the Liang Wen Di tomb site.

The intact stone Qylin statue at the southeast corner of the Liang Wen Di tomb site.

Intact southern Qylin at Liang Wen Di's tomb seen from the front end.

Intact southern Qylin at Liang Wen Dis tomb seen from the front end.

.”]The partly damaged Qylin statue missing all four legs and its face at the northeast corner of the Liang Wen Di tomb site.  This one is apparently a Tianlu [天禄].

The partly damaged Qylin statue missing all four legs and its face at the northeast corner of the Liang Wen Di tomb site. This one is apparently a Tianlu [天禄

[caption id="attachment_359" align="aligncenter" width="580" caption="Liang Wen Di Tianlu [天禄"].”]Liang Wen Di Tianlu [天禄].[/caption]
in the foreground, Bixie facing it in the distance.”]Liang Wen Di Tianlu [天禄] in the foreground, Bixie facing it in the distance.

Liang Wen Di Tianlu [天禄

4 of the 7 mysterious stone blocks at Liang Wen Di's tomb which may have once supported a wooden pailou gate.

4 of the 7 mysterious stone blocks at Liang Wen Dis tomb which may have once supported a wooden pailou gate.

The southern column at Liang Wen Di's tomb.

The southern column at Liang Wen Dis tomb.

The north side of the shen dao at Liang Wen Di's tomb.

The north side of the shen dao at Liang Wen Dis tomb.

The south side of the shen dao at Liang Wen Di's tomb.

The south side of the shen dao at Liang Wen Dis tomb.

The south column at Liang Wen Di's tomb.

The south column at Liang Wen Dis tomb.

The intact Qylin on the south side of the she dao of Liang Wen Di's tomb.

The intact Qylin on the south side of the she dao of Liang Wen Dis tomb.

Ditto.

The coiled animals on the base of the south column are not as detailed as those on the north one.

The coiled animals on the base of the south column are not as detailed as those on the north one.

South column inscription reads from right to left, "Tai Wen Di..."

South column inscription reads from right to left, "Tai Wen Di..."

Column decoration at Liang Wen Di's tomb.

Column decoration at Liang Wen Dis tomb.

Liang Wen Di's tomb site seen from the east on a typically dark and cloudy day in Danyang.  In my 7 years of visiting this site the sun has never shone once.

Liang Wen Dis tomb site seen from the east on a typically dark and cloudy day in Danyang. In my 7 years of visiting this site the sun has never shone once.

Tomb Site 3:  Liang Wu Di [梁武帝] 

Liang Wu Di [梁武帝] was born as Xiao Yan [蕭衍] in 463 and reigned as emperor from 502 to 549.  He was the founder of the Liang Dynasty (Liang Cha0) [梁朝].  His tomb is known as Xiu Ling [修陵] and is located a short walk 200 meters north of that of Liang Wen Di.  Besides the 1989 stone tablet marking the site, the only remaining historic relic is one largely intact, well-preserved Qylin.  The Qylin has two horns clearly visible on top of its head, which means that it should technically be called a Tianlu [天禄].  This is the only intact Tianlu at these four tomb sites.  There is a photo of one Qylin at the tomb of Liang Wu Di in Mathias Tchang’s “Tombeau des Liang,” published in 1912.

1989 tablet marking the site of Liang Wu Di's tomb.

1989 tablet marking the site of Liang Wu Dis tomb.

The one intact Qylin statue at Liang Wu Di's tomb.  Since this one has two horns on its head, technically it should be called a Tianlu.

The one intact Qylin statue at Liang Wu Dis tomb. Since this one has two horns on its head, technically it should be called a Tianlu.

Close up of the front of the Tianlu at Liang Wu Di's tomb, facing south.

Close up of the front of the Tianlu at Liang Wu Dis tomb, facing south.

East side of the Tianlu at Liang Wu Di's tomb.

East side of the Tianlu at Liang Wu Dis tomb.

Front end of the roaring Tianlu at Liang Wu Di's tomb.

Front end of the roaring Tianlu at Liang Wu Dis tomb.

Southwest view of the Tianlu at Liang Wu Di's tomb.

Southwest view of the Tianlu at Liang Wu Dis tomb.

West side of the Tianlu at Liang Wu Di's tomb.

West side of the Tianlu at Liang Wu Dis tomb.

Northwest view of the Tianlu at Liang Wu Di's tomb.

Northwest view of the Tianlu at Liang Wu Dis tomb.

Northeast view of the Tianlu at Liang Wu Di's tomb.

Northeast view of the Tianlu at Liang Wu Dis tomb.

East side of the Tianlu at Liang Wu Di's tomb.

East side of the Tianlu at Liang Wu Dis tomb.

Rear view of the Tianlu at Liang Wu Di's tomb.

Rear view of the Tianlu at Liang Wu Dis tomb.

A Qylin at the tomb of Liang Wu Di in 1912 (Tchang).

A Qylin at the tomb of Liang Wu Di in 1912 (Tchang).

Tomb Site 4:  Liang Jian Wen Di [梁簡文帝]

Liang Jian Wen Di [梁簡文帝] (503-551) was born as Xiao Gang [萧纲] in 503 and reigned as emperor from 549 until his death in 551.  He was known for his poetry, several collections of which still exist, including some in English translations.  His tomb is known as Zhuang Ling [庄陵] and is just a few steps further north of that of Liang Wu Di.  Unfortunately, of all the southern dynasties tombs in Danyang, with the exception of Qi Gao Di’s tomb, the tomb of Liang Jian Wen Di has suffered the most destruction.  Besides the 1989 stone tablet, the one historic relic at the site is the front half of a single Qylin with only one front leg.  There is not enough left of this relic to determine whether it is a Tianlu or  Bixie.  Although from the pathway on its east side it looks in quite bad condition, viewed from the west side the details in the Qylin’s head and one remaining leg are actually quite impressive. Oddly enough, Till’s 1982 account described one “headless” stone Qylin as marking this site, whereas today the reverse is true, the head being the only part still there, and the rear half of the Qylin missing.

The 1989 stone tablet marking the site of Liang Jian Wen Di's tomb.

The 1989 stone tablet marking the site of Liang Jian Wen Dis tomb.

East side of the remainder of the only Qylin statue left at Liang Jian Wen Di's tomb.

East side of the remainder of the only Qylin statue left at Liang Jian Wen Dis tomb.

Rear view of the sole surviving Qylin at Liang Jian Wen Di's tomb, making it look as if it were actually sawed in half.

Rear view of the sole surviving Qylin at Liang Jian Wen Dis tomb, making it look as if it were actually sawed in half.

Viewed from the northwest, the roaring head and front claws of the Qylin at Liang Jian Wen Di's tomb  are still impressively intact.

Viewed from the northwest, the roaring head and front claws of the Qylin at Liang Jian Wen Dis tomb are still impressively intact.

Close up of the head of the Qylin at Liang Jian Wen Di's tomb.  Since this is facing north, it should be a Bixie.

Close up of the head of the Qylin at Liang Jian Wen Dis tomb. Since this is facing north, it should be a Bixie.

The gnarled left front claw of the Qylin at Liang Jian We Di's tomb.

The gnarled left front claw of the Qylin at Liang Jian We Dis tomb.

Tomb Area II:  Hu Qiao Town [胡桥乡]

Traveling down the Dan Jie Gong Lu highway from the Danyang city center towards the town of Jiepai Zhen [界牌镇] (23 km distant), you cross a bridge over the Hu Ning Gao Su expressway.  Try to avoid being distracted by large signs pointing towards a new fake Southern Dynasties amusement park which contains no real historic relics.   Before you reach a gas station on the left side of the road turn left onto Xian Quan Lu headed towards the small town of Hu Qiao (Huqiao Xiang) [胡桥乡].  There used to be a street sign at this turnoff but on my last visit it had been obliterated.

Ignore this sign and keep driving northeast on Dan Jie Gong Lu.  Don't turn left here.

Ignore this sign and keep driving northeast on Dan Jie Gong Lu. Dont turn left here.

Turn left here onto Xian Quan Lu.

Turn left here onto Xian Quan Lu.

Tomb Site 1:  Qi Jing Di [齐景帝]

Just before the nameless wooden gate of a shan zhuang fishing resort, turn right onto an unmarked dirt road.  Only a small abandoned, half-sunken brick house marks the turnoff.  The two best Qylin of all are hiding in a forest grove of trees to the left of this dirt road.   Contrary to the format of the first four tombs, at this one a two-horned Tianlu faces north, while a Bixie with no horns faces south.  This is the tomb of Qi Jing Di [齐景帝], who was born Xiao Daosheng [萧道生].  He never ruled as emperor during his lifetime but was the father of Emperor Qi Ming Di [齐明帝], aka Xiao Luan [萧鸾], who later raised him to the rank of emperor posthumously.  The name of this tomb is Xiu An Ling [修安陵].  When Barry Till described this site in 1982 he agreed with my present assessment of this as being the most well preserved pair of Qylin statues in Danyang.  He further reported that the site had been excavated at some time prior to his visit, yielding a great deal of Qi Dynasty artifacts.

The turnoff to Qi Jing Di's tomb.

The turnoff to Qi Jing Dis tomb.

The inscription on this 1989 tablet marking the site of Qi Jing Di's tomb is written in the traditional characters used before 1949.

The inscription on this 1989 tablet marking the site of Qi Jing Dis tomb is written in the traditional characters used before 1949.

First glimpse of the Tianlu at Qi Jing Di's tomb from the rear.

First glimpse of the Tianlu at Qi Jing Dis tomb from the rear.

West side view of the Tianlu at Qi Jing Di's tomb.

West side view of the Tianlu at Qi Jing Dis tomb.

Northwest view of the Tianlu at Qi Jing Di's tomb.

Northwest view of the Tianlu at Qi Jing Dis tomb.

Front view of the Tianlu at Qi Jing Di's tomb.

Front view of the Tianlu at Qi Jing Dis tomb.

Northeast view of the Tianlu at Qi Jing Di's tomb.

Northeast view of the Tianlu at Qi Jing Dis tomb.

East side view of the Tianlu at Qi Jing Di's tomb.

East side view of the Tianlu at Qi Jing Dis tomb.

Close up of the head of the Tianlu at Qi Jing Di's tomb.  It looks like he's missing his teeth.

Close up of the head of the Tianlu at Qi Jing Dis tomb. It looks like hes missing his teeth.

The Bixie facing south, opposite the Tianlu, at Qi Jing Di's tomb.

The Bixie facing south, opposite the Tianlu, at Qi Jing Dis tomb.

Ditto.

The west side of the Bixie at Qi Jing Di's tomb.

The west side of the Bixie at Qi Jing Dis tomb.

Ditto.

Northwest rear view of Bixie at Qi Jing Di's tomb.

Northwest rear view of Bixie at Qi Jing Dis tomb.

Bixie and Tianlu face to face at Qi Jing Di's tomb.

Bixie and Tianlu face to face at Qi Jing Dis tomb.

Front view of the Tianlu at Qi Jing Dis tomb.

Tianlu and Bixie face to face at Qi Jing Di's tomb.

Tianlu and Bixie face to face at Qi Jing Dis tomb.

Qi Jing Di's tomb is hidden in this grove of trees.  Can you spot the Bixie?

Qi Jing Dis tomb is hidden in this grove of trees. Can you spot the Bixie?

Tomb Site 2:  Qi Xuan Di [齐宣帝]

Continue driving up Xian Quan Lu to the small town of Hu Qiao (Huqiao Xiang) [胡桥乡].  Turn right at the fork in the road and drive on to the village of Zhang Zhuang Cun [张庄村].  Turn right onto an unmarked dirt road at a house with the address of #86 Zhang Zhuang Cun. This is right across the street from a public bus stop labeled Zhang Zhuang Cun [张庄村]. At the end of the dirt road start walking up a long dirt path through the farmers’ fields. There is a Qi Dynasty tomb hidden here in the fields with two Qylin statues, one of which is missing its head.  This is the tomb of Qi Xuan Di [齐宣帝], who was born as Xiao Cheng [萧承] and died in 447.  Although he never ruled as emperor, he was the father of Qi Gao Di [齐高帝], who was born as Xiao Daocheng [萧道成] in 423 and reigned from 479 to 482.  The name of this tomb is Yong An Ling [永安陵].  According to Barry Till, Xiao Cheng [萧承] was buried here when he died in 447, but the pair of stone Qylin statues were not added until 479, the first year of Xiao Daocheng’s reign as emperor, when the latter raised his deceased father to the status of an emperor as a mean of legitimizing his own rule.

Inscribed stone tablet dated 1989 marking the tomb site of Qi Xuan Di.

Inscribed stone tablet dated 1989 marking the tomb site of Qi Xuan Di.

Qi Xuan Di tomb site set in a farmer's field as seen from the distance.

Qi Xuan Di tomb site set in a farmer's field as seen from the distance.

The intact Qylin at Qi Xuan Di tomb site.

The intact Qylin at Qi Xuan Di tomb site.

Both Qylin of the Qi Xuan Di tomb seen in a farmer's field from the distance.

Both Qylin of the Qi Xuan Di tomb seen in a farmer's field from the distance.

Intact Qylin at Qi Xuan Di tomb seen from the rear.

Intact Qylin at Qi Xuan Di tomb seen from the rear.

Intact Qyilin at Qi Xuan Di tomb seen from the side.

Intact Qyilin at Qi Xuan Di tomb seen from the side.

The headless Qylin at Qi Xuan Di tomb.

The headless Qylin at Qi Xuan Di tomb.

The intact Qylin at Qi Xuan Di tomb seen from the front.

The intact Qylin at Qi Xuan Di tomb seen from the front.

The intact Qylin at Qi Xuan Di tomb seen from front side.

The intact Qylin at Qi Xuan Di tomb seen from front side.

The headless Qylin at Qi Xuan Di tomb seen from front side.  Notice the small animal under its front right paw.

The headless Qylin at Qi Xuan Di tomb seen from front side.

Side view of the headless Qylin at Qi Xuan Di tomb.

Side view of the headless Qylin at Qi Xuan Di tomb.

The foot trail into Qi Xuan Di tomb from the village of Zhang Zhuang Cun.

The foot trail into Qi Xuan Di tomb from the village of Zhang Zhuang Cun.

The foot trail into Qi Xuan Di tomb from the village of Zhang Zhuang Cun.

The foot trail into Qi Xuan Di tomb from the village of Zhang Zhuang Cun.

The dirt road through the village of Zhang Zhuang Cun to Qi Xuan Di tomb.

The dirt road through the village of Zhang Zhuang Cun to Qi Xuan Di tomb.

The turn off to Qi Xuan Di tomb at 86 Zhang Zhuang Cun.

The turn off to Qi Xuan Di tomb at 86 Zhang Zhuang Cun.

Tomb Site 3:  Qi Gao Di [齐高帝]

According to various sources, the tomb of Qi Gao Di [齐高帝] may also be in the Hu Qiao area, but its apparent lack of extant historic relics and difficulty in finding it may not make it worth the trouble to search for it.  Qi Gao Di [齐高帝] was born as Xiao Daocheng [萧道成] in 423 and reigned from 479 to 482.  Paludan claims that Qi Gao Di’s tomb was in Danyang, but she does not mention the name of Gao Di’s tomb, nor it’s precise location.  Till stated in 1982 that Qi Dao Di’s tomb was “just west of” Qi Xuan Di’s tomb.  He reported that it was then already missing all of its stone statues, although there had still been one headless stone Qylin standing at the start of the 20th century.  The Danyang Xian Zhi specifically mentions a Qi Gao Di tomb as being located in Hu Qiao Zhen, and even names it as Tai An Ling [泰安陵].  However, it also says that there are no stone statues left standing there, although it is supposedly marked by a mu bei stone tablet, probably similar to the ones erected at the other imperial tomb sites in 1989.  No Qi Gao Di tomb appears on the local map.

When you’re finished retrace your steps back to Dan Jie Gong Lu.

Tomb Area III:  Pi Cheng Gong Lu Corridor

From the intersection of Dan Jie Gong Lu and Xian Quan Lu, continue heading towards the town of  Jie Pai [界牌镇] until you reach a fork in the road and take the left fork onto Pi Cheng Gong Lu headed towards Pi Cheng town [埤城镇].  This leads you into a rural area known as Shui Jing Shan, where there are two more Qi Dynasty imperial tomb sites right beside the road on both the left and right sides.  At the time when the existing mu bei stone tablets were erected in 1989, local authorities still were not sure which emperors were buried in these two tombs, so no names appear on them.  Since then there has continued to be some unconfirmed speculation.

Tomb Site 1:  Hai Ling Wang [海陵王]

On the left side of the road there is a Qi Dynasty [齐朝] tomb with one small Qylin.  Although the shi bei has no name on it, since it was erected in 1989 experts have concluded that this is probably the tomb of the Prince of Hai Ling (Hai Ling Wang) [海陵王], who was born Xiao Zhaowen [萧昭文], and ruled briefly as the Qi Dynasty [齐朝] emperor for one year in 494.

Tomb Site 2:  Yu Lin Wang [郁林王]

On the right side of the road there is a pair of two small Qylin facing each other.  The stone tablet simply says “Shui Jing Shan…” without identifying the tomb occupants’ name.  However, since the shi bei was erected in 1989 experts have concluded that this is possibly the tomb of the Prince of Yu Lin (Yu Lin Wang) [郁林王], born Xiao Zhaoye [萧昭业] in 473 and briefly ruled as Qi Dynasty [齐朝] emperor from 493 to 494.

After exploring the Pi Cheng Lu corridor, turn around and head back to Dan Jie Gong Lu, retrace your steps until you reach the intersection of Hu Gao Lu with Dan Jie Gong Lu.  Coming from the direction of Jie Pai town [界牌镇] turn left onto Hu Gao Lu and drive through the village of Jian Shan Cun [建山村]. Hu Gao Lu is used by fleets of heavy dump trucks that kick up clouds of choking dust. As a result it used to be in such bad condition that a normal car could barely travel this route, but recently it was rebuilt as a smooth, cement paved road. It connects the highway of Dan Jie Gong Lu and the small village of Jian Shan Cun [建山村] with Qian Ai Town [前艾乡] and Jinling Xi Lu.

Tomb Area IV:  Hu Gao Lu Corridor

Tomb Site 1:  Dong Hun Hou [东昏侯]

Across the street from a new industrial compound with the address of #108 Hu Gao Lu you will see an abandoned backyard furnace with a nest of conveyor belts sticking up out it like feathers in a hat. Turn right onto this unmarked road and pass through the small village of Jin Jia Cun [金家村]. At the end of the paved road begin a very long walk down a dirt track all the way to the far end of a farmers field that’s about as long as three football stadiums. A Southern Dynasty tomb with two slightly damaged Qylin stands at the end of this field. There is a modern shi bei stone tablet with the front side facing backwards towards a grove of trees that nearly make it impossible to read the inscription, which simply says “Jin Wang Chen Nan Qi.” The inscription roughly translates as “a respected king of either the Chen or Southern Qi dynasties.” The site was reportedly excavated in 1968, which yielded some underground painted murals as well as other relics, but not enough evidence to positively identify which emperor was buried here. In 1977 the two Qylin at this site were placed on cement foundations and in 1989 the anonymous shi bei stone tablet was erected. In recent years experts have speculated that this may have been the tomb of the Duke of Dong Hun (Dong Hun Hou) [东昏侯], the second to last Qi Dynasty [齐朝] ruler, who was born as Xiao Baojuan [萧宝卷] in 582 and reigned from 499 to 501. This site is closer to the Jian Shan Cun [建山村] end of Hu Gao Lu.

The two stone Qylin of Dong Hun Hou stand in a farmer's field as seen from a long distance away.

The two stone Qylin of Dong Hun Hou stand in a farmer's field as seen from a long distance away.

The long dirt road into the Dong Hun Hou tomb site.

The long dirt road into the Dong Hun Hou tomb site.

The long dirt road into the Dong Hun Hou tomb site.

The long dirt road into the Dong Hun Hou tomb site.

The long dirt road into the Dong Hun Hou tomb site.

The long dirt road into the Dong Hun Hou tomb site.

The two stone Qylin of Dong Hun Hou stand far apart from each other, as seen from a bit closer distance.

The two stone Qylin of Dong Hun Hou stand far apart from each other, as seen from a bit closer distance.

The far Qylin of Dong Hun Hou tomb.

The far Qylin of Dong Hun Hou tomb.

The near Qylin at Dong Hun Hou tomb.

The near Qylin at Dong Hun Hou tomb.

The misleading and uninformative, backwards facing sign at the Dong Hun Hou tomb site.

The misleading and uninformative, backwards facing sign at the Dong Hun Hou tomb site.

The far Qylin at Dong Hun Hou tomb.

The far Qylin at Dong Hun Hou tomb.

The far Qylin at Dong Hun Hou tomb.

The far Qylin at Dong Hun Hou tomb.

The far Qylin at Dong Hun Hou tomb.

The far Qylin at Dong Hun Hou tomb.

The near Qylin at Dong Hun Hou tomb site.

The near Qylin at Dong Hun Hou tomb site.

The near Qylin at Dong Hun Hou tomb site.

The near Qylin at Dong Hun Hou tomb site.

The near Qylin at Dong Hun Hou tomb site.

The near Qylin at Dong Hun Hou tomb site.

Looking back across the fields from the Dong Hun Hou tomb site in the direction from which I approached it, the main road of Hu Goa Lu runs through the trees at the foot of the hills on the horizon.  It was a long walk back.

Looking back across the fields from the Dong Hun Hou tomb site in the direction from which I approached it. The main road of Hu Goa Lu runs through the trees at the foot of the hills on the horizon. It was a long walk back.

The nearest house address to Dong Hun Hou tomb, Jin Jia Cun #15.

The nearest house address to Dong Hun Hou tomb, Jin Jia Cun #15.

The road through the village of Jin Jia Cun, on the way to Dong Hun Hou tomb.

The road through the village of Jin Jia Cun, on the way to Dong Hun Hou tomb.

This aging coal burning backyard furnace marks the turnoff from Hu Gao Lu to the village of Jin Jia Cun and Dong Hun Hou tomb.

This aging coal burning backyard furnace marks the turnoff from Hu Gao Lu to the village of Jin Jia Cun and Dong Hun Hou tomb.

The last address on the main road of Hu Gao Lu before the unmarked turnoff to the village of Jin Jia Cun and Dong Hun Hou tomb.

The last address on the main road of Hu Gao Lu before the unmarked turnoff to the village of Jin Jia Cun and Dong Hun Hou tomb.

Tomb Site 2:  Qi Wu Di  [齐武帝]

There is a Qi Dynasty [齐朝] tomb in a farmer’s field with two intact Qylin facing each other.  This is the Jing An Ling [景安陵] tomb of Qi Dynasty emperor Wu Di.  Qi Wu Di [齐武帝] was born as Xiao Ze [萧赜] in 439 and reigned from 483 to 493.   The location of this tomb is closer to the Qian Ai Xiang  [前艾乡] end of Hu Gao Lu, and stands in the shadow of some tall smoke belching factory chimneys.

Area V: Ling Kou Town [陵口镇]

There are two pairs of Qylin here, on either side of an old canal that flows into the modern day Grand Canal (Jing Hang Da Yun He).   Both are in very bad condition, and neither of them marks an actual tomb site.   It is thought that these Qylin merely marked the gateway to the larger imperial tomb area, and that this is where visitors would have alighted from their boats to visit the other tombs.  The town’s present-day name of Ling Kou [陵口] means “tomb mouth.”

Sources:

China Knowledge website http://www.chinaknowledge.de/History/Division/nanchao-rulers.html

Danielson, Eric N. , numerous field research trips to Danyang over seven years between 2005 and 2012.

Danyang city map (Danyang shi ditu) [丹阳市地图] (Chinese)

Danyang City Museum  (Danyang Bowuguan) [丹阳市博物馆], 17 pp., n.d., ca. 2005.

Danyang stone tablets (Danyang shi bei) [丹阳石碑] (Chinese)

Danyang County Annals (Danyang Xian Zhi) [丹阳县志] (Chinese).

Jinling Library (Jinling Tushuguan) [金陵图书馆] website (Chinese), “Sculpture of the Southern Dynasty Tombs,” (Nan Chao Ling Mu Shi Ke Wang [南朝陵墓石刻网] http://www.jllib.cn/ffy/nclmsksy/homepage.htm.

Segalen, Victor, “Recent Discoveries in Ancient Chinese Sculpture,” Journal of the North China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, (1917) No. 48.

Segalen, Mission Archeologique en Chine (1914-1917), Paris: 1923-1924.  (French)

Segalen, Victor, The Great Statuary of China, Chicago: 1978.

Tchang, Mathias, Tombeau des Liang, Shanghai: 1912. (French)

Till, Barry, In Search of Old Nanking, Hong Kong:  Joint Publishing Co., 1982.  (This included a long section on the Southern Dynasties and their imperial tombs in Danyang on pp.19-68.)

Till, Barry, “Some Observations on Stone Winged Chimeras at Ancient Chinese Tomb Sites,” Artibus Asiae, Vol. 42, No. 4 (1980), pp.261-281.

Wu Hung, “The Transparent Stone:  Inverted Vision and Binary Imagery in Medieval Chinese Art,” Representations No. 46, Spring 1994, The University of California.


About YangziMan

I'm a U.S. citizen who has spent the last 14 years living, working, and traveling in China continuously without a break. I have written five books about China for overseas publishers, and a host of scholarly articles for academic journals such as the Royal Asiatic Society and China Heritage Quarterly. Visit My Amazon.com Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/ericdanielson
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