Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tour 1 part 1: Tomb of ming

Visited the Ming tombs today on a tour. I know this should come as no
surprise since I'm in china, but it's a lovely fascination to be up
close to old Chinese architecture and put my hands on some 600 year
old wood.

The tombs have been around for about 600 years. Together, there are x
in total; I say x cos a lot happened today and I forget what the guide
said. 9 I think? And each tomb is situated between a mountain and a
river - positioned according to feng shui theory.

Ming is buried underground, beneath a beautiful lush grassy hill. His
buriers transported his body to the underground chamber by means of a
well. They then left burning charcoal inside the chamber and sealed it
off, creating an airtight tomb. Clever Chinese empirical technology
that modern science explains today. :)

I expected to go right down into a musty dank tomb of ming, dusty and
cavernous, but all we saw were burial artifacts, recreated garments
from the era and a big big obelisk memorial stone.

Emperor Ming claimed the middle kingdom by killing his nephew, who was
given succession by the previous ruler, not a decision favoured by
many as it went against the tradition. The forbidden city was
constructed under Ming when he took power, but upon its completion,
remained closed for 30 years as the price paid to heaven for killing
the nephew emperor.

Although Ming's emperorhood began in violence, he contributed much to
china's literary history during his reign, collecting heaps of books n
shit, which still exist today long long after ming's death even though
other copies have been lost or destroyed by time.

On his memorial stone is written his adopted emperor name, which I've
forgotten in Chinese but means "great achievement of literary
contribution". He wished to be remembered by that name in the hope
that generations to come would forgive him for what he did.

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