Diary of a Rambling Antiquarian


Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Western Xia Tombs Revisited

This is my last day in China, but I have a full day to explore because my flight from Yinchuan airport does not take off until after midnight. Just over a week ago I made a visit to the Western Xia tombs, but flooding had curtailed the day's excursions, and I am determined to go again today, especially as today is fine and sunny. My two companions have other plans, so I make my way to where the internet tells me that a public tourist bus departs for the tombs twice a day. I get there just in time. But there is no bus. Just a notice stating that the bus service has been temporarily halted due to roadworks in the vicinity. In the end I accept an offer from a tourist taxi touting for business, and as I have other destinations in mind I negotiate a price for the whole day. Despite paying for the whole taxi we pick up another passenger to the tombs on the way, who takes my picture outside the Xixia Museum.


In front of the Xixia Museum



Tomb L3

As I have already discussed Tomb L3, believed to be that for Li Yuanhao 李元昊 (1003–1048), first emperor of the Western Xia,when I came here last week, I won't say anything more about it, but I'll just show some of the new photos I took today.


Google Maps view of Tomb L3

{Map data ©2018 Imagery ©2018 CNES / Airbus, DigitalGlobe}

The red tag marks where I took the photographs from


View of Tomb L3 from the entrance path

{BabelStone CC BY-SA 3.0}


Cage full of recovered roof tiles on the east side

{BabelStone CC BY-SA 3.0}


East Gate Tower

{BabelStone CC BY-SA 3.0}


West Gate Tower

{BabelStone CC BY-SA 3.0}


East Stele Pavilion

{BabelStone CC BY-SA 3.0}


Stele bases on the East Stele Pavilion

{BabelStone CC BY-SA 3.0}


Stele base on the West Stele Pavilion

{BabelStone CC BY-SA 3.0}


North-west watch-tower

{BabelStone CC BY-SA 3.0}

100 m north-west of the tomb enclosure


Main gate to inner tomb enclosure

{BabelStone CC BY-SA 3.0}


Remains of stupas on the north-west corner of the inner enclosure (view from outside)

{BabelStone CC BY-SA 3.0}


Remains of stupas on the north-west corner of the inner enclosure (view from inside)

{BabelStone CC BY-SA 3.0}


The tomb mound with Offering Hall in foreground

{BabelStone CC BY-SA 3.0}


The tomb mound

{BabelStone CC BY-SA 3.0}


Brick with lotus design

{BabelStone CC BY-SA 3.0}



Tombs L1 and L2

About 4 km south of Tomb L3 are Tombs L1 and L2, which are believed to have been built for the grandfather and father of Li Yuanhao respectively, i.e. Li Jiqian 李繼遷 (963–1004) and Li Deming 李德明 (981–1032). These are the only other tombs open to the public, and can be reached by means of an electric tour bus which drops us off near the south-east corner of Tomb L1 for exactly five minutes sightseeing before taking us straight back to the main entrance.


Ticket for the bus to see Tombs L1 and L2


Google Maps view of Tombs L1 and L2

{Map data ©2018 Imagery ©2018 CNES / Airbus, DigitalGlobe}

The red tag marks where I took the photographs from


Sadly, the two tombs are fenced off, and when I visited L1 can only be viewed from the edge of the outer wall, and L2 can only be seen in the distance on the other side of L1. Here are some of the few photographs that I was able to take before I was herded back to the electric bus by the driver.


Complete view of Tombs L1 and L2

{BabelStone CC BY-SA 3.0}

Outer wall watch-towers on the right


View of Tombs L1 and L2 from the south-east

{BabelStone CC BY-SA 3.0}

Outer wall watch-towers on the right


Closer view of Tombs L1 and L2

{BabelStone CC BY-SA 3.0}

L1 in front (320 m from me), L2 behind (720 m from me)


L1 watch-towers

{BabelStone CC BY-SA 3.0}


L1 gate tower or pagoda

{BabelStone CC BY-SA 3.0}


L1 tomb mound

{BabelStone CC BY-SA 3.0}


Close-up of L1 tomb mound

{BabelStone CC BY-SA 3.0}

Central platform is in front of the tomb mound


L2 tomb mound

{BabelStone CC BY-SA 3.0}


Close-up of L2 tomb mound

{BabelStone CC BY-SA 3.0}

Photograph taken from the bus driving past L2



Tombs M67

There are over two hundred Western Xia minor tombs scattered across the area of the imperial tombs. Many belong to members of the royal family, and are very impressive, but many are small and/or eroded, and are now barely noticeable. This is a photograph of Tomb M67 that I took from the electric bus on the way back from viewing L1 and L2.


Tomb M67

{BabelStone CC BY-SA 3.0}



Tomb L4

On the way back I also just catch a glimpse of Tomb L4 from the bus, 1,800 metres away. This is believed to be the tomb of Li Yuanhao's son, Li Liangzuo 李諒祚 (1047–1068), who became emperor when only a one year old baby. His tomb is the only imperial tomb not to be accompanied by any minor tombs.


Google Maps view of Tomb L4

{Map data ©2018 Imagery ©2018 CNES / Airbus, DigitalGlobe}


Tomb L4

{BabelStone CC BY-SA 3.0}


After a final visit to the museum book shop, I return to the car park to find my driver for this afternoon's excursion to the Baisikou Twin Pagodas.



Tags:

Ningxia | Tombs | Western Xia

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