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Ancient Imperial Tombs to Compete for World Heritage Listing

China has submitted the mausoleum of a monarch in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) as candidate for the world cultural and natural heritage list of the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO), said a source with the Cultural Heritage Administration of Henan Province, central China.

Located at the southern foot of Mount Fenghuang, 15 kilometers north of Xinxiang City, the mausoleum of King Lujian is famous for its fine stone carvings on grand tomb buildings, said Chang Jianchuan, director of the provincial cultural heritage administration.

Covering 26.7 hectares, the mausoleum comprises the tomb of ZhuYiliu (1568-1614), or King Lujian, the tomb of his second concubine and a bluestone-paved path leading to the tombs. The mausoleum is said to be the largest Ming imperial tombs so far discovered in China.

The tomb of King Lujian consists of front, middle and back courtyards, covering a total area of 5.3 hectares. A columniform building, dubbed "treasure city", stands inside the back courtyard. The wall of "treasure city" is 9.35 meters high and its perimeter is 70 meters long.

Under the "treasure city" is an underground palace, which consists of the front, middle, back, left and right chambers with an arched roof. Inside the back chamber lies the inner and outer coffins.

One hundred meters to the west of the tomb of King Lujian sits the tomb of his second concubine, which covers 50,000 square meters in area. The tomb buildings are arranged in the same style of King Lujian's.

At the forefront of the tomb area stands a tall stone archway with high relief featuring designs of two dragons playing with a pearl and four Chinese characters which read "Lu Fan Jia Cheng", the name of the mausoleum.

On both sides of the archway stand two five-meter-high stone ornamental columns and at the back of the archway extends the 200-meter-long bluestone-paved path leading to the tombs. Sixteen pairs of stone images and various animals stand on both sides of the path.

A rare girderless gate of the mausoleum of King Lujian distinguishes it from any other tomb of ancient monarchs and emperors of China.

Ornamental columns, sacrificial steles, tombstones, stone sculptures and fine carvings on all stone buildings in the tomb area reflected the highest level of stone carving art in the Ming Dynasty, said Chang, the director.
(Xinhua News Agency April 5, 2004)

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