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Yao Mausoleum

Yao’s tomb is located west of Guocun Village and north of Laohe River, about 35 kilometers northeast of the county town of Linfen, Shanxi Province. It was built in memory of Yao, the leader of a tribal alliance of patriarchal clan communes of the late primitive society in China. Yao's surname was Tao Tang, so people call him Tang Yao.


History sees him as a sagacious leader. He is said to have established a department to chart seasons and formulate a calendar. He also consulted with leaders of other tribes and named Shun as his successor. He observed Shun for three years, let him act as regent at first and then handed over the crown to Shun. So "Yao's Domination" and "Yao's Time" are used to give tribute to times of prosperity and sagacious supreme rulers.


There are several locations for Yao's tomb recorded by different historians and in various documents. One was said in Jizhou (one of the country's nine territorial divisions in history of Yangtze, to the south of the Yellow River), according to Wang Chong, Maoshan Hill (according to Mo Tzu) and Puzhou (according to The Annals of Local History). But a new commonly held is that Yao's tomb is in Linfen, and people for many centuries have held memorial ceremonies for him here.


Among hills is the tomb of Yao hills and the Laoshui River runs to the south of the tomb. In front of the tomb are grand temples, green pines and cypresses. According to inscriptions on a tablet built in the second year of the Tai He Period of the Kin Dynasty (1202), Emperor Li Shimin (599-649) of the Tang Dynasty once arrived here on an expedition to the east. He paid homage to the tomb and set up a temple in which his statue was installed. During the Zhong Tong Period of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), Taoist priest Jiang Shall was ordered by the court to rebuild Yao's mausoleum. History then saw its reconstruction and repair during the Cheng Hua, Jia Jing period of the Ming Dynasty, and the Yong Zheng and Qian Long periods of the Qing Dynasty.


Inside the mausoleum are doors with single eaves, a memorial archway, a devotion hall, a buttress hall, a bedroom hall, a tablet pavilion and chambers. All these structures are well arranged with red walls, green tiles and precise wood carvings. It is a comparatively complete architectural complex of the Ming and Qing dynasties.


There are more than ten tablets with inscriptions about the achievements of Tang Yao and the history of the mausoleum's construction in the temple. There is a full drawing of Yao's mausoleum in a tablet which is fully preserved from its construction in the 18th year of the Jia Jing Period of the Ming Dynasty (1539). Materials in the mausoleum are valuable historical contributions to an understanding of China's architecture.

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