The First Ming Dynasty Emperor’s Tomb, Nanjing

I’ll spare you the details of most of the different pavilions we walked up and through (The Imperial Tablet Hall was one…View image) except for the Sacrificial Hall that was nothing like it sounded. The Sacrificial Hall was built specifically to house the memorial tablets of Zhu Yuanzhang, his empress and concubines. Eventually, we came to a pavilion on top with a scroll of Zhu Yuanzhang, the First Emperor of the Ming Dynasty and the only Emperor not to be buried in Beijing.

The tomb for Zhu Yuanzhang and his wife was built in 1381 on a spectacular scale and is one of the largest imperial tombs existing in China so far. The red wall alone is 22.5 kms/13 miles in circumference. The ancient Chinese and Egyptian royalty regarded death in much the same fashion and began planning tomb construction for burial as soon as they were born.

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stairs leading to the Stele Pavilion, Zhongshan Park, Nanjing
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the Imperial Tablet Hall, Zhongshan Park, Nanjing


The short and interesting version of how Zhu Yuanzhang met his wife Ma Liangliang was told to us by Maggie. The future emperor was born to a poor family, became a soldier and made allies. He was definitely not handsome with big ears, and a jaw that jutted out. As often happens, Zhu met Ma and fell in love even though she had big feet. Big feet were most unusual In those days because women had their feet bound. The Empress probably had normal size feet by our standards, size 6/36 but compared to the teeny-weeny three-inch bound feet, Ma Liangliang’s feet were considered huge. The tale went on and on but Zhu and Ma did live “happily ever after” and both are buried here.

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scroll of Ming Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang

We were almost at the entrance to the actual burial sight called “The Treasure Mound”…
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