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Tibetan Kings' Tombs

High up on Mure Mountain in Chonggye County of Shannan Prefecture, sits a large imperial graveyard with nine massifs. Surrounded by open ground and benefiting from moderate weather, rich soil, and beautiful landscape, this area with its favorable natural conditions was the birthplace of the ancient Tibetan nationality and the old home of the founding King, Songtsen Gambo.

Tibetan Kings' Tombs

It is the largest preserved imperial graveyard in Tibet, the nine recognizable tombs stand as reminders of the rich history and lore of ancient Tibet.

Through the 7th to 9th centuries in Tibet, southwest China, There was a famous regime -- the Tibetan Regime. Its first ruler, King Songtsen Gambo (617-650), was an accomplished leader. Unifying all the tribes in Tibet, he made Lhasa the capital.

In 649 the Tang regime granted him title "Commandant-escort." Songtsen Gambo made great contributions to the social, economic and cultural development of the Tibetan region, to good relations between Han and Tibetan people, and to formation and development of a multi-national China.

According to such Tibetan history books as Grand Ceremonies of the Wise, Chronicle of Tibetan Kings and Officials and Chronicles of Tibetan Kings and Clansmen, there were altogether 35 tombs of Tibetan Kings and concubines, divided into groups, with each group centered in a separate area.

Tibetan Kings' Tombs

Scattered all over Mure Mountain, nine recognizable mausoleums cover an area of 3 square kilometers. Similarly shaped, they were all high, square earth heaps with flat tops of piled stone and pecked earth, imitating the early tomb styles of central China. But now, after over a thousand years of wind and weather, their characteristics have changed; some have become rounded and flat on top.

Stone lion at the tomb of Tibetan king

Two stone lions are situated in front of the graveyard. Although one has been destroyed the other is intact apart from a broken leg. The lion is 1.55 meters (about 5 feet) high and 1.3 meters (about 1.4 yards) in length. It stands on a 0.76 meter (about 0.83 yards) pedestal.

Tomb of Tibetan king

According to historical documents and inscriptions on the memorial tablets, only three of the nine tomb occupants have been identified:
The Tomb of Songtsen Gambo, A surviving inscription at the tomb reads that the tomb of Songtsen Gambo was situated at the mouth of the Qingpu Ravine (after several centuries the tomb now is a huge square grave at the center of a plain facing a distant Qongyai County seat). The tomb appears to have been square. The interior had nine chambers, the main one a Buddhist hall, at the center of which stood a coral lamp about 2.5 meters long that burned day and night. The four corner chambers stored treasure. The inner tomb wall was made of square stone slabs covered by a thick layer of earth, which in turn was covered with broken stones, forming an earth hillock.

Tibetan Kings' Tombs

Tomb of Songtsen Gambo

A tomb near the north bank of Chonggye River is said to be the tomb of Songtsen Gamp, who set up the first unified regime in Tibet. This splendid tomb stands 13.4 meters (about 44 feet) high. On the top, there is a temple for worship in which the statues of Sonftsen Gamp, his wives - Princess Wen Cheng and Princess Chi Zu - and his ministers are displayed. The gate of the tomb opens to the west, the direction of Sakyamuni's homeland, demonstrating the king's piety to Buddhism. According to descriptive records, the inner tomb (about 100 meters square) (about 109 yards) consists of five halls, the middle hall being the one in which the remains of Songtsen Gampo and his two wives were laid.

It is said that under the tomb was a spacious underground palace, storing statues of Songtsen Gambo, Sakyamuni and Bodhisattva Guanyin; numerous everyday utensils inlaid with gold, silver, jewelry and agate, and amour and weapons of the day.

Originally a sacrificial temple was atop the tomb, consisting of 20-odd soul towers and four small-sized halls on the four sides. Within the temple were statues of Songtsen Garnbo, Princess Wen Cheng, Princess Chi Zun, Minister Ludongzan and the creator of the Tibetan language, Tunmi Sangpuquan.

Tibetan Kings' Tombs

The Tomb of Chide Songzan, reigning from 793-815, late in the Tibetan Regime, King Chide Songzan was also buried in Qongyai County. This was confirmed by the Tibet Committee for Management of Cultural Relics in September.In 1984 his tomb's stele was located and recovered.
This tomb stele, the best preserved of all the Tang steles in Tibet, was a more valuable find than the Monument Stele Commemorating the Tang and Tibet-an Regimes' Alliance in front of the Suglakang Monastery in Lhasa. The tomb stele is not only of great historical value, but an excellent art work of sculpture, a rare treasure among Tibetan Tang Dynasty tomb tablets. A pavilion now protects the treasure.

The Tomb of Dusong Mangbujie, Halfway up Mure Mountains stands a large elevated platform of earth and stone which, according to Tibetan chronicles, should be the tomb of Dusong Mangbujie. Besides the huge earth heap, the pair of stone lions in front of the tomb are the most valuable surface artifacts. Facing the tomb, they sit chin up and chest out, powerful and expressive. With decisive carving and smooth lines, the two lions can stand among the best carving works of the Tang Dynasty in China, and are even more precious in Tibet

Tibetan Kings' Tombs

Besides the three tombs for which occupants are known, other tombs' occupants, according to Scholars find all the tombs are in a line from east to west and mainly placed in patrilineal order. Similar in form and structure, all the tombs were of piled stone and packed earth.

Once they established their powerful regime, these Tibetan kings gathered mammoth amounts of wealth, and built magnificent palaces, monasteries and large-scale tombs. Most of the surface buildings no longer exist, but, according to historical documents, uncounted precious historical relics and treasures were buried in each tomb. What is more, most of them haven't been looted, leaving a large amount of cultural treasure, which is the window for the study of Tibetan history and culture.


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