Thap Tam Lang, the resting place of the Ming emperors was built according to the feng shui of the surrounding mountains, expressing the desire for eternal authority.
Thap Tam Lang – The resting place of the Ming emperors
The Ming dynasty was founded in 1368 by Chu Nguyen Chuong (Hong Vu De brand), after the collapse of the Yuan Mong dynasty. The Ming Dynasty existed until 1644 with a total of 16 emperors ruling over China. The tombs of 13 of these 16 emperors are located in a complex not far from the capital Beijing and collectively known as Shifangqiang.
The three emperors who were not buried in this population were Hong Vu De (the tomb of Nanjing), Kien Van De (not recorded in history after being overthrown by the uncle) and Canh Thai De (not buried by his successor, the Orthodox emperor, according to royal rites).
Thap Tam Lang is located at the foot of Thien Tho Mountain in Xuong Binh District, 50 km northwest of Beijing. The first tomb in this complex was built in 1409 by Vinh Lac De, the third emperor of the Ming dynasty. The location of the tomb is selected based on feng shui.
According to the old conception, the location of feng-shui should be the place to neutralize demons and evil winds from the north. Therefore, the ancients chose an arch-shaped area at the foot of Thien Tho mountain to build a mausoleum. This area is a quiet valley about 40 km2 wide, surrounded by mountains, ideal for the resting place of the Ming emperors. Not only the topography of feng shui and the charming landscapes, this area is also of strategic importance in military terms as there are mountains as protective screens.
During the Ming period, civilians were not allowed to enter this burial complex. However, in 1644, rebels led by Li Tucheng sacked and burned many mausoleums here before entering Beijing.
Today this complex is open to visitors. The path to the mausoleum is 7 km long and is called Than Dao. It represents the dignity and authority of Emperor Ming even after his death.
The entrance to the Shinto is an arcade built in stone in 1540. On both sides there are 36 stone statues, including 24 statues of lions, elephants, camels and 12 statues of mandarin and martial arts during the court. These statues are said to take part in court rituals and worship the gods of the afterlife.
Currently, only three of the 13 mausoleums in this complex are open to the public. They were Truong Lang of Emperor Vinh Lac (the third Ming Emperor), Dinh Lang of Van Lich De (13th Emperor) and Chieu Lang of Long Khanh De (12th Emperor).
Truong Lang is the largest of the 13 mausoleums of the Ming Dynasty. It only took 5 years to build the mausoleum, but it took 18 years to complete Dien Linh An. This work has an area of almost 1,956 m2, almost equal to the Thai Hoa Palace in the Forbidden City in Beijing. However, in terms of architecture, Dien Linh An is better than Thai Hoa Palace because the posts are made of cedar wood (a very durable and good quality coniferous tree) imported from Nepal. Although the tomb has not been fully excavated, the public can still enter the tomb (palace) to visit it. Here, too, more than 3,000 grave goods have been found.
Unlike Truong Lang, Dinh Lang has been completely unearthed by archaeologists. It is the third largest mausoleum in the Ming Dynasty complex, only after Truong Lang and Vinh Lang.
According to historical documents, the construction of this mausoleum cost more than 300 tons of money, which is equivalent to two years of tax revenue from the Ming dynasty under Emperor Van Lich. Dinh Lang’s tomb is 27 meters deep underground, including 5 electric ones built entirely in stone without pillars or supports. The largest and most important palace is the rear hall, where the coffin of Emperor Van Lich and the two queens is located. In the palace there are also 26 painted vermilion wooden boxes containing around 3000 precious objects.
Of the three tombs open to visitors, Chieu Lang is the smallest. The highlight of this mausoleum is the emperor’s coffin placed in a unique crescent-shaped place. Another interesting point is that the construction on the ground, although recently reconstructed, represents the typical arrangement of the tombs of the Ming dynasty.