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West Xia Imperial Tombs

West Xia Imperial Tombs are located 30 kilometers west of Yinchuan, the capital of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. They are distributed on a gentle slope along the east base of the Helan Mountain, occupying an area of 40 square kilometers, including nine imperial tombs and 207 tombs of dukes and ministers.
West Xia Kingdom (1038-1227) once was a powerful kingdom in the northwest of China with ruled Ningxia and Gansu Provinces during the Song Dynasty. Western Xia Imperial Tombs are composed of two parts, the above ground mausoleum gardens and underground chambers.
From the excavated tomb, we found in front of the underground palace is a 49-metre-long sloping tomb passage. The 23-meter deep underground chamber is narrow in front and broadening at the rear, and flanked by one chamber on each side. A square coffin was placed in the chamber. In contrast to the wooden and stone structures of the Ming and Qing imperial tombs, this structure was formed by digging out the yellow earth and using flat, earthen walls. A large number of relics such as gold ornaments, jewelry and carvings were found in the tomb.
There are also three smaller tombs which had been excavated. In these tombs bronze oxen, stone horses and other sacrificial objects were found.
The mausoleum gardens are above the ground. Watchtowers at each corner of the garden are seen as visual indicators of the boundaries. Stone gates, tablet pavilion, outer city, inner city, hall furnished as an imperial bedroom and spiritual terrace are organized from south to north in the gardens. The unique characteristics of Western Xia mausoleums are clearly visible from the terraces. The other terraces in the Han, Tang and Northern Song dynasties are square-based with flat tops and gently sloped sides. Completely different, the terraces here are round or octagonal. The remains we can see today have five or seven stories, with flying rafters overlaid with rows of tiles. The sides were painted a deep red, the red walls and the green tiles contrast, showing their ever-magnificent. They are reputed as Oriental Pyramids.
The West Xia Imperial Tombs are not only a state scenic spot but also a cultural heritage. They reflect the past prosperity of the West Xia Kingdom.

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