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Qianling Mausoleum

The Qianling Mausoleum is the co--tomb of Emperor Tang Gaozong ( Li Zhi, 628 A.D.-683 A.D.) and Empress Wu Zetian (624 A.D.-705 A.D.), the only Empress in Chinese history. The Mausoleum is located on Liangshan Hill, 6km north of Qianxian County, and about 85km from Xi'an. The Qianling Mausoleum was first built in 684 A.D.and its construction took 23 years. A holy way flanked by animal and human statues leading all the way to the tombs from the southern approach. What is most worth mentioning is ten pairs of guardian generals wearing long-sleeved robes and holding the hilts of long swords. They show noted results of the sculptural arts during the heyday of the Tang dynasty. The Wordless Tablet on the eastern side of the Phoenix Gate is 6.3 meters high, and weights 98.9 tons. It is the only Wordless Tablet put before an emperor's mausoleum in China.

Li Zhi, the ninth son of Li Shimin - Tai Zong, the second emperor of the Tang Dynasty, reigned for 34 years. According to the court rule, the emperor should select his eldest son as crown prince who would follow him to the throne. But Li Zhi was made crown prince instead. Because he was Empress Zhangsun'son, whose dad had a strong right from her brother Prime Minister Zhangsun Wuji. So the emperor appointed Li Zhi as crown prince. After Emeror Tai Zong's death, Li Zhi had the throne and was entitled Gao Zong. But he was a person of little political ability. He was stupid and cowardly, so power gradually turned into Wu Zetian's hands.

Wu Zetian's real name was Zhao. Her ancestral home was Wenshui County in Shanxi Province. Her father, Wu Shihuo, was a businessman. Later her father followed Li Yuan, founder of the Tang Dynasty, and fought in the battle against the Sui Dynasty. He was appointed minister of works in the Tang Court. In her early youth, Wu Zetian lived with her parents who travelled a lot, which helped her increase her knowledge a lot. She lost her father at the age of 12. As a result, she suffered a great deal of discrimination from society, and was also bullied by her two brothers at home. However, it was these hardships she came across during her life that helped her cultivate her tough character.

Edited by Athena Lee
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